By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
America’s 45th Earth Day will be celebrated with an Earth Walk on the Oklahoma City University campus on Wednesday, April 22.
Walkers will be welcomed with live music beginning at 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the United Methodist Church headquarters located at NW 24th Street and McKinley Avenue.
Speakers for the event will include Oklahoma Sierra Club director, Johnson Bridgwater and students from three local universities. The walk will step off at 6:45 p.m.
“As America’s oldest and largest environmental organization, Sierra Club is proud to cosponsor this event,” Bridgwater said. “Earth and all that it encompasses are sacred gifts that deserve to be cherished and kept clean. Earth Day provides an opportunity to acknowledge that.”
Bridgwater said that the organization’s 3100 members are encouraged to participate.
“Earth Day began in 1970 as part of a growing awareness that human beings are the stewards of nature and all living things,” said Nathaniel Batchelder, Director of the Peace House, a co-sponsor of the event. “People could see that human activity could pollute rivers, cause smog, and destroy animal habitat.”
Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day said, “The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”
Batchelder said, “Everyone is invited to bring their own sign or picture about what they love on earth.” He indicated that a large 6-foot inflatable earth ball as well as two 3-foot balls would be carried during the walk.
Rev. William Tabbernee, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, another cosponsor, said, “The earth is our God-given home and our most precious resource. We must do all we can to protect and care for it responsibly.”
Featured guitarist Bob Cross from Mayflower Congregational Church said “Our church is a co-sponsor and we will lift our voices in celebration of life, love, and hope for the future. Drums, musical instruments, and noise-makers are welcome. We will make a joyful noise.”
Celebrated annually on April 22, Earth Day events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, the events are held in more than 192 countries each year. It has grown each year as more and more people around the world become aware of the necessity to care for the earth, its environment and the diverse species that occupy it.
Joe Meinhart, Director of OCU’s OIKOS, or World House, Scholars program and OCU students are making plans for the walk.
“We teach our students that living in harmony with nature is critical to humanity’s future,” Meinhart said. “There is no ‘Planet B’ we can move to if we mess this one up. Earth Day is a day for special recognition of humanity’s relationship with nature.”
In a speech on April 3, 2006, President Barack Obama said,” All across the world, in every kind of environment and region known to man, increasingly dangerous weather patterns and devastating storms are abruptly putting an end to the long-running debate over whether or not climate change is real. Not only is it real, it’s here, and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster.”
Additional sponsors of Earth Walk include the United Methodist Environmental Coalition, Center for Conscience in Action, First Unitarian Church, Edmond Trinity Church, Church of the Open Arms, Joy Mennonite Church, Mayflower Congregational Church, and Citizens Climate Lobby of Norman.
“Signs and banners of all groups wanting to participate are welcome, Batchelder said. “We will proclaim earth and nature essential to human life.”
Additional Earth Day events are listed on the national website www.earthday.org. To learn more, contact Nathaniel Batcheder at 405-824-2794 or Jody Harlan at 405-326-3600.