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The Porters Gate: Groaning/Singing with Creation

Songs about the end of the world and stuff.  [Actually] we have a great conversation about ways churches in North America can think about their relationship with creation in a new way through the music offered in the Climate Vigil Album created with The Porters Gate.  

Climate change can feel heavy and dark. The Climate Vigil is a project to bring prayer and light to the topic. Global participants met during COP21 in Glasgow to sing and pray for creation.  Isaac Wardell and Peter Fargo are guests.

The following is a transcript of Season 5 Episode 3 of the Do Justice podcast.  It has been lightly edited for clarity.  Listen and subscribe on your favourite listening app.  

Chris: Well, Hello, friends, and welcome to another episode of Do justice. My name's Chris. I'm your host and today we're continuing our conversation. We're gonna talk about that nexus of worship and justice, and how it shapes who we are and how we do faith and engage in the world. And really privileged today to have two guests.

First we have Peter Fargo, the co-founder of Climate Vigil, and our new friend Isaac Wardell, creative director of the Porters Gate. Fellas thanks for joining. Really appreciate you being with us today. Peter, let's start with you. Tell us who you are and what it is that you do. 

Peter: Thanks Chris, it's really good to be with you, and the Do Justice community. I am calling from Baker City, Oregon. I would self-describe as a Christ follower and a dad. And I had the privilege to say yes to a calling a few years ago, to step further into the climate, movement, and to do that from the heart space, from the worship space, and very, very excited to be able to do that with Isaac and others who have also said yesterday, calling so glad to be with you today.

Chris: Thanks for that. Thanks. Yeah, We really do appreciate it. And Isaac Wardell. Welcome.

Isaac: Yeah, Thanks very much for having us on today. My background is very much in the worship leading space. So let's see I'm 40 years old and I guess it means about  years ago, in the late 1990’s, I started leading worship and kind of a big evangelical context, in the US. And then went on to study music in college, and I kind of swung in the direction of hymnody, and really learning about the history of worship. And then over the course of leading worship professionally for the next or 10 or 15 years, I had a very profound experience of getting a couple of opportunities to collaborate with other musicians, with other worship leaders across denominational lines, sort of doing these ecumenical collaborations. I did it a couple times at conferences, a couple of other sort of special opportunities. And it really was a profound experience for me, because when I had these opportunities to work with people coming from really different sort of ecclesiological and theological backgrounds, I felt like the conversations we had around worship and formation were so much deeper and richer and more textured. And so it was because of those experiences that about five years ago my wife and I set out to start this project that we call the Porters Gate Worship Project, where by design, about once or twice a year we gather together groups of 25 to 50 scholars, songwriters, pastors, theologians, people that have a particular kind of vocational expertise, and we have conversations about various pressing issues for worship, for which we need new songs. And so we've done several of these collaborations over the last five years, and this newest one is a collaboration of the Porter’s Gate with the Climate Vigil movement to create new worship songs around environmental justice.

Chris: That's awesome. And we do want to hear the story of sort of how the Climate Vigil found its its origins; how it was birthed into this world like, but let's have a little fun. We're talking about worship. And you know a lot of us, I think a lot of our listeners too, when we think worship, we automatically jump to music, not to say that worship is only music. I mean some of us come from other liturgical traditions where there are a lot of different components in our worship.

But musically, right now, I want to ask you Peter: what's on heavy rotation on your playlist right now? And you have to be honest.

Peter: Absolutely, well there's this new album I'm really excited about. It's called Climate Vigil Songs, and it came out last Friday. I've had a continuous repeat for the last six days, hoping to make it seven. And honestly I have been listening to it non stop. It's been the soundtrack of my life in the last week, and I love every single song. I have a new favorite song each day, and today I would say my favorite song is The Kingdom Is Coming, which is a powerful duet between Terrian and Josh Garrels. And there's a refrain that I love: the kingdom is coming. We are praying for it. We are waiting for it. And we are working for it.

And I love that because I know those are all the things that I feel called to do as a Christian responding to our climate crisis. So it's ministering to me in that way.

Chris: yeah, and our listeners got to hear a little glimpse of that song in the intro of this episode.

And Isaac. What about you, what's on rotation for you right now? 

Isaac: Obviously, like Peter, I have been listening to Climate Vigil. So because I can tell you want to have more fun with your question, I'll give you just a little bit more nuance around the answer. I have four young children, and so I'm constantly having to clean my spotify playlist of just nothing but their music selection. So if we put aside the kids bop and all the stuff that my kids are into and kind of get back down to the things that I actually choose to listen to, I find that I always have kind of a little internal battle going where, my temptation is basically to only ever listen to what I call “friend rock.” And friend rock is the genre of music of whatever my friends are making. I sort of need to listen to it. Give feedback. All that stuff.

So in general, what's heaviest in my rotation is basically just records of people that I'm friends with. But I am currently living in Belgium right now, where I'm doing a graduate degree in liturgical studies. So I have been trying to appreciate a little bit more of the local culture and listening to Jacques Brel, who is maybe the most famous twentieth century Belgian pop musician. Most of his songs are in French and they haven't been translated but it's got kind of like a sort of the Django Reinhardt of Belgium, and there's a Brussels dedicated to him. So Jacques Brel  in my playlist today. 

Chris: Okay, deep cuts today. I mean I like it. I really like it. There's some good references there.

I will say. So I just got back from a retreat with my team, and we were in a woodland retreat center, and in preparation for upcoming conversation I too have been listening to The Kingdom is Coming. It's like you know, walking down a pass on my own with my earbuds in, Spirit moved and things started happening. So I'm excited for our listeners to really get into that.

So, Peter, let's start at the beginning. Tell us about the moment you realized that we needed a Climate Vigil. How did it start? 

Peter: That's a great question, and I wish that I could respond with one moment. I think, as many of us experience in our walk with God, there is a journey, and it begins, it middles, and it ends hopefully never. For me, it began with a holy Spirit moment, one that I had never experienced before. And it was that still small voice. It was this message that I felt in my heart between sleeping and waking, which said “Get up,” which makes sense when one is sleeping but “get up and tell them what's happening to my creation.”

I haven't shared that with many people but since it's just us and your thousands of other listeners. I thought maybe I would come out with that.

Chris: We're all friends here, so—

Peter: Thank you. So I had no idea what to do with that. I knew about our need to respond to climate change. I knew about all of the threats that God's creation, and all of God's people who depend on his creation are facing But I didn't know what I needed to do with that calling. So I pulled a Jonah and I got on the first boat to Tarshish. Not proud of that. But it was in the form of getting busy with my job, getting busy with life activities, with travel, with all of the things. And it took a great big fish to swallow me whole and get me back on track. And that fish’s name was Samuel, my second born son. So Sam was born in 2019, in January, and a few weeks later he opened his eyes and looked in mine for the first time, really looked at me. And that was like getting swallowed whole. And that kid—you know those of us who have children know what it's like to be in the belly of that whale. And they swallow you whole and spit you out over and over again.

I finally knew what I had to do. I had to say yes to the calling and pray. And my prayer was “God,

I have no idea what to do. Will you help me? I can't solve climate change. But I know you can. And through us you can.” And when I said yes to that call, something changed. It was like a switch flipped in my soul. And the climate crisis ended for me personally—that crisis of faith or that crisis of decision was over for me—and what was remaining was to join with others, to pray and act, to do justice, let mercy and walk humbly with God. And that is what led to Climate Vigil. A calling to invite others to pray and act in response to our climate crisis, to do that with words, to do that through worship, through music.

I have a pastor that I grew up with who used to say if you're singing, you're praying twice. Music calls us to pray. And there are also ancient symbols of prayer like lighting a candle that allow us to get out of that headspace we could be stuck in and to activate the heart and the soul, and also to activate our hands, a physical manifestation of prayer. 

So all together this journey led to light a candle for our climate, and led to listening to the Porters Gate Worship Project. It was the soundtrack of the work that I was called to do. And that was another candle lit, and a realization that the Porters Gate and worship music in general had an important part to play at calling us deeper into this justice work that we need to do. 

Chris: Yeah, Peter. First, thank you for your vulnerability. I feel like we kinda got to see into something that maybe we weren't intended to see, but I'm glad we did. Thank you for that. I really wanna get to November 6, 2021. But I Wanna hear from Isaac. Isaac. So how did this connection happen for you? What was happening in your heart and in your space?

Isaac: Well like you, I'm grateful for Peter kind of sharing from us that very personal reflection on it. I think my answer will be pretty categorically different though, thinking a little bit more strategically and sort of vocationally about the question. But you know anybody who has been following the work of the Porter's Gate for five years will quickly recognize that thinking about justice is at the heart of what we do. That's not because of looking at justice as somehow polemic against worship or literature, actually seeing—I mean, I'm here in Belgium, like I said, doing this doing this graduate fellowship. The graduate fellowship I'm doing, my master's thesis is on this very subject: that the work of spiritual formation is inextricably tied to the work of justice. That we are formed in our worship and our sort of liturgical experiences for how to see the world in a more just way. 

So that's something that has been very close to my heart for many years, even before starting the Porter's Gate, but with pretty much all of our Porter’s Gate conversations over the last five years—whether those conversations are about the nature of work and vocation, or about hospitality, or lament—all of our projects have had sort of justice at the core.

And so when I started having conversations with Peter about a year and a half ago, one of the first things that I told Peter was that it has kind of been in my mind that this subject of environmental justice is such a deep well. And there's so many conversations to be had around it, that it feels too big to fit into another conversation about justice. It feels like it’s its own world of conversations. And so I told Peter that I've kind of had it in my mind that it would be great for us to to do a Porter’s Gate project on the subject of environmental justice in kind of a focused way. And so then, as Peter and I started talking about what his hopes were for with his work with the One Million Prayer Mission, and later Climate Vigil that it felt like both the kind of ethos of what our organizations were all about, and the timing it all really felt like, “okay, this feels like it's God's timing for us to jump into this. And so then that kind of began the process of thinking through “what would this look like to write these kinds of songs?”

And for me, coming to the project as a worship leader, as somebody who has been, for decades, choosing songs on Sunday morning, and thinking about how to leave people on worship, we really in earnest began those conversations about how we bring these conversations about climate justice into the worship service in a very practical kind of a way.

And so that was how we got off to the races.

Chris: Wow! So from my seat, I always find it interesting to see how people kind of got to where they are. To me, that's interesting. Because, is it fair to say that both of you realized the need to sort of be incarnational in this work, but came at it from two maybe different starting points?

Is that fair  to say, Isaac? Like it's putting some flesh on on the call, so to speak?

Isaac: on the call... 

Chris: on the call to step into the space of the connection, that nexus point of our faith and climate justice, of our faith and climate action, really to enter into that.

Isaac: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, one of my sort of favorite quotes of the twentieth century was Lesslie Newbigin. Some of your listeners will be familiar with Newbigin. He was basically a missionary to India, who had a real focus on justice, particularly around clean water. And looking at the clean water crisis in India as a matter that Jesus was really concerned about and that his church should have been concerned about. And he faced, you know, in the 1940s and 50s, faced so many overwhelming challenges in the work that he was trying to do. And he was asked by a reporter when he came back on a visit to London “Do you consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist, just given the insurmountable odds that you face with what you're trying to accomplish in India?” He said, you know, “Newbign, do you consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist?” And without hesitation, Lesslie Newbign looks at the reporter and says, “Neither. Christ is risen from the dead.”

And what I love about that sort of impulse is recognizing that, as Christians, we don't have to be afraid to say that something is insurmountable. We don't have to be afraid to say that the world is really broken. We don't have to be afraid to call something really dark and really discouraging.

We don't have to minimize those things. But that at the core of Christian hope is this thing that we recite in the creed every week, when we gather to worship that we believe in the resurrection of the dead. And so I think, particularly as a worship leader, and as someone who's thinking about “what does it look like to put God's promises on the lips of God's people on Sunday mornings?” I think that when you look at something like the kinds of fears and anxieties and worries that people rightly have about the future of our planet and the future of what it means to inhabit this world, that we both don't have to be afraid to say “yeah things look pretty insurmountable. Things look very dire.” But we also get to look at it and say, but “Christ is risen.” And it feels to me like that's kind of what this album is.

Chris: Yeah, that's awesome. I wanna let that one sort of hang there for a minute. But so, Peter, November sixth, 2021. Tell us what happened. 

Peter: On November sixth, 2021, we held a vigil on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. And we did that in partnership with several Christian nonprofits and with our host, the organization Tearfund International Development Agency. We had the privilege of sharing some new recorded songs from the Porters Gates recording session, in Paris. So the symbolism of going from the Paris agreement of 2015 in the international climate negotiation space to Glasgow in 2021, was there. 

Isaac: And if I could interject, there was some logistic cause to it, too, because of me living in Belgium and having some musicians here on this side. There was a logic to it too. We didn't just all we didn't, just ironically, all pack up from the US and fly everybody. 

Chris: Right, spin the big wheel and let's land somewhere. No, there was some intent.

Isaac: Yeah, I should name that that’s the impetus for recording in Paris. Sorry, Peter. 

Peter: Well, said. So we had an opportunity to reflect on the music and to invite participants in the Conference in Glasgow to be part of a global vigil. So we have this vigil hub at the St.

George's Tron church in central Glasgow. And then we also had about  other locations around the world, with many of them in the US and Canada but also representation on four different continents. So what a beautiful way to begin and to do it in prayer, through worship, lighting candles together. We were all inspired.

Chris: That's awesome. It's a great picture. And so I guess I wanna try and close the proximity gap. Because nice stories are nice stories and it's amazing stuff. It's awesome, and it's inspiring.

But our listeners, and myself—I am a worshiper at my church. And Isaac, I'd love to get sort of your sense of what the connection is with worship. We are sort of operating under the conviction—and by we, I mean, we who are trying to organize this season of the Do Justice podcast—but we're operating on the conviction that worship shapes our imagination. That it broadens our understanding of who God is, and what the world God loves actually looks like.

So I guess the question is, how can this project shape our corporate worship so that it orients all of our hearts towards caring for creation? I know that that is like just a massive, nebulous question. But how do we get it into that?

Isaac: Well, you have asked a massive question, Chris. I think I wanna answer it kind of in two parts. First, because you're swinging wide here, I want to go 10,000 feet up and just talk a little bit about what I think is kind of happening in worship, and what what's possible in worship and then maybe answer the question a little bit more specifically. 

Really, really, big picture, if your listeners will kind of indulge a little historical conversation, one of the things that I come back to over and over again is that when it comes to social renewal, when it comes to social justice and conversations about how it is that our civic structures experience, reform and renewal in massive ways—I am convinced that social renewal has to be preceded by imaginative renewal. The renewal of the imagination happens before reform in our institutions happens. There are so many examples of this. But just to name a couple in the twentieth century, there are many historians who would observe that the civil rights movement in the United States was possible, because 30 years earlier the Harlem Renaissance happened. And the Harlem Renaissance gave new kinds of vocabulary for what it meant to be African-A merican in the twentieth century. Musicians, authors, choreographers: people, sort of redefining what that meant. So then, when the civil rights movement came along, in a sense there was a positive vision that that political movement was building on. 

Likewise for your Roman Catholic listeners, there's a really similar thing that happened with the Catholic worker movement, where the Catholic worker movement had to do with sort of a renewal of thinking about laborers and workers rights. But it was preceded by the Catholic liturgical movement which had an emphasis on basically bringing justice more fully into the Roman Catholic liturgy.

But I also think that as much as those are kind of inspiring positive examples, with this sort of impact, where the renewal of the imagination led to this kind of real policy sort of reforms, I think the opposite is true, too. You know some of your younger listeners may have completely forgotten the fact that in American history, anyway, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States made drinking alcohol against the law. What a crazy thing that happened with prohibition, where for several years, you know, the United States Senate and Congress passed a law banning the drinking of alcohol! And they called that movement the Temperance movement—that's what the name of the movement was—and it was very much a political movement aimed at ending the selling and the buying of alcohol in America. But pretty much all historians would agree that that movement failed. I mean just, you know, sort of in a very demonstrable way, it's now legal to drink in America.So it clearly didn't last. 

But what a lot of sociologists would point out about it was that that movement was 100% a political movement. And, by the way, this is kind of getting closer to the thing about climate justice I think. But what happened with the temperance movement was it was a movement aimed so particularly at the legislative process that it missed people's hearts, that there was not an actual movement for this virtue of temperance. That's not what was being renewed. It was a shrill remonstrance. It was a movement that was based on condemnation, on judgment.

It was a movement that understood the problem, and something that could be fundamentally solved legislatively. And I think the bitter fruits of that movement were that if anything, alcoholism in America actually became worse at the end of prohibition. You know, that there's a sense in which it was not a renewal of character, but it was actually setting in motion some of these really bad dynamics we have in the US around shame and drinking and all that.

So anyway, thank you for sort of indulging me in talking about big picture things. But to apply that a little bit more specifically than to worship, and specifically worship and climate justice, I’ve been struck at how, especially in conservative Christian circles, conversations about the environment and conversations, especially around environmental justice, get perceived as being totally political. Just like, “oh, that’s just political stuff we don't want to talk about in church” or something. And that the church kind of has a problem in that area.

But at the same time I think that in some corners of the climate movement the opposite problem is also true. I think that there are corners of the climate movement that are so apocalyptic and so focused on imminent doom, and so focused on the legislative justice part that some parts of that movement kind of miss people's hearts. And so kind of coming all the way around to answer your question about what it is that I hope we can do with a project like this, and what does it mean to bring it into the worship service?

What my hope is—and this kind of has to be Christian hope. I don't think this can really be like strategized. This is just the work of the Holy Spirit—but my hope is that by you know writing songs like these and creating worship resources like these, that what we're sort of beginning with is the beauty of Biblical orthodoxy. That we're beginning with the truth and the beauty of “here's the way that God has made the world.” Let's renew a generation's enthusiasm about how beautiful creation is. Let's talk about God's active participation in the world. Let's talk about how it is not just a miracle that Jesus turns water to wine, but it is a miracle that God turns water into grapes. We have that song that I just love, that “it's always been water to win.” 

Wanting to have that kind of imaginative renewal take place—even when it comes to the lament, songs like sort of having the imaginative renewal of what it looks like to lament things that are broken and just to say, “Good Lord, deliver us.” To frame this conversation in that way, where we're really trying to get at the heart. And the hope is that by bringing these songs into the church, where we're able to get at people's hearts in a more meaningful way, that then we're really setting the stage in healthier and more sustainable ways for this conversation to then move into the sort of sphere of social and political legislative renewal. But don't get me wrong with any of that. It's not that I'm suggesting it anyway, that we don't need the legislative renewal.

We absolutely do. And in some ways that's in some ways that's sort of like the whole point, the whole goal. But at the same time recognizing that when cultures change in really dramatic ways, that change, from my perspective, has to involve some sort of renewal of the imagination before it can involve the renewal of our institutions.

Chris: Wow! Oh, boy. There's a quote that I read recently from Dr. William J. Barber: “preachers don't get to stay out of politics. We are either chaplains of empire or prophets of God.” And you know I think—I don't want to oversimplify what you just did—but I think there's the prophetic element of the community of faith. let's not abdicate that. Let's lean into that. Let's not just be this sort of community that does our thing on Sunday morning in a funny looking building. Let's step out. 

Peter, what about you? How can this project shape what our worship looks like? For you, what's your hope for how it can orient our hearts?

Peter: I love this question, and I think you spoke to it earlier, when you talked about the way that many Christians, many of us, think about worship as a musical experience. And yet we know, and we also talk, about worship as a broader call to do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God. And when Jesus was asked what is required of me, he said, “Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself.” And he didn't just say that he said, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself,” and equated the two.

So when I think about worship, and the kind of worship that this album and various themes that are reflected in it are calling us to do, it is that: to love God and love our neighbor. I see our climate emergency as a grand challenge to our capacity as Christians to worship in that way by loving God and loving our neighbor. We can't say we love God and throw this beautiful gift of creation into a landfill. Gehenna is the word used for the landfill adjacent to ancient Jerusalem.

In other words, hell. We can't bring heaven to earth, or be part of that process by creating hell on earth through climate change and other crises that we're facing now. So that's one: loving God means caring for God's creation and all those who rely on it. That's loving our neighbor. Our global neighbor, our literal neighbor. Our children who are our neighbors generationally rely on the wholeness of God's creation and its life sustaining systems. We have an opportunity, and a calling, and a duty to make sure that they have that to live on. It seems to me that's the minimum we can do in response to Jesus's commandments to love God and neighbor.

And when I think about worship, and I think about this album and all the songs that take us through the various facets of the worship experience, I also think about the way they inspire and encourage us to carry that into our Monday through Saturday lives.

Chris: Yeah, one of the things that I think has really impressed me—and when we see a come to the end of our conversation, I want to give you both some space to talk about where people can keep up with the work that you're doing. I know, Peter, the book “A Million Prayers to Solve Our Climate Crisis is something that I've had an opportunity to look into. And Isaac, your musical work and even just hearing you talk now, I am super impressed with the way that you both really hold lament and hope so well. I don't want to say I was nervous about our conversation today, but I do want to say sometimes I don't quite know how these conversations are going to go. And it's been really just super accessible for me, you know, and I know our listeners will feel the same way.

But the question I wanna get into for you, Isaac, And I want to hear from you, Peter, too.

How have you been transformed by working on this project? Because I look at you both and I’m like “I wanna be like these guys when I grow up.” But I know it didn't just happen. I know it's been a journey. But can you tell us a little bit, Isaac, about what transformation has happened in you working on this project?

Isaac: Yeah, that's a great question. You know, what you might describe as a coincidence—or maybe more appropriately, Providence in this case—it happened to be the case that as Peter and I started this conversation, I mean just a few weeks after we started, I moved from the U.S.A. to Belgium with my wife and my  kids. And when we moved here—we moved to do this graduate program—when we moved here, still really deep in the pandemic lockdowns in Europe, a lot of things were closed. Where we live in Belgium is kind of a rural area. And so it just kind of ended up being the case that as we moved here, we really got into a very regular habit of walking you know one or two hours a day, doing these nature walks, and walking along the river banks and all these things.

And simultaneously, we're having these sort of theological conversations about climate justice. And then practically speaking, I'm with my wife and our kids and we're having these very regular experiences of spending time in nature in a way that we had not been up to that point.

And of course the flora and the fauna, it's very different. The birds—there's pheasants and swans everywhere here. It's very beautiful, very pastoral. And so, as we're having these experiences, my wife and I were sort of talking about the beauty of the place and we're talking about creation. But then, simultaneously, my wife is reading some Indigenous literature around sort of indigenous views of the world, the created world. 

During the course of this project we did a series of interviews with Mark Charles, who's an Indigenous theologian who lives in Washington, DC. And he did some coaching with their songwriters about thinking about the Indigenous imagination for creation and how can that be in conversation with sort of talking about Biblical views of creation.

And so it's all just to say that I think the combination of both having these conversations, and the fact that in my family we're spending all this time outside, we began in my family over the course of  2021, to really have a pretty transformed view of how we talked about nature, agriculture about talking about flora and fauna and creatures. It kind of set us on a path where we're watching these different nature documentaries and learning about “fantastic fungi” and all these things and really having these conversations with our kids about the created world that were much different in the conversations we had growing up. Like having conversations with our kids where we're actually presenting the created world as much more of a place that God is actively involved.

And you know I think of that Colossians passage about God upholding all things by the word of his power. That he has not wound up a clock, but that God is actually deeply at work, not just in the changing of the seasons, but in the growing of the grass, and in the way that he provides food for the wild animals, and then the way that he renews the face of the earth.

So I think maybe one of the most transformative aspects for me has just been physically stepping outside of of my house, to sort of inhabit the created world, and inhabit the created world now with sort of a new set of lenses, thinking about how much there is to rejoice over, how much there is to lament and what hope we have, and how God is actually sustaining all things, in a way that I think especially before this project, before moving to Belgium, and before the pandemic I was pretty oblivious to. 

Chris: Thanks, Isaac. And Peter for you, how has it been a transformative experience?

Peter: It has ruined my life in the best way. 

Chris: Yeah, wow, I thank you both, I think—how do I say this? Thank you both for saying yes. And thank you both for collaborating and providing such a beautiful on ramp and opportunity for so many others like myself to say yes with you. Really quick, I feel like we've just scratched the surface, but I'd love to have you both back on again. I feel like we could probably go another hour. But start with you, Peter. How can folks catch up with what you're doing and stay up to date with the work that you're doing?

Peter: Thanks for asking. We have a page where folks can find the album assets, and it's Pretty simple. But from there you can learn about climate vigil. You can learn about the album, and you can sign up to be involved in the movement. And what that looks like is hopefully or participating in a local climate vigil. And we are calling people to show up in their community—whether it's at their church, or whether it's in the town square—to bear witness and to do it together, recognizing that none of us can do this by ourselves. God can do it. And God can do it through us together. So we're excited to call people out in the best way possible. And we're looking forward to hosting vigils across our communities across the world in mid-september so we'll be sharing more information about that with those who have signed up to do it.

Chris: Awesome. Yeah. And for our listeners—if you wanna get that information, we'd love to hear back from you too. Like is this something that you want to do in your community?

Is this something that you want to do in your church? Let us know. We'd love to hear that story.

And for you, Isaac, how can folks keep up to date with what you're doing and find out more?

Isaac: Yeah, thanks Chris. First of all, I want to echo Peter's sentiments—that those are all great ways to continue to get involved in a deeper way—and then speak specifically to the worship experience. I think that there are multiple tiers of entry for people who are involved in leading worship, planning worship, volunteering in worship for different ways to engage with these songs in a really practical way on a Sunday morning. Or maybe in your worshiping community that meets on a weeknight, or whatever. 

It might be that you're part of a worshiping community, that's already really deeply invested in this conversation about environmental justice. And if your community is already there, and you're already invested. I think that we have some songs that really go deep. You know, I think that for a community that's kind of already there, that there are these lament songs, like the “All Creatures” lament, that there are these sort of calls to search our hearts in songs like, “Good Lord, Deliver Us” that really speak to some of the issues around environmental justice in a head-on, very fearless kind of a way. 

But then maybe you're part of a church congregation that has not started the conversation, and it kind of feels like, how do we start talking about it? Well, another way that you might think about it is that so many of our communities are facing real environmental challenges on an annual or seasonal basis. It is not unusual around the country that in any given season—whether it's hurricanes or increased forest fires, whether it's droughts—there are so many environmental challenges that our actual lived-in communities are facing. So really keep your ears open and say, “all right, this coming Sunday. It makes sense. This is a point of entry for us to address what is happening in the physical world that we live in.” And we have some songs on this album that are going to feel really pastoral for those moments. 

Even if your church is not a church that typically is talking about environmental justice. Maybe if your church is located in parts of California that are experiencing a drought right now, when you're praying for God's renewal of creation, there are songs like “Hosanna, Will you rise?” That is a call out to God—God, will you rise in this area? Will you meet us? Will you deliver us in this way? 

And then finally maybe even—let’s just keep lowering the bar! But even if you're in a church situation where maybe neither one of those things applies, where it feels like, “okay, our church isn't really ready to have this conversation. And we don't really have any natural on ramps of environmental things that we're talking about.” This record also has two or three songs that are really joyful in nature. They're joyful with really biblical language that actually fits in pretty easily with  most kinds of Christian expressions of worship on a Sunday. But they have lyrics that are just provocative enough to sort of provoke our imaginations into looking at creation in a new way. Whether that’s songs like “Declaring Glory,” or “God of Grace and Mystery,” or “Water to Wine,” these are songs that are upbeat, that are Biblical in their themes, but that do sort of prick our imaginations to look around and see creation in a new way.

And so my challenge would really be that whatever kind of worshiping community you're in, we hope there's something here in this collection of songs that could help your worshiping community go one step deeper in this conversation about climate justice.

Chris: Our guests today have been Peter Fargo, co-founder of the Climate Vigil and Isaac Wardell, creative director of The Porter’s Gate. Thank you both for being with us today. Thanks for saying yes. And like I said before, thanks for making it possible for us to say, “yes.” Thank you.

Isaac: Thanks for having us.

Peter: Thank you. What a blessing.


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