If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.
--Lyndon B. Johnson

The 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina: Thoughts, Prayers, and Resources

Ten years ago, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast were struck by one of the most devastating and costly disasters in U.S. history. The trauma of Hurricane Katrina spread across the world through shocking images of families stranded on rooftops, shattered homes, destroyed communities, and people seeking refuge in a dilapidated Superdome. The storm tore across the Southeast, claimed 1,833 lives, displaced nearly one million people, and left a wake of brokeness in its path. 

A decade later, rebuilding efforts are still underway and many people have returned home. However, in the continuing aftermath of this human and environmental catastrophe, we are faced with big questions: questions of increasing natural disasters due to climate change, of racial and socioeconomic inequality, and of social and environmental justice. 

Here, some resources from different religious traditions in commemoration of Hurricane Katrina. If you have a prayer, resource or link to share, please e-mail us.

The Trans-Pecos Pipeline Project

The Trans-Pecos Pipeline is a proposed 143-mile pipeline that would bring natural gas from West Texas to the U.S.-Mexico border, as part of an agreement with the Mexican Federal Electricity Commission (CFE). At 42 inches wide and just under 1,200 pounds of pressure per square inch, the pipeline will carry as much as 1.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day after its projected completion in 2017. The gas transported by the pipeline will originate in Texas’s Permian Basin at Fort Stockton and travel the length of the line, currently projected to run east of the Davis Mountains, skirt the town of Alpine, and pass through the famous Marfa Lights as well as the historic town of Shafter on its way south to the border at Presidio, TX, and Ojinaga, Mexico. From there, it will be piped further into Mexico for industrial use and power generation. The holder of the contract for this project is a consortium that includes two large energy companies—Mexico-based Carso and Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners (ETP).

August 5 Austin Clean Power Plan Press Conference

On Wednesday, August 5, Austin’s Mayor Steve Adler, Representative Donna Howard, many City Council members, and a host of Austinites joined together at Austin City Hall for a press conference in support of President Obama’s recently announced Clean Power Plan, which places limits on carbon pollution from power plants across the nation.

Mayor Steve Adler opened the event by pointing to the floods, drought, and wildfires that have affected Austin and the surrounding areas in recent years as symptoms of climate change. “While the time for action on climate and carbon pollution was long ago, I applaud President Obama and the EPA for making history by bringing forward the Clean Power Plan to put common sense limits on carbon pollution from power plants,” Mayor Adler said.

The Clean Power Plan set forth by President Obama and the EPA requires a 32 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the power sector's 2005 levels by 2030 and encourages more use of renewable energy resources such as solar and wind.

The Clean Power Plan and Texas

The Clean Power Plan gives us the first-ever national standards on carbon pollution from power plants. While the electric power sector is responsible for nearly 40 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution in the United States—our largest single source—until now there have been no national limits on the amount of carbon pollution these plants can pump into the air. 

The Clean Power Plan will bring health and climate benefits:

  • When the Clean Power Plan is fully in place in 2030, carbon pollution from the power sector will be 32 percent below 2005 levels – or 870 million tons less carbon pollution.
  • Reducing exposure to particle pollution and ozone in 2030 will avoid a projected 1,500 to 3,600 premature deaths; 90,000 asthma attacks in children; up to 1,700 heart attacks; 1,700 hospital admissions; and 300,000 missed school and work days.
  • From the soot and smog reductions alone, for every dollar invested through the Clean Power Plan – American families will see up to $4 in health benefits.
  • Due to increased energy efficiency, the Clean Power Plan is projected to reduce electric bills by about $7 per month by 2030. 

Pope Francis Releases Encyclical on the Environment, "Laudato Si'"

On Thursday, June 18, 2015, Pope Francis issued a new papal encyclical, a much-anticipated pastoral statement on the environment. The statement, known as a "papal encyclical" is entitled Laudato Si' (Praised Be)—a quotation from St. Francis’s prayer praising God for creation.

En Español.

What is an encyclical?

Encyclicals are formal letters issued by a pope to the universal Catholic Church concerning moral, doctrinal, and disciplinary matters. It is a teaching document for bishops and Catholics everywhere.

What does this encyclical say?

In “Praised Be,” Pope Francis teaches that the Catholic voice on climate change is clear and distinct and stands in protection of Creation and all of God’s children.

Calling climate " a common good, belonging to all and meant for all," (Laudato Si’ 23) Pope Francis calls for a "new and universal solidarity" (LS 14) in defense of Creation.

The encyclical calls for a broader recognition of "both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor," (LS 49) pointing out that the poor suffer the most from consequences of improper care of the environment, even though they have contributed the least to climate change (LS 51).

Pope Francis argues that the climate challenges we face require an intergenerational effort and a reimagining of local, national and international responses. He writes, "Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress. A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress." (LS 194)

The encyclical concludes with calls for a renewed notion of the common good, grounded in the obligation we have to future generations to address climate change, and insistence that we must all act to care for Creation.

"Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal." (LS 202)

Why is this encyclical important?

The Pope is one of the most popular public figures in the world, both inside and outside of the Church. The release of “Praised Be” offers inspiration to faith leaders and organizations across the globe to come together to amplify a common message of caring for our shared home.

The timing of the Encyclical’s release is especially important in light of the global climate talks that will take place in Paris at the end of this year. Now is the time for all people, everywhere, to raise a common call for world leaders to take meaningful action on climate change at the UN climate negotiations in December.

People of Faith Taking Action

Here are some ways that people of all religious traditions are heeding the Pope’s moral call to action—and some ways you and your congregation can be involved.

Take the Paris Pledge

In December, leaders from across the world will meet in Paris to negotiate an agreement on how the global community can take action on climate at the governmental level.

The Paris Pledge is a bold two-step commitment that individuals and congregations can make today to take action on climate. When you sign the Paris Pledge, you commit to cutting your carbon pollution in half by the year 2030, and to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Learn more and take the Pledge here.

One Earth, One Human Family: Interfaith March into St. Peter’s Square

On Sunday, June 28, Catholics, people of diverse faiths, and others will take part in a march from Piazza Farnese in Rome to St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. The march will be called One Earth, One Human Family.

That same day, faith communities around the world are invited to join a Global Climate Chorus—to ring their bells, sound their gongs or chimes, sound their shofars, or offers prayers outdoors in solidarity.

Learn more here.

A Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis

Hundreds of rabbis have signed a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis, calling for vigorous action to prevent worsening climate disruption and to seek eco-social justice. A brief excerpt: "We believe that there is both danger and hope in American society today, a danger and a hope that the American Jewish community, in concert with our sisters and brothers in other communities of Spirit, must address. The danger is that America is the largest contributor to the scorching of our planet.  The hope is that over and over in our history, when our country faced the need for profound change, it has been our communities of moral commitment, religious covenant, and spiritual search that have arisen to meet the need. So it was fifty years ago during the Civil Rights movement, and so it must be today."

Read the full text of the letter and, if you are a rabbi, sign onto the letter here.

World leaders need to see massive support for climate action from diverse faith communities.

Please stay tuned for more updates and ways to take action!


Additional Resources


  1. Photo "Canonization 2014-The Canonization of Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II" by Flickr User Aleteia Image Department licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.
  2. Photo "Pope Francecso I" by Flickr User Jeffrey Bruno licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license.
  3. Photo "Vatican Easter Mass 73" by Flickr User Karl Villanueva licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license.

Spring 2015 Interfaith Environmental Stewardship Event, Houston

Join with people of all faiths—or no faith at all—in caring for our shared environment on World Water Day!

On Sunday, March 22nd, from 1:30-4:30pm, we will engage in hands-on environmental stewardship by removing invasive species and planting native plants in wetlands at the Willow Waterhole Conservation Reserve. This event will offer activities for all ages and skill levels, so bring the whole family, neighbors, and friends!

Meet at the Gathering Place, located at 5310 South Willow Drive, Houston, to sign in. Metro Bus lines 33 and 163 stop nearby. Tools and supplies will be available, but participants are asked to bring empty milk jugs or soda bottles to use in watering the new plants. In addition, those who can are asked to bring wheelbarrows, rakes, and shovels, to ensure sufficient quantities for volunteers.

You're Invited! Austin's Second-Annual Preach-Off on Climate Change

In February 2015, religious communities across the U.S. will participate in the national Interfaith Power & Light Preach-In on Climate Change. Clergy and lay leaders from many different traditions will highlight the importance of religious leadership on one of the most pressing challenges of our time. It’s one of Interfaith Power & Light’s most-beloved annual programs.

In Austin, we’re taking it up a notch.

MLK Day in Dallas - Religion and Climate: Multifaith Perspectives

Dallas Interfaith Power and Light invites you to a discussion about Religion and Climate on Monday evening, January 19th! Leaders from Buddhist, Muslim, and Jain traditions will offer their perspectives on climate change, and we'll have time for questions and conversation. Together, we'll explore how action on climate is as an act of faith--and here, on Martin Luther King Day, we'll focus on how climate change impacts people and is connected to other forms of justice work, including racial justice.

Lutherans Restoring Creation Team Invites You to Participate in the 2014 Eco Challenge

This October, the Lutherans Restoring Creation Team of the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod is participating in the EcoChallenge, and they invite you and your congregation to join them! For two weeks (October 15-29) you and your congregation will choose one action to reduce your environmental impact. The EcoChallenge website can help you choose a challenge (or create your own challenge) and log your progress over the two-week period. Here’s more from EcoChallenge:

“Congregations can form teams, but each individual, family, or other group can chose their own challenge after joining the team.  You can also sign up as an individual or a family or a group of friends without joining a team.  The Eco-Challenge is a competition, with points tallied and prizes at the national level to incentivize your active participation.”

San Antonio IPL | Teaming With Wildlife: The State of Nature in Texas | October 16, 2014

What: San Antonio Power and Light Teaming With Wildlife event
Where: Unity Church of San Antonio, 1711 W Lawndale Dr, San Antonio, TX 78209
When: October 16, 2014, 7-8:30PM

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