By Yonat Shimron, Raleigh News & Observer
When hurricanes or earthquakes hit, religious congregations know how to respond with acts of good will and charity. But what about an oil spill?
Many Triangle congregations are finding their voice.
Tonight two churches will hold vigils to pray and reflect on the BP oil rig disaster. On Sunday, the two-month anniversary of the oil spill, many Christians will attempt a daylong fast from oil in whatever way they find appropriate.
“We’re looking for God to show us a direction in our own lives,” said the Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Durham, which will hold a vigil at 7 tonight.
Although multiple issues are involved in the spill, lament and repentance for the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels is probably the first and most natural response, several clergy said.
“This didn’t happen as an act of God or by nature or by chance,” said the Rev. David McBriar, a priest at Raleigh’s St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church. “We did it.”
St. Francis is also holding a vigil at 7 tonight, at St. Mary’s of the Angels Chapel. Franciscans – who follow St. Francis, the patron of the environment – have dedicated the month of June for “prayers and deeds” in response to the disaster.
The Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, denounced the spill in a resolution that urged communities to protect the Earth for future generations.
Clergy have also begun preaching about the spill. The Rev. Jill Edens’ recent sermon at the United Church of Chapel Hill was a reflection on what happens when humans breach God’s created boundaries.
“We’re not going back to the Garden of Eden,” she said Wednesday. “Creation will forever bear the stain. But God will show a way forward.”
The Duke Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation is offering a first step. The center has created a petition and a litany for worship use.
“We mourn the human and animal lives lost, the economies and ecosystems destroyed, and the gifts of God, created from and for his love, squandered and poisoned,” the lament reads. “Most of all we mourn our complicity and active participation.”