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Our Common Home: the Pope's Encyclical, Climate Science, and Our Clean Energy Future

This event is presented by the School of Divinity's Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, and is co-sponsored by the WFU Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability.

Registration is requested. Register Now »

The world needs an ecological conversion.

That’s the core message of Pope Francis’ powerful encyclical letter Laudato Sí (Praised Be). The human species has managed to run up a sizeable ecological deficit on all our earthly accounts—soil, water, and climate. From the way we feed ourselves, power our buildings, and transport our bodies, the evidence is clear: we need to transition away from fossil fuels and start building a clean energy economy.

We need to work across disciplines — scientists, faith leaders, and business leaders — to create a holistic way of approaching climate change. Pope Francis’s words speak to a growing hunger for religious leaders to model ecological leadership, and signals a generative role that the church can play in the larger society. There is also a growing public desire for the business community to support clean energy, which benefits both people and planet.

Join us as we convene a lively panel discussion on this topic featuring a theologian, a climate scientist, and a local Charlotte business leader who is one of the country’s leading clean energy proponents. We invite your participation as we rethink how to achieve a flourishing economy while preserving this earth, our common home.

Wake Forest's Leadership

Over the past three years, the School of Divinity at Wake Forest University has emerged as a national leader in addressing sustainability, climate change, and food insecurity through the lens of faith. Our specific niche is training and equipping faith leaders. Through the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, we train future leaders through a 15-credit certificate program in Food & Faith that is nested within the Master of Divinity degree. We also offer a robust continuing-education program. Our workshops, conferences, and retreats have attracted hundreds of participants from 17 states and five countries; from 10 colleges (Wake Forest University to Exeter University in England); and from more than a dozen Christian denominations, as well as from other faiths. With support from Kalliopeia Foundation and the Byron Fellowship Educational Foundation, we created the Re:Generate Fellowship, a national program for young faith leaders who work in the areas of food justice and sustainable agriculture. Every June we convene a 5-day summer immersion course in Food, Faith, and Ecology in the North Carolina mountains. Our university partners include the WFU Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (CEES) and Office of Sustinability.

We invite you to partner with us in this important work.



Jay Faison is the founder and managing partner of ClearPath. Jay is also the founder and chairman of SnapAV, a high growth company that designs and distributes more than 1,500 audio-video related products to technology integrators worldwide. SnapAV was acquired by General Atlantic in 2013. A serial entrepreneur, Jay started, managed and sold two businesses prior to SnapAV and was named as 2013 EY Entrepreneur of the Year for the Southeast region. Jay has served on numerous non-profit boards and is active in his community. Jay holds a BA in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a MBA from University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Jay resides in Charlotte, NC with his wife and three children.


Elizabeth O'Donnell Gandolfo serves as Earley Assistant Professor of Catholic and Latin American Studies at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Her research interests include feminist and Latin American liberation theologies, Catholic theology, and systematic theology. Her first book, The Power and Vulnerability of Love: A Theological Anthropology(Fortress, 2015), draws on women’s experiences of maternity and natality to construct a theology of suffering and redemption that is anchored in the reality of human vulnerability. She is currently involved with several projects, including a co-edited volume on motherhood as spiritual practice and source for theology, and a book on the practical and theological lessons that North American Christians might learn from the ecclesial base communities of El Salvador.


Miles Silman is The Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Presidential Chair in Conservation Biology at Wake Forest University. His primary interests are community composition and dynamics of Andean and Amazonian tree communities in both space and time. His lab’s current research focuses on combining modern and paleoecology to understand tree distributions and plant-climate relationships in the Andes and Amazon. The work is focused on the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes and the adjacent Amazonian plain, with a particular emphasis in distributions along environmental gradients, be they in space or time, and includes both empirical work and modeling. The main study site now is a 3 km altitudinal transect from tree line to the Amazon plain in SE Peru, and has 16 years of experience in the western Amazon and Andes.


Fred Bahnson is Assistant Professor of the Practice of Ecological Well-Being and Director of the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. His writing and teaching focus on the intersection of ecology, agriculture, and contemplative spirituality. In his co-authored book Making Peace With the Land, he explored how the scriptural vision of Christ’s reconciliation is not limited to people, but rather is cosmic in scope, which leads to practical implications for agriculture and energy. His book Soil and Sacrament tells the story of the church-supported community garden he co-founded in 2005, as well as describing his more recent pilgrimage among four agrarian faith communities—Trappist, Protestant, Jewish, and Pentecostal. Part spiritual autobiography, part narrative journalism, Soil and Sacrament was described by Kirkus in its starred review as “A profound, moving treatise on finding God in gardening.” His forthcoming article in Harper’s magazine explores faith and climate change.

Parking at the Charlotte Center

Parking is available in the WFU Charlotte Center Garage.  Access to the Parking Deck is located on both 5th and 6th streets.  Signage in the garage designates the WFU elevators.  Take the elevator to the 1st Floor and turn right to continue up 5th Street to the front of the building.  Enter the lobby and follow signs to event. Map »

Tuesday, February 16, 2016 at 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Wake Forest University Charlotte Center
200 N College Street #150, Charlotte, NC 28202

Event Type

Religious Observance, Special Events, Conference / Panel, Workshop, Community


School of Divinity

Target Audience

Alumni, Faculty, General Public, Staff, Students, Prospective Students






Contact name

Hilary Floyd, Program Associate

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