United Methodist Women Members Deliver Climate Change Message to Washington
Click here to watch Harriett Olson explain why United Methodist Women supports climate change legislation.
By Leigh Rogers*
United Methodist Women members and leaders from the U.S. faith community delivered a red flag message on the environment to the Obama administration and the Senate during a public witness in Washington, D.C., Nov. 5, part of the countdown to the December Copenhagen climate change summit.
The message called for Senate Environment and Public Works committee members now grappling with markups to the Clean Energy bill to forgo differences and agree on a strong and binding climate bill. The message to President Obama: Be in Copenhagen and have evidence of commitment in your pocket.
The collective Climate Witness took place on the Capitol lawn and called for accountability by U.S. leaders for the sustainability of the planet and protection of those most vulnerable. Immediately following, participants personally delivered nearly 14,000 postcards to Senate offices and Obama administration officials. A majority of participants in the witness were United Methodist Women members from across the United States.
Speakers at the event included Harriett Olson, chief executive of the Women’s Division and Inelda González, president of the Women’s Division.
Ms. González read Isaiah 32 in Spanish, which implores leaders to govern with justice. “A fool will no longer be called noble, nor a villain
▲ Inelda Gonzalez, president of the Women's Division, walks toward the Russell Senate Building to deliver letters from United Methodist Women members. Photo by Leigh Rogers.
Ms. Olson appealed for immediate action, noting that United Methodist Women has a history of acting for justice, not waiting. “We are here today to speak for the most vulnerable, especially women and children,” she said. “We need to act, speak and stand now in favor of the environment instead of waiting for someone else.”
Other faith leaders lamented the disproportionate suffering of the poorest due to climate change even as the richest cause most of its problems. “Developed nations are least responsible [for climate change], but are bearing the greatest burden of its effects,” said John McCullough, head of Church World Service. “To do nothing is a sin, a moral outrage.”
Leaders addressed climate change with moral imperative as people of faith. “Interrelatedness is part of our world. What happens elsewhere is a domestic issue,” said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches.
United Methodist Women members came from Georgia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Texas and Wisconsin as voters to call on their senators to “reduce climate change emissions” and “support vulnerable communities,” an event statement said.
Sabrina White, president of United Methodist Women’s Northeastern Jurisdiction, organized two vans from the Baltimore-Washington
▲ Supporters of climate change legislation at the Climate Witness make a circle facing the Capitol building to pray. Photo by Leigh Rogers.
Counsel to Senator Mikulski, Teri Curtis, met with the group. Ms. Curtis, a United Methodist, told them that it is important to invest in climate change initiatives. A job growth component for engaging the economy is vital, she said.
Eddi Mae Tisdale, a United Methodist Women member and a district president from Baltimore-Washington Conference, came with the group because everyone has the responsibility to take care of the environment. “I came down on the Metro instead of driving to do my part,” she said.
The Climate Witness event was sponsored by:
Center of Concern
Church World Service
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light
Jubilee USA Network
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
National Council of Churches USA
Oblates of Mary Immaculate JPIC Office
Presbyterian Church (USA) Washington, DC Office
Sisters of Mercy
United Church of Christ – Justice and Witness Ministries
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church & Society
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth
United Methodist Women
*Leigh Rogers is a public relations executive with the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.
▲ United Methodist Women members at the Climate Witness in Washington, D.C. Photo by Leigh Rogers.
▲ Sabrina White, a United Methodist Women jurisdictional president, speaks to Teri Curtis, Counsel to Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland on environmental issues. Photo by Leigh Rogers.
▲ United Methodist Women members from the Baltimore-Washington Conference stand in front of Senator Benjamin Cardin's office. Photo by Leigh Rogers.