Participatory Education in Faith Communities for Climate Resilience
Creation Justice Ministries is partnering with Interfaith Power & Light chapters in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina on the project “Participatory Education in Faith Communities for Climate Resilience.” Coastal faith communities can be key assets to building resilience in their communities, but often do not have the resources or investment from resilience agencies to build the necessary environmental literacy. The goal of this project is to create networks of faith communities that are educated on the realities of climate change and able to serve as hubs of social and physical resilience for their communities – helping them better weather the physical, social, and spiritual storms of the climate crisis. This project will engage faith communities in social learning on the connections between their experience of extreme weather and the science of climate change; facilitate a series of workshops in which faith communities engage with local scientists, planners, and decision-makers around climate resilience to extreme weather and climate change; and guide congregations through a resilience implementation and educational project. The project team will work with predominantly Black, Indigenous, and other faith communities of color in Mathews County, VA, Wicomico County, MD, and Beaufort and Pamlico Counties, NC. The outcomes of this project are (1) increased social cohesion and networks of accountability between local faith communities, planners, and decision-makers, (2) faith community members educated with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to reason about the interaction of human and natural systems globally and locally, with a specific focus on the inequities of climate change vulnerabilities, (3) faith community members empowered and prepared to educate their communities about climate impacts, participate in civic processes around climate adaptation, mitigation, and resilience, and serve as trusted community leaders when climate disasters occur, and (4) congregations with the infrastructure to continue integrating resilience and climate change education in the life of their church and local community. This project is integrally connected to NOAA’s mission of science, service, and stewardship. By intersecting the service- and stewardship-oriented work of faith communities with the science of resilience agencies and local universities, members of faith communities can be more resilient and adaptive to the risks and hazards associated with climate change. Other project partners include NOAA Regional Climate Services Center, NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments program, North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resilience, Mathews County Board of Supervisors, Maryland CoastSmart Communities, Duke University Marine Lab’s (DUML) Community Science Initiative, Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at the University of Maryland, and Virginia Institute of Marine Science (William & Mary).