Environmental Stewardship

Environmental Stewardship

Care and justice for all creation is a core value of The Episcopal Church. Eco-justice ministries seek to heal, defend, and work toward justice for all God's creation and to respect the kinship and connection of all that God created through education, advocacy, and action.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has joined with the Episcopal-Anglican-Lutheran leadership of Canada and the United States in a letter to both United States President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper concerning the review and future of the Columbia River Treaty, drawing attention to its impact on Indigenous peoples and regional residents as well as the implications of climate change for this sensitive ecosystem, the fisheries it supports, and the environmental services it provides.

In writing the letter, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori joined with: Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Primate, Anglican Church of Canada; and Bishop Susan Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

“We hear in this moment the call of God to work for justice and to deepen our practice of living as treaty people,” the four leaders stated in the letter. “In this time of climate change, the United States, Canada, tribes and First Nations working together to promote stewardship of shared waters would be a sign of hope for a healthier environment and a fairer world.”

The following is the letter to the President and Prime Minister:

To President Barack Obama and Prime Minster Stephen Harper

 

June 11, 2015

We write to you to add our voices to those who are calling for a review of the Columbia River Treaty in order to respect the rights, dignity and traditions of the Columbia Basin tribes and First Nations by including them in the implementation and management of the Treaty, and to include the healthy functioning of the ecosystem as an equal purpose of the Treaty.

On September 23, 2014, you received the Declaration on Ethics and Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty, and the Columbia River Pastoral Letter upon which the Declaration is based. The Declaration sets forth eight valuable principles to consider in the review of the Columbia River Treaty.

As noted in the Declaration, the original treaty only included flood control and hydroelectric power generation as international management purposes of the Columbia River. We stand at a critical moment in history regarding both the renewal of relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and the addressing of climate change. In fact, Indigenous rights and climate justice are deeply interrelated. The right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent is enshrined in the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The wisdom of Indigenous peoples is vital to addressing the environmental crisis.

We hear in this moment the call of God to work for justice and to deepen our practice of living as treaty people. In this time of climate change, the United States and Canada working together to promote stewardship of shared waters would be a sign of hope for a healthier environment and a fairer world.

Please move forward with negotiations to review the Columbia River Treaty, and thereby provide  a respectful, just and sustainable model for stewardship of these vital waters.

 

Sincerely,

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church

 

Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Presiding Bishop

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

 

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz

Primate

Anglican Church of Canada

 

Bishop Susan Johnson

National Bishop

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

 

 

 

 

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/episcopalian

Twitter: www.twitter.com/iamepiscopalian

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/EpiscopalChurchYT

  

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has joined with the Episcopal-Anglican-Lutheran leadership of Canada and the United States in a letter to both United States President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen...

With the increased pressure to alleviate America’s dependency on foreign oil, the advent of new, more environmentally dangerous methods of oil and natural gas extraction have begun to take center stage on the American frontier. In the West, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations have become the center for a new “gold rush” of this century, and camps of men hired to mine this liquid gold have popped up across North Dakota. These oil camps are large, described by some as “pop-up cities.” The inhabitants of the camps are transient, moving from oil operation to oil operation, making lots of money and enjoying themselves wherever they go. Unfortunately, the chosen recreational activities of some of the laborers reveal the real dangers of these “man camps.”

Since the advent of oil operations and the man camps that accompany them, medical workers and law enforcement have reported staggering statistics on the rising rates of HIV infection, prostitution and sexual assaults. Indian towns in close vicinity to these man camps have experienced major strains on their law enforcement infrastructures, as the number of citizens per police officer are multiplied exponentially when a man camp is set up in the local area. Due to prostitution and other criminal activities such as drug trafficking, many locals living close to these man camps no longer feel safe going out after dark. Winona La Duke’s Honor the Earth website contains a fact sheet on the dangers of these man camps and statistics to support the assertion: “North Dakota’s Uniform Crime Report shows that violent crime has increased 7.2 percent, while 243 reported rapes occurred in 2012 – an increase from 207 in 2011.” Another statistic from Honor the Earth indicates the danger facing local communities from these man camps and more specifically the dangers to native women: “The Fort Berthold Reservation, home to the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nations, is located in western North Dakota, and in recent years has experienced an exponentially increasing level of violence against native women.”

In January 2014 United Nations Special Rapporteur James Anaya made special mention of the dangers indigenous women face from these man camps: “…indigenous women have reported that the influx of workers into indigenous communities as a result of extractive projects also led to increased incidents of sexual harassment and violence, including rape and assault.” Coupled with the already staggering statistic that Native American women are 2½ times more likely to be the victims of sexual assault in their lifetimes than another race or minority, the development of these man camps on the fringes of Native American reservations and territories only serves to further endanger an already vulnerable population. While certain Indian towns are more at risk of such victimization than other communities that are removed from the “oil boom” areas, the overall danger to both the native women and the tribal police’s infrastructure is frightening. The overall threat to indigenous women in the United States and Canada has prompted several movements across the Western Hemisphere. These movements, both grassroots and political, seek to raise awareness of the dangers indigenous women face daily and to promote law enforcement and government agencies to actively participate in investigating the more than a thousand missing native women. In Canada, the latest reports from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police cite more than 1,200 indigenous women have been murdered or are listed as missing. With statistics such as these, the development of more man camps in North America will only increase the danger to native peoples, in particular indigenous women.

If you want to know what it is like in oil country, in and around the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, it is best to read Grace Her Many Horses article, “Firsthand Account of Man Camp in North Dakota from Local Tribal Cop.” The former Rosebud Sioux Tribe police chief shares her experiences from working in oil country and what others have told her about sexual assaults on men and women as well as children. She writes about sex trafficking and prostitution rings, citing how a van full of females was pulled over and they bluntly stated, “You know why we’re going up there,” as if to attend a delightful social event. She also mentions the rise in rates of crime, gambling and illegal drug use.

One could also talk with anyone who currently lives near or has visited the area in the last year. Speak with a tribal member and let them share with you how their land has changed. Once referred to by many as “God’s Country,” for its beautiful rolling green hills and beautiful landscape, with people walking freely down the block to grab a soda or meet up with friends for a bite to eat, now much has changed.  Residents were once able to walk around without worrying about whether or not an oil field worker was watching them from a distance. In the past, residents did not worry about locking their door if they left home briefly. Now, one will see broken roads, possibly dirt, where smoothly paved roads once lay. The oil derricks know no boundaries, with some so close to the well-traveled roads that you can almost reach out and touch their structure as you drive by.

Most people are advised to be careful. Women have been advised to not go out alone after a certain hour. Parents are advised to watch their children, to not allow children to run freely for fear of their being snatched up and thrown into a prostitution ring or trafficked elsewhere. Grace Her Many Horses explains how having her own daughters there with her had aged her so much and how often she had worried for their safety. It is not a place for children or women.

Between first-hand accounts and news reports, it is impossible to ignore the dangers facing the environment and the indigenous communities at the frontlines of these fracking operations. They are a strong community, holding on to their traditions and language and teaching the youth, so they do not lose their sense of self. Celebrations, honorings, powwows and feasts- all are held to strengthen the sense of community, to emphasize that nothing can knock the people down.  There are no easy answers to the questions that haunt our society, questions on environmental sustainability and foreign oil dependence. Beyond the easy solutions with their accompanying destruction, the dangers indigenous communities and people face is just as haunting and destructive. Before our knee-jerk decisions leave permanent effects, let us consider the impact on indigenous peoples and future generations.

Perspectives shared on this blog are from the personal experience of Indigenous Peoples in an effort to raise awareness. 

With the increased pressure to alleviate America’s dependency on foreign oil, the advent of new, more environmentally dangerous methods of oil and natural gas extraction have begun to take center stage on the American frontier. In the West,...

An innovative partnership between schools and a New York City church will engage students who are in high-risk environments at school in conversations about life skills that lead to successful and productive lives.

The program, named RISE for Rising Stars Experience, is an 18-month initiative with a total of 15 students: eight 7-10 year olds, and seven 11-14 year olds that involve clergy, parents/guardians, and local volunteers with one mentor for every three students.

RISE was developed by the Rev. Angela Ifill, Episcopal Church Missioner for Black Ministries, and in collaboration with the Episcopal Diocese of New York, the pilot program will launch at St. Andrew’s Church in the Bronx, where the Rev. Charles Simmons is priest-in-charge.   

“We listened to youth from high-risk environments and created a program to connect them with the church, positive aspects of education, and develop an appreciation for one another,” Ifill said.  “This program will give youth the tools to cope with challenges in school as they prepare for adulthood.”

RISE program elements include defined purpose/goals, public speaking training, life value discussion, examination of bullying and other negative behaviors, arts/crafts, problem-solving, conflict and anger management skills, story writing and others.

A parallel program for parents/guardians examines their roles and responsibilities as well as issues facing their children.

On Sunday, December 2, participants will be commissioned at the 10 am Holy Eucharist service. RISE launches on Saturday, December 8 with an overview of the program, content, expectations, and introduction of participants. The program begins on January 30, 2013, and meets every Wednesday and Saturday until June 30, 2015.

 

For more information contact Ifill.

 

 

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/episcopalian

Twitter: twitter.com/iamepiscopalian

 

Episcopal Diocese of New York: www.dioceseny.org

St. Andrew’s Church in the Bronx:

 

An innovative partnership between schools and a New York City church will engage students who are in high-risk environments at school in conversations about life skills that lead to successful and productive lives. The program, named RISE for...

On April 21, the Episcopal Church will sponsor a forum on a critical topic: The Intersection of Poverty and the Environment. Originating from St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Salt Lake City, UT, the two-hour ecumenical forum will be live webcast beginning at 10 am Mountain (9 am Pacific, 11 Central, noon Eastern).

“Through The Intersection of Poverty and the Environment, we will explore the differential effects of environmental degradation and changing climate patterns on the poor – in this country and around the world,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said. 

The Intersection of Poverty and Environment aligns with the Anglican Five Marks of Mission, specifically “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.”

“April 21 is the day before Earth Day, when the world stops to contemplate the relationships between humanity and God’s creation,” commented Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies.

 

Participants

Moderated by Kim Lawton of PBS’s Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly, featured speaker at the forum will be Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, who was an oceanographer prior to ordination and is well-versed in environmental matters.

Anderson, author of Spirituality and the Earth: Exploring Connections and Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources, will be a key panel member along with experts in the fields of the environment and poverty, as well as ecumenical representatives.

The forum will feature speakers, videos, and thought-provoking discussion.  Viewers will be able to submit questions to the participants during the live webcast.

 

Resources

Resources such as bibliography, materials for community and individual review, websites, discussion questions, Sunday school lessons, environmental resources will be available.

The forum is ideal for group watching and discussion, or on demand viewing for Earth Day observations as well as Sunday School, discussions groups, community gatherings, and other get-togethers.

The event leads the way in implementing the recommendations of the Environment and Climate Change Committee of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to hold regional conferences on engaging faith and community groups in environmental stewardship.

 

For more information contact Neva Rae Fox, Public Affairs Officer, publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org.

 

 

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

Diocese of Utah: http://episcopal-ut.org/

Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/

Anglican Five Marks of Mission: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/five-marks-mission

 

 

On April 21, the Episcopal Church will sponsor a forum on a critical topic: The Intersection of Poverty and the Environment. Originating from St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Salt Lake City, UT, the two-hour ecumenical forum will be live webcast...