Nearly 50 years ago, Seminary of the Southwest established the Harvey Lecture – in honor of the late Dean Hudnall Harvey – as an annual series that would be overseen by student leaders and that would address the relationship between pastoral leadership and contemporary global issues that the church would be required to face.
On March 21, 2022, the mission and vision of this lecture series continued with a powerful lecture from the Rev. Nurya Love Parish entitled One Person, One Step: Faith Practice in Climate Crisis.
“I loved hearing Rev. Nurya’s story that led her to starting Plainsong Farms and how well she draws the connection between her concerns about climate change and practical actions rooted in spirituality and care for the environment,” said MDiv Junior Luis Rivas, one of the student planners. “In many ways I felt it was less about giving us a guide to “solving” climate change and more a way to practice our faith and spirituality in such a way that will form us into people who care about the issue and will be more imaginative in coming up with the long-term ways to address the climate crisis.”
Love Parish’s lecture reflected on her work at Plainsong Farm, which she co-founded in 2016. The mission of Plainsong Farm is, “ to cultivate connections between people, places and God by making a place that nurtures belonging and the radical renewal of God’s world.” The farm, located in western Michigan, uses and teaches sustainable agriculture practices to grow food they then provide to people who “couldn’t otherwise afford it through partnerships with pantries and food justice agencies,” according to the organization’s website.
But Love Parish shared much more than the important work of her food ministry; she helped attendees conceptualize and consider the dire circumstances our planet currently faces and challenged them to consider the role of an entity as large and influential as The Episcopal Church.
“The imagery of the desert landscape side-by-side with the lush grass of the suburbs was so striking and thought-provoking to me,” said MDiv Senior Julius Rodriguez, the planning committee chair. “It makes me think of how the conventions of modern living are set against, rather than in harmony with, our earthly home, and leads me to contemplate what harmony might look like and how the Episcopal Church could be a leader in that.”
The student-led planning committee, comprised of Rodriguez, Rivas, MDiv Senior Ashley Colley and MDiv Junior Leesa Lewis, had hoped that bringing Love Parish to campus would provoke a timely discussion around climate change and other challenges her work highlights.
But no one could have predicted how poigniant the timeliness of her talk would be: less than an hour before the lecture was to begin, many in the city of Austin sheltered in place amid a Tornado Warning – a once rare phenomenon for the city center that has begun to happen with increased frequency.
After a short delay caused by the swift moving storm and an ‘all clear’ by local authorities, the lecture began, with most in attendance walking over from residential student housing under eerily clear and peaceful skies.
“The Rev. Love Parish delivered a riveting and thought-provoking lecture that under any circumstances would have been important to hear. But on that day, as those of us who had just moments before been sheltering in basements or hallways sat down to listen or watch online, you couldn’t help but feel that this message was important and that God was reminding us of that fact,” said Eric Scott, Vice President for Communications.
To watch a recording of the livestream from the Rev. Love Parish’s lecture, please click here.