Religious leaders of northwestern Nevada held a collective multi-faith prayer-vigil at Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church in Reno on October 17, seeking divine intervention to save the planet and for the successful outcome of upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.
COP26 is the next annual UN climate change conference. COP stands for Conference of the Parties, and the summit will be attended by the countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty that came into force in 1994.
Coordinated by Hindu statesman Rajan Zed and hosted by Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church Presiding Priest Father Stephen R. Karcher; it included prayers by Christian (various denominations), Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i, Pagan, Unitarian-Universalist, etc., leaders. In addition, prayers were also held through Taiko drums, bansuri (Indian flute), harp, etc. A lamp-lighting ritual by diverse religious leaders was also held on the occasion.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, points out that it is our moral responsibility to preserve God’s creation, save the planet and care for the environment. It is our religious duty to stop damage to the environment and limit global warming, thus protecting the vulnerable communities across the world.
Father Karcher states that after listening to the pain of God given earth and world’s poor, we joined together to pray for the world leaders to make right decisions in COP26 (October 31-November 12) for the future of the planet and its occupants, committing to urgent global climate action; and for the global business leaders to adopt people-focused policies and embrace sustainable and just economies.
Rajan Zed adds that despite our seriously different faith traditions and doctrines, we are all deeply interconnected, and we should collaborate together for taking care of the creation so that everyone flourishes. In this climate crisis, we should pursue fairness instead of selfish gains and commit to a responsible attitude towards our planet. Exploitation of the planet, causing climate change, must stop immediately.
Father Karcher and Zed note that prayers coming from diverse traditions to the Almighty in a crisis like this are highly effective and intensely valuable and emit collective energy.
This prayer-vigil also urged the faithful, through individual and collective action, to: adopt more sustainable lifestyles, become aware of how we are depleting natural resources and degrading the environment, commit to care for the creation, listen to earth’s sufferings, pray, think of future generations, and work to protect and restore ecosystems.
A “Nevada Multi-faith Pronouncement for COP26” was jointly read by participating religious leaders on the occasion, which included: “We, the diverse faith communities, are united to protect and care-for our planet and all its people to ensure a healthy and resilient future for humankind.”
Thanks to the prayers of these fauth leaders:
Prayers on the occasion were read by Benjamin Katz, Rabbi of Congregation Temple Emanu-El; Father Stephen R. Karcher, Presiding Priest of Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church; Abdelaziz H. Elsheikh, Imam of Northern Nevada Muslim Community; Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism; Dr. Norris Delane DuPree, Assistant Pastor of Grace Tabernacle Church of God in Christ in Sparks; Rita C. Sloan, Coordinator of Life Peace & Justice Commission, Roman Catholic Diocese of Reno; Sherman W. Baker, Jr; Baptist Pastor & Chief Chaplain of VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System; Matthew E. Goddard, Buddhist thinker; Gaia Brown of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada; Excolas Danae M. Miller, President of Sabbat Celebrations—a non-denominational Pagan group; Norollah Sedigh, Baha’i Faith teacher; Azita Dastyar, Zoroastrian practitioner; Steep Weiss, Director of First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Carson City. Rieko Shimbo and Cindy Lu of Reno Taiko Tsurunokai showcased a Shinto prayer through Taiko drumming; Marina Roznitovsky Oster of University of Nevada-Reno delivered a prayer through harp; while Oscar Dallas Smith prayed through bansuri (A bamboo transverse flute from Indian sub-continent). Christine Jones Brady, Nevada’s Second Assistant Attorney General, also spoke.