Religion through an Envionmental Lens: Smith Island

We loaded up the ferry with out belongings for the next two days, and began our journey across the bay to Smith Island. Speeding off across the water, the scent of brackish water overcame our senses while we ate lunch on the deck, hair whipping around our faces. After an hour of travel, we stepped onto the dock of a quaint little town, Ewell. It appeared to be nearly a ghost town, a few elders rolling by on their golf carts as they traveled through the heart of town. Leaving the dock we passed a Smith Island museum, Ruke’s, and a church. Ruke’s is a small grocery store and restaurant, with delicious food. First time I’ve ever had a soft-shell crab, and I couldn’t have tried it at a better place! Our experience here was interesting and enlightening, interacting with townsfolk and walking the streets at night to look at the stars.

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Smith Island: Land Loss

Smith Island is a culturally distinct, 1200 acre mass of marsh lands inhabited by just over 200 individuals. The population is in decline as it has become more difficult to make a living as a waterman. We stayed in a quaint home located in Ewell, courtesy of Michelle. This town is comprised of an elderly population, with very few members below the age of 50. Smith Island hosts a very religious community, with multiple churches in a town. We were presented with an opportunity to attend part of a Revival, which was a colorful experience.

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Pastor Rick, Smith Island

Pastor Rick introduced the guest Minister, who took control of the pulpit and shook the audience with his message. While he paraded around the front of the church, waving his arms about wildly while telling his story, I couldn’t help but alter the point he was making. Pastor Willy lamented that we must pay attention to the warning signs Jesus is sending, or else prepare ourselves for an eternal afterlife of torment. All the while asking us to embrace God and serve him selflessly. But this guest Minister made an excellent point while discussing the warning signs. While he expressed this in a religious sense, I applied his message to our environmental mission. Mother nature has given us countless warning signs to change the path which we are sprinting down before it is too late to reverse the damage that has been done. A current example of this would be the rising temperatures this time of year – it is uncommon for it to be warm enough to swim in the Atlantic in early October. Tropical Storm Karen pushed the heat north, which heated our system, but this can be linked to climate change. Our strengthening storm systems are a result of changing weather patterns, and these disrupted patterns wreak havoc on the earth. These are all warning signs of a wrench in the cycle, which unless we begin to take measures to reverse some of the damage we have inflicted on this planet, we will all be tormented by the effects.

That Minister knew what he was talking about after all!

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