Calvin DeWitt is a scientist, speaker, activist, and author of books like Earthwise: A Guide to Hopeful Creation Care (2011) and Song of a Scientists: The Harmony of a God-Soaked Creation (2012) in addition to countless articles. He is interested especially in the intersection of faith and action on the environmental crisis. With publications dating back to the 1960s, for decades DeWitt has been a force in creation care. He is also a founder of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
Aminta is a community organizer, activist, writer, and singer born in New York. In 2013, Aminta co-founded Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, a New York State non-profit organization committed to promoting social justice through the values at the heart of the Hindu faith. Through Sadhana, Aminta has worked closely with the Queens-based Indo-Caribbean population to promote environmentally friendly worship practices, particularly at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Aminta has also been a spirited bhajan and Hindi film song singer since the tender age of 9. In 2015, in an effort to increase civic engagement and political awareness in her community, Aminta began writing a column for her local newspaper, The West Indian.
Aminta received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Fordham College at Lincoln Center in 2010. She received her Juris Doctor from Fordham Law School in 2013. After graduating from law school, Aminta served as a New York State Public Service Excelsior Fellow under New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. While she originally thought she’d become a trial lawyer, she found her true calling in policy-making. She is a Senior Legislative Counsel for the New York City legislature. In her capacity at the New York City Council, Aminta drafts and negotiates legislation spanning from areas such as women’s rights, poverty to housing and homelessness, and child welfare. Aminta is admitted to practice in the New York State Bar.
Aminta’s photo, Shiva, the God of Destruction, Destroyed, won second place in the Religion and Environment photography contest. Aminta stated, “”Hindus have worshipped at the banks of Ganges and the shores of other bodies of water for centuries. Jamaica Bay is basically a closed system, so whatever lands in its waters stays until it is removed. The Ganges and many other bodies of water have become polluted by the use of many user groups. The Ganges, one of the major rivers of India, also known as Ganga Maa, is said to have made her abode in Shiva’s matted hair in order to prevent the destruction of Prithvi (Mother Earth). The flow of the Ganges also represents the nectar of immortality. Shiva is regarded as “the Destroyer” among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. He is also regarded as the patron god of yoga and the arts. Here, Shiva is found broken in the sands of Jamaica Bay, during a cleanup organized by the photographer Aminta Kilawan-Narine and her husband Rohan Narine.”
Greg Hitzhusen is an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice of Religion, Ecology and Sustainability in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University (OSU); he was the founding Director and then Board Chair of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light. His work and research center on the intersection of faith and the environment and on developing partnerships between scientific and faith communities; his teaching focuses on religion and ecology, environmental communications, and community sustainability projects. He sits on the Sustainability Education and Learning Committee and is a former member of the President and Provost’s Council on Sustainability at OSU; he serves as Faculty Fellow for the Environment and Natural Resources Scholars program, advises Students for a Sustainable Campus and the Au Sable Graduate Fellows chapter at OSU, and is a member of the faculty steering committee for the Center for Ethics and Human Values. His students’ research on sustainability projects at Ohio State has helped to establish the Campus as a Living Laboratory project and digital archive, and he is currently completing an online textbook titled: Religion and Environmental Values in America (forthcoming, 2019). Dr. Hitzhusen completed his B.S. at Cornell University (biological sciences/ecology, with honors), his MDiv (eco-theology focus, cum laude) at Yale Divinity School while jointly studying at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and his PhD at Cornell focusing on environmental education and ethics in North American faith communities. He has previously worked for the National Wildlife Federation, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, and the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs. He is past Vice-Chair of the Environmental Justice Section of the Ecological Society of America, where he coordinated the Scientists Speakers Bureau for Earth Stewardship Outreach to Faith Communities. He lives with his wife, Erica, and two sons in Worthington, Ohio.
Craig Foster, the Founder and President of Foster Energy Management, has over 33 years experience as an engineer and manager. His experience spans many areas of facility design, optimization and management including Energy Management Auditing and Implementation, Utility Management, Building Design and Operation, Water Treatment and Waste Water Treatment Plant Design and Operation, and Solar Thermal Installations. Craig has worked for a gas and electric utility, as an engineering consultant, and in facilities management and engineering for a major manufacturer. In addition, he has 15 years experience managing Environmental, Health, and Safety programs in an industrial setting. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and is a registered professional engineer in the State of Ohio.
Craig is also a Deacon in the Episcopal Church. Ordained in 2007, he serves St. John’s Episcopal Church in Columbus where he is involved in ministry to the homeless and marginally housed through Street Church and His Place. He has helped lead an effort of the BREAD organization in Columbus to reduce neighborhood blight through formation of a funded Community Land Re-utilization Corporation. Craig is also deeply committed to Kairos Prison Ministry and the issues surrounding those returning to society after being incarcerated. He dreams of having the Chapel at North Central Correctional Complex become a member of OhIPL.
Craig has spent 17 years committed to Kairos Prison Ministry and the issues surrounding those returning to society after being incarcerated. He helped found Franklinton Community Solar, a new non-profit dedicated to bringing solar energy to the Franklinton community in Columbus. The groups goals are solarize the community to provide environmental resiliency, to provide local jobs for those facing employment barriers, and to educate the neighborhood about the impacts of climate change in the inner city.
Craig is married to Kathy. They live in Columbus and together have five daughters, eight grandchildren and one dog. They enjoy being together, whether puttering in their yard, traveling, or just hanging out at home.
Dr. Job S. Ebenezer is the president of a nonprofit organization called Technology for the Poor. He is a retired professor of engineering. He started Technology for the Poor to design, innovate and disseminate simple technologies for less income people. He designed a dual purpose bicycle that can enable an ordinary bicycle to power small scale agricultural implements and other mechanical devices. He served as the director of the department of Hunger Education and Environmental Stewardship of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). In 1993, he established a roof top garden at the ELCA building using wading pools. He established container gardens in several cites in the US as well as in Africa, Costa Rica, Belize, Ecuador and India. Recently, he is promoting vertical gardening appropriate to slum dwellers and apartment dwellers. He established container gardens at the Ascension Lutheran church, Faith Mission Men’s shelter, Columbus Academy for Humanities, Arts, Technology, and Science and in a soup kitchen in Franklinton. He lives in Westerville and has three children and five grandchildren.
Jared Patrick Boyd is a pastor (Vineyard USA ), spiritual director, and founder of The Order of Sustainable Faith, a missional monastic order for the 21st Century. He is the author of Invitations & Commitments: A Rule of Life. He and his wife have four daughters, and are planting and pastoring Franklinton Abbey, a new faith community on the west side of Columbus, OH.
Kamara Willoughby is a lifetime resident of Columbus, Ohio. She grew up in the Ephesus Seventh-Day Adventist Church and was a believer in God and his creation of the earth. Though Kamara no longer attends that church she still considers it home. Kamara always had a passion for people. Even as a young lady she created various activities, with the help of her mother, for the kids in her neighborhood which at the time was Winchester Station. She also loved nature. She spent a lot of time outside as a kid and was able to ride her bike on the trail near her home when she got older. There was a creek near her house and along with friends and family they would sneak down and play in the creek and look for different things that they didn’t see on the playground and was in awe by nature.
Kamara attended Metro High School and they went on a lot of field trips and one particular trip to Camp Lazarus is where she learned about the career field of Environmental Science. She attended Columbus State Community College (CSCC) to receive her Associates of Science degree and there she helped start the Cougars for the Community volunteer club. Through this club and her job with the Peer Advocates in the Connect 2 Complete program she wanted to engage people with nature. She is now attending The Ohio State University at the School of Environment and Natural Resources. She was Majoring in Environmental Science and because of her experiences at CSCC and her involvement in her neighborhood she switched her major to Environmental Economic Development and Sustainability (EEDS). She now gets the best of both worlds.
In her neighborhood, Milo-Grogan, she is an Area Commissioner and a member of the Milo-Grogan Civic Association. Each group holds monthly meetings to discuss revitalization plans for the neighborhood. They are currently working on housing plans, job plans and engaging neighbors in community clean-ups. The Civic Association is working on a community garden where people can sit and enjoy the scenery, hold various activities and harvest produce from the raised beds.
“This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.” ~Theodore Roosevelt
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ~Mother Teresa
“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” ~Douglas Adams
Jason Cervenec is the Education and Outreach Director for the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at The Ohio State University. The diverse outreach portfolio of the Center reaches approximately 12,000 individuals annually and includes programs in cutting edge science, science education, history, and the arts. The most common request for information that Jason receives from the public is on climate change. Jason currently has two NSF-funded projects, one to develop an engaging and interactive educational tool to explore Earth’s polar regions, atmospheric phenomena, and oceanographic conditions and a second to create an immersive web application to visualize and explore Earth’s diverse glacial systems. Jason also leads the Columbus Climate Change Action Plan Task Force.
Jason earned a B.S. in Biology and M.Ed. in Secondary Science Education from The Ohio State University and began his career as a high school science teacher where he taught for more than a decade. In 2010, Jason took part in a Fulbright Teacher Exchange in Mumbai, India where he witnessed firsthand the challenges faced by most of the world’s population. Jason and his wife have a two-year-old daughter, enjoy hiking, and recently rehabilitated a 1908 house in the Franklin Park area. He is a parishioner of Christ the King Catholic Church in Columbus and volunteers with Franklin County’s Restorative Justice Circles.
Speaking Topics: climate change preparedness and resiliency, climate change education, climate change impacts, and carbon reduction at home and in communities.
Job S. Ebenezer Ph.D, is the President of Technology for the Poor, which is a non-profit organization based in Columbus, Ohio. Their mission is to “develop, innovate and disseminate sustainable technologies to the poor all over the world”. He is a retired professor and previously taught engineering at Messiah College and the University of New Mexico. He created a course called ‘Global Sustainability – A Christian Perspective’ as well as taught the course himself at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. He earned his Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering.
He designed a dual purpose bicycle that can enable an ordinary bicycle to power small scale agricultural implements and other mechanical devices. He served as the director of the department of Hunger Education and Environmental Stewardship of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). In 1993, he established a rooftop garden at the ELCA building using wading pools. He established container gardens in several cities in the US as well as in Africa, Costa Rica, Belize, Ecuador and India. Recently, he is promoting vertical gardening appropriate to slum dwellers and apartment dwellers. He established container gardens at the Ascension Lutheran church, Faith Mission Men’s shelter, Columbus Academy for Humanities, Arts, Technology, and Science and in a soup kitchen in Franklinton.
Through Technology for the Poor, he has travelled all across the world to conduct workshops on sustainable technologies for the poor in 4 African, 3 Central AMerican, 2 South American, and 2 Asian countries. He has spoken at numerous conferences, including Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, Master Gardeners Association of Ohio, Ohio State University Extension Services, and 4-H Club of Ohio. He has also given lectures at Ohio State University and Otterbein University.
His involvement in earth keeping activities is based on Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.”
Speaker Topics: global sustainability with a Christian perspective, technologies for the poor, urban agriculture, and environmental degradation and hunger.
Dr. Kareem Usher is an Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning in the Austin E. Knowlton School at The Ohio State University. Dr. Usher received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, a Masters of Urban Planning degree from the University of Louisville also located in Louisville, and a doctoral degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. His research interests focus on urban food systems and he engages this topic at the intersection of food access, social justice, regional governance and community economic development. Dr. Usher’s work involves utilising mixed-methods and community-based participatory research methodologies to explore perceived as well as objective measures of access to healthy food of food-insecure families in low-access (‘food gap’) communities.
The long view of Dr. Usher’s life’s work would embody the idea of Planning to Reduce Human Suffering. This theme fuses two branches – Spirituality in Planning and Food as the Foundation for Sustainable Settlements. As suffering is an inescapable fact of our material existence, the goal of planning and the work of planners is to reduce human suffering. He interprets this connection between material plans and the intangible feelings of suffering as a ‘spiritual’ connection. From this perspective, making beautiful plans alone is not sufficient; plans must address the suffering of the people it hopes to serve and balance in the environment it purports to protect. One question that develops from this is, how do we create plans that are ‘connective’ and ‘connected’ to us?
The second branch, Food as the Foundation for Sustainable Settlements, involves work being done in communities regionally and internationally, including his native Belize. In general, Dr. Usher is involved in measuring and modelling healthy food access, working with communities to increase food access and addressing food and economic injustices. His projects connect rural and urban communities for mutual development and peace, such as, food aggregators and food processing hubs that would provide employment and reduce food-related illnesses for central-city communities while providing markets and incomes for rural communities. Exemplars include: Dr. Usher is currently leading a project in the (South) Linden neighbourhood of Columbus, Ohio that aims to develop a ‘food processing hub’ that would provide employment for previously incarcerated persons while supporting Ohio State University’s efforts to increase the amount of local and sustainable food served to its students. He is also collaborating on a ‘food aggregator’ initiative in Mansfield, Ohio, and a project in the Toledo District of Belize where Dr. Usher and collaborators explore the drivers of food insecurity and agroecological change in the Maya milpas of southern Belize.
Affiliated Faculty Positions: Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) – Discovery Theme, Environmental Sciences Graduate Program, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity
Speaking Topics: Urban Food Systems – Food Access, Food Justice, Participatory Research, Equity Planning, Regional Governance, Alternative Food Economies, Neighbourhood Development and Sustainable Local Economic Development
Tom Denbow is a scientist who reflects on his relationship to religion and how it is interconnected with his work on Biohabitat's blog. From the interview;
"Both BIOLOGOS and the Presbyterian Association on Science, Technology, and the Christian Faith bring a Christian perspective, but I feel strongly that other religions, such as Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism, can carry on a dialogue that allows each of us to respect our traditions but also our shared notion of stewardship of the earth and all of nature."
Meghan Gloyd is a water resources engineer who reflects on religion's relationship to her work on Biohabitats' Blog. She discusses dominion versus stewardship in the book of Genesis. In her reflection she says;
"I believe that the created world has an inherent value that is not based solely on what it can provide. This inherent value should be protected and upheld".
John Hill is a member of the General Board of Church and Society (GBSC) for The United Methodist Church. His work there includes overseeing their advocacy and organizing department. He also directs the economic and environmental justice program work. Having previously worked as a lobbyist in the private sector, John soon realized the difficulty of integrating faith into his occupation. Since joining The United Methodist Church in 2002, John enjoys the opportunities he has to work with individuals in ways that allow them to integrate faith more fully into their daily lives.
One example of John's passion projects, building a green roof for the United Methodist agency, can be found here https://www.umc.org/en/content/green-roof-reflects-united-methodist-care-for-earth. John discusses how this type of project is a way to show the organization's faith in action, serving as environmental stewards that can be seen by many throughout the D.C. area. In addition, their administration has switched to 100 percent renewable energy and installed water bottle fillers to reduce waste.
Shantha Ready Alonso serves as Executive Director of Creation Justice Ministries. Since the start of her appointment in 2015, Shantha has prioritized racial-ethnic equity in support of protecting, restoring, and more rightly sharing God's creation. Shantha's work has appeared in The Hill, the Colorado Gazette, The Day, Sojourners, Patheos, and Justice Unbound. She has also been interviewed by NPR, Religion News Service, U.S. Catholic, and various podcasts.
Shantha has taken the initiative to arranged numerous stakeholder meetings between people of faith and policymakers. She has testified before the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Interior, and the White House Office of Management and Budget. Shantha is listed among the 2018 “Grist 50 Fixers," an annual list of emerging leaders from across the U.S. who are working on fresh, real-world solutions to our world’s biggest challenges.
In this work, Sallie McFague unites her love of hagiography, the study of the saints, and the urgent need to address overconsumption in the economy and the environment. McFague suggests a close study of lives of the saints. Here specifically, she considers Simone Weil, John Woolman, and Dorothy Day, in the hope that contemporary believers may find a path from belief to faith-inspired action. A kenotic lifestyle, one of self-emptying, the author sees reflected in the lives of the saints considered here. She sees the unified path to kenosis inspired by the “wild space” of voluntary poverty, the awakening of the saint through this poverty to material needs of others, the increase in view of the self to include a universal self, and finally the connection of the kenotic lifestyle to the personal and public spheres of life.
Speaking specifically to middleclass readers, McFague condemns the complacent comfort in which we live that destroys God’s creation, human and nature alike. She calls for a radical understanding of the divine incarnation and expansion of the self to include the universal. An unsettling of traditional theology in favor of recognition that kenotic love is that which fuels the universe is the good news that can oppose the crisis in the economy and environment. McFague brilliantly weaves the example of the saints with our own call to action which must, like the saints discussed, be personal and public.
Mary Evelyn Tucker is a scholar at Yale University where she serves in both the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Divinity School. She and her husband, John Grim started the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale. Beyond this, her work has probed the intersection of religion and ecology.
David Rhoads is a pastor, professor, author, and environmentalist. He was on the faculty at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) beginning in 1988 and is now a professor emeritus. He is the author and editor of many books including, The Season of Creation: A Preaching Commentaryand Earth and Word: Classic Sermons on Saving the Planet. He also was instrumental in the creation of “The Web of Creation,” a resource for faith communities looking to improve their environmental advocacy.
Rev. Dr. Heber M. Brown is a Baptist pastor in Baltimore, Maryland. Brown is committed to social development and has been instrumental in the creation of several programs in the Baltimore area. These include Orita’s Cross Freedom School, of which he is the founding director, and the Black Church Food Security Network. The latter works to support the accessibility of food by linking historically African American congregations with urban growers and Black farmers. Brown has received a number of awards recognizing his work, including the Ella Baker Freedom Fighter Award and the Food Justice Award from the Baltimore City Office of Civil Rights.
Dr. Iyad Abumoghli has more than 34 years of experience with international organizations, the private sector, and scientific institution. Dr. Abumoghli’s expertise focus on strategic planning, sustainable development, water resources management, and knowledge and innovation. Currently, Dr. Abumoghli is the Lead Principal Advisor on Engaging with Faith-Based Organizations at UN Environment. Previously Dr. Abumoghli held several leading positions including the Regional Director and Representative of UN Environment in West Asia 2012-2017, Director of Knowledge and Innovation at UNDP’s Regional Office in Cairo 2009-2012, Senior Environment Advisor at UNDP’s Sub-Regional Resource Facility in Beirut 2006-2009, Global Practice Manager for the Energy and Environment Group in New York 2003-2006, Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP in Jordan 1997-2003.
Dr. Abumoghli adopts a holistic multi-sectoral approach to development ensuring cross-thematic integration with internal and external partners.
Dr. Abumoghli holds a doctorate degree in Bio-Chemical Engineering from the University of Bath/UK, an outstanding graduate of the Virtual Development Academy – Johns University, and a BA in Chemical Engineering from University of Jordan.
Todd Marti, a parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Columbus, serves as a “garden steward” for the community garden located on the grounds of the Upper Arlington Lutheran Church at Mill Run. Todd’s garden stewardship is a clear reflection of his care for creation and his fellow man. Each year vegetables are planted on two-thirds of the 12,500 square feet garden. When the tomatoes, beets, squash, lettuce and other vegetables are harvested they are donated to the Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids, and Mid-Ohio Food Bank partner pantries. On average 10,000 pounds of produce is harvested and donated annually. Over the life of the garden 130,000 plus pounds of produce have been donated. The recipient of the Franklin Park conservatory Growing to Green Gardener of the Year Award in 2012, Todd utilizes innovative gardening practices such as companion planting and sequencing of multiple crops to enhance output. The garden helps preserve God’s creation by composting food waste and coffee grounds from local coffee shops and restaurants. Yard waste is also composed including that generated by St. Francis of Assisi from its flower and vegetable gardens.
When he is not working in the community garden—which he is every Saturday from spring until mid-November--or recruiting volunteers to help with weeding, planting and harvesting, Todd can be found at his day job as an Assistant Attorney General for State of Ohio.
Sister Paula Gonzalez, a Sister of Charity in Cincinnati and co-founder of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light (OhIPL), passed into eternal light earlier this month and was mourned and celebrated by friends and loved ones at a green burial on August 2 and a mass at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse on August 4. Sr. Paula taught biology at Mount St. Joseph University for 15 years before dedicating the last 40 years of her life to environmental education and ministry. Shown here in her solar powered golf cart (which she built; photo credit: Sisters of Charity, Cincinnati), Paula received Green Energy Ohio’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 and was honored as a “Woman of the Year” by the Cincinnati Inquirer in 2014. She remains famous for her good spirit and vision for sustainability, and for her energy efficient renovated living and work spaces. An award was made in her honor, The Sister Paula Gonzalez Award, and Sara Ward was the recipient. Paula will be remembered at OhIPL’s Earthkeeping Summit at Ohio State on Sept. 24.
The Reverend Pat Watkins is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. He is guiding a new, globally-focused United Methodist Ministry with God’s Renewed Creation, based at Global Ministries and also closely related to the Council of Bishops. While faith has traditionally looked at relationship with God and relationships with other people, he began to see a relationship between faith and the created order. Please click the link below to read more about Reverend Watkins:
Dr. Melanie L. Harris is Associate Professor of Religion at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX . There, she teaches and conducts research in the areas of Religious Social Ethics, African American Religion and Environmental Justice. She is a GreenFaith Fellow and co-director of Earth Honoring Faith with Ghost Ranch Education and Conference Center. Dr. Harris is currently a member of the Board of Directors of KERATV/Radio in Dallas and facilitates contemplative retreats as a licensed Spiritual Director. She is the author of Gifts of Virtue: Alice Walker and Womanist Ethics (Palgrave), as well as coeditor of the volume Faith, Feminism, and Scholarship: The Next Generation (Palgrave) and editor of Ecowomanism: Earth Honoring Faiths (Brill).
Along with Dr. Jennifer Harvey, Dr. Harris conducts workshops about racial justice, womanist ethics and environmental justice. She has presented to audiences in the AME, United Church of Christ, and Baptist church traditions.
Earth Stewardship and Laudato Si is an article written by Cal DeWitt, a professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. His article was first presented at a session on religion and ecology at a meeting of the Ecological Society of America. It was then published in the Quarterly Review of Biology and has been one of the top five most read articles in the past five months. Dewitt discusses his response on the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si pulling from his scientific background in environmental studies and scriptures from the Bible.
Bill is a retired United Methodist Minister from Ohio. He spent much of his ministry teaching at MTSO (Methodist Theological School in Ohio). He is a graduate of The Ohio State University (B.S. in Educ. and Ph. D.) and of MTSO (M. Div.). His involvement with the Climate Justice Movement began in 2014. During that time he has been active on the Creation Care Taskforce of The West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church and in Fossil Free UMC.