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Caring for God's Creation: Called to be Stewards
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Eco-Justice Resolutions
from the Episcopal Church

Memorializing the Genesis Covenant

Final Resolution from the
76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, USA, July 2009

Resolution C070: Memorializing the Genesis Covenant

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church affirm that The Episcopal Church become a signatory to the Genesis Covenant, thereby making a public commitment to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from every facility it maintains by a minimum of 50% within ten years.


Proposer: Diocese of Olympia

EXPLANATION

Climate change threatens all of God's creation on earth. Our Christian response to climate change is a deeply spiritual and moral issue. Climate change poses greater threat to poor, marginalized people across the world than to affluent people, and therefore climate change and our Christian call to social justice are inextricably linked. In the words of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, "the crisis of climate change presents to us unprecedented challenge to the goodness, interconnectedness, and sanctity of the world God created and loves…and the church's commitment to ameliorating it is a part of the ongoing discovery of God's revelation to humanity and a call to the fuller understanding of the scriptural imperative of loving our neighbor".*

The Genesis Covenant is a multi-faith effort to engage national faith communities in a single and significant course of action to reduce the damaging effects of climate change. That course of action is to work to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of each facility they maintain by 50% in ten years. Although the covenant is without enforcement, it defines a clear goal to which faith communities can aspire. This goal of 50% reduction is challenging and may not be possible for each facility, but as we work toward that goal God's grace may help us find a way.

The Genesis Covenant was formally introduced to the national church at the Healing our Planet Earth Conference (HOPE), sponsored by the Diocese of Olympia and the Episcopal Divinity School, in April 2008. Resources are available to assist dioceses and churches implement this resolution. They include Genesis Covenant Network, the national Advocacy Center for Economic and Environmental Affairs of the Episcopal Church, Earth Ministry, Interfaith Power and Light, dioceses that have already begun this work, local utility companies, and others.

Earlier resolutions will be supported through our commitment to the Genesis Covenant. Those resolutions include: Resolution 1991-A195, adopted by the 70th General Convention, declaring that Christian Stewardship of God's created environment, in harmony with our respect for human dignity, requires response from the Church of the highest urgency; Resolution 2006-D022 adopted by the 70th General Convention supporting the Millennium Development Goals, specifically Goal 7, "Ensure Environmental Sustainability"; and Resolution 2000-A048, adopted by the 73rd General Convention, encouraging all members, congregations, dioceses, and other church institutions to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources.

Communities of faith have the power to inspire, to create momentum, and to become a catalyst for addressing climate change. By becoming a signatory to the Genesis Covenant we live into our Christian values and also model the kind of leadership that we hope other religious organizations and our public policymakers will provide. Text of the Genesis Covenant is included below.


* Excerpt from her speech to the United States Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, June 2007.

THE GENESIS COVENANT

The Challenge
The Genesis Covenant is an invitation to every community of faith to take action to reverse global warming.

The Genesis Covenant is a pledge to be made publicly by the national religious bodies that endorse it as their witness to the holiness of creation and their commitment to protect the Earth as a sacred trust.

The Genesis Covenant is an expression of the unity of the world's religious communities in the face of a shared crisis.

The Genesis Covenant is a challenge to all other sectors of society to join people of faith in a global effort to change history by changing behavior.

The Covenant
WE WILL REDUCE THE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS FROM EVERY FACILITY THAT WE MAINTAIN BY 50% IN 10 YEARS.

The Commitment
The Genesis Covenant must be endorsed by the appropriate representative governing body of the community. Once that body has adopted the Covenant every facility that it maintains will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from their levels at the time of ratification by 50% within ten years. This includes places of worship, offices, schools, camps, retreat centers and other facilities.

The Community
The Genesis Covenant will maintain an interactive online presence to support and network local communities who are part of the Covenant (www.genesiscovenant.org) This resource will empower every faith community to meet its goals in fulfilling the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. It will welcome people of all faiths into a working partnership with their neighbors to achieve an historic change for the sake of our children.

 

Talking Points for use at Committee Hearings.
This resolution passed without revision.
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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.

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