Greening Churches, Fighting Climate Change: All in the Name of Love

Unlike many other social problems, climate change is an issue that affects all of mankind. And to stand on the side of love with those most affected by climate change means to tackle this problem together. When the very air we breathe is at risk, we have no choice but to think about our loved ones and what their lives would be like if we allow these hazards to exist. And who better to take on such a task but people of faith?

People of all faiths have long played a powerful role in advancing the cause of justice. African American faith traditions, in particular, have been at the center of the most important social movements of the last century—from civil rights to voting rights to anti-poverty efforts.

Now, black churches are directing their power at a formidable new foe: climate change.

A few weeks ago, some of the nation’s most influential pastors joined Green For All and the U.S. Green Building Council to formally launch our Green The Church campaign, which aims to reach 1,000 black churches and engage millions in the fight against pollution, poverty, and climate change. 

Green The Church will help congregations green their buildings and save money on their energy bills. We’ll also mobilize church members—millions of people—to stand up to polluters and fight for clean air in their neighborhoods.

When it comes to social change, African American churches are a powerhouse. It could make the difference in whether we win or lose on climate. Ultimately, it will be our ability to use the force of love that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. exercised to take on our enemies of climate change and racial inequality and create a healthier, more just world.

We’re thrilled to be opening this new chapter, and we need your help getting the word out! Too often, People of Color are left out of important conversations on climate justice, and that’s why we are focusing this effort on African-American congregations. So, if you are a member of a predominantly African-American or multicultural congregation, please spread the word within your congregation and take the pledge today! If not, show your support and be a good ally by forwarding this message with African American congregations you might be in coalition with and help us grow Green the Church.  Green for All has a unique history working at the intersections of race, class and climate, so let’s find more ways that we can partner together.

When I think about the challenges ahead of us, I take comfort in the phrase love conquers all. If we are to conquer climate change, we’ll do it in truth, love, and solidarity, knowing that we are fulfilling a higher command for ourselves and all the neighbors around us. 

Now, some of you may be thinking, “What does love have to do with climate justice?” As a Christian, I believe it has everything to do with it.

The Bible tells us in 1: John 4:8 that “God is love”. We are also told in Mark 12:31 to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”  We are called to love the very thing living next to us. And even if you are not a believer in God, you probably believe in love. 

The Bible does not define whether a neighbor constitutes just a person. A neighbor may be a person or a thing that simply lives next to us. And if this is the case, every living thing in this world—creature, plant, or human—is our responsibility to love.

That means we must begin to think more deeply about how to care for one another and ensure that not only our families but also our fellow creatures have the resources they need to survive. Green The Church is calling for black churches to play an active role in loving their environment by joining climate conversations. It is not until we see ourselves as part of the environment that we can truly stand on the side of love. Love means not letting this level of preventable human suffering continue.

In faith,

Samantha Akwei

Samantha is a passionate leader who shares a love for people, poetry, and the planet. Her work with Green For All began when she was recruited to the organization’s first class of College Ambassadors. Samantha brings to Green For All a strong activist spirit and gift of sound as a national spoken word poet. She has served as a Life Together Fellow at the Boston Workers Alliance, where she cultivated skills in organizing, advocacy, economic development, and systematic change. Through the fellowship, she also attended spiritual and leadership workshops, and in her second year she became a training associate. As a result, Samantha strongly believes that organizing is just as much internal as it is external. She works to keep Green For All’s base engaged at a heart level. Samantha is a native of Harlem, New York, and graduated from Spelman College.