Celebrating Earth Month in the Diocese of Northern California
By the Rev. Pamela Dolan
The Commission on the Environment for the Diocese of Northern California is encouraging all congregations to mark Earth Day in some way that is appropriate for their community and context. Some will expand that focus by taking part in Interfaith Power and Light’s Faith Climate Action Week, April 14-23. And still others will look at the whole of April as Earth Month and plan accordingly.
In response to the question “Why should our church celebrate Earth Day?” I suggest the following quick and easy answers, which should at least generate more conversation.
Evangelism: There is a widely held belief that Christians don’t care about science or the environment. You can show your community that your church is different. We do care!
Formation: Our faith is the No. 1 reason we care for God’s creation. Helping people of all ages within your church make the link between loving God, loving neighbor, and loving our planet is simply good Christian formation.
Hope: One of the foundations of the Christian faith is hope. Most of what people hear about the environment is depressing and even frightening. The church has a different story to tell—one of reliance on God, faith in the future, and a shift toward working together on common goals.
On behalf of the commission, I’m encouraging people to send in their good news stories (to Miriam Casey, commission chair, at email@example.com) about ways they’re working for the good of creation, as well as helping us learn about any events they have planned.
So far, I know of three events that are open to the whole diocese, although I’m sure more are in the works.
- The first is a film screening on Wednesday, April 19. The Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa and the Commission on the Environment will screen the documentary “The Ants and the Grasshopper.” The film, described by The Guardian as a “consciousness-raising documentary” that follows a Malawi farmer “in her efforts to change minds in her patriarchal village and beyond,” will be screened inperson at Incarnation at 6 p.m. PDT and simultaneously broadcast over Zoom. Click here to view the trailer. Email Bob Wohlsen for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
- My own parish, St. Martin’s in Davis, invites everyone to pray for the Earth at noon on Saturday, April 22. This event will take place on the grounds of Forbes Ranch, an almond farm in Esparto (an agricultural area in Yolo County); members of the community have spent the last couple of years tending to an acre or so of the ranch and are working on rewilding it with Valley Oaks and other native plants. We invite friends from around the diocese to explore our gathering circle, a space being co-created with a Native California culture-bearer, and take a walk in the shadows of the glorious range. The event will end with a Taize service. Contact the church for more details: email@example.com.
- Finally, I’m partnering with the Bread of Life Center in Sacramento for a half-day workshop called “Grounding our Bodies, Grounding our Souls,” which will take place at Table Farm, an urban farm run as a ministry of a Methodist church. The idea behind this experience of embodied spirituality is that gardening is a profoundly hopeful and centering activity, helping to ease anxiety and bring us back to an awareness of all that creation has to offer. I hope this will be a helpful way to bring Earth Month 2023 to a close.
Pamela Dolan is rector of the Episcopal Church of St. Martin in Davis, California, and author of “Contemplative Gardening” (Church Publishing, 2022). Her current passion is straw-bale gardening, which she practices both at home and at church.