Is the LDS Church on the threshold of a push into environmental sustainability?

The message in a Sunstone Symposium panel discussion Friday seems to be yes.

"You see the rumblings already started," said Mark D. Thomas, a panelist for "40 Days and 40 Nights: The Growing Role of Religions in the Urgent Fight for Environmental Sustainability."

He believes the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is ideally suited for helping the environment and said construction of its City Creek Center project in downtown Salt Lake City is a prime example.

The 20 acres of residential, retail and office space under construction was highlighted last month in "Faith in Action: Communities of Faith Bring Hope for the Planet," a national report of the Sierra Club.

The report featured the LDS Church's efforts to revitalize downtown "in a green manner" through City Creek Center. The project is taking part in a pilot program of the U.S. Green Building Council that promotes environmentally responsible and sustainable development.

Thomas, a business consultant and a Latter-day Saint, believes enormous things are about to happen in church concern for the environment.

"I have a notion in the next few years you will see some surprises," he said, advising people to stop and look around, and talk to their bishops and others about ways to save energy and help the environment. He believes creativity is the key to solving environmental issues.

"With a small effort, we may save ourselves," he said.

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