Beginning in 1998, RES began hosting a series of environmental conferences on themes including “Stewards of Creation,” “Jubilee for the Land,” and “Spirituality and Environment.” Though they started off as a solely educational outreach group, in 2000 they moved on to active engagement with threats to the environment, organizing a “Bypass Pilgrimage” to protest the construction of a new highway bypass that cut through farm and forest land by walking along the route. RES also sponsors annual Earth Day services focusing on topics such as “Return to the Garden,” “Blessing Waters,” “Breath of Life,” and the “Council of All Beings.” At all RES services, the participants are directed towards various actions relating to the theme that range from letter-writing and petition campaigns to helpful hints for individuals and communities.
One of RES’s most significant contributions to faith-based environmentalism is its ambitious goal to create a fully-interfaith organization for environmental advocacy. Among the group’s members and participants are representatives from multiple Protestant denominations, Catholics sisters and priests, Rabbis, Episcopalians, Quakers, Hindus, Buddhists and Native American leaders. Though the group admits that such a broad conception of diversity occasionally makes it difficult to reach consensus, the contributions and range of perspectives have overall proved to be a rewarding and enlightening experience.
Since its conception, RES has participated in numerous successful efforts towards environmental justice and stewardship. In 2003 the group helped promote the Michigan Polluter Pays Bill passed by the state legislature. The group created a Fair Trade Coffee committee that helped ensure decent living standards and wages for coffee workers. A 2001 effort helped expand bus service throughout the area to provide an environmentally-friendly transportation option for Sunday church-goers. And numerous letter-writing campaigns have been waged to promote ecologically-sound legislation.
West Michigan Environmental Action Council
1007 Lake Drive
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 451-3051
Fax: (616) 451-3054