Earth Day 2009 Blessing of the Trees: Northern Michigan bishops, faith leaders bless the first of 12,000 trees planted i

Marquette, MI - Bishops and leaders from northern Michigan's largest faith communities planted the first of 12,000 trees during an Earth Day 2009 ceremony on the shores of Lake Superior.

Standing on a hillside surrounded by huge pine trees two bishops and several other faith leaders blessed a three-foot native species white spruce tree and took turns putting shovels full of dirt into the hole.

Anticipating the cold April weather, organizers earlier decided to plant the rest of the trees on Sunday, May 3 when the weather is more appropriate for planting the 12,000 12-to-16-inch seedlings at numerous locations across northern Michigan including 100 churches and temples.

The EarthKeeper team includes ten faith traditions (Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist, Baha'i, Jewish, Zen Buddist, Quakers) with over 150 participating churches/temples, nonprofit Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP), nonprofit Cedar Tree Institute (CTI), and the Northern Michigan University EarthKeeper (NMU EK) Student Team.

The concept of "EarthKeeping goes beyond the Upper Peninsula" because throughout the Great Lakes states "we're having a ripple effect" as people and groups "are replicating the work that the EarthKeepers have done here," said Carl Lindquist, SWP executive director. "They're patterning their events after some of the successful programs we have had here."

Michigan faith leaders favor protecting the environment.

"This is very much a marvelous moment in the life of our work together as faith communities," said Rev. Jon Magnuson, CTI executive director and EarthKeeper Initiative co-founder. "This is another step in our interfaith work. We have found an expression of our faith in very, very hands-on work like this the EarthKeeping Tree Project."

All humans "are called to be steward's of God's cr

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