The big picture: Baptism among magnolia blossoms in Atlanta | Photography

Jhe green the church The movement seeks “to expand the role of churches as centers of environmental resilience.” Its charismatic leader, Dr. Ambrose Carroll, says communion with the natural world is fundamental to the past and future of his congregation: “We are former slaves,” he says, “migrant farmers, people who have spent eons with our hands in the ground. Even if we don’t speak the language of environmentalism, it is very close to who we are.

Carroll’s ministry is one of the photographer’s goals Lucas Foglia‘s project on prayer in nature. Foglia’s own mission is clear, he says: “In a divided time in the United States, I want to show common ground. People I have photographed from all major religions share the belief that wild places are both a refuge and our responsibility. This photo of a child, Omari, raised in a magnolia blossom, displayed later this month at a photography fair in New York, was taken during the annual open water baptism ceremony which took place held annually in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Prayer Project is an evolution of Foglia’s ongoing quest for contemporary Edens. He grew up on a family farm on Long Island. His parents were part of the movement back to the land where food was grown for barter. Since 2006 he has traveled the country, often photographing off-grid communities, hippies, hunter-gatherers and religious sects, as well as the toxic effects of our industrialized exploitation of the natural world. This latest series is an attempt to locate a fundamental and shared sense of wonder in engagement with the environment. An advocate for wild spaces in cities, Foglia suggests that some of the urban places that still have the least amount of plant life are the playgrounds of urban schools. “It is always important to have [children] touch nature,” he says, “because it is through direct contact that we create empathy.”