A group of local congregations and organizations will host an ecumenical outdoor worship service at Turner Pavilion Sunday, April 23, at 9:45 a.m.

“We were initially planning to host this service back in 2020, which would have celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, but because of COVID-19, those plans had to be shelved. This year, we decided to revisit the idea, and we’re excited to move forward, even if three years later,” said Lauren Eanes, pastor at Muhlenberg Lutheran Church.

In a press release, the groups explained that as the impacts of environmental degradation linked to human activity were becoming more widespread and apparent, the urgency to address the crisis led to the first Earth Day observance back in 1970. A bipartisan effort in Congress, led by Senator Gaylord Nelson, D-Wisconsin, and Representative Pete McClosky, R-California, sought to harness the energy of student activism to raise awareness and spur action to protect the environment.

Since then, more than 190 countries and more than 1 billion people, have participated in Earth Day events around the globe, the press release stated.

“Our desire to care for creation is rooted in our faith. We believe we are called to be good stewards of God's creation. Our calling compels us to repent of the ways that our human living has damaged God's Earth, and to stand with those who suffer most acutely from the injustices and harms caused by pollution and environmental degradation," said Krista Showalter Ehst, pastor at Shalom Mennonite Congregation. “This worship service is an opportunity for us to come together, across denominations, to recommit to the work of Creation care and stewardship.”

An offering will be received with proceeds going to Give Solar, a local organization that helps local non-profits shift to clean energy and improve energy efficiency. Funds raised will go, specifically, to finance the completion of this work at the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Center.

“During this Lent and Easter season at Trinity, we have been focusing on racism that hits close to home — both within the Presbyterian Church (USA) and here in Harrisonburg. We had decided to work with the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Center as part of that focus already. When this group started asking about a way to raise money for a local project, Jeff Heie mentioned this opportunity. In our church, we call that a Holy Spirit moment. We’re excited for this project, which touches both on Creation care and justice work, which are intricately related to each other,” said Stephanie Sorge, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church.

The event will take place at Turner Pavilion on Sunday, April 23, with worship beginning at 9:45 a.m. Tables from participating congregations and organizations will be set up on the western side of the Pavilion, and on the eastern side, quiet, supervised activities will be offered for preschool and elementary aged kids, the press release stated.

Participating congregations and local groups include Asbury United Methodist Church, Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, Community Mennonite Church (Green Congregation Committee), Eastern Mennonite University Office of Faith and Spiritual Life, Give Solar, Muhlenberg Lutheran Church, St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ, Shalom Mennonite Congregation, Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Center, Shenandoah Valley Faith and Climate, Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District, and Trinity Presbyterian Church.

Any and all are welcome to attend the service, regardless of faith or affiliation.

More information can be found at http://harrisonburgearthdayworship.com/Email Individuals who want to contribute to the Give Solar project at Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Center may do so at this link: qrco.de/bdsJmJ

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