Cross-Cultural, Urban, Reformed, Ecumenical

Earth Day, April 22: Faith Informs rev. abby mohaupt's Concern for the Earth

04-07-2021

As the world prepares to recognize the 51st anniversary of Earth Day, rev. abby mohaupt is preparing to be part of the global efforts to bring attention to the urgent need to protect the plant and create a more compassionate, loving and just world. She’ll take part in the Just Recovery Gathering, a free global ecojustice conference on April 9-11, be part of worship leadership at her church, Trinity Presbyterian Church in McKinney, Texas, on April 18, and on Earth Day, April 22, she’ll speak to a group gathered at a seminary in New York. As part of her role as director of training and development at Greenfaith, rev. mohaupt’s work will be seen in the sermon resource toolkit that Greenfaith will release on April 6. It will offer content and activities for Earth Day services and can be used for environmental justice events throughout the year. (Click here on April 6 to access this resource.)

Whether she’s speaking or writing, rev. mohaupt, M.Div. ’11, M.Th. ’12, shares why what we buy, where we invest and what we believe matters. “One of the first things we learn from the creation stories in Genesis is that God said the world is good,” began rev. abby mohaupt, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), “soon after, God tells us to take care of it.” 

Those two pronouncements center the vocation, activism and theological studies of rev. mohaupt who is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Religion, Culture, and Ecology at Drew University in Madison, N.J. “People of faith have the moral authority to respond to climate and environmental injustice and use their power to demand climate justice on a global scale,” she said. “Global intergovernmental policies acknowledge the reality of climate change but don’t take into account the urgency in a way that has teeth in it. The most vulnerable people in the most vulnerable places are already experiencing the impact of climate change.”

For the past nine years, rev. mohaupt has worked with advocates within the Presbyterian Church (USA), through Fossil Free PC(USA), to call for the denomination’s divestiture from fossil fuel companies. The work continues, without substantial commitment by the PC(USA) while faith communities around the world have divested. According to Greenfaith, since 2012, the fossil fuel divestment movement has mobilized more than $14 trillion in commitment from governments, businesses, colleges and nonprofit organizations. Faith communities make up the largest share of these divestments. 

A major part of rev. mohaupt’s role at Greenfaith includes organizing efforts to bring greater attention and action around the need for climate justice. In March, Sacred People, Sacred Earth, a global day of action, attracted more than 420 events hosted by grassroots, multi-faith communities in 45 countries, representing more than 10 million people. Rev. mohaupt also was part of the global and interfaith team that wrote Greenfaith’s 10 Demands, a list of ways to safeguard the future of the planet. “The work on the global scale starts with each one of us,” said rev. mohaupt, “each person has agency, and we can change our own behaviors to ones that would provide greater care for the environment. We each determine what we consume, what we invest in and what our religious ethic will be as it pertains to honoring the earth. When each of us joins the movement for environmental justice, the more powerful the movement becomes.”

Not only has rev. mohaupt used her organizing and training expertise for environmental causes, last year, she was part of the team that helped McCormick pivot to online learning when the pandemic hit. She shared her knowledge and experience with online teaching platforms to help the seminary’s faculty transition from classroom to digital instruction models.

Since she was 14 years old, rev. mohaupt knew that she’d be involved in religious environmentalism. Her mother, a nurse, and her father, a schoolteacher, believed that caring for the earth and going to church were non-negotiables. “When I wanted to get my parents upset,” joked rev. mohaupt, “I’d do the composting or recycling incorrectly. They had me and my sisters playing outside all the time and the summer camps we went to had us learning about the Bible while surrounded by nature. God seemed to make sense to me in relationship to the Earth. The diversity I saw in creation was good. The diversity I saw in humanity was good.”

The belief that environmental and climate justice is connected to all other justice work is a thread that runs through all that rev. mohaupt does. She sees working for the good of the earth as part of a larger desire for racial, economic and gender justice throughout the world. “We belong to each other and the work for liberation is interlocking.” said rev. mohaupt. “One of the most urgent and essential ways for us to show our love toward each other is to take care of the place where we all have to live.”