Ecocentricity Guest Blog - Environmental Justice and the Soul of America: A Conversation with Rev. Gerald Durley
“Dr. King told us that we had to look at the soul of America. And in my estimation, the soul of America is the environment, because if you destroy the soul, then nothing else exists. If you destroy the air, if you destroy the water, if you destroy the wildlife, if you destroy the plants - that's the soul of America.” --The Reverend Dr. Gerald Durley
The Reverend Dr. Gerald Durley is best known for his 25 years of service as the Pastor of the historic Providence Missionary Baptist Church of Atlanta. During his tenure, he delivered inspiring sermons that connected ideas of faith, civil rights, and climate justice, and he continues to be a sought-after speaker on these important topics.
Reverend Durley has written a book about his life’s experiences, and a book that truly is the only way to grasp the entirety of his work, education, and activism. His involvement with the civil rights movement began while he was studying psychology at Tennessee State University. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree, Durley joined the Peace Corps and became one of the first volunteers to work in Nigeria.
Upon his return to the United States, Reverend Durley obtained his Master’s degree in Community Mental Health at Northern Illinois University; a PhD in Urban Education and Psychology from the University of Massachusetts; and, believing in the importance of maintaining harmony between the mind and the spirit, a Master of Divinity degree from Howard University.
Reverend Durley was ordained and became a pulpit associate at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and then became Pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church.
In 2011, Reverend Durley was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta. He was also recognized in a White House ceremony as a “Champion of Change” in July 2015 for his work on climate change.
A believer in the idea that faith and science can coexist, Reverend Durley also draws on the lessons he learned as a civil rights advocate in the 1960s. He has worked with Interfaith Power and Light, the Sierra Club, Eco-America, U.S. Climate Action Network, the Environmental Working Group, Green Law, Ambassadors for Clean Air, and Water Keeper Inc.
Reverend Durley is also a member of the Drawdown Georgia Leadership Council, and it was an honor to interview him recently about his beliefs and experiences. Don’t miss this intimate video interview with Reverend Durley about his life’s work and perspectives on winning hearts and minds in the ongoing effort to solve for climate change.
This blog is available weekly via email subscription. Click here to subscribe.
+1 (770) 317-5858
Ray C. Anderson Foundation