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Network inspires care for creation

A three-week Whitworth January term in Kenya in 2002 and two weeks working at a Ghanan school during graduate studies at the University of Southern California introduced Felicia Reilly to simple living, a key element in environmental education.

Felicia Reilly of FEN
Felicia Reilly

She knows she could live better in her car, which has a CD player and air conditioning, than many rural African families do in their one-room houses with no electricity.

Felicia now works through the Faith and Environment Network (FEN) in Spokane to engage congregations to care about creation by dealing with lifestyles, recycling, conservation and environmental stewardship.

She invites congregations to recycle, do energy audits and educate members about the environment.

Working with the Faith and Environment Network, she is one of 20 AmeriCorps members serving in Eastern Washington and Idaho through the Palouse Clearwater Environmental Institute.  One is with The Lands Council in Spokane, and others are working on watershed preservation and outdoor education in Moscow, Sun Valley and McCall, Idaho.

Felicia is also gathering resources for partnership packets for congregations about how to develop creation care committees to educate their congregations, engaging the congregations in recycling, composting and fair-trade coffee and developing education for members to conserve energy and resources in their daily living.

The network is also promoting World Water Week by showing the film, “Flow,” at 6:30 p.m., Monday, April 20, at Salem Lutheran Church, 1428 W. Broadway, where the Faith and Environment Network has its offices.

“Flow” highlights problems regarding the world’s dwindling water supply and the far reaching effects that corporate privatization of this resource is having on pollution and human rights, said Felicia. 

Kathy Cousins from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will also speak about her work with the restoration of the Pack River Delta on Lake Pend Oreille, an area devastated by erosion caused by the Albeni Falls Dam.

In addition, the network will present its second annual, Called to Care Conference from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, May 9, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 316 E. 24th Ave., an opportunity for community leaders and people of faith to share ideas on how to become more environmentally sustainable.

A panel with Peter Illyn of Restoring Eden will discuss how faith groups can more actively care for creation. Workshops on energy retrofits, green cleaning and gardening will provide practical experience on how groups can engage in activities to heal and protect the Earth. 

Felicia, who grew up in Lewiston attending the Episcopal Church of the Nativity, said her mother talked with her about protecting wildlife and preserving the environment, along with writing letters to government to influence policies.

After graduating from Whitworth in 2003 in psychology she lived in Bellingham, Los Angeles and Seattle, including two years of studying occupational therapy at the University of Southern California.

When she, her husband and son moved back to Spokane recently, Evita Krislock, chair of the FEN board, recruited her.  Felicia knew her from Camp Cross when Evita was executive director.
Felicia has immersed herself in learning about the community, finding a strong conservation and sustainability movement, meeting with neighborhood councils, learning of people organizing community gardens and green building.

“I’m interested in the connections of creation, seeing, for example, how water works, flowing like the arteries of the earth,” she said.

“I’m encouraged to see others who believe and act out of their faith to further the green movement to protect the future of creation for their children.”

Felicia, who has started attending Holy Trinity Episcopal in West Central Spokane where she lives, said that there are already several congregations with Creation Care committees or teams.  They include St. Aloysius Catholic, the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John, St. Mark’s Lutheran and Salem Lutheran.

Among the FEN partners are Conservation Northwest which schedules family outdoor activities; Restoring Eden, Christians in conversation about restoring creation; Green Spokane, a new website from the City of Spokane, and Earth Ministry, mobilizing the Christian community in the Northwest for a sustainable future.

In March its website at www.faithandenvironmentnetwork.org/past.php featured use of yards as “green” landscapes that are self-sustaining with less use of water and chemicals for lawns and gardens.  It suggested using unused lawn areas for community gardens, landscaping with native plants, waste-free lawns and gardens.

For information, email faithandenvironment@gmail.com or call 294-3944.