Stewardship of Creation

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.

In order to create capacity in the church for environmental stewardship initiatives, and in response to Resolution A030 of the 78th General Convention, the Advisory Council for the Stewardship of Creation was appointed in 2016. A full list of members can be found here

Applications are now accepted for grants that focus on local faith-based projects for mitigating climate change and safeguarding the integrity of Creation. The Episcopal Church Advisory Council for the Stewardship of Creation, enabled by Resolution A030, Create Task Force On Climate Change, approved at General Convention 2015, will make recommendations for grants up to $10,000.

Application information is available hereDeadline for applications is December 31.

“At General Convention in 2015, the Episcopal Church allocated funds to enable local faith-based projects for mitigating climate change and safeguarding the integrity of Creation,” commented the Rev. Stephanie Johnson, Council Co-Chair .

“The purpose of the funds is to support Episcopalians in reconciling with all God’s creation as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ,” added co-chair Bishop Marc  Andrus. 

Episcopal Church congregations, seminaries, schools, monastic communities, non-profits, dioceses, provinces, etc. are encouraged to develop projects which find and establish connections between eco- and social justice, engaging the local community as partners and participants. The projects should seek to foster cooperation between communities of faith, civic, scientific and educational organizations. Projects should have specific outcomes which create lasting impact, enhance faith formation and social understanding and serve groups and/or regions that are vulnerable and/or underrepresented in the church. Projects including intergenerational engagement, demonstrating innovation and creativity, and promoting churchwide learning, understanding and practical application are welcomed.

The Advisory Council for the Stewardship of Creation will make recommendations to the Episcopal Church Executive Council for its February 2017 meeting, and final grant decisions will be made at that time. The second round of grant opportunities will open in in February 2017. 

For further information and details please contact Chris Sikkema, Mission Associate for Justice and Advocacy Ministries, at csikkema@episcopalchurch.org.

Members

Members of the Advisory Council for the Stewardship of Creation are:

Bishop Marc Andrus, Co-Chair, Diocese of California

The Rev. Stephanie Johnson,  Co-Chair, Diocese of Connecticut

Paul Anton, Diocese of Minnesota

The Rev. Jerry Cappel, Diocese of Kentucky

The Rev. Patrick Funston, Diocese of Kansas

The Rev. Esther Georges, Diocese of the Virgin Islands

Perry Hodgkins Jones, Diocese of Atlanta

The Rev. Martha Kirkpatrick, Diocese of Delaware

The Rev. Nurya Love Parish, Diocese of Western Michigan

Kelly Phelan, Diocese of Olympia

Peter Sergienko, Diocese of Oregon

Dr. Andrew Thompson, Diocese of  East Tennessee

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Ex Officio

President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, Ex Officio         

Jayce Hafner, staff liaison      

Applications are now accepted for grants that focus on local faith-based projects for mitigating climate change and safeguarding the integrity of Creation. The Episcopal Church Advisory Council for the Stewardship of Creation, enabled by Resolution...
Tagged in: Standing Rock

The Episcopal Church community on the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in North Dakota has issued a call for the Episcopal Church to stand in solidarity and witness with those protecting water on the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in North Dakota.

Concerned by the increased repression of non-violent water protectors whose ranks include men, women and youth, and supported by the wisdom of Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault, the Rev. John Floberg has appealed for clergy and laity around the Episcopal Church to come together on the banks of the Missouri River in North Dakota to stand in witness and solidarity on November 3.

The militarized police presence near the camps of water protectors, compounded by the mass arrests of some of those protectors in recent days, have stirred the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church and other Episcopalians to advocacy and action. Over the past month, Episcopalians have called upon the U.S. Department of Justice to monitor the actions of local law enforcement, state police, and the U.S. National Guard, urging law-enforcement officials to “de-escalate military and police provocation in and near the campsites of peaceful protest and witness of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.” The Episcopal Church also stands with Archambault in his request of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate potential civil rights violations involving the law enforcement response.

In a letter to the Episcopal Church on October 23, Floberg wrote:

“In recent days, the repressive power of the state has increased: armed riot police are guarding ongoing pipeline construction, increased arrests and repression of non-violent prayerful action. At the same time, Oceti Sakowin water protectors have reclaimed land never relinquished by treaty directly in the path of the pipeline and established a new camp.  Our duty as people of faith and clergy could not be clearer: to stand on the side of the oppressed and to pray for God’s mercy in these challenging times.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry issued a statement on August 25 in support of the people gathered at Standing Rock.  He traveled to Standing Rock and the Oceti Sakowin Camp of water protectors, demonstrating support and solidarity through his presence. Presiding Bishop Curry called this historic gathering of over two hundred Indigenous Nations from North America and other parts of the world “the new Selma,” and his statement has been echoed by the Episcopal bishops of North and South Dakota and others. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA, and the United Church of Christ are also standing in solidarity with the Standing Rock camps.

To learn more about this powerful opportunity to exercise our shared baptismal ministry as lay and clergy members see here 

Information from Episcopal News Service

Presiding Bishop tells Standing Rock protectors ‘the way of Jesus honors the water’

Executive Council Stands with Standing Rock

Evolving Standing Rock protests expand Episcopal Church’s ministry

 

 

 

The Episcopal Church community on the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in North Dakota has issued a call for the Episcopal Church to stand in solidarity and witness with those protecting water on the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in North Dakota. Concerned...
California Bishop Marc Andrus; former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, St. Margaret’s Visiting Professor of Women in Ministry at Church Divinity School of the Pacific; and CDSP President and Dean W. Mark Richardson, pose for a photograph on the roof of Parsons Hall. Photo: Tom Minczeski/CDSP

California Bishop Marc Andrus; former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, St. Margaret’s Visiting Professor of Women in Ministry at Church Divinity School of the Pacific; and CDSP President and Dean W. Mark Richardson, pose for a photograph on the roof of Parsons Hall. Photo: Tom Minczeski/CDSP

[Episcopal News Service] Harnessing energy from the sun is expected to save Church Divinity School of the Pacific $120,000 annually.

Earlier this year, the Berkeley, California-based Episcopal seminary installed solar panels on Easton, Parsons and Shires Halls. It’s the largest solar installation of any theological seminary in the United States.

“When American Solar came out and looked at our flat roofs with basically 100 percent southern exposure they were blown away by how effective this is going to be on our campus,” said seminary Dean and President W. Mark Richardson, during an interview with Episcopal News Service earlier this year.

On Oct. 22, former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, St. Margaret’s Visiting Professor of Women in Ministry at CDSP, and Bishop of California Marc Andrus lead a liturgy to bless and dedicate the solar panels at the end of a daylong conference exploring the church’s response to the crisis of climate change.

The solar panels move the seminary toward energy independence, and the project itself is also a way to teach and empower students who were involved in the decision-making process to think about ways to mitigate climate change when they graduate, said Richardson.

The leadership at CDSP involved students in the solar installation process from the start. Including walking students through determining the project’s feasibility, the request for proposals, how to secure the necessary legal contracts, setting a timetable for build-out; the skills seminarians will need in the community, said Richardson.

Through a dashboard, students will be able to track the effectiveness and energy-saving capacity of the solar panels.

In December 2015, Richardson and Andrus were among those who represented the Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the United Nations climate talks in Paris where negotiators reached a comprehensive agreement on climate change.

The Paris Agreement calls on countries worldwide to limit carbon emissions. Limiting carbon will require a decreased dependence on fossil fuels and an increase in reliance on renewable energy sources. CDSP’s solar panels show what efforts nongovernmental institutions can make toward helping the world shift toward renewable energy.

“CDSP is going off of one grid – the grid of life lived by extraction and ever-increasing consumption – and consciously becoming part of a network, that of life lived sustainably and in communion,” said Andrus, in an email to ENS. “CDSP is making a profoundly spiritual shift, towards wholeness.”

So far, 84 of 197 parties, including the United States, have ratified the Paris Agreement, which calls on not just nations, but state and local governments, and nongovernmental institutions, including religious organizations, to make an effort to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

“The Episcopal Church too can lend their important aid to fulfilling the Paris Agreement,” said Andrus, who represented the Episcopal Church at the United Nations for the signing of the agreement.

As retired Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu Winston Hugh Ndungane said of the church in Africa, “‘There is no better means of delivering social services than the church, as we have an “outlet” in every village.’ Look at how the Episcopal Church is one body, with some 5,000 ‘outlets’; our impact for helping prevent climate disaster is potentially enormous,” he said.

Of the Diocese of California’s 81 congregations, 30 percent have installed solar panels. The goal, Andrus added, is to install solar panels on all of the diocese’s churches and diocesan buildings.

Berkeley sees an average 256 days of sunshine a year, and like nearly every region of the United States, “solar power generation makes abundantly good sense,” said Jefferts Schori, in an email to ENS.

“The installation of this solar array on the campus of CDSP will provide a major boon to the annual budget, lessen the demand for electricity produced from fossil fuel and reduce the need for future power plants,” she said. “Christian seminaries have long claimed their grounding in the Son of God who brings light to the world. How better to enact this in a sacramental witness to the interconnectedness of all creation?

“CDSP is offering the world an outward and visible sign of the spiritual grace abounding in this community.”

— Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service.

 

California Bishop Marc Andrus; former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, St. Margaret’s Visiting Professor of Women in Ministry at Church Divinity School of the Pacific; and CDSP President and Dean W. Mark Richardson, pose for a...
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver discusses the city’s water crisis during a Sept. 17 briefing at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Diocese of Eastern Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley, far right, and the Rev. Dan Scheid, St. Paul’s rector, organized the briefing as the first stop on a tour of Episcopal Church ministry sites in Flint for bishops, their spouses and others. Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint), left, and Flint pediatrician Larry Reynolds, a member of the Flint Water Advisory Task Force, also participated. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver discusses the city’s water crisis during a Sept. 17 briefing at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Diocese of Eastern Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley, far right, and the Rev. Dan Scheid, St. Paul’s rector, organized the briefing as the first stop on a tour of Episcopal Church ministry sites in Flint for bishops, their spouses and others. Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint), left, and Flint pediatrician Larry Reynolds, a member of the Flint Water Advisory Task Force, also participated. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Flint, Michigan] Even before the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, became a federal emergency in late January, the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan was distributing water and partnering with other churches and groups to respond to what Bishop Todd Ousley calls government’s “systematic, intentional neglect” of city residents.

In Flint, as in many of the parts of Michigan suffering from the decline of the auto industry, “there is an ongoing, systematic ignoring of the plight of people in poverty and people of color,” Ousley told a group of bishops, their spouses and others who joined him on a Sept. 17 trip to Flint.

Sixty percent of the city’s roughly 96,000 residents are African-American and 41.6 percent of Flint’s residents live below the poverty line, one of the highest poverty rates in the United States.

The Episcopal Church in eastern Michigan recognized that it was called to respond to the human need in Flint and the response became evangelism by action, Ousley said. And Episcopalians responded “in relationship with the people who are telling us their concerns and what their needs are,” he said.

The Sept. 17 trip was part of the House of Bishop’s Sept. 15-20 meeting underway in nearby Detroit.

The water crisis has become a way for Eastern Michigan Episcopalians to “intentionally live into the Baptismal Covenant in a way that we had not been challenged to in the past,” Ousley said.

The call to relieve Flint residents’ short-term needs, and to advocate for long-term solutions and systemic change, is what Ousley called a “clear intersection” of all of the Baptismal Covenant’s promises.

“You couldn’t say this was just a justice issue or this is just a dignity issue; this is just a good news issue,” he said. “It was wrapped up in the entirety of the Baptismal Covenant.”

The Rev. Dan Scheid, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Flint, introduces Danielle Brown, executive director of Christ Enrichment Center, who spoke about how Flint needs people who are inspired to ministry and who are also knowledgeable or willing to learn about what the city needs. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Dan Scheid, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Flint, introduces Danielle Brown, executive director of Christ Enrichment Center, who spoke about how Flint needs people who are inspired to ministry and who are also knowledgeable or willing to learn about what the city needs. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Or, in the words of Danielle Brown, executive director of Christ Enrichment Center, “You can’t throw away a whole city in my presence.”

But “throwing away a city” is what Ousley said has been happening in Flint for decades.

Michigan has long held a reputation for being a leader of the anti-slavery movement, and later for creating unprecedented upward economic mobility for African-Americans, said Ousley. “But it also has the history of being yet another one of the playing fields for white dominance and a reframing of slavery,” he said.

Ousley argued that the post-World War II northern migration of African-Americans to Michigan ushered in an era when white autoworkers either moved up into the industry’s management ranks or left for jobs elsewhere.

As the U.S. auto industry began its decades-long decline, Flint suffered economically and eventually lost more than half its residents.

All the while, the need for a clean water supply in Flint was ignored for years, Ousley said, as General Motors pumped “billions upon billions of gallons of waste into the Flint River, which was the drinking supply for the city,” Ousley said. The river became so polluted that Flint officials began accessing Detroit’s water system. The price Detroit charged made Flint’s water rates the highest in the country, Ousley said.

Ousley said he sees Flint’s story as partly one of environmental racism with “a long pattern of locating persons of color in areas where there was likely to be a high contamination in soil or in the waterways.”

There are now acres of abandoned land in Flint were GM auto plants once stood and the GM Flint workforce has dropped from 80,000 to 5,000. As the tax base declined, city officials, and more recently, emergency managers appointed by the governor and with almost unlimited powers, began selling off municipal assets to pay the bills.

“Everything had been stripped from us,” Mayor Karen Weaver told the group during a stop at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Flint.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which became a water distribution point, is an example of how those economic forces played out in people’s lives. General Motors was founded in Flint and only later moved southeast to Detroit. St. Paul’s was once know as “General Motors directors at prayer,” Ousley said.

Now, the parish is a “shadow of what it once was” in terms of finances and members, but it has a rich legacy of endowments from those past members. Those endowments are contributing to its ministry to the Flint residents left behind.

In April 2014, Flint’s emergency manager, in a money-saving measure, ordered the city’s water supply be switched from Detroit’s municipal water system temporarily to the Flint River until Flint could construct its own water pipeline from Lake Huron, the source of Detroit’s water. At the same time, the emergency manager, seeking to save $100 a day, the bishop said, ordered that the water not be treated with a chemical to prevent lead from leaching out of pipes into the water running through them. The state had, mistakenly, told Flint officials that federal guidelines did not require the chemical treatment, according to the New York Times.

Then followed a series of falsified tests, ignored warnings and disregard of residents’ complaints of discolored and bad-smelling water, and skin rashes. In October 2014, General Motors switched the water supply for its remaining Flint operations to Lake Huron because Flint water was corroding metal parts in its factories.

Long before state and local officials switched the city’s water back to the Detroit system and recanted their assurances about the safety of Flint’s water, churches and other community organizations went to work.

“The grace of God just blew through this place” in the day after the extent of Flint’s water crisis became clear, said Craig Leavitt, a former General Motors metalworker and current St. Paul’s junior warden who runs Flint’s Downtown Crossover Outreach Ministry. Leavitt spoke at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, on the city’s east side to a group of bishops, their spouses and others on a tour of Episcopal Church ministry sites in Flint. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

“The grace of God just blew through this place” in the day after the extent of Flint’s water crisis became clear, said Craig Leavitt, a former General Motors metalworker and current St. Paul’s junior warden who runs Flint’s Downtown Crossover Outreach Ministry. Leavitt spoke at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, on the city’s east side to a group of bishops, their spouses and others on a tour of Episcopal Church ministry sites in Flint. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Episcopal Relief & Development responded early on and was amazing, according to Craig Leavitt, a former GM metalworker and current St. Paul’s junior warden who runs Flint’s Downtown Crossover Outreach Ministry.

“Almost before (Flint Mayor) Karen Weaver could open her mouth to say we have lead in our water, they were there,” he told the group during its stop at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, on the city’s east side.

Grants also came from the dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan, and donations came from parishes across lower Michigan. St. Paul’s partnered with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and Christ Enrichment Center, along with other organizations, to give residents access to clean water. The outpouring of contributions was tremendous and Ousley said “we probably have enough bottled water to get us through decades.”

Collaborations forged in those early days continue now with a focus on the ongoing needs for decades to come. Those needs include access to and education about so-called lead-mitigating foods, as well as spiritual and psychological counseling. Christ Enrichment Center, founded by nearby Episcopal congregations, is leading the way in meeting many of those needs with education and support.

There is also the question of how Flint residents can afford the cost of replacing water pipes in their homes that have been irreversibly damaged by the corrosive water. Even residents who have the money to do so would be investing it in a house that is worth less than half of what it was in 2008, Ousley said.

And there is another need, Weaver told the group at St. Paul’s: hope, visible signs of hope. The city has begun replacing damaged pipes in the municipal part of the water system and that work is offering a glimmer of that hope. But there is still suspicion. Residents were told for months the water was fine; how do they believe those assurances now, asked Weaver.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate last week took a small step towards helping Flint. On Sept. 15, in a 95-3 vote it approved the Water Resources Development Act that authorizes spending $270 million to aid Flint and other poor communities that have suffered from lead-contaminated water. It is a helpful sum Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) told the group, but it is still a “drop in the bucket” compared to what his city needs.

However, the bill includes no immediate funding and, instead, approves projects for future federal spending from Congress’s appropriations committees. The House has not voted on the bill and its version does not include Flint, although supporters are trying to remedy that.

It will take faith combined with expertise to face Flint’s future, said Brown, Christ Enrichment Center’s director, who told the group that she is not an Episcopalian but comes to her work with the fervor of an evangelist.

“I am trained as a human services professional but I am also a saint of God” and she told them “if you have a passion for serving God’s people and know what to do, or have a desire to learn how or even to bring people in that know how, then collaboratively you can really see some splendid success within the ministry.”

Ousley said that five years ago when Brown took over the center, its future was in doubt because of inept management, a lack of capacity to do the work expected and infighting among and within the Episcopal churches that sponsored the center. “But there was faithfulness,” he said, and Brown contributed “tremendous sacrifice and creativity” – and calm when the ceiling of her office collapsed on her. Reviving the center meant rethinking congregational and diocesan collaboration, Ousley said.

The center’s growth in ministry is symbolic of the diocese’s response to Flint’s crisis for him.

“I don’t give thanks for a water crisis, but the opportunity to be the church in the midst of that crisis has strengthened us as a church and as individual Christians,” he said.

The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver discusses the city’s water crisis during a Sept. 17 briefing at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Diocese of Eastern Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley, far right, and the Rev. Dan Scheid, St. Paul’s rector, organized the briefing as...

[Episcopal News Service] The recent protests of an oil pipeline in North Dakota have thrust the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, and many of its members who are Episcopalians, into the national spotlight. But for the several Episcopal congregations on Native American reservations in North Dakota, the focus on energy issues and the environment is nothing new.

On Sept. 6, a U.S. district judge stayed construction on a section of the pipeline crossing North Dakota. Federal regulators previously issued permits allowing the $3.8 billion pipeline to cross four states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Iowa. The tribe, joined by protestors from across the nation, says the pipeline threatens to destroy sacred sites and to contaminate drinking water. Over the Labor Day weekend, the situation turned violent as protestors clashed with private security guards hired by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the corporation developing the pipeline.

After a 2012 fire destroyed St. Jame's Church in Canon Ball the congregation rebuilt with the help of a UTO grant. The new structure is sip wall panel construction with six solid inches of insulation and heated with geothermal energy. Photo: Facebook

After a 2012 fire destroyed St. James’ Church in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, the congregation rebuilt a more energy efficient church. The new structure is six solid inches of structural insulated panel construction and heated by a geothermal system. Photo: St. James’ Church via Facebook

Long before protesters in August initially succeeded in halting work on the part of the pipeline that crosses the Missouri River just north of Standing Rock, the Diocese of North Dakota began work on an energy sustainability project in its seven native ministries and congregations. That project got a big boost this year when the United Thank Offering, or UTO, awarded it a $50,000 grant, combined with an additional $45,000 from a sustainability initiative funded through the General Convention budget.

Shifting to renewable energy sources – solar, wind and water – assists congregations by saving money and fits indigenous peoples’ spiritual calling to protect the Earth and the natural resources that are part of God’s creation, church leaders say.

The first step is an audit of the parish buildings on four reservations in North Dakota to identify ways of making them more energy efficient. Then most of the money will fund building upgrades and, at one of the churches, a solar power project.

Church leaders also see the project as a way of expanding their capacity for outreach. If they can make it cost-effective to open churches and parish halls at hours other than Sunday worship services, new ministries can take shape, especially those that cater to young people.

This energy sustainability effort at the congregational level aligns with church members’ opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, said the Rev. John Floberg, canon missioner for the Episcopal Church community on the Standing Rock Reservation and an Executive Council member.

The Standing Rock reservation draws its drinking water from the Missouri River, and the tribe is concerned that the pipeline could leak or break and contaminate that water. But fossil fuels, such as the oil carried by the pipeline to refineries and markets around the country, heat and power most of the buildings there.

“If we never see our use of these things as on our shoulders as well, and try to find ways to mitigate that, then shame on us,” Floberg said.

Floberg is pastor of the three Episcopal congregations on the North Dakota side of the Standing Rock Reservation, though he oversees the sustainability project for all of the diocese’s Native American congregations, including those on Turtle Mountain Reservation, Spirit Lake Reservation and Fort Berthold Reservation.

The scope of this project is comprehensive, with all church buildings under review. It is similar to an effort made three years ago at one of the churches, St. James’ Church in Cannon Ball. After a fire had destroyed its former building, the St. James congregation received a UTO grant to include a geothermal heating and cooling system when rebuilding.

St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, is heated with a geothermal system that was installed in 2013 when the parish rebuilt after a fire destroyed the old church. Photo: John Floberg

St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, is heated with a geothermal system that was installed in 2013 when the parish rebuilt after a fire destroyed the old church. Photo: John Floberg

To heat told building for use beyond Sunday mornings and to keep the pipes from freezing cost between $1,500 and $3,000 in the coldest winter months. With the energy-efficient system, the church spends about $250 a month on utilities, Floberg said. The diocese then sought to improve energy use in all church buildings on North Dakota reservations, underscoring the practical challenges congregations face in paying the bills and applied for another UTO grant.

These congregations serve some of the poorest communities in the country. In Sioux County, which encompasses the North Dakota half of Standing Rock, 34 percent of families reported living under the poverty level in the 2000 census; this compares with 8 percent of all North Dakota families and 9 percent of families across the United States that live under the poverty level.

“Without greater efficiency or replacement of higher-costing energy sources, the simple answer for our congregations is to turn down or turn off the heat to their buildings for a week or in some cases for months at a time,” the grant application said.

The purpose for the grant money, then, is not only to catch up on deferred maintenance at the churches but a “long-term reduction in the use of fossil fuel.”

“If you were able to take both energy efficiency (improvements) and utilizing the three renewable energy sources, you would be able to keep more church doors open and have more churches focused on doing the ministry and what congregations are called to do,” said the Rev. Brandon Mauai, an Episcopal deacon on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Mauai had the opportunity to join an Episcopal Church delegation that traveled to Paris last December for the COP21 climate summit. That experience, he said, allowed him to bring back insight and information that can be applied to the North Dakota diocese’s sustainability efforts, especially in pursuing those three renewable energy sources: solar, wind and water.

The first step is also the least expensive: an energy audit. An expert, likely from a local heating and cooling company, will be asked to come and analyze each building’s structure, utility systems and appliances, and recommend improvements that will make the buildings more energy efficient.

Floberg expects many practical upgrades. St. Luke’s in Fort Yates, for example, has light fixtures that can’t accommodate high-efficiency light bulbs. The likely solution: Replace the fixtures.

Other buildings may benefit from weather-sealed windows and doors, or better insulation, Floberg said. And the fellowship hall at St. Thomas’ in Fort Totten will likely replace its natural gas furnace that is decades old and only 60 or 65 percent efficient with a more efficient furnace.

St. Paul’s in White Shield worships in a church built in the 1960s, and although building already has upgraded to a high-energy furnace, it will look into adding a heating system in its newer addition that will take advantage of technology advances, such as infrared heating.

The savings from more efficient heating systems are sure to add up over many freezing winters in North Dakota. In January, the average temperature in Bismarck, the state’s capital, is a chilly 13 degrees.

The sustainability project’s most ambitious upgrade will be the addition of solar panels at St. James. The hope is that the combination of solar power and the existing geothermal heating and cooling will allow St. James to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels to the point that it can send money back to the diocese to help pay the other congregations’ expenses.

Floberg also sees it as a visible expression of the Episcopal Church’s mission.

“When we put up this solar panel here, people in this community and on this reservation are going to see it and … it’s going to be a quick connection with what the Episcopal Church might say in its meetings and what it’s doing on the ground,” he said.

That partly reflects the project’s additional goal of improving the communities around the congregations through energy education. Residents can apply the lessons the low-cost energy savings strategies like weather-proofing and caulking learned at the churches to improve the efficiency of their homes.

While attending seminars and networking with conservation experts at the COP21 summit in December, Mauai learned ways to improve the effectiveness of the solar power efforts back home. But “just the smallest things,” like building improvements, can add up, Mauai said. “And it’s making a statement that we are practicing what we preach as a church.”

And when the parish buildings can be kept open anytime during the week without breaking the congregations’ budgets, there will be more opportunities to invite the community in, Floberg said.

Such outreach opportunities could take many forms, but Floberg said an initial focus would be on expanding youth ministries. The parishes already organize a youth camp in the summer, but winter events usually have to be held in borrowed space, such as a public building. That could change once the churches remove or reduce the barrier of heating costs.

– David Paulsen is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Wauwatosa.

[Episcopal News Service] The recent protests of an oil pipeline in North Dakota have thrust the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, and many of its members who are Episcopalians, into the national spotlight. But for the several Episcopal congregations on...
Tagged in: Creation

The Episcopal Church Advisory Council on the Stewardship of Creation offers a report of its work following a recent meeting.

The report follows:

The Advisory Council on the Stewardship of Creation met in New York City July 20-22 to discern the Church’s ongoing response to environmental issues.  The Advisory Council members were appointed by the presiding officers as called for by Resolution A030 adopted at the 78th General Convention. A list of the members of the Advisory Council can be found here      

Resolution A030 calls for the council to form Regional Consultative Groups (RCG’s) for local technical support and networking of environmental ministries and initiatives.  Each RCG will include  individuals who can support needs in education, theology and liturgy as well as  ecological experts to  equip dioceses and congregations as  they live into the Church’s mission to join in the reconciliation of all God’s creation. The council is developing a plan for forming the RCGs and expects to announce the process later this year.

The Advisory Council will also oversee $300,000 in grant funding for environmental ministries that focus on the intersection of social and environmental needs, faith and eco-justice, and congregational engagement. Funds for the grants will come from monies allocated to the Fifth Mark of Mission as approved by the 78th General Convention in 2015. The council is currently developing the granting process, which it expects to announce publicly later this year.

During the meeting, the Advisory Council had the opportunity to meet with the two presiding officers of the Episcopal Church: Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, and with Executive Officer of the General Convention the Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe. The presiding officers expressed their commitment to continue embracing and embodying the spirit of Jesus by caring for creation. From the Presiding Bishop, the Council heard a commitment to three major ways the church can live into the Jesus Movement: evangelism, the work of racial reconciliation, and care for creation. These issues are the work of the Church and are intimately connected to each other.

The Advisory Council issued a statement to the wider Church: “Grace and peace to you in Jesus’ name. We rejoice that our church’s officers affirm that eco-justice work is core to God’s mission. We commit to develop a church-wide network and grant making process to resource this ministry. We ask your prayers and we offer ours for you.”

 

For more information contact Advisory Council member Kelly Phelan, Diocese of Olympia, kphelan@saintmarks.org

 

The Episcopal Church Advisory Council on the Stewardship of Creation offers a report of its work following a recent meeting. The report follows: The Advisory Council on the Stewardship of Creation met in New York City July 20-22 to discern the...

From the Episcopal Church's advisory council for stewardship of creation.

From the council for the stewardship of creation

From the Episcopal Church's advisory council for stewardship of creation.

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

 

 

 

 

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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...
Tagged in: Climate Change Youth
Students from Campbell Hall and St. Margaret's Episcopal Schools observe elephant seals during mating season on the coast of Big Sur, California. From birth to death and everything in between, the full cycle of life was on display. Photo: Andrew Barnett/Diocese of Los Angeles

Students from Campbell Hall and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Schools observe elephant seals during mating season on the coast of Big Sur, California. From birth to death and everything in between, the full cycle of life was on display. Photo: Diocese of Los Angeles

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians old and young often turn to the phrase “this fragile earth, our island home” when talking about stewardship of the planet. It comes from Eucharistic Prayer C, found in the Book of Common Prayer.

A little further down the page, the prayer continues: “You made us the rulers of creation. But we turned against you, and betrayed your trust; and we turned against one another.”

Over the last 21 days, Episcopalians have been participating in 30 Days of Action, a campaign designed and initiated by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society to engage individuals and congregations in a conversation about climate change. (The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business and carries out mission.)

The campaign, which began with a live, webcast forum on March 24, culminates on Earth Day, April 22. Resources and activities for the campaign include advocacy days, bulletin inserts, stories, sermons and outdoor excursions.

The 30 Days of Action, as well as the fifth of the Five Marks of Mission, are a call to action to regain that trust and to come together in community to care for creation.

As James Pickett, a climate-change activist and young adult from the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, makes clear in a recent blog post, unless Anglicans and Episcopalians take seriously the fifth of the Five Marks of Mission, “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth,” the other four marks are irrelevant.

“If we don’t treasure creation, the other marks of mission cannot be accomplished,” wrote Pickett.

Just talking about climate change and its related justice issues doesn’t cut it, according to Pickett and others; it’s about living the marks and putting faith into action.

Last fall, Pickett and other Episcopalians joined the more than 300,000 people from across the country and the world on the streets of New York for the People’s Climate March, the largest demonstration for climate action in history.

As evidenced in the activities and resources included and developed for the 30-day campaign, it’s impossible to have a conversation about climate change and not talk about justice issues implicit in the Five Marks of Mission.

“When The Episcopal Church adopted the Five Marks of Mission, I was struck by the practical nature of the language and its action-oriented invitation,” said lifelong environmentalist Bronwyn Clark Skov, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s officer for youth ministries. “I am especially thankful for the specificity of the Fifth Mark of Mission, ‘to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.’”

“It could be argued that this area of ministry is an undercurrent of the Baptismal Covenant, but these newer words open greater possibilities for imagining our role as Christian citizens caring for the earth, our home,” she said. “This is a wonderful teaching point when engaged with young people and discussing how their Christian identity might impact the choices they make.”

An environmentalist since her father encouraged her as a child, Skov recalled learning about recycling early on.

“I remember sorting newspapers to drop off at the once-a-month newspaper drive. I was taught to rinse out tin cans, remove both ends and carefully flatten the can on the rug on the kitchen floor, so as not to damage the linoleum beneath the woven fabric,” she said. “When engaged in ministry with young people, I name and claim this lifelong habit and invite young people to join me in my commitment to reduce, recycle and reuse those items that will not easily biodegrade in a landfill. This behavior has become a part of who I am, a piece of my personal identity.”

The Five Marks of Mission begin to address how Episcopalians can become environmental stewards and turn toward one another in community, rather than betraying the earth and turning away from one another, as the eucharistic prayer states.

Children and teenagers especially feel empowered by the language used in the marks, said Skov. She refers to them as a way to practice the vows made at baptism, and she invites young people to name and claim the ways in which they are already living some of the marks.

“The beauty of the fifth mark, treasuring the earth with intentionality, is a place where we can engage in our communities in partnership across denominational, religious and political divides,” she said. “Mission and ministry in this area [are] easy to embrace with school-age humans as they learn about the environment in classroom settings and can then see the intersection of their secular experience in the world with their values as a member of a community of faith.”

More than 1,000 high school-aged students attended last year’s Episcopal Youth Event in Pennsylvania, where climate change was among the issues discussed and where youth were becoming agents of transformation.

Americans’ views on climate change vary from state to state, town to town and sometimes family member to family member. Climate change is an increasingly charged political issue that often pits conservatives against liberals. At the same time, religious communities across the spectrum have joined in the call to reduce carbon emissions and to treat climate change as a moral issue.

In an interview with The Guardian that ran on the day of the climate-change-crisis forum in March, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori described climate change as a moral challenge already threatening the livelihood and survival of people in the developing world.

“It is certainly a moral issue in terms of the impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable around the world already,” she said.

Across the board, Episcopalians are taking that moral challenge seriously, including by contributing to the 30 Days of Action.

As the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, missioner for creation care in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, put it in a sermon written for the Sunday after Easter: “Climate change isn’t just an ‘environmental’ issue – it’s a ‘civilization’ issue. It’s not just about polar bears – it’s about where our grandchildren will find clean water. It’s about how societies will handle growing epidemics of infectious diseases such as malaria, cholera and dengue fever. It’s about where masses of people will go as rising seas drive them from their homes or when the rains don’t fall and the fields turn to dustbowls. It’s about hungry, thirsty people competing for scarce resources and reverting to violence, civil unrest or martial law in the struggle to survive.”

Formation resources focused on creation care
The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s Lifelong Christian Formation Office and other clergy and lay Episcopalians active on climate-change issues have compiled comprehensive resources for environmental liturgy, including the 30 Days of Action.

“The formation offices have been talking about climate change and caring for the environment with children and their families for years,” said the Rev. Shannon Kelly, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s acting missioner for campus and young adult ministries.

“Young people encounter caring for the environment every day as they talk about recycling, ‘upcycling’ and conservation in their schools, at home and at church. Bringing this important subject into the life of the church and into the programs creates space for the children and adults to think, pray and experience how caring for the environment is caring for God’s creation.”

Environmental Stewardship Fellow Cindy Coe works in the garden with students of the Episcopal School of Knoxville. Photo courtesy of Episcopal School of Knoxville

Environmental Stewardship Fellow Cindy Coe works in the garden with students of the Episcopal School of Knoxville. Photo courtesy of Episcopal School of Knoxville

In Tennessee, exploring nature is becoming an integral component of learning to read.

In early June, the Diocese of East Tennessee will offer “Reading Camp Knoxville” to third- and fourth-graders who are both living in poverty and struggling to learn to read. As part of the program, the children, who come from urban areas, will go on afternoon field trips, hiking in wooded areas working in gardens, said Cindy Coe, who is on the planning committee and working with afternoon extracurricular activities.

“All of these activities are geared to fostering a sense of connectedness and appreciation of the natural world. The best way to do this is to actually get children outdoors, exploring nature,” said Coe, who last year received an environmental-stewardship fellowship from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

Through the fellowship, Coe is working to develop the next generation of leaders.

“This is not something that can be done by ‘book learning’ only,” she said. “Activities that encourage children to look closely at natural objects, mapping activities and identifying a special place outdoors are all effective ways to help children bond with nature. If a child is able to develop a bond with nature, chances are that the child will grow up with an appreciation of the environment and will care for the environment as an adult.”

Coe is working on developing new resources to introduce creation care to children and youth in The Episcopal Church, for use in camps, schools and parishes.

She hopes, she said, that all Christian formation programs in The Episcopal Church eventually will include some aspect of environmental stewardship.

In Virginia, Coe also is working with the planning team of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Greenwood, Virginia, to design a vacation Bible school program based on care for creation and the Fifth Mark of Mission called “Earth, Our Island Home.”

The parish takes seriously the words “this fragile Earth, our island home” in Eucharistic Prayer C, said Coe.

“So the concept of creation care has a special meaning for the parish,” she said. “ Each day, children will participate in worship, hear a story based on creation care and take part in noncompetitive games designed to introduce environmental stewardship.”

Arts and crafts will embrace environmental stewardship, as children will be offered objects to “upcycle” and make into new creations, she said. “New life will be an important theme of the camp, connecting themes of recycling, composting and gardening with the Christian story of resurrection and new life in Christ.”

In the Diocese of Los Angeles, where the Rev. Andrew K. Barnett serves as the bishop’s chair for environmental studies, young people are learning to care for creation by learning to love it.

“I think that we will not fight to save a thing we do not love, by which I mean in order to empower people to care for ‘this fragile earth our island home,’ we first have to find that meaningful and valuable in a deep way, and talking about it doesn’t really cut it,” said Barnett, before the March 24 forum.

“So I have really made a significant priority of taking kids outside. So we take these wilderness retreats to places like Big Sur, Lake Lopez, Yosemite and Catalina Island. We have games, we go kayaking, we go hiking, we do service projects,” he said.

“The kids love it, they just love it. They light up because they are doing exactly what we need, which is community, connection and reference in these incredible, awe-inspiring places. So you don’t have to say this is important, this is beautiful, because it is immediately present or it’s just in your bones.”

Barnett serves as school chaplain at Campbell Hall Episcopal School in the Diocese of Los Angeles, where Bishop J. Jon Bruno and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society partnered to host the March 24 forum

Barnett talks to the students about climate change in stark terms, incorporating research and science — not to exaggerate, he said, but to name the severity of the threat.

“Kids can handle that truth. They don’t like things being sugar-coated. They prefer: ‘This is going to be the biggest challenge of your generation,’” said Barnett. “Our generation has abjectly failed in our attempt to reduce emissions. We talked about it a lot, we have a lot of meetings, but emissions keep going up.

“If you fail at this task, most other tasks won’t matter, because climate change affects almost everything worth caring about and, other than nuclear annihilation, presents the greatest threat to humanity that we’ve ever known.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misattributed the authorship of the words “this fragile Earth, our island home,” which appear in Eucharistic Prayer C. They were written by Howard E. Galley Jr.

— Lynette Wilson is a reporter and editor for Episcopal News Service.

Students from Campbell Hall and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Schools observe elephant seals during mating season on the coast of Big Sur, California. From birth to death and everything in between, the full cycle of life was on display. Photo: Diocese...

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church had strong words this week for people who deny climate change based on “political interests” or “willful blindness.”

“The Judeo-Christian tradition has always called those motivations sinful,” Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori said Tuesday at an event to raise awareness about climate change. “It’s decidedly wrong to use resources that have been given into our collective care in ways that diminish the ability of others to share in abundant life.”

Speaking at an Episcopal Church event in Los Angeles called The Climate Change Crisis, Jefferts Schori said that humanity has reached a “life and death” decision to change the tide of climate change and that the window of opportunity “will not last long.”

“We are making war on the integrity of this planet,” she said. “We were planted in this garden to care for it, literally to have dominion over its creatures. Dominion means caring for our island home.”

Tuesday’s event kicked off a 30-day challenge for people to learn about and advocate for environmental change. Over the course of the initiative, which ends on Earth Day, April 22, participants who sign up on the Episcopal Church’s website will receive daily emails with information to help them reduce their carbon footprint and spread awareness about climate initiatives in their communities.

Climate protection is an issue of personal interest for Jefferts Schori, who has adoctorate in oceanography and worked as a marine biologist before entering the priesthood in 1994. The bishop is a backpacker and nature lover who has studied interconnected systems like the circulation of water, the atmosphere and marine geology.

The Episcopal Church as a whole has made environmental stewardship a top priority. The Episcopal Ecological Network was formed in 1986 to provide educational resources to Episcopal churches around the U.S. and build grassroots efforts to address environmental issues in communities.

In 2012 the church partnered with interfaith environmental nonprofit GreenFaith tolaunch a certification program for Episcopal churches around the country to make their worship and educational facilities more environmentally friendly.

“We are meant to love God and what God has created and to love our neighbors as ourselves,” Jefferts Schori said Tuesday. “Jesus insists that those who will enjoy abundant life are those who care for all neighbors, especially the ‘least of these’ — the hungry and thirsty, the imprisoned and sick — and that must include all the species that God has nurtured on this planet.”

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church had strong words this week for people who deny climate change based on “political interests” or “willful blindness.” “The Judeo-Christian tradition has always called those motivations sinful,” Bishop...