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You are here: Home » GreenFaith in the Media » Press Clips » GreenFaith Fellow Waldkoenig & A Faith-Based Look at Marcellus Shale

GreenFaith Fellow Waldkoenig & A Faith-Based Look at Marcellus Shale

By Carole Deck
Intelligencer Journal of Lancaster and New Era, PA

What is the Marcellus Shale? How will it affect your family? What is your responsibility as a person of faith?

"Marcellus Shale: A Faith-based Perspective," an informational forum, will address these and other questions at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 221 E. Main St., New Holland.

The free forum is sponsored by the church's Environmental Health Committee and underwritten by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, North Lancaster Chapter.

In 2006, the church committee was formed with a mission "to raise awareness of how the environment affects human health as well as how we as humans impact the health of the environment."

Lisa Beard, committee chair, said that though the Marcellus Shale doesn't extend into Lancaster County, the committee wanted to educate people about the method used to extract natural gas in Pennsylvania and its potential environmental impact.

"The forum is an effort to raise community awareness and the responsibility we all share to make sure the gas is extracted responsibly," Beard said.

After a complimentary meal, presenters will provide environmental facts and ecological faith principles regarding the highly controversial topic.

Naturalist Todd Garcia-Bish, director of Camp Lutherlyn Environmental Education Program, Prospect, will explain what the Marcellus Shale is, how the extraction process works, possible environmental consequences and what it's like for people who live in communities where drilling now occurs.

He brings a first-hand perspective as an environmentalist who works and lives in Clearfield Township, Butler County, near a drilling site.

Two of his greatest fears from drilling, he said, are water pollution and forest fragmentation, especially well locations in state forests making it difficult for migrant songbirds to survive and providing opportunities for more invasive plant species to crowd out native plants.

"While natural gas is cleaner than coal and better for the environment, I'm concerned about the drilling process. It needs to be done safely, and people need to be educated about the pros and cons," he said.

The Rev. Gilson Waldkoenig, professor of Church in Society at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, will give an ecological faith perspective of why Christians have an obligation to protect the environment.

Waldkoenig believes God is living and speaking on Earth every day, and all creatures, as well as Earth itself, responds to him in some way.

His faith-based position is that protecting and caring for creation echoes God's grace.

"The  grace of God in Christ Jesus plants a change in us that opens our ears and eyes to God's world and grafts us into his ongoing care of the environment," he said.

Neither he nor Garcia-Bish is against the natural gas industry. But both are opposed to the accelerated pace to drill in Pennsylvania without taking time to assess whether citizen rights are being violated; answer questions about preservation of land, forests and watersheds;  and plan for a rational use of the supply for future generations.

"If there is enough time to make millions of dollars from new methods of gas extraction, there surely ought to be time to collect data to make wise and respectful choices to safeguard the people and the land," Waldkoenig said.

The Rev. Amy Reumann, director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania, will facilitate a discussion of policy issues related to natural gas drilling in the state and ways to advocate for creation.

There also will be a panel discussion with presenters, elected officials and the audience.

"We hope that those who attend the forum will leave with a sense that God is alive and active in creation … and there are good people who want to work together to cherish the land and our time here together," Waldkoenig said.

To register for the forum, call 471-5869 or e-mail

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