History of Washington Week (part 1 of 6)

A History of Washington Week (Part 1 of 6)

Since 1999 Christians and Jews have come together annually to represent their environmental positions before Congress, the White House and other government agencies. Initially the focus was on religious responsibility to conserve and protect our national forests. Now we include climate change, protection for endangered species, wilderness preservation, ending mountain-top removal, and protection of national parks from commercial development.

Washington Week 2001
Washington Week 2001
Each year the Washington Week program begins with a National Prayer Breakfast for Creation Care. The first prayer breakfast was held at the historic Willard Hotel alongside the White House. Secretary Bruce Babbitt was our guest. Over the years this event has taken place in a variety of locations. On February 23, 2009 the national prayer breakfast will again gather inside the Willard Hotel near The White House. Please join us.

An awards ceremony is part of every prayer breakfast. Here we honor those individuals who exemplify principled action in protecting and stewarding forests because of religious and spiritual values. This tradition began in 1999 with the first "Steward of the Forest" award. Twenty individuals have so far been honored and entered onto our Honor Roll.

Connie Hansen, Steward of Creation
Connie Hansen, Steward of Creation

Catholics and Jews, Evangelicals, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostals, and Mainline Protestants typically hold similar positions on most issues of creation care. The result is that religious groups enjoy a united front on issues – such as the importance of saving national forests, holding off global climate change, and protecting and preserving wild lands. When members of the religious coalition speak to legislators, individuals from different faith backgrounds represent the formal policy declarations of their institutions with perhaps different rationales, but unified conclusions for public policy.

Over the years since the RCFC began this ministry, many religious organizations and groups have participated in these interfaith Washington Week activities. Among these organizations are the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, the National Council of Churches, the American Baptist Churches USA; the Social Action Committee of Reformed Judaism; the Evangelical Environmental Network; Christians Caring for Creation; and the Central Conference of American Rabbis; among many others. To broaden our base we are now, as of 2007, calling this coalition the "National Religious Coalition on Creation Care."

To ensure religious integrity amidst different beliefs we have developed a protocol for interdenominational and interfaith work. It invites each participant to (1) reflect the fullness of his or her religious beliefs, but also to (2) respect the responsibility of every other participant to do the same. Where we come together is in our common conclusions regarding the right conduct and care that is required for good stewardship of God's creation.

NRCCC at Capitol
Conveying religious ethics on creation at Capitol Hill