2016 Theme Statement


On December 12th, 2015, the world changed. The COP Climate Change Summit was signed, involving 195 nations. These nations reached an agreement, in principle, to hold global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

"…we have revolutionized our thinking, if only on paper. For the first time, we have shown the need to construct a future in the face of the future that is coming." (Pete McMartin)

But this is only a beginning. A shift in global consciousness must happen for the needed changes to take place.

How did we mess up in such a spectacular way? In the mid 1960's, Lynn White, Professor of History, UCLA, published an article entitled "The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis", which put forth a theory that the Christian model of human dominion over nature has led to environmental devastation. The response was immediate. Christian traditionalists sought an 'appropriate theological model' to support the biblical claim for humans as stewards of the earth, treating nature as a tool to be used for survival and prosperity.

With increasing awareness of the spiritual beliefs of indigenous peoples, the rise of eco-feminism, the Gaia Theory, the advent of the "New Story" (Brian Swimme, Thomas Berry and others), and new ways of thinking about God, we have begun to reshaped how we think about our relationships within creation.

"The future is not what it used to be. It is waiting for us now….mapped out for us by climatologists and physicists, set in motion by the rigid laws of chemistry. Prayers and pleading will not stop rising sea levels." (Pete McMartin)

Are we too late? We are no longer just 'invited' to the future, we are in the future. Its trajectory is not 'soft' anymore; its trajectory is in full speed – we are 'in motion', way past the invitation stage and we are on board whether we want to be or not. What part can we, as a people of faith, play in halting the continued devastation of life on earth? Can we remodel the traditional story to reflect a new eco-theology? How will we empower people of faith to make a difference in an effort to save planet earth?

Join us as we explore these questions with guest presenters Bruce Sanguin and Jan Phillips at the 48th Atlantic Seminar in Theological Education.

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