2015 Symposium | Sessions

Alexie Torres Fleming. Executive Director, Access Strategies Fund;
“Environmental Justice in Urban America: A South Bronx Case Study"

Alexie will share a video highlighting the environmental justice work led by Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice.  She will then hold an open discussion and Q&A period that expands upon her keynote address and shares specific strategies for engaging communities in the movement for environmental justice.


Jason Fileta. Director, Micah Challenge USA. 
“On Earth as it is in Heaven: Justice for all Creation”

God created this world and its inhabitants for flourishing, but injustice has ravaged not only the lives of billions of people living in extreme poverty, but all of creation.  Injustice against the earth and injustice against the impoverished are not separate, but often done in tandem. We cannot address extreme poverty without addressing environmental degradation, and we cannot address environmental degradation without impacting the lives of God's most vulnerable children. Our hope lies in a God who seeks the restoration of all creation!"


John Elwood.  Beloved Planet. 
“The Theology of Creation Care”

In every age, Christians must grapple with the meaning of the gospel in light of their surroundings and challenges. In our age, the gospel confronts a world shrunk by the reach of technology, imperiled by the effects of the industrial consumer culture, and threatened by the infringement of planetary boundaries. Despite this, many of the faithful exhibit little concern for care of the creation.

In this workshop, we will address several neglected elements of the biblical account:

  • Creation narrative: What is the creation for? What is our relationship to that purpose?
  • Sabbath narrative: What do the Sabbath and Jubilee tell us about our relationships to God, the earth, other creatures and people?
  • Redemption narrative: What is God saving in the gospel? How do we proclaim salvation to all that God is redeeming? What does loving God and our brother have to do with creation care?
  • Kingdom narrative: What is the creation’s fundamental destiny? What hope is there for a planet whose sustainable limits are being crossed in crucial dimensions?

Christen Civiletto Morris. Author and Attorney. 
“The New Face of Conflict Resolution: Using Natural Resources to Foster Peace.”

A new concept described as “environmental peacemaking” puts attorneys front and center in the creation care movement. It’s a more expansive view of environmental stewardship that focuses on the notion that moral choices about the environment can transcend political and social divisions, and sometimes can offer a pathway to peace.


Gerry Gacioch, MD.  Rochester General Hospital and Catholic Climate Ambassador.
“The Human Health and Social Implications of Climate Change.”

Rising global temperatures and the accompanying climatic changes are having a tremendous impact on human health.  From rising asthma rates to spreading disease vectors, climate change will continue to impact public health in a significant way.  This raises important ethical implications about our approach to global warming.  On the day that Pope Francis speaks on environmental justice before the United Nations in New York, Dr. Gerry Gacioch, a Catholic Climate Ambassador, will discuss what Catholic social teaching and Pope Francis’ encyclical say about the effect of climate change on the poor and vulnerable.  As a medical doctor, he will give particular attention to the human health implications of climate change.


“Engaging the Arts” Coffeehouse and Music for Justice Performance             

7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Van Dyk Lounge

Performances by the Houghton College Gospel Choir, Pocket Vinyl, and Emma Tyme

Pocket Vinyl is a Houghton alumni duo from New London, CT consisting of a one man piano slammer (Eric) and an on stage painter (Elizabeth), who creates a beautiful and unique work of art at every show. The painting is then auctioned off to the highest bidder at the end of the night. Every painting and show is one of a kind.

Raised on a grazing dairy farm in Western New York, Emma Tyme came to appreciate the intimate role that ecosystem health plays in our everyday lives.  Inspired by the changing seasons and the connections among people and their environment, her lyrics and music uniquely express her love for the land and its inhabitants.  Emma showcases her talent through voice, piano, guitar, and ukulele across the hills and hollers of Allegany and Steuben County.


Film & Discussion: Promised Land starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski

8:00 – 10:00 p.m. CFA Recital Hall

In Promised Land, Matt Damon stars as Steve Butler, a corporate salesman whose journey from farm boy to big-time player takes an unexpected detour when he lands in a small town, where he grapples with a surprising array of both open hearts and closed doors. Steve has been dispatched to the rural town of McKinley with his sales partner, Sue Thomason (Academy Award winner Frances McDormand). The town has been hit hard by the economic decline of recent years, and the two consummate sales executives see McKinley’s citizens as likely to accept their company’s offer – for drilling rights to their properties – as much-needed relief. What seems like an easy job and a short stay for the duo becomes complicated – professionally by calls for community-wide consideration of the offer by respected schoolteacher Frank Yates (Academy Award nominee Hal Holbrook) and personally by Steve’s encounter with Alice (Rosemarie DeWitt). When Dustin Noble (John Krasinski), a slick environmental activist, arrives, suddenly the stakes, both personal and professional, rise to the boiling point.

The film will be followed by a panel discussion.

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