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Service will include readings from scriptures from many faiths, music and personal testimonies

PGM PHOTOS: BARB RANDALL  - From left are Esther Schwartz, Cheryll Simmerman, Sharon Davis, Barbara Gold and Karin Stolz, some of the organizers of the Interfaith Service of Gratitude taking place Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. at Lake Oswego United Church of Christ. All are invited to attend.Members of Lake Oswego United Church of Christ, Congregation Beit Haverim, the Bahai community and the Bosniaks Educational Trust and others of faith invite the community to attend an Interfaith Service of Gratitude for Sustainable Abundance Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. at LOUCC, 1111 Country Club Road in Lake Oswego. Organizers of the event call it "a celebration of the gift of the Earth and our human responsibility for its just stewardship."

The service, which will be led by Rev. Jennie Ott of LOUCC and Rabbi Alan Berg of Beit Haverim, will include readings from scriptures from many faiths, music presented by Cantor Anne Brown and the joint choirs of Beit Haverim and LOUCC, and personal testimonies to give those in attendance insights of the rich religious traditions regarding the blessings of the created world.

"In today's world the more we reach out to people who are unlike us, the better," said Esther Schwartz, one of the organizers of the event.

"We really are looking for ways we overlap, rather than how we differ," said Barbara Gold, another organizer. The organizers believe the interfaith service has been held for five year, with the focus on a variety of topics such as homelessness in adults and teens and racism.

"There is usually some dramatic moment when the theme becomes apparent to us," Schwartz said. "This year it was obvious that sustainability had to be our focus."As part of the Interfaith service, attendees will be given paper embedded with seeds on which to write a commitment they will make to protect the Earth. The seed sheets can then be planted in ones garden. The blooms will be a reminder of their intention.

Speakers include Rev. Yael Lachman, minister at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Salem and Charlie Abrams, a sophomore at Grover Cleveland High School in southeast Portland.

In addition to a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion, Yael holds a master's degree in ecology and environmental biology form University of California, Santa Cruz. She brings to her ministry a passion for restoring humanity's sacred covenant with the Earth itself, and with all creatures.

Abrams is a 15-year-old climate activist who has been passionately fighting for climate change since he was 9 years old. He has worked on climate education, statewide climate policy, and national climate legislation and leads strikes and marches across Oregon. He is currently working on a documentary film after co-founding The Affected Generation, a youth film organization.

An organizational committee made up of people from many faith practices has been working on the presentation since June. This is the fifth year the different faiths have collaborated on an interfaith service at Thanksgiving time.

"We are facing a climate emergency," said Esther Schwartz, one of the event organizers. "The Earth is our home and it's only respectful and reverential to care for it. We hope that everyone who attends will be involved in a personal way."

Participants will be invited to reflect on what they can do to maintain the integrity of creation and ensure that its bounty will be shared by all people for generations to come.

"Care for the earth is a fundamental part of our Christian faith," said Ott. "Humanity is not separate from creation, but inextricably part of it. God's presence is infused through all of creation and it's our moral and spiritual responsibility to care for our planet and its fragile ecosystems."

"Jewish tradition emphasizes our responsibility to care for our planet, and to preserve that which God has created," said Berg. "We need to generate new solutions for future generations. He notes that Psalm 24 reads "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof."

The service will close with an opportunity for worshippers to make a personal pledge to concrete actions.

Schwartz said they have ordered paper embedded with seeds on which attendees can write their intentions toward being good stewards of the land, and then take them home to plant.

"They will bloom and be a reminder of their commitment," she said.

A freewill offering will be taken at the service to support local groups such as the Lake Oswego Watershed Council and Lake Oswego Sustainability Network.

Following the service all are invited to enjoy home baked pies, baklava, beverages and warm conversation.

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