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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Church leaders have launched a campaign to save the planet by involving their congregations in the environmental movement.

The Oregon Global Warming Campaign is the first of 17 state efforts nationwide to be organized by ministers, rabbis and other religious leaders.

``We intend to move the challenge of climate change from the laboratories of science and halls of diplomacy to the pulpits and pews of the American heartland,' said the Rev. John Huenink of Eugene, a leader of the Presbyterian Church in Oregon. ``Global warming will hurt creation.'

The Oregon campaign is under the aegis of the Ecumenical Ministries, a coalition of 15 mainstream religious denominations and faiths. It is the latest to wed environmental protection with religion, and leaders see the movement as a powerful lobby for persuading Congress, state legislatures and other politicians to protect the environment.

Already, a Vatican council has declared that ``the world and humanity are at a mortal risk' from global warming, and materials on climate change have been sent to 50,000 religious congregations and synagogues in the United States.

The heads of 24 denominations have appealed to President Clinton and Congress to sign a global climate change treaty to reduce greenhouse gases.

``Environmental activity in the faith community has been growing steadily over the past five years,' according to Paul Gorman, executive director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, which is helping organize statewide efforts with the U.S. Catholic Conference, the National Council of Churches and evangelical Christian and Jewish organizations.

Gorman said state efforts plan to reach out to workers and families that traditionally have not embraced environmental activism: auto workers in Michigan, coal miners in West Virginia, farmers in Wisconsin and wood-products workers in Oregon. The campaign also encourages churches to install more energy-efficient lighting and heating.




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