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Religious Leaders Seek To Boost Faith In Sustainability

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Dr. Earl Trent Jr., reverend at Florida Avenue Baptist Church, in front of the church's recently installed solar panels.
Jessica Gould
Dr. Earl Trent Jr., reverend at Florida Avenue Baptist Church, in front of the church's recently installed solar panels.

Across the region, religious leaders are preaching the gospel of green, and taking part in interfaith efforts to advance "creation care"

This Ramadan, Arif Karim is saying a special prayer for the planet.

"Greater indeed than the creation of man is the creation of heavens and the Earth," he says.

Karim has been working with the Green Muslims, a group of D.C. area individuals dedicated to discussing environmental issues from a faith-based perspective.

"So we're focusing this Ramadan on reaching out to mosques or community centers in the area to provide them with reusable products for our Iftars," says the group's director, Sarah Jawaid.

She says respecting God also means respecting nature. Florida Avenue Baptist Church Reverend Earl Trent, Jr. agrees.

"We are not the owners," says Trent. "We have to manage the gifts that God gave us."

Earlier this year, the Northwest, D.C. church installed solar panels on its roof.

"We are here on the roof of our building, watching electricity be made," Trent says.

He also says he can trace the genesis of sustainability back to -- well -- Genesis.

"The garden – everybody knows about Adam and Eve. But they missed that first part where he told them to take care of the garden. Take care of Earth."

Meanwhile, at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, Md., congregants are also getting energy from the sun, and sowing the seeds of sustainability – at the synagogue’s organic garden.

"These little miracles that are popping up on the ground that we’re tending," says Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb. "It’s a beautiful thing."

Joelle Novey is the director of Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light, which helps congregations go green. She says people hear differently when they're in their houses of worship.

They hear it with their moral ears. They hear it as a message about doing right, doing in a holy way.

One day, Rabbi Fred says, they'll all be preaching to the choir.

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