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How to faithfully celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day without leaving home

From shofar blasts to Facebook Live, a number of faith-based organizations have moved online to mark Earth Day as in-person gatherings have been canceled around the globe.

Earthrise is a photograph of the Earth and parts of the moon’s surface taken from lunar orbit by astronaut Bill Anders in 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission. Photo by Bill Anders/NASA/Creative Commons

(RNS) — How do you celebrate Earth Day when you’re not supposed to go outside?

The pandemic has sent a number of faith-based organizations online to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day as in-person gatherings have been canceled around the globe — the Jewish sustainability lab, Hazon, among them.

The group, which describes itself as the largest faith-based environmental organization in North America, is inviting people to blow the shofar, or ram’s horn, at noon Eastern on Wednesday (April 22).

“We blow shofar at a time of celebration; at a time of alarm; and as a call to teshuva, to repentance and to changing our behaviors,” Hazon CEO Nigel Savage said in a written statement.

Hazon originally planned to have 50 rabbis and leaders blow the shofar in New York City’s Times Square, which has closed as the city has been hard-hit by the novel coronavirus. The group now hopes to set a Guinness World Record for the most people blowing a shofar at the same time from different places.

Its Earth Day program, #SoundTheCall — which will culminate in the shofar blast — kicks off at 11 a.m. Eastern on Zoom. It will also feature environmental leader Bill McKibben and singer and songwriter Neshama Carlebach.

People of all faiths are encouraged to participate by blowing trumpets, banging drums and ringing church bells, according to Hazon.

Here are some other Earth Day events that people of faith can join from home this year.

Nationwide Climate Prayer

Interfaith Power & Light and Washington National Cathedral kicked off their observance of Earth Day with a Multi-Faith Earth Day Service Sunday at the cathedral in Washington, D.C., that featured a message from the Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

The interfaith group is also co-hosting an Earth Day address via webinar by the Rev. Benjamin Chavis Jr., with the United Church of Christ and the People’s Justice Council. Chavis is credited with coining the phrase “environmental racism” and was central to the launch of the environmental justice movement. 

And it is hosting a Nationwide Climate Prayer at noon in each time zone on Earth Day. It has provided a number of climate blessings and invited participants to add their names to the list of people and churches joining the prayer.

An estimated 7,000 people jam a quadrangle on Independence Mall in Philadelphia, during Earth Week activities celebrating the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. (AP Photo)

Honest to God: Earth Day

On Earth Day, the Washington National Cathedral is also hosting a Facebook Live event titled “Honest to God: Earth Day” at 8 p.m. Eastern on its Facebook page. The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation, will lead a panel discussion on healing the Earth.

“It’s strange and fitting that we’re marking the 50th Earth Day during a global pandemic,” Spellers told Episcopal News Service.

“COVID-19 has forced us to acknowledge the web of life that connects us and all of creation. We are – for better and for worse – in this together. I pray we will really look around on Earth Day, notice the presence of God in the trees that keep on blooming, the birds whose song you can now hear, the waters you long to visit as soon as we can move freely. Notice, be grateful and swear to protect and honor all that God has made.”

Catholic-Buddhist Dialogue

The Parliament of the World’s Religions hosted the webinar “50th Earth Day Observance with Global Religious and Indigenous Leaders” Tuesday with the Earth Day Network and Faith for Earth at UN Environment. It featured Jewish, Mbororo, Dine, Catholic and Hindu activists.

If you missed it, don’t worry. The group will also host the webinar “Catholic-Buddhist Dialogue: Solidarity and Engagement on Climate Change” at 10 a.m. Eastern on Thursday. The event is a partnership between the parliament, the Earth Day Network, Catholic Climate Covenant, the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers and the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies.

Khalifa Conversations

On Earth Day, Green Muslims and Green Ramadan will continue its weekly Khalifa Conversations series discussing practical ways to live the environmental spirt of Islam. Participants can register to join the Zoom conversation with Imam Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes, resident scholar and imam at the Muslim Center of Greater Princeton, New Jersey, at 3 p.m. Eastern.

Solidarity on Tap

The Ignatian Solidarity Network invites Catholics to grab a beverage of choice this Earth Day and join its Solidarity on Tap series encouraging social justice and socializing on a screen, rather than in a bar near you.

This week’s Facebook Live will be at 9 p.m. Eastern Wednesday on the Ignatian Solidarity Facebook page. It will feature a conversation with Molly Burhans, founder and executive director of GoodLands, a nonprofit that provides tools for the Catholic Church to use its land to help the environment.

‘Fierce Urgency of Now’: A Prophetic Call for Climate Justice

The United Methodist Church Board of Church and Society will host “‘Fierce Urgency of Now’: A Prophetic Call for Climate Justice,” a virtual worship service at noon Eastern on Earth Day via Zoom, inspired by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous words on the “fierce urgency of now.” Speakers will include Christian Brooks of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Bernadette Demientieff of the Gwich’in Steering Committee and Shamiso Winnet Mupara of Environmental Buddies Zimbabwe.

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