Faith and Climate:What Would Lancaster County Do?

Has a Beard-Not Amish

Has a Beard-Not Amish

Hello! My name is Jerry Lee Miller. I am from Lancaster County,PA and I have a beard. However, I am not Amish. Actually I am a minister in the Church of the Brethren. I have been married 41 years to my wife,Susan, and we have 2 grown children, Joe and Emily.

Since I retired from pastoral ministry in 2010, I’ve found plenty to do! You might say I’m on a quest. Recently someone described me as a ‘faith based citizen activist’. I kind of like that!

My quest is to grow a conversation on climate change among people of faith in Lancaster County. I call this conversation
“Faith and Climate: What Would Lancaster County Do?”
That’s what this blog will be all about-THE CONVERSATION. I hope many people will join in.

I’ll tell you why I think this is so important, but first let’s take a closer look at the faith community of Lancaster County. Looking closer you’ll see that we don’t ALL have beards (not that there’s anything wrong with that 🙂 )

Did you know there are only 31,000 Amish people in our county out of a total population of 526,823 (2012), which means almost ½ million people in Lancaster County are not Amish!

So, if we’re not all Amish, what are we? A pretty mixed bag, I’d say. One thing is surely true- faith and religious belief are definitely prominent in Lancaster County! Here you’ll find Mennonite and Moravian, Brethren in Christ and Baptist, Jewish and Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholic and Church of God, Evangelical Lutheran and Episcopalian, Buddhist and Bible Church, United Church of Christ and United Methodist, African Methodist Episcopal and Assembly of God plus Presbyterians, Friends, Unitarians and even Jains!

Altogether (2002 statistics) we have 662 congregations. In addition, like most places in the US, we have a growing number of people who would say they are ‘spiritual, but not religious’.

Yes, the Lancaster faith community is diverse and does not speak with one voice on any issue,let alone one that’s become so politicized like climate change!

I wonder if we can set politics aside for awhile because, once we do, we can see more clearly. Then we can look around at the increase in extreme weather all over the world. We can ask what climate scientists say it’s all about.
Then we can talk about what our faith says to us, think about what that might mean and consider how we can move beyond talking and start taking faithful action!
Thanks for coming along this far. I hope you will continue.

8 thoughts on “Faith and Climate:What Would Lancaster County Do?

    • Thanks for your comment Kate. We do have a growing population in Lancaster County who identify themselves as ‘spiritual, but not religious’. I’ll be seeking guest posts from people who identify with a specific religion AND with those who have another way of expressing or understanding spirituality. The conversation is Faith and Climate. Thanks for joining in!

  1. I think it’s a great idea to have a place like this for an online conversation about global warming with people of faith in the Lancaster area. Most religious communities have released statements on climate change and the need to care for Creation. (There is a list of them at the Interfaith Power and Light website).

    It is obviously a moral imperative to prevent climate change disasters for future generations. And to do that, climate scientists tell us we must act soon, and the greater our numbers, the greater our influence. If we could have a co-ordinated effort by many denominations working together, we could make a real difference.

    Exchanging ideas and information on this blog would certainly be a valuable experience and a good beginning.

  2. Jerry … I think this is a wonderful idea for Lancaster County with such a religious identity. A proud religious identity. We need to recapture some of those practices that had been central to religion and worship for a very long time – ideas like community, simplicity, and frugality that have been squeezed out of our lives by a misplaced reverence of individualism and consumerism. One of my favorite quotes is from Barbara Kingsolver that is along these lines:

    “Feeling that morality has nothing to do with the way you use the resources of the world is an idea that can’t persist much longer. If it does, then we won’t.”

    On a more practical note: I will try to share this with a church (Ephrata Church of the Brethren) just down the street from me. Perhaps they can join the discussion and encourage stewardship.

    • Dan, Welcome to the conversation! And thank you for highlighting important values and practices such as community, simplicity and frugality! Because we really ARE in this together. So finding ways to face current realities and future threats together with time tested values just makes sense. Please do share with the Ephrata Church of the Brethren. Community, simplicity and frugality are among the best of honored Brethren ideals!

  3. Hi Jerry, I look forward to following the conversation and taking part from time to time. I’ll provide a link to the social statement on the environment that the Ev. Lutheran Church in America has adopted as soon as I find it!

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