Content submitted by Rev. Stuart Taylor of Elkin Presbyterian Church, an Earth Care Congregation in Salem Presbytery.
Our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals — the sixth wave of extinctions in the past half-billion years. We’re currently experiencing the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century. Unlike past mass extinctions, caused by events like asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions, and natural climate shifts, the current crisis is almost entirely caused by us — humans.
The Peace and Justice Task Force for Salem Presbytery did a study of The Uninhabitable Earth which really shook us up. We realized that we too were “in denial” about the climate crisis. We felt compelled to do more. Bearing witness to the Holy Spirit who groans with a suffering creation, we reached out to our neighbors in New Hope Presbytery and found they were eager to join us.
On Friday, September 27 at the end of the Global Week for Future and amidst other climate strikes Presbyterians from Salem and New Hope Presbyteries in North Carolina joined other protests that took place across 4,500 locations in 150 countries.[1)The event is a part of the school strike for climate movement, inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. The Guardian reported that roughly 6 million people participated in the events. Other groups like 350.org claim that 7.6 million people participated.
Inspired by photographs of a die-in in Glasgow Scotland, we gathered at the NC Museum of Natural Science and staged our own die-in to symbolize the crisis we face.
It was a solemn occasion and yet strangely life-giving. Afterwards we had lunch together and talked about our shared experience. Going around the circle each of us offered a word or two about what it had meant for us.
“I feel more hopeful.”
“I feel less powerless.”
“I am less angry.”
“We can do more.”
We share these images hopeful that photographs of Presbyterians acting on their faith in Raleigh, NC might be a catalyst for others around the country. View video presentation of images here.