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Public Lands

Photo by Brigitte Lecroix

Photo by Brigitte Lecroix

From towering mountains to stark deserts, from glorious forests to wide open fields, God’s lands are an integral part of creation.

Just as land is for Indigenous Peoples and Nations and the ancient Israelites, land is far more than real estate or mere dirt under our feet. While land includes the gifts of soil, air, and water for material sustenance, it is also the foundation of human community — “all our relations” and where we live, work, play, and find spiritual renewal. Public lands are the areas we already know and love: state and national parks, wilderness areas, national forests, scenic trails, national monuments, wildlife refuges, national recreation areas, and more.

landsmountainPeople of faith have a moral obligation to protect public lands so that all God’s children – both human and non-human – can share in the bounty that flows from them. We are called to speak out for justice while caring for the common good.

Along with our partners COIPL works with our local US senators and representatives to protect our wilderness nationally. We encourage legislators to support the Antiquities Act of 1906 and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Support the Antiquities Act of 1906 

The Antiquities Act of 1906 allows the President to designate federal lands which contain objects of historic, scientific, or scenic significance as a national monument in order to prevent damage from commercial and other development. As people of faith, we must speak up to preserve current and future Presidents’ ability to protect our precious lands for future generations.

Protect the Land and Water Conservation Fund

sanjuanIn 1964, Congress made a commitment to the American public that a small portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling would go to outdoor recreation and conservation across the nation, as an offset for the depletion of resources that belong to us all. Yet, year after year, Congress diverts most of these funds for purposes unrelated to conservation.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is essential for our quality of life. The fund has invested approximately $530 million in Washington over the last 40 years to expand public access to lakes and streams; build sports fields, trails, and local parks; conserve working forests; and protect state icons.

Ken Burns’ National Parks Religious Study Guides and “Clips” DVDs

*Call the Earth Ministry office at (206) 632-2426 to order*

kenburnsIn 2009, PBS broadcast a beautiful 12-hour portrait of our national parks entitled The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Shot over six years, the film describes the evolution of the national park concept and the development of the National Park System, which now protects 84 million acres. The film also features many individual stories of those who were instrumental in protecting the parks as well as those who have had important experiences in the parks.

Earth Ministry has partnered with PBS to offer a set of two religious study guides to complement the film: a four-session Christian education course (And God Saw That It Was Good), and a one-session interfaith course (Awakening the Spirit).

And God Saw That It Was Good

This Christian education course is designed to be taught in four consecutive one-hour weekly sessions but is easily adaptable to a number of different educational formats. Each session covers a specific theme.

Session 1 – The Creator and Creation
Session 2 – God in Nature
Session 3 – Made In the Image of God
Session 4 – A Covenant with Every Living Thing   

Awakening the Spirit

awakeningIn addition to the four-week course, a one-session interfaith study guide is also available. This course is designed to assist interfaith communities in exploring themes of spirituality in nature.

Since their inception, the national parks have provided places for play, for rest and for sanctuary. They are places that inspire us with their grandeur and at the same time draw us into an intimate relationship with the natural world.  National parks give us time to pause, to reflect, to get outside of ourselves and yet also provide space to go deeply within ourselves. In these sacred spaces, we experience the creation and the Creator alike.

National parks also afford us the time and space to consider our relationship with the rest of creation and how our individual and collective actions have a decided impact on these complex, wondrous ecosystems that we are visiting.

We are hopeful that these study guides will not only enhance enjoyment of the film and your experience in the national parks, but will also encourage reflection upon how we are to live in loving relationship with God’s gift of creation.

The kit for purchase includes both religious study guides, And God Saw That It Was Good andAwakening the Spirit. The study guides will be emailed to the purchaser in PDF format. As a bonus for purchase, two complementary DVDs including beautiful clips from the film, one to accompany each of the adult education guides, will be mailed directly to the purchaser upon receipt of the order.