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Gen Heywood convenes faith leaders, Earth Day Vigil

Among those participating in reading a statement of compassion and solidarity with the Spokane Muslim community were UCC members of Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience, including Jim CastroLang, pastor of First Congregational UCC in Colville, at the left front; Gen Heywood, pastor of Veradale UCC, at the center front, and Diana Koorkanian-Sauders, who attends Westminster Congregational UCC and is president of Congregation Emanu-El in Spokane, at the right.

Gen Heywood, pastor at Veradale UCC has been convening Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience, which prepared a statement they presented at the Spokane Islamic Center on March 29 and is organizing an Earth Day Vigil, “For the Healing of the Earth,” Monday, April 22, at the Tribal Gathering Place beside Spokane City Hall.

At the mosque, three members of Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience (FLLC) members read a statement, signed by 19 individuals and organizations:   

“We stand in deepest sorrow with you, our Muslim neighbors and friends. We weep and mourn the 51 Muslim children, women, and men who were killed in a horrific act of violence as they gathered peacefully for Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15. 2019. We share the global condemnation of this and all similar acts of violence. We join with our Muslim neighbors and friends in prayer.”

“We call all people of faith and conscience to join us in listening to those hurt and threatened by anti-Muslim bigotry. We stand in solidarity with the American Muslim Institution’s (AMI) recent statement, proclaiming that:

“We join Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in condemning the worst terrorist attacks ever in one of the most peaceful and welcoming countries in the world. We join all peace-loving New Zealanders in mourning with the families over the loss of the victims of this senseless and hate-filled attack. Islamophobia, hate, and xenophobia have no place in New Zealand nor any other country in the world.” 

“We stand together in the compassion that is rooted in each of our different religious and moral traditions. We declare that all humans are neighbors and deserve love and respect. Love for every human being will triumph over hate. We offer comfort to our American Muslim neighbors and join them in sorrow and outrage. We love you and hold each of you as precious to the fullness of our country and our communities. You belong with us and we with you.

“We will persist in the higher way of compassion known in many practices and by many names. May we gain the needed strength, even while we grieve, to be transformed from fear to love, from division to unity, from desperation to hope. Let us recommit to shaping a world of respect, tolerance, safety, and peace for all. No exceptions,” the statement concluded.

Rabbi Tamar Malino of Temple Beth Shalom added a word of deepest sympathy from the Jewish community as she presented a copy of the FLLC statement to Mamdouh.

The Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience (FLLC) are planning the Earth Day Vigil on April 22, and another a “Vigil for the Healing of the Earth” the first Sunday in October at the SuperFund site at the Cataldo Mission in Cataldo, Idaho.

“We plan to repeat these events every year,” said Gen.  “We hope by meeting every six months, different groups working on separate aspects to heal our Earth can gather, report to each other what they are doing and encourage others to join with them.

“The care of our planet crosses all cultures, class divisions, religions and non-religions. We are one people when we are united in the healing of our one planet,” said Gen.

The April 22 Earth Day Vigil will open with reading the statement American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead gave before the United Nations on March 1977. 

Bell ringing will be followed by opening words from Chairwoman Carol Evans of the Spokane Tribe of Indians, as well as other tribal leaders.

People affected by the Bunker Hill Mine in the Silver Valley and Midnite Mine on the Spokane Reservation will also speak. 

There will also be presentations by people who are challenging the proposed silicon smelter in Newport.

Along with area tribes—on the Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Kalispel and Colville Confederated Reservations—about 20 groups working to heal the Earth, such as Spokane Riverkeepers, 350-Spokane, Pax Christi, the Silver Valley Resource Center, Catholic women religious and others will share information on how to join their work.

Other organizations working to heal the Earth may contact Gen to sign up to share resources.

The Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience of Eastern Washington and North Idaho work to overcome racism, militarism, poverty and ecological devastation, said Gen.

These goals come from are the principles set forth by the Poor Peoples Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival.  All four barriers affect ecological devastation. 

In June 2018, the FLLC began working on a vigil to draw attention to the reality the Inland Northwest is the largest superfund site in the nation, said Gen.

“A superfund site is one so polluted that it will take an enormous amount of money to clean and contain it,” she said. “The hope is that these vigils become opportunities to build friendships, strengthen our resolve, and put our thoughts and prayers into actions ‘For the Healing of the Earth.’

For information, call 408-593-9556 or email


PNC-UCC News copyright© April-May 2019


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