LEWISBURG — She practices what she preaches about the environment. Now pastor and activist the Rev. Dr. Leah Schade has put her teachings into a book that focuses on how people of faith “can proclaim justice for God’s creation.”
“Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology and the Pulpit” is Schade’s tome from Chalice Press, and she will sign and discuss it during a book release event at 2 p.m. Sept. 13 in the Barnes & Noble Bookstore at Bucknell University in Lewisburg.
Nearly a year in the making, the book sprang from Schade’s dissertation in the doctorate program she finished last year. A main premise is that people of faith need to be engaged in the issue of climate disruption, “to see it not as political but as a moral and justice issue, an ethics issue,” she said.
This, Schade believes, “gets it away from the partisan bickering” that happens around climate change. “I tried to give people different theological and biblical frameworks to think about ... how to approach it in a way that helps our most vulnerable.”
The now-defunct White Deer Energy Project, a tire-burning facility that was proposed in Union County and against which Schade fought vehemently, makes a cameo appearance in the book.
“I focused on how religion and communities of faith engage in what is public theology and community organizing. What role does the minister or preacher have in those kinds of issues?” she asked. “The tire burner, for me, was very instructional” in social movement theory. “When I was able to apply it to the tire burner, I saw the theory has relevance” and that became one of the book’s chapters.
Schade is pastor of United in Christ Lutheran Church in Lewisburg and founder of the Interfaith Sacred Earth Coalition. Being here in the Susquehanna Valley the last four years had a huge influence on the book, she said.
“I couldn’t have done it had I not been called to a church serving this area, been involved in shale gas and tire burner issues and climate change in this particular contest,” Schade said.
Local residents, even if not interested in the topic, will find it fun to go through the book and see references to Shikellamy Point, for instance, and Gifford Pinchot, Pennsylvania’s 28th governor and a conservationist who helped establish America’s forests.
More evangelical Christians are focusing on climate disruption and environmental issues as a pro-life cause, Schade said. The Evangelical Environmental Network, for instance, “looks at everything from climate change to chemicals and toxins in water and air and emissions from power plants. If one of our values as conservative Christians is the life of an unborn child, then we also must look at how we protect health in the uterus. Toxins in water and people’s wells, power emitting mercury, all that has detrimental effects to the unborn.”
There are more people of faith paying attention to the environment, she said.
“The planet is God’s sanctuary. It all belongs to God,” and it’s among human responsibilities to care for God’s creation, she said.
“We have a moral and spiritual responsibility with what God has entrusted to us,” she said.