From the Garden of Eden to Noah's assembling of animals on the ark, there are no shortage of biblical references to caring for the environment, and as society takes steps to become more green, so too are the religiously devout.
"It's combining environmental responsibility and being earth-friendly, with biblical teachings and Christianity," said Kate Veh, a member of the Kenai Resilience environmental group, who recently started a Green Bible Study group.
The group is open to people of all faiths who have an interest in "EcoChristianity" or "Creation Care" -- the latter being a term the Christian movement prefers regarding caring for the Earth. The group meets once a month for one hour per session, and willing participants take turns leading the discussion.
"We'll be following the curriculum of the Green Bible," Veh said, " but it's not necessary to have a Green Bible."
According to Veh, the Green Bible -- first published in October 2008 -- is meant to be a study Bible. The book contains a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, essays from theologians and a "Green Subject Index" that organizes verses by topic, including air, dust and pollution.
"It has a curriculum for a multi-faith group," she said. "We'll go through different verses, and ask and answer questions about them with the different people who attend."
It features a "green trail study guide" of the Bible, directing readers to the more than 1,000 verses on the environment and stewardship. And, much like King James Bibles use red ink to highlight the words spoken by Jesus, in the Green Bible verses involving the environment or the earth are highlighted in green to draw the reader's attention.
According to the publisher, Harper Bibles, it is also printed on recycled paper, uses soy-based ink, and the cover is made from renewable cotton linen.
"We're a small, humble group, and we're not trying to convert anyone," Veh said. "This is just a concept that has taken hold in other parts of the country and we're trying to awaken it here in Alaska."
The Green Bible has been endorsed by the Sierra Club and the Humane Society of the United States, and Richard Cizik, Vice-President of Governmental Affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, has been quoted as saying "This is exactly what the Church needs at this critical time."
According to numerous magazine and newspaper articles, many churches of varying faiths have already addressed the Green movement in some way, from weatherizing their places of worship, to starting gardens at the church, to using ceramic mugs instead of Styrofoam for post-worship coffee hour. But for those that have not, Veh said perhaps this study group will be the impetus to start.
"I'm hoping to inspire people to take the idea of greeness back to their individual churches," she said.
As to why this issue was important to Veh, she said the answer was simple.
"God created this wonderful, marvelous, beautiful planet," she said, "but it's up to us to take care of it."
The date for the next Green Bible Study has not be set yet. Veh said those interested in attending should contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 260-4669.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at email@example.com.
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