Paul Gorman receives the Heinz Award in the Environment for his success in mobilizing the American religious community to address the environmental challenge, and at the same time, providing spiritual and moral resources for those working to protecting both the natural world and the fragility of human life.
Through the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, a group he helped establish in 1991 and now leads as Executive Director, Mr. Gorman has broadened the base of the environmental movement and provided a major new vision. As conceived by Mr. Gorman, activists must look beyond "protecting the environment" to a more expansive view of "caring for all creation."
In an era in which human well-being and habitat are increasingly threatened by the environmental consequences of rapidly increasing consumption and population, a change toward a more secure, sustainable world requires a fundamental shift in values. Mr. Gorman has encouraged the resolve to step beyond the scientific and economic boundaries marking the decades-long environmental debate to an explicitly moral source of analysis and advocacy. He has devised an institutional framework enabling diverse American faith groups to work together, building upon what they have in common without diluting their distinctive beliefs.
A broad spectrum of faith groups now comprise the Partnership: the U.S. Catholic Conference, serving all bishops, clergy, and parishes of the Catholic Church; the National Council of Churches in Christ, a federation of 34 Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and African-American denominations; the Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life, an alliance across all our Jewish movements, and the Evangelical Environmental Network, a coalition of evangelical Christian agencies and educational institutions. Collectively, they serve over 100 million Americans.
The Partnership has distributed educational materials to approximately 150,000 congregations, including every Catholic parish and tens of thousands of synagogues and mainline Protestant, evangelical, and Eastern Orthodox churches. In addition to providing resources for theological scholarship, sermons, worship, education, contacts with local environmental organizations, and a new source of community-based initiatives, the Partnership's member groups provide action alerts and testimony on issues such as climate change; energy conservation; biodiversity; urban sprawl; regulatory reform; and the links between poverty, racism and pollution.
Mr. Gorman has the rare ability to gently and persuasively articulate powerful values, creating both trust and depth in every interaction in which he is a part. Following his graduation from Yale and Oxford, he worked in the U.S. Congress in the 1960s where he helped organize the Congressional delegation to Selma, Alabama and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Vietnam.
Today, through his success with the Partnership, he has incorporated the extraordinary resources of ancient faith traditions into the contemporary cause of environmental stewardship. Paul Gorman's commitment to bringing the values and the role of religious traditions into environmentalism inspires others to seek out their deepest motives and find strength as they work to cherish and protect creation.
Note: This profile is excerpted from the commemorative brochure published at the time of the awards' presentation.
UPDATES SINCE RECEIVING THE HEINZ AWARD
September 2005 - Gorman sits on a panel at Middlebury College entitled "Renewal: Perspectives and Possibilities in an Age of Climate Crisis". The symposium addresses "the current state of climate science, religious and ethical perspectives on climate change" as well as problems and potential solutions to climate change. - AScribe Newswire
November 2002 - In an article published in E Magazine, Gorman reflects on the "process of awakening" that has prompted major religions to protect all creation. - E Magazine
June 2001 - Gorman is among 40 executives, economists and scientists to attend the Citizens Summit on Climate Change. The summit's main intention is to "urge lawmakers to slow global warming", and by the end of the conference, 12 state petitions had been successfully created and signed that called for "stronger congressional leadership and policies to stem global warming." - U.S. Newswire
November 2000 - Gorman is honored at the National Council of Churches annual General Assembly on behalf of his organization, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. The NCC praised the partnership for having "strengthened and facilitated the environmental justice ministries of the National Councils of Churches." - National Council of Churches
Speech3/7/2000 - Acceptance Speech
My thanks to you, Mrs. Heinz, for the vision and values these awards encourage not simply affirm. And for your example of remembrance of a loved one. In which spirit: thanks to my wife Enid, for your prayerfulness, and to my daughter Juliet, for your integrity. To my parents for the legacy of their extraordinary gifts. To friends for loving me and busting me. To colleagues in so many places. Thanks to members of the jury. For your utterly improbable October epiphany, your electoral Damascus, from which you surely will have recovered by now. Or not. Such experiences, after all, transform entire world views.... is the idea here.
You honor a perspective not simply a person. Its habitat is the inner life. Its endowment is gratitude for God or Nature's handicraft, awe and transcendence, insight and intuition, a dawning awareness of interdependence and the disposition to do what's right by it. These are our truest, deepest natural resources. As is imagination in Peter's work, devotion to new life in Bob and Ed's, discernment of order in Mary's. Environmental virtues all, actually.
In this same inner habitat dwells the most powerful single instrument for social change: the individual human heart which, awakened, arks toward healing and justice on behalf of all denied it: oppressed and abused, poor and poisoned, clear-cut and in other ways rendered invisible. All afflicted life - which we might, here and now, lift up together in a few moments of silent solidarity.
The fertility of heart, aquifer of spirituality, the bedrock of principle: these have always been the source, the infinitely renewable energy of courageous and victorious human struggle down through the ages. Can we move forward without these spiritual and moral resources in greater abundance if we're to meet the challenge set before us so uniquely in our generation and so inescapably for those to come?
Such endeavor will bring blessing. That's what I've been given to feel here now. And can therefore accept this award on behalf of ... all of us. All of it. Allness.