In 2013 five Bahá’ís in Gainesville, Florida, took the first Climate Change course that the Wilmette Institute offered. Before the course ended, they had reached out to other faiths in Gainesville and formed an interfaith climate group. In January 2016, as the Gainesville-based Interfaith Climate Group begins its fourth year, it is hosting a panel discussion on climate change for World Religion Day in January. Sue Blythe, a learner in the course on Sustainable Development and the Progress of Humankind and one of the five Gainesville Bahá’ís in the first Climate Change course, is also working with the planning committee of a new statewide Interfaith Climate Network. She now lives in the Sustainable Living Center of the North Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice in Hampton, Florida. You may want to read two previous articles about the Gainesville Interfaith Climate Group to see how far it has come in three years—one article appeared in the Institute’s October 2013 issue and another in January 2015. Here is Blythe’s report to her fellow learners in the Sustainable Development course:
“I’m working with the Interfaith Climate Action Network of Florida, and it looks like we have a powerful conference coming up January 28–30 near Orlando. Lots of energy around networking the faith community to meet the coming physical, emotional, and spiritual needs caused by the climate crisis. South Florida is feeling the effects of the rising sea level and has raised roads and committed $500M to pumps and road work in flooding areas.
“At the conference we are working on getting the climate message out with a program of education, inspiration, and action for a sustainable future. There is a lot of energy building for using the performing arts and media. We will use the Earth Charter as a guide, with a progressive sequence of courses. It is wonderful to feel some interfaith momentum building. “So powerful is the light of unity,” as Bahá’u’lláh says in Epistle to the Son of the Wolf (p. 14).
“I am using everything I have learned through the Wilmette courses Climate Change, Sustainable Development and the Progress of Humankind, and Preparing for Interfaith Dialogue. Thank you, Wilmette Institute!”
All three courses are being offered again in 2016: Climate Change starts on March 1; Preparing for Interfaith Dialogue begins on May 15; and Sustainable Development begins on September 10. Click on course titles to sign up.