I want to raise an issue this week that is dear to my heart as a scientist. The topic also has support from The Episcopal Church and even resolutions from the last General Convention to support it! The subject to which I’m referring is “climate change.” I know this has become quite the hot-button issue within communities, families and both state and federal government, but it is an important topic to discuss if we are to take seriously our call to live into the Five Marks of Mission. You might recall that Mark 5 asks us “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” Whether or not you personally believe that our climate is changing in unprecedented ways or that humans have been responsible for the changes in carbon levels that have resulted in a rise in overall temperature is really not the question. The question we all can address is how are we to strive to safeguard creation’s integrity to sustain and renew this glorious planet that our God has given us – “this fragile Earth, our island home.”
Here are the resolutions from the 77th General Convention in 2012:
B023: Environmental Justice
Resolved, That the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church stands in solidarity with those communities who bear the greatest burdens of global climate change: indigenous peoples, subsistence communities, communities of color, and persons living in deprivation around the world; and be it further
Resolved, That the 77th General Convention calls on congregations, institutions, dioceses, and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of The Episcopal Church to support policies that provide tangible benefits to overburdened “frontline” communities (those already experiencing the impacts of climate change) and “fence-line” communities (those suffering in body and spirit for their proximity to the extraction and processing of fossil fuels); and be it further
Resolved, That the 77th General Convention calls on congregations, institutions, dioceses, and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of The Episcopal Church, to work for the just transformation of the world’s energy beyond and away from fossil fuels (including all forms of oil, coal, and natural gas) and toward safe, sustainable, renewable, community controlled energy, and that fossil fuel workers and their families be supported during the transition to a “postcarbon” society; and be it further
Resolved, That the 77th General Convention calls on congregations, institutions, dioceses, and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of The Episcopal Church to resist the development and expansion of ever more unconventional, dangerous, and environmentally destructive sources of fossil fuel and move toward conversion to more sustainable sources; and be it further
Resolved, That the 77th General Convention calls on congregations, institutions, dioceses and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of The Episcopal Church to support the self-determined aspirations of communities around the world, who, like the Iñupiaq Community of Kivalina, Alaska, having emitted minimal amounts of carbon and having received negligible material benefit from fossil fuel consumption, nevertheless bear the brunt of climate-change impacts; and be it further
Resolved, That the 77th General Convention calls on congregations, institutions, dioceses and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of The Episcopal Church, including Episcopal Relief and Development, to support the implementation of grassroots, community-based solutions to climate change, including, but not limited to, adaptations to improve local resilience, to build local food sovereignty, to support ecological restoration and economic re-localization.
And one more –
D055: Advocate for Public Policy to Reduce Climate Changing Emissions
Resolved, That the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church urge the United States government to enact stricter controls on the use of carbon-based fuels, and create incentives for our nation’s transitions from dependence upon fossil fuels to safe, clean, renewable energy and thereby curb emissions of heat-trapping gasses into the atmosphere and be it further
Resolved, that this convention encourage every member of the Episcopal Church to urge his/her members of Congress to enact such legislation.
When it’s my “write the blog day” I’m always hoping that I notice a news article or event that warrants coverage within our Household so I was delighted when I woke to find an article from The Episcopal News Service about an upcoming webcast on this topic. But, even more than being happy that I have a good subject about which to write, I am so pleased that our Church takes these important issues seriously!!
Next Tuesday, March 24, The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (that’s us!) will host a 90-minute webcast called “The Climate Change Crisis” beginning at 2:00 pm EST. The article commented that there are many ways to get involved so I went hunting to see what they’re offering. First, there’s the Facilitator’s Manual which will give you everything you need to host a gathering at your church or living room to watch together. You can find that here – http://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/facilitators_guide_8.5x11_v7.pdf
There are also bulletin inserts to alert your church family to this great opportunity that you can download here – http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2015/02/24/bulletin-insert-3-lent-b/
You can even submit questions to the panelists here – http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/climate-change-crisis
And then following the webcast, you can sign up for 30 Days of Action, daily emails inviting you to “learn, advocate, act, proclaim, eat, play and pray.” The hope is to engage Episcopalians around the world in committing to care for God’s creation personally, and globally. You can sign up for these emails here – http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/30-days-action
Our Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, who will present the keynote address on the webcast also shared her thoughts in the Facilitator’s Guide:
God has planted this terrestrial garden with abundant life in myriad forms, and set human beings to share the work of gardening. We have not used the earth well, and we’ve begun to gravely endanger the future fruitfulness of this garden. Each one of us can care for the bits of earth and air and water closest to us, and we must use and steward them far more carefully if the generations to come are to have life. The looming danger of snuffing out the light of life demands our collective action as well – it is the work of the whole community to roll back the funeral pall hanging over this body of earth.
This ministry takes many forms: turn off the water when you brush your teeth, eat more plants and less meat, walk or ride a bicycle when you can, and gather with other Episcopalians to challenge governments to govern for the well-being of all creation. We need to limit greenhouse gases, develop greener forms of energy, and assist the poorest to adapt to changes already begun. We share this planet together, and it is only together that we will survive and thrive.
- Bishop Marc Andrus, Bishop of the Diocese of California. Climate change has been a focus of his work as a bishop.
- Princess Daazhraii Johnson, former Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, one of the oldest Indigenous non-profit groups in Alaska focused on protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She currently serves on the SAG-AFTRA Native American Committee, the Dancing with the Spirit committee and is active in her community.
- Lucy Jones, seismologist with the US Geological Survey and a Visiting Research Associate at the Seismological Laboratory of Caltech since 1983. She currently serves as Science Advisor for Risk Reduction in the Natural Hazards Mission of the US Geological Survey.
- Mary D. Nichols, J.D., Chairman of the California Air Resources Board. She is responsible for implementing California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions legislation as well as setting air pollution standards for motor vehicles, fuels and consumer products.
There, I’ve given you plenty of resources to get you started planning on how you will engage in this discussion. If you want to read the press release, you can find it here – http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2015/03/18/the-climate-change-crisis-watch-participate-engage/
You know, together we can make a difference in caring for our amazing planet and her inhabitants. I’m excited about the possibilities – I hope you are, too. Join me next Tuesday in watching but for now, let’s pray together …
Let us pray –
“Teach your children what we have taught our
children – that the Earth is our mother. Whatever
befalls the Earth befalls the sons and daughters
of the Earth. If men spit upon the ground, they
spit upon themselves. This we know. The Earth
does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth. This
we know. All things are connected like the blood
that unites one family. All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons and
daughters of the Earth. We did not weave the web
of life. We are merely a strand in it. Whatever we
do to the web, we do to ourselves.”
Chief Seattle, c. 1780-1866
Father of creation, we thank you for all that you have made;
For the joy and glimpses of you we find in nature’s beauty,
For the variety of all you have provided through its resources.
Help us to tread lightly and use wisely,
Valuing the needs of others, and of creation, above our own desires.
Challenge us where we need to change our lifestyles,
Convict us when we need to speak out on behalf of a voiceless people, or world and soften us where we have stood in judgment of others.
Father in your mercy, change us and use us for the restoration of your world, and the protection of all your children.
~ Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council