What a news week it’s been for the Episcopal Church! The news out of Canterbury at the end of last week has led to misleading and just-plain-false headlines prompting a wide variety of reactions. As the dust settled a little, wiser voices were heard allowing us to catch our collective breath and seek the truth of the situation. Whether or not the Anglican Communion can canonically impose any actions against The Episcopal Church remains to be seen. What is completely clear is that there is division within the body of Primates about decisions we as The Episcopal Church have prayerfully and humbly made before God. We knew this was coming so it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. However, the decision of the Primates is still terribly sad for all of us but most especially for those who are most directly affected by their words – the LGBTQ community.
Having read far too many misinformed and nasty reactions on social media, I took solace in the letters written by many of our TEC bishops, including our own Bishop Gibbs. The wisdom of these godly women and men give me confidence that we have done the right thing and we will not be deterred from following God’s call to love all our neighbors and to “strive for justice and peace for all people and respect the dignity of all human beings.” You can read the responses of many of the bishops here: http://www.episcopalcafe.com/episcopal-church-bishops-respond-to-primates/
And, if you haven’t already read the letter from Bishop Gibbs, you can also find the text of it here: http://www.edomi.org/in-light-of-primates-action-we-must-maintain-our-mission-to-unify/
It’s not rare for a year to break record temperatures. But it’s now happened two years in a row — and 2015 was “very, very clearly the warmest year by a long chalk,” reported Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies ….While a warming El Nino trend likely played a role in 2015 setting the new record, Schmidt says, “it is the cumulative effect of the long-term trend that has resulted in the record warming that we are seeing.”
Also, Schmidt reminds us, even incremental changes of one degree can have an impact on weather and ecosystems, noting that in many places around the world, glaciers are retreating.
Here’s the full article from NPR – http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/20/463709775/a-scorcher-2015-shatters-record-as-warmest-year-nasa-and-noaa-say?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20160120
While a change of one degree can seem very insignificant to us, I heard the Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, Tony de Brum comment at the Paris climate talks back in December that more than a 1.5 degree Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) increase would be catastrophic for their survival. For this small island nation, it’s “1.5 to stay alive.” We are getting dangerously close to this level. Eighteen-year old Selina Leen told the NPR reporter that the community in which she lives has been affected already. Many of the coconut trees from which she gathered nuts as a child are already under water. “Graves of grandparents, people who lived in my town, are just gone,” she says. You can find the interview with Mr de Brum here – http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/12/09/459053208/for-the-marshall-islands-the-climate-goal-is-1-5-to-stay-alive
As we attempt to live out God’s mission for our lives and the world, we need to remember that our climate provides us with evidence of just how we’re doing as stewards of our planet. I’d say we have a long way to go! It’s important that we remember the 5 Marks of Mission:
The Mission of the Church Is the Mission of Christ
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
If we continue on the path we’re traveling, we will not be able to sustain, let alone renew, life on this planet.
Here’s an impressive graphical video of the climate trend:
This visualization illustrates Earth’s long-term warming trend, showing temperature changes from 1880 to 2015 as a rolling five-year average. Orange colors represent temperatures that are warmer than the 1951-80 baseline average, and blues represent temperatures cooler than the baseline. (Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Scientific Visualization Studio).
It’s pretty easy to see the trend toward warmer temperatures. And, we already know that our planet has been experiencing extreme storms. Whether one believes that people have been responsible or not, the evidence is pretty clear that unless we turn the tide of rising temperatures, we may not be able to slow down or stop this process. So what can we do? I did some hunting around on the web and found a grassroots organization in the State of Washington called Earth Ministries whose staff and board of directors come from Episcopal, Methodist, ELCA, Roman Catholic and UCC churches. Their website describes them this way:
For over 20 years, Earth Ministry has been the statewide leader in engaging the religious community in environmental stewardship and advocacy. Our Greening Congregations Program was the first in the country to help houses of worship implement sustainable practices, and our faithful advocacy program is on the cutting edge of empowering clergy and lay leaders to speak out on public policy issues. Through education, outreach, organizing, and training, Earth Ministry builds a powerful moral constituency of people of faith taking action for the health of our communities and the environment.
Mission Statement: Earth Ministry’s mission is to inspire and mobilize the religious community to play a leadership role in building a just and sustainable future. (http://earthministry.org/)
Is your congregation ready to look to more sustainable ways of living? Are you? Could something like this grow out of our area? Perhaps some of the resources from Earth Ministry can help. Check out their website.
Let us pray –
Creator God, you make all things
and weave them together in an intricate tapestry of life.
Teach us to respect the fragile balance of life and to care for all the gifts of your creation.
Guide by your wisdom those who have power and authority,
that, by the decisions they make, life may be cherished
and a good and fruitful Earth may continue to show your glory and sing your praises.
you have called us to tend and keep the garden of your creation.
Give us wisdom and reverence for all your plants and animals who share this planet with us and whose lives make possible our own.
Help us to remember that they too love the sweetness of life and join with us in giving you praise.
(From the National Council of Churches [NCC] Earth Day Sunday 2001 resource packet.)
~ The Rev. Deacon Judith Schellhammer, Resolution Review Committee