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Union Theological Seminary students pray to plants

The Union Theological Seminary caught criticism this week after they posted a picture of their students praying to a display of plants in the chapel of the school.

” Today in chapel, we confessed to plants,” the seminary wrote on Twitter. “Together, we held our grief, joy, regret, hope, guilt and sorrow in prayer; offering them to the beings who sustain us but whose gift we too often fail to honor. What do you confess to the plants in your life?”

The ceremony was part of professor Claudio Carvalhaes’ class “Extractivism: A Ritual/Liturgical Response.”

The seminary defended the ceremony in a 10-part tweet that outlined its reasoning, citing climate change as a factor in the choice.

“We are in the throes of a climate emergency, a crisis created by humanity’s arrogance, our disregard for Creation,” the seminary wrote. “Far too often, we see the natural world only as resources to be extracted for our use, not divinely created in their own right — worthy of honor, thanks and care. “