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Center for the Celebration of Creation

Abstract The Center for the Celebration of Creation is an inter-religious coalition sponsored by the Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church of Philadelphia. The Center encourages congregations to address environmental issues by providing education, support, and guidance to interested faith communities. The Center sponsors public lectures; Earth-based celebrations such as Sukkot, the Feast Day of St. Francis, solstice festivals, and other activities that promote connection and healing between people and the Earth. In addition to holding a monthly colloquium for environmental activists and professionals seeking to place their work in a spiritual or religious context, the Center provides consulting services to congregations and judicatories on issues such as: sustainability, renewable energy, and environmental programming. Since 1991, the Center has produced bulletins for use in worship services called, “Canticles for Creation.” Each bulletin provides subscribing congregations across the country with information, spiritual reflection, and ideas for action on a specific environmental issue. It also collaborates with other religious and secular groups in promoting the Pennsylvania Interfaith Global Climate Change Campaign. Under the guidance of the Center, the Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church now purchases 100 percent renewable electricity, providing a model for other houses of worship to do the same. The Center is currently helping to form a new coalition of three dozen congregations in northwest Philadelphia seeking to leverage their buying power to purchase energy efficient, fairly traded, and recycled products. The Center has also been a prominent voice speaking out against suburban sprawl from a religious perspective. Working with 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, it published a pamphlet entitled, “The Costs of Sprawl: A Spiritual Perspective,” and received a grant to make educational presentations about sprawl to houses of worship in Southeastern Pennsylvania, an area seriously affected by sprawl. In addition to its regional and domestic work, the Center is helping an indigenous tribe in the Philippines, the Mandayans, reclaim some of its ancestral land from multinational corporations by securing a twenty-five-acre refuge on their homeland.
Religion Inter-religious: Christianity
Geographic Location United States of America
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Start Date of Project 1990
History Under the guidance of Reverend Hal Taussig, the Center for the Celebration of Creation was founded in 1990 as an explicitly inter-religious organization hosted by the Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church of Philadelphia. Since its founding, the Center has organized spiritual celebrations of natural events, sponsored lectures and colloquia by cosmologist Brian Swimme, worked with the Sacred Ways Dance Company to promote spiritual and environmental awareness among children, and provided funding for low-income communities of color to address environmental concerns. In the mid-1990s, the Center worked with the Metropolitan Christian Council of Philadelphia and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to provide training for religious leaders on issues relating to ecological sustainability. Since 1999, the Center has provided a religious perspective on the problem of sprawl by testifying at state hearings, publishing articles and booklets, and developing an educational program about the true costs of sprawl for houses of worship. Thanks to the efforts of the Center, the Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church was named “Green Religious Buyer of the Year” by Citizen’s for Pennsylvania’s Future in 2002.
Mission Statement “The Center for the Celebration of Creation is a program of Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church. An interfaith coalition, we celebrate the connection between Earth and spirit. We draw upon religious traditions and institutions to spark a deeper love of the greater whole. The Center serves to educate congregations about environmental issues, involve them in the political process, and provide guidance on concrete steps for restoring God’s creation. We create programs and materials for congregations to use in worship and study. We also design and produce festive events, rituals, seminars, and other gatherings that express our belonging to God and the healing dynamic of the Earth.”
Partner Organizations Pennsylvania Global Climate Change Campaign
Northwest Interfaith Movement (Philadelphia)
10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania
Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information

Center for the Celebration of Creation
Joy Bergey
Executive Director
8812 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Ph:       215.836.5978, ext. 2
Email:  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church
8812 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Ph:       215.242.9321
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)