FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2019
Faith Leaders & Organizers Take Bus Tour
to Explore Environmental Racism in Hampton Roads
NORFOLK, PORTSMOUTH, & CHESAPEAKE, Virginia – On a bus tour Wednesday afternoon, clergy and faith leaders took to the streets to learn about the connections between environmental justice and theology. The tour served to educate and empower people of faith with knowledge about the impact of pollution on their communities.
“Sea level rise has put Hampton Roads on the frontlines of climate disruption,” Rev. Dr. Faith Harris, Director of The Center for Faith, Leadership, and Public Life, Assistant Professor of Theology at Virginia Union University, and Chair of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light said. “It’s important that faith leaders think about the future of Hampton Roads, get involved in conversations about environmental injustice, and recognize the potential they have to influence policy, prepare their congregations, and care for Creation.”
On the bus tour, leaders visited Lambert’s Point to discuss coal dust, Thurgood Marshall Elementary School to learn about fracked-gas pipelines, and the Paradise Creek Nature Park Center to hear about sustainable community models. The group witnessed how climate disruption and environmental burdens disproportionately affect low-income communities and people of color in Hampton Roads. Along the route, they discussed various health and public safety hazards faced by local residents affected by environmental injustice and what the faith community can do to address its effects. In addition to fostering cooperation and bringing attention to environmental justice, visiting Paradise Creek helped clergy and activists explore ways to mitigate the harmful impacts of climate change.
“Environmental injustices like air pollution hit the most vulnerable communities the hardest,” said Kendyl Crawford, Director of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light. “Our goal is to spread awareness of the call to care for Creation and seek out solutions with people of faith to one of the most pressing issues of our time. It is of the utmost importance that our local leaders start to think more about what justice looks like as communities are continually exposed to pollution and as the seas are rising.”
The tour included leaders from diverse organizations and different faith backgrounds. It was held in conjunction with the 120th Annual Session and Congress of Christian Education and organized by the Johnson A. Edosomwan Center for Faith Leadership and Public Life at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology Virginia Union University, The Baptist General Convention of Virginia, Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, and the Center for Sustainable Communities.
About Virginia Interfaith Power & Light (VAIPL): Virginia Interfaith Power & Light collaborates, as people of faith, to grow healthy communities and advance climate justice through education, advocacy, and worship. VAIPL is a program of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. For more information, visit https://www.vaipl.org