Eastern Orthodox Patriarch gathers ecumenical leaders on 'greening' initiatives
Credit: N. Manginas via The Echumenical Patriarchate

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Eastern Orthodox Church welcomed more than 50 delegates from all over the world, including representatives from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, to discuss faith-filled responses to climate change.

The theme of the conference was theological formation and ecological awareness. 

Held in Istanbul from May 31 to June 4, the Halki Summit had delegates from Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant institutions. It is the third in a line of such Summits organized by the Orthodox Church.

Gayle Woloschak, professor of radiation oncology in the Feinberg School of Medicine and Associate Dean of The Graduate School at Northwestern University, also spoke during the session of how ecology may serve as a topic for interfaith exchange in higher education and between communities of faith. 

Woloschak is also an adjunct professor of religion and science at LSTC and sessional professor of bioethics at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. 

For its part, the Orthodox Church has had a leader in bringing ecological concerns to the foreground in Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. 

Bartholomew was dubbed “the green patriarch” by former Vice President Al Gore. 

He presented remarks on the role churches and religions have to play in promoting ecological education and advocating for climate justice. According to a summary of his keynote, he said that “theological schools and religious seminaries are appropriate places where future leaders may be formed and equipped to be attuned to the presence of God in creation and respond to the current challenges.”

LSTC professor Barbara Rossing discussed LSTC’s integration of an eco-theological approach into its academic curriculum. According to a summary published by organizers, she proposed to look at biblical texts through an eco-theological lens and re-read biblical eschatology for world healing. 

In addition to her role as the professor of New Testament at the Chicago seminary, Rossing is also the school’s environmental ministry coordinator. She highlighted how a re-reading of bible stories showed how people’s grassroots movements can change the course of history in only a short time. 

On December 5 and 6, there will be an environmental conference sponsored by the Luce Foundation held at LSTC.

She also spoke of the Green Seminary Initiative that seeks to include care of the earth in all aspects of theological education from food services to coursework in liturgics. 


Susan Barreto


Susan is an author with a long-time interest in religion and science. She currently edits Covalence, the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology’s online magazine. She has written articles in The Lutheran and the Zygon Center for Religion and Science newsletter. Susan is a board member for the Center for Advanced Study of Religion and Science, the supporting organization for the Zygon Center and the Zygon Journal. She also co-wrote Our Bodies Are Selves with Dr. Philip Hefner and Dr. Ann Pederson.

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