SHEPHERDSTOWN – Every month, on the 11th hour of its 11th day, many religious institutions can now be heard ringing their bells and making noise to help raise awareness of the climate change crisis.
Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church are currently the two churches in Shepherdstown taking part in this event, ringing their church bells.
A member of the committee heard about this organization through an email, which was then forwarded to Emily Gross, chair of the land committee and elder of the commission, who is leading the event. She saw it as an opportunity to help raise awareness of this issue. The church believes they are called to be stewards of the environment. Helping the earth should be one of their priorities.
“Science has told us for years that pollution causes change across the planet,” Gross said. “[The climate crisis] is here now. We can’t change anything if we don’t change anything now.
Gross noted that the 11th Hour Appeal is not just an event for the Presbyterian denomination, but an interfaith organization that brings together people of all different faiths to raise awareness.
“I think certain fundamental beliefs across religions all value the planet,” Gross said. “We have all received this gift and we are all called to protect it.
“Education is the key” Gross says, of what is needed to accomplish change. “When people start to lose their comfort, people will notice. People will take a stand and make a change by making daily decisions to change.
About 10 years ago, people were telling others how plastic straws were polluting the ocean and affecting animals like sea turtles. Gross is involved at Shepherd University, where many students are passionate about animal welfare, due to the growing awareness of these issues. By educating and making small changes in their daily lives, people can help protect the planet.
Gross’ passion for helping the planet is rooted in his faith. She often works with people who don’t recognize the importance of protecting the planet. Gross grew up camping and traveling, but when she revisits the places she grew up camping and traveling, she can now see clear changes caused by environmental decline.
“If I see these changes in my lifetime, young children will not be able to experience nature in its pure form,” Gross said. “These drastic changes will change their lives.”
The next bell will be on July 11.
“We have plans to involve our youth in banding in July and hope to continue in the fall,” Gross said.