Shield of the Episcopal Church, USA

The Episcopal Ecological Network (EpEN)

Caring for God's Creation: Called to be Stewards
part of The Episcopal Church, USA

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Episcopal Ecological Network
c/o C. Morello
1375 Residence Drive

Newark, OH 43055 USA
e-mail the EpEN Chair
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Episcopal Diocesan Resolutions on the Genesis Covenant



Pending Diocesan Resolutions on the Genesis Covenant



Genesis Covenant

The Genesis Covenant arose from the efforts of the Right Reverend Steven Charleston. At a conference in Seattle in April he unveiled the concept and the covenant. The letter below is a follow-up to the information put out at that conference and is present with permission of the author..

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What can I do? That's a question that people all around the world are asking as the environmental crisis continues to deepen around them. Those of us who live with easy access to news and information are confronted on a daily basis with updates about global warming, drought, melting ice caps and devastating storms. But our sisters and brothers who live on the margins of the information stream, in communities of poverty, are even more aware of the crisis since their lives are directly threatened by its impact. Their cry of "what can I do?" is an appeal beyond liberal sentiment; it is a prayer for help against forces that seem beyond human control.

The irony is that what seems so out of our control is what we have created for ourselves. Like Frankenstein, we are the creators of the monster. Climate change is our responsibility. As we have pumped more carbon out of the earth and into the air we have poisoned ourselves. Therefore, the question of "what can I do?" is a powerful confession of our own complicity in the thoughtless history we share as makers of a force that threatens to run away from us and ravage our world.

To be honest, when confronted with that realization, many of us stand before the question "what can I do?" in stunned silence. We can admit our role in causing it to happen, but we feel helpless in knowing what to do about it. Immobilized by the magnitude of the problem we seem frozen by our own undoing. In fact, this kind of reaction has been a national denial of reality. Our slowness to respond, our equivocation in the face of mounting evidence, comes from the fear that there is no answer to the question, only an inevitable consequence.

It is exactly at this critical point, the axis of human fear and indecision, that faith becomes pivotal. While those of us who are women and men of faith share in the responsibility for what is happening, while we also share in the anxiety about its ultimate impact on our lives and the lives of the poor, we have an answer to the question "what can I do?" that is the tipping point of hope in the face of disaster. Our faith tells us what we can do. Our faith uproots us from standing still in the face of danger. Our faith moves us to respond and to change history.

Faith reminds us that as small as we may feel, we are great in the gifts of love. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and many other world traditions may vary widely in their theology, but they are united in their call to hope. They tell us that love is the transformative power that gives us hope no matter how humble or fearful we may be. They call us into a community of hope. They ask us to answer the question "what can I do?" with an affirmation that echoes around the world: you can be believing and by believing you can be saved.

While over the centuries we have fought our religious battles over how to exercise that belief, the common call to faith in something greater than ourselves, something profoundly good and healing, has remained. Beneath the layers of theological sediment that covers our human story is a bedrock of faith that is the sure and certain ground on which we can build. If we are awake to the global nature of what threatens humanity and our environment, we can claim this hope as part of our own personal response. We can step beyond the past to embrace one another as people of faith in a witness that will transform our future from fear to hope, from death to life.

The world is waiting while the clock is ticking. The world is waiting for some group of people, some community, to take the lead in restoring the balance of the Earth's climate. The poor are waiting for those who have the power and ability to make the kinds of choices, the kinds of sacrifices, necessary to turn the wheel of history. They are all waiting for us. Waiting for us to simply do what we say we believe.

The Genesis Covenant is an opportunity to practice what we preach. It is an open invitation to every man and woman of faith to answer the question "what can I do?". It says, you can do this. You can exercise your faith by inspiring your own community of belief to join in a global movement to reverse climate change. You can take not just responsibility, but initiative. You can put your faith to work. You can become an agent of hope in a fearful age. Here are three specific things you can do:

  1. Help get The Genesis Covenant on the action agenda of your national governing body. Work to have your faith community adopt the Covenant.
  2. Actively tell others about the Genesis Covenant, especially your friends in other faith communities. Encourage them to do what you are doing in your own context.
  3. Once the Covenant is adopted by your national body, work to support its implementation on the local level.

If every person of faith would do these three simple things, the world could stop waiting to see who will take the lead in halting destructive climate change. The poor could stop waiting to see who cared. The answer would be clear in the actions of those of us who say we are believers. As people of faith stood up to put their faith to work, a new sense of hope would spread across our planet. Others would take heart and join us. The vision of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and people of all traditions working together would become real, just when it is needed most. History would bend toward grace and life would truly be redeemed. Your single answer to a single question could be the most important act of faith you have ever taken.

What can I do? I can do The Genesis Covenant.

The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston
Assistant Bishop of California

The EpEN is a national network of active lay and clergy persons within the Episcopal Church, USA, who share a common concern for the environment and a common belief in the presence of God in all Creation and who work to make these concerns and beliefs known throughout all Provinces and Dioceses within the church. Members come from around the Episcopal Church USA. The activities of the EpEN are focused on the areas of Reflection, Education, and Action. 

If you would like to contact any of these groups or to find out more about the EpEN, please click on the links on the left

last update:  2012-05-04

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