Friday, October 23, 2020 at 7:00 PM EDT
Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 5:30 PM EDT

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This is an online event. 



Center for Religion and Environment 
Center for Religion and Environment 

Deep Green Faith: Earth-Hearted Hope Amid Crisis 

A virtual conference from the Center for Religion and Environment at The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee

What grounds for hope, faith, and perseverance might we find to sustain us during this troubling period, when an accelerating climate crisis, together with a global pandemic and renewed challenges to racial justice in the U.S. have left many engulfed in what’s been called “a tsunami of sadness”?  

How, in the face of all that, might we embrace an earth-hearted hope that includes our nonhuman neighbors?  Scripture urges us to seek “a reason for the hope” that is within us (1 Peter 3:15). But if we believe that Christian hope amounts to something more than temperamental optimism or wishful thinking, just how might we now look to discover and cultivate it?

According to the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, co-editor of Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis (2019), we are each called “to stabilize the climate and re-weave the web of life. In order to be healers and justice-makers, we need to be emotionally and spiritually resilient. We need to take care of our inner lives.” As keynote speaker for the 2020 Deep Green Faith Virtual Conference, Rev. Bullitt-Jonas will offer her three-part framework for the heart as a way of “holding” the climate crisis in a way that helps us to respond wisely and creatively to the challenges we face.

Join us October 23-24 online as we explore these and other themes in an organic interweaving of religion, science, and the arts, with contemplative and embodied experience. In addition to Rev. Dr. Bullitt-Jonas, a noted author, activist, and retreat leader, we will also hear from the Rev. Walter Brownridge, Dr. Collin Cornell, and Dr. Amy Patterson.

 During this two-day online event, you’ll experience:

  • Presentations by leading thinkers on faith, hope, and environmental concerns;

  • A focus on embodied spirituality and ecological contemplation;

  • Time for dialogue and reflection;

  • Earth-grounded worship


  • Tuition is $59 (Sewanee enrolled students, faculty, and staff may register for free with a promo code)

  • This is an online event that will be delivered through the Zoom platform

  • Full details will be sent to registrants one day before the event


Friday, October 23

  • 7-8:30 p.m. (Eastern) - Keynote Address by the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, followed by brief question-and-answer exchange

Saturday. October 24

  • 10-11:30 a.m. (Eastern) - Panel Discussion featuring John Gatta (Moderator), with the Rev. Walter Brownridge, Dr. Collin Cornell, and Dr. Amy Patterson (panelists)     

  • 2-3:30 p.m. (Eastern) - Session of Eco-Contemplation led by the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas and Dr. Robin Gottfried (Director of CRE)

  • 4:30-5:30 p.m. (Eastern) - Closing Service of Eco-Worship organized by the Rev. Jerry Cappel and other members of the CRE community

Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas 

The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas is an Episcopal priest, author, retreat leader, and climate activist.  Her new book, Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis (2019), is an anthology of essays co-edited with Leah Schade. She serves as Missioner for Creation Care in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ. A graduate of Stanford (BA, Russian Literature, 1974), Harvard (PhD., Comparative Literature, 1984), and Episcopal Divinity School (M.Div., Pastoral Theology, 1988), she was a parish priest for 25 years. She has been a lead organizer of many Christian and interfaith events about care for Earth, and she leads spiritual retreats in the United States and Canada on spiritual resilience and resistance in the midst of the climate crisis. One of the first to engage in civil disobedience to draw attention to climate change, Margaret was arrested in 2001 with 21 other religious activists outside the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. Since then she has participated in other interfaith acts of civil disobedience to stop construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure. Her earlier books include Joy of Heaven, to Earth Come Down (2012, 2013); Christ’s Passion, Our Passions (2002); and Holy Hunger (1998, 2000). Her website includes blog posts, sermons, and articles. She lives with her husband in Northampton, Massachusetts. 
Rev. Walter Brownridge
The Rev. Walter Brownridge is an Episcopal priest from the Diocese of Maryland who currently serves as Senior Associate for Parish Life and Christian Formation at Christ Episcopal Church in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.  He previously served as Dean of the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Honolulu from 2011-2016. During this period he was active in faith-based community organizing, leading a statewide program that addressed environmental issues on the island of Oahu. Other appointments he has held include service as Associate Dean for Community Life at Sewanee’s School of Theology, and as Canon at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, with which Archbishop Desmond Tutu had also been associated. Father Brownridge has long maintained an interest in political theology—especially as related to public policy and faith-based organizations. He holds a J.D. degree from Georgetown and for a decade practiced law with an involvement in public policy. 
Collin Cornell, Ph.D.
Collin Cornell, Ph.D., is visiting assistant professor of biblical studies for the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. He is by vocation a teacher and writer. He loves preparing seminary students for various forms of lifelong Christian ministry, especially through instruction in Bible and biblical languages (Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, all of which he has taught at Sewanee), and he has authored or edited two books: Divine Aggression in Psalms and Inscriptions (Cambridge University Press) and Divine Doppelgangers: YHWH’s Ancient Look-Alikes (Penn State University Press). He brings an ecological conviction, rooted in scripture, to all his work of educating.
Amy S. Patterson, Ph.D.
Amy S. Patterson, Ph.D., was educated at Trinity University in San Antonio, holds a doctorate in political science and African studies from Indiana University, and is the Carl Gustav Biehl Professor of International Affairs at Sewanee. She is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters addressing AIDS, civil society, youth citizenship, the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, and gender in diverse African settings.  She has also published several books: The Politics of AIDS in Africa, The Church and AIDS in Africa, Dependent Agency in the Global Health Regime (co-authored), and Africa and Global Health Governance: Domestic Politics and International Structures. Two of these volumes have garnered “best book” award recognition from the International Studies Association Global Health Section. Earlier this year, The Washington Post published her article on special challenges that the spread of Corona-19 likely posed for African nations. Drawing on her extensive field experience throughout the African continent, Amy has twice led study abroad semesters to Ghana and has developed summer internships for Sewanee students in Uganda, Ghana, and Tanzania.
John Gatta, Ph.D.
John Gatta, Ph.D., is a professor of English emeritus both at the University of Connecticut and at the University of the South, where he has also served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.  In his academic teaching and research, he has long reflected on theological topics, on the interplay between imaginative literature and religious faith, and on American environmental literature—addressing works by authors such as Henry Thoreau, John Muir, Rachel Carson, Wendell Berry, and Marilynne Robinson.  His many publications include three books that highlight environmental concerns: Making Nature Sacred: Literature, Religion, and Environment in America from the Puritans to the Present (Oxford UP), The Transfiguration of Christ and Creation (Wipf and Stock), and Spirits of Place in American Literary Culture (Oxford UP). He is currently under contract to complete a new book exposing the graces of “green jeremiad” discourse—that is, of writings meant to inspire a response to threatened environmental catastrophe, especially in our own era of climate change.
Robin Gottfried, Ph.D.
Robert (Robin) Gottfried, Ph.D., directs the Center for Religion and Environment. For twenty years he has introduced people to the Christian practice of nature contemplation through the "Opening the Book of Nature" program. Long known for his passion for environmental economics and sustainable development, he has published extensively on land use change, forest policy, and the impacts of economic development in the U.S., Costa Rica, and elsewhere. The author of Economics, Ecology, and the Roots of Western Faith: Perspectives from the Garden, he also has published numerous articles and spoken extensively on the interplay between economics, ecology, and theology.  He recently published (co-authored with Frederick Krueger), Living in an Icon: A Program for Growing Closer to Creation and to God.

The Center for Religion and Environment (CRE)

Affiliated with The School of Theology at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, the Center for Religion and Environment at Sewanee provides academic resources, training, and consultation to promote reconciliation and mutual care between people of faith and the web of Creation. Our programs for individuals and small groups emphasize creation-inclusive spirituality, theology, ethics, and interdisciplinary inquiry.

We believe in the inherent goodness and value of all creation; the power of prayer, contemplation, faith, and religious practice; the importance of the Christian faith in dialogue with other traditions; and, the value of challenging conversation, academic inquiry, science, and the arts.