Donor Interview: Rutherford Seydel

Rutherford Seydel and Susan Varlamoff

Caring for Atlanta’s Creation-One Church at a Time

Rutherford Seydel has always been a champion for conserving Atlanta’s environment.

“I [was in school] and attended 2 schools on the Chattahoochee River and learned in biology that our body is 70% water and that 90-something percent of our water is coming from the Chattahoochee.”

Rutherford Seydel

The present-day Atlanta lawyer at DAVIS, PICKREN, SEYDEL & SNEED, LLP realized he needed to do what he could to preserve the river as this directly affected himself and everyone around him.

This passion for taking care of our Earth grew when he married his wife who lives out a deep commitment to environmentalism, became a member of boards that focus on ecological sustainability and conservation, and helped launch our Archdiocese’s Laudato Si program.

Written by Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ is the Catholic Church’s response to addressing the growing worldwide issue of climate change. Seydel first heard about this program through Susan Varlamoff, a local Catholic biologist and parishioner of St. John Neumann. Her relentless desire to protect the surrounding environment of our Archdiocese displays to Seydel the urgency of living out a vital pillar of our Catholic faith.

two women pose with a statue of Mary with shovels and flowers

“This is what God bestowed upon us and we’ve got a duty to be environmentalists and preserve the creation that was given to us.”

He decided to take action and make a significant donation to get the Laudato Si program on an Archdiocesan level. He says, “I wanted to put some money where my mouth was to initiate a process that I thought would raise the funds and self-generate.”

Thanks to his abundant generosity, the Laudato Si action plan has been implemented in parishes including St. John Neumann in Lilburn. This church, with the help of its Creation Care Team, led by Susan Varlamoff, has successfully reduced its energy and water usage after taking steps from the Laudato Si Action Plan. St. John Neumann is a shining example of how we can be humble stewards of our resources and be mindful of the home God has given us.

Rutherford Seydel encourages members of our Archdiocese to do the one thing God asks of us all which is to pray.

“You can be prayerfully doing things…we only have some limited time on this planet and we have an eternity to look back and figure out that we do everything with every minute and every second.”

-Rutherford Seydel

two boys smile and pose with shovels while volunteering in a garden

Seydel not only encourages us to champion the Laudato Si action plan in our churches but also in our personal lives. He challenges himself and his family daily to live more intentionally; by turning the lights off when they are not needed, driving an electric car, or using less water at home. He also inspires us to never stop being curious.

Along with championing the birth of Laudato Si in the Archdiocese, his curiosity has led him to found the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers organization with his wife which has successfully cleaned 80% of the largest water source for Georgians.

Seydel’s response when asked what actions he recommends for living out the mission of Laudato Si and caring for Atlanta community.

To learn more about Laudato Si and how you can take action, click here

You can learn more about how to support Laudato Si here