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Episcopal Church’s Creation Care names 2024 Eco-Justice Fellows

July 10, 2024
Office of Public Affairs

Seven young adults have been named to The Episcopal Church’s second cohort of Eco-Justice Fellows, an innovative program that seeks to strengthen a faith-based response to ecological repair among new leaders.

Piloted by the church’s Department of Reconciliation, Justice, and Creation Care in collaboration with the Executive Council’s Task Force on Care of Creation and Environmental Racism, the program is designed to tackle specific environmental justice intersections and engage young individuals from diverse backgrounds.

The fellows, who receive a $2,750 stipend, will spend six to eight hours a week for five months receiving training in creation care theology and advocacy and developing a local ecojustice project in their congregation, institution, or diocese. They will also participate in a three-day retreat and receive mentorship coordinated by Michelle Dibblee, a Union Seminary graduate with extensive experience in faith formation and community organizing.

The 2024 Episcopal Eco-Justice Fellows are:

  • Mercy Irivwieri, Episcopal Diocese of Texas
  • Shane Keefer, Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania
  • William Lewis, Episcopal Diocese of Alabama
  • Lori Petrie, Episcopal Diocese of Chicago
  • Elizabeth Simpson-Falck, Episcopal Diocese of Chicago
  • Kristoff Strachan, Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina
  • Rylie Talmadge, Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

“These exceptional young adults bring diverse skills and a keen curiosity about the potential of church and community response to environmental injustice and racism,” said the Rev. Melanie Mullen, director of reconciliation, justice, and creation care.

The inaugural cohort of Eco-Justice Fellows in 2023 highlighted the learning environment and sense of purpose and community they found during the program. Their community initiatives included creating zines, hosting dialogues on climate change, and planning food justice liturgies.

“The fellowship has been a great launching point into eco-justice, and I look forward to learning more about what I can do to help save the planet, said Fellow Dustin Nguyen of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. “We can do this. It will take a lot of faith and elbow grease, but we can do it.”

Troy Collazo, a fellow from the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, shared, “The fellowship showed me that environmentalism was not simply one issue among many but that everything is environmental because we always impact our environment.”

Learn more about the church’s creation care ministries.