EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge: Lutheran Bishop Thomas A. Skrenes says – “We are all environmentalists” & “Every day is Earth Day”
Lutheran Bishop Thomas A. Skrenes praises interfaith success of the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge
(Marquette, Michigan) – A Lutheran Bishop who has participated in interfaith Earth Day recycling projects for four years in a row said.
“Celebrate – what a great day Earth Day has been 2008,” said Lutheran Bishop Thomas A. Skrenes of the Northern Great Lakes Synod (NGLS) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). “The Earth Healing Initiative has been a great success this year.”
“Congratulations Earth Healers – you’ve done it, it has been a success,” Bishop Skrenes said. “The EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge has been a great success.”
“Computers have been recycled, pharmaceuticals have been brought together for proper disposal,” Skrenes said. “We are hearing reports from all over the Midwest about wonderful things that are happening.”
“Pharmacological waste – more than a million pills – and all kinds of poundage of equipment and computer materials that are surplus that will not pollute the beautiful Great Lakes over the next years because of the success of this challenge.”
“Congratulations to those members of the faith communities and others who have been a part of this,” Skrenes said. “It has been a great day, a great week, a great Earth day 2008.”
“What a great opportunity it has been to be part of the ecumenical work and interfaith work of assisting others to see the environmental concerns set before us,” said Bishop Skrenes of Marquette, Michigan.
“We are all environmentalists,” Skrenes said. “Everybody is an environmentalist because all of us want clean air to breathe, all of us want clean drinking water. We all enjoy the outdoors and nature.”
“So every single one of us – no matter our political understandings are – no matter where we are on the liberal and conservative line – no matter what we think of any of the big issues facing the world today – all of us can agree that it is in all of our interests.”
The interfaith protecting of the environment “is an honoring of the God that made us, that we can be part of this movement to preserve to reuse to recycle – to make a difference,” Skrenes said.
“We call that the environmental movement,” Skrenes said. “Sometimes all kinds of political forces connect to that but yet all of us agree that we can all certainly conserve and save and bring back – and then give to the next generation what has been given to us.”
With hundreds of thousands of people participating across eight states in the Midwest and Northeast, Bishop Skrenes said interfaith environment projects like the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge will help ensure a better future for all humans.
“It is a sign of great significance that people can join hands and work together,” Skrenes said. “So celebrate – it is a good day for the environment and it is a good day for all of us together.”
Bishop Skrenes thanked the EPA, faith communities and “people of goodwill throughout the upper Midwest who have been a part of this work.”
“Thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency for their help and assistance in all of this work,” Bishop Skrenes said. “The EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge has been a part of the lives and will be a part of the future of this whole area.”
“It is a wonderful opportunity to begin to look at what it is that we hold in common,” Skrenes said. “What we hold in common is this wonderful Great Lakes basin.”
“This is a wonderful place with lakes and streams and forests everywhere in the Midwest, and the great plains and the great fields,” Skrenes said. “We have been a part of saving some of this and making a difference – that’s what it is all about making a difference.”
“The faith communities do that each and every day in so many ways, this is just one more way. People of faith have bonded together and are working together to make a difference in the world.”
“When we are working together as different believing communities great things can happen,” Skrenes said.
“Sometimes we become so focused on what divides us, what disconnects us, what separates us – and there are important things that sometimes do that – but yet we can all have loyalty and allegiance to this world that has been our home and this part of the world that we have been blessed with by God.”
“God has given us the privilege of living here in the midst of these lakes and in the midst of all of this beautiful nature,” Skrenes said.
“When people of faith, whether they be of Christian traditions or of other traditions, gather together to work on what connects us. One of those things that connects us is respect and awe for the creation that surrounds us.”
“We are part of a movement together in these early years of the Twenty-first (21st) Century to save what has been given to us by the generations before us and what God has provided to us,” Skrenes said.
“When you can have people of all traditions working together – wonderful things can happen. People joining hands and making things happen. A spectacular success was this initiative. Thanks be to God for that – and thanks be to all the people that made this possible.”
Bishop Skrenes is one of the original nine faith leaders who signed the Earth Keeper Covenant in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in 2004 that lead to many interfaith projects
Background: Earth Healing Initiative and the Michigan Earth Keeper Initiative
The Cedar Tree Institute (CTI) co-founded the interfaith Earth Keeper Initiative in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that works closely with ten faith traditions on a wide range of environment projects that include college students, at-risk teens, American Indian tribes and others.
The CTI Interfaith Earth Healing Initiative is developing the same relationship with the same faith communities in northern Michigan and others across the Great lakes.
The faith communities include Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist, Baha’i, Jewish, The Religious Society of Friends (commonly known as the Quakers) and Zen Buddhist.
Springtime, Earth Day, the Great Lakes challenge and similar events are a renewal, Skrenes said.
“Now in the springtime – what a better time of year there is than spring I can not imagine. Springtime when the trees are just blossoming and the flowers are coming up and the spring rains – to be reminded of what a great God we have who has provided all this to us.”
“So it is our privilege then to do this ministry to do this work together. “Every day is Earth Day – every day is an environmental concern day,” Skrenes said.
Interfaith Earth Healing Initiative
EPA Region 5 Office in Chicago, Illinois
ELCA Northern Great Lakes Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
8765 W. Higgins Road
Interfaith graphics by Justice St. Rain (Baha’i Community) of Interfaith Resources – Special Ideas website:
Justice St. Rain
1-800-326-1197 (toll free)
P.O. Box 9
511 Diamond Rd