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Caring for God's Creation: Called to be Stewards
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The Episcopal Ecological Network (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 the provinces of the Episcopal Church, USA

One of the activities of the Episcopal Ecological Network (EpEN) is to educate ourselves about the issues before us.  We feel it is necessary to gain a deepening knowledge of the theological and spiritual issues, as well as scientific and practical ecological issues. This newsletter provides information on activities and plans throughout the EpEN.

 

 

 

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EpEN Quarterly Electronic Newsletter

1st Quarter 2007: Environmental Activities
around the Episcopal Church

NOTE: This issue contains more information and material than was in the e-mail dissemination.

This is a quarterly update of news and information about activities of interest to the Episcopal Ecological Network (EpEN). This issue is focusing on environmental events and activities of interest in congregations and dioceses across the Episcopal Church.

The individuals, below, represent the active leadership of the EpEN as well as guest contributors.
 

 

Sally Bingham

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Diocese of California

Province VIII

 

 


St. Stephen's, Orinda, CA, is busy planning Earth Sunday activities, which will include:

  1. Following the Sunday service, having a lunch with noted guest speaker
  2. Blessing of trees for parishioner homes. Trees will be preordered by parishioners and delivered to the church.
  3. Sale of cloth shopping bag with our new St. Stephen's Caring for Creation logo, featuring a Tree of Life.
  4. CFL lightbulb sales
  5. AND – if we can pull this off – we are discussing trying to get 10% of our parish (30 homes) to convert to solar power. We have a parishioner with a family-owned bank who would like to provide the home equity loans to do this, and Clark has a good list of solar installers. Earth Sunday would be a great day to kick off this program.

If you know of other churches who have done this, St. Stephen's would love to hear about precedent!

 

 

 

 

Wanda Copeland

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Diocese of Minnesota

Province VI &
Interim Chair
 

 

 

 

On Friday, Feb 23rd, twelve old hands and newly-energized folks got together by phone to explore the next incarnation of the Episcopal Ecological Network. In every organization, there are ebbs and flows; times of great productivity, and times of measured progress. I believe we are entering a new phase of the EpEN. The twelve of us who gathered committed our energy through General Convention 2009. The most pressing questions ahead of us are three:

  • is the Episcopal Church best served if EpEN is ‘within’ the official church structure, or a separate nonprofit standing alongside it.
  • can our work be most effectively carried out if we follow the diocesan and provincial structure as we have for the last ten years or so, or are we most effective when coalesced by issue.
  • do we ‘push’ specific issues (one, two, three or more), or are we a free-floating network of interconnected resources responding to the needs that people bring to us.

While we are not shying away from those decisions ourselves, we do not want to be making these choices in a vacuum. We welcome your input and opinions.

Thank you for the trust you place in us, and let us know what you are thinking. Together may we honor our Savior with the offerings of our lives and our labors.

Resources You Can Use

In addition to the materials discussed in other parts of this newsletter, I want to share news of other resources.

  • Earth Day is on Sunday this year (April 22, 2007) You might want to consider “Earth Day in a Box” (updated). A 46-page organizer’s guide is downloadable from www.earthday.net.
  • National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Earth Day program is “The Food that Sustains Us”. Materials are downloadable from www.nccecojustice.org.
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has a new resource entitled “Awakening to God’s Call to Earthkeeping”. It is downloadable from www.elca.org/stewardship.

We try to stay abreast of the latest information. If you know of resources that can be shared, or if you have created liturgies, prayers, etc that we can add to our website, please let us know.

Commentary

On Sunday, March 25th, Discovery Channel is beginning a series called “Planet Earth”. A few weeks ago, I had the chance to preview some of the episodes. While they are not particularly sympathetic to a religious perspective, I must say the scenery is spectacular. Different episodes focus on polar regions, deserts, deep oceans, etc. As Chuck said, “It’s like National Geographic® on steroids”

As with so many nature presentations, I am torn between the sheer awesome beauty and the fact that they were filmed with nary a human in sight. I certainly can be inspired by the tremendous diversity of God’s creation and the rights of each species. But I hope this doesn’t lull me into an ‘us’ and ‘them’? How can we honor such magnificent creatures as deep sea whales or African elephants that we may never encounter? Are we voyeurs if we enjoy them through presentations such as this series or behind fences in zoos? Do we carve out a part of earth just for them? Do we have active sympathy for people and places where animals and humans are competing for scarce resources? Do we get beyond sympathy to solutions?

I have no easy answers. I do believe that some part of my desire to care for all of God’s creation was fueled by such presentations when I was a youngster. Is that enough to justify new presentations, or more zoos? If you have an answer, let me know.

Peace
Wanda+
The Reverend Wanda Copeland
Interim Chair

 

 

 

Martha Gardner

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Episcopal Church Offices, New York

 

 

 

 

Martha did not submit information for this issue of the newsletter

 

 

 

Fletcher Harper

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Diocese of Newark

Province II

 

 

 

Fletcher asked Skip Vilas to provide information from the diocese about Province II for this issue of the newsletter.

 

 

 

Peter Kreitler

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Diocese of Los Angeles

Province VIII

 

 

 

Would like to let every know that on our TV show website we are now showing videos and clips of shows will start to go online. In addition, we have a daily environmental news service that is a click away. Check out www.earthtalktoday.tv Peter

Peter

 

 

 

 

 

Steve MacAusland

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Diocese of Massachusetts

Province I

 

 

 

 

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 79 Denton Road, Wellesley, MA, is sponsoring a Wednesday Lenten Series on "Theology of Creation and Climate Change: Global Warming and Our Role as Stewards of the Earth". The topics by week are:

  • Wednesday after Lent 1: Stewardship of the Earth and the Problem we Face
  • Wednesday after Lent 2: Human involvement in Climate Change
  • Wednesday after Lent 3: Creating a Spiritual Understanding of Ecology
  • Wednesday after Lent 4: What We Can Do in our Community
  • Wednesday after Lent 5: What We Can Do at Home and at Church

For more information on the content, contact Steve

 

 

Chuck Morello

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Diocese of Minnesota

Province VI

 

 

Ann Fontaine (Diocese of Wyoming) has created a blog for a Green Lent. You are invited to read, inwardly digest, and comment. Her blog is located at www.greenlent.blogspot.com

Regions (Deaneries) of the Diocese of Minnesota are considering a diocesan resolution on socially responsible investing that will be broader in its coverage that the requirements of C036 (Spirituality of Food Production) from the 74th General Convention (2003).

In the Diocese of North Dakota, new to officially embracing care for the environment, the Environmental Stewardship Committee is taking small steps. Because people are in major denial or indifference, especially in the western portion of the state, a major part of the effort is education. The good news is that the education is having an effect. Bruce MacDuffie lists the steps taken here:

  1. Committee established: Bishop Michael Smith appointed the diocese's first Environmental Stewardship Committee at the diocesan convention in October of 2006, with Bruce MacDuffie as chair.
  2. Bruce asked the committee to network with him and to provide each other in the network with information about the steps, actions, and programs undertaken in parishes throughout the diocese. He disseminated a virtual deluge of information and recommended web sites to the committee members. (www.environmentaldefense.org and www.stopglobalwarming.org among others.)
  3. Committee member, the Rev. Barb Lander of St. Paul's, Grand Forks, voiced her determination to make St. Paul's a green parish. She and others conducted showings of an An Inconvenient Truth. Her local committee publishes information in each parish newsletter and offers suggestions for households and for community action.
  4. Committee member Carmine Goodhouse of Ft. Yates in the Standing Rock Nation, beginning in late November, enticed folks to her home for showings of An Inconvenient Truth, and publicized the information with the tribal government and the agency for which she works, and is arranging a showing at her parish church, St. Luke's, Ft. Yates. Carmine downloads information from the helpful web sites and shares that with parishioners as well as with St. Bernard's Catholic Mission School. She also has made plans with St. Luke's Episcopal Church to plant trees outside the church and a small flower garden on the west side of the church.
  5. Committee member Zanne Ness of St. George's, Bismarck, publishes information in the parish newsletter.
  6. Committee chair Bruce MacDuffie of St. John's, Dickinson, showed An Inconvenient Truth to living room sittings totalling 50 persons, some of whom bought their own copies of the DVD and continued to spread the word. The film never showed in the commercial theaters in this part of the state. He also conducted two showings at Dickinson State University. A small committee has formed using, among other strategies, letters to the editor in the local paper which has never really published on this issue, except to publish op ed folks who view global warming as a hoax.
    One of the committee members has organized a recycling committee to promote curb-side recycling. Others have tracked the way the city government is responding, and both city government and the school system are taking steps on building and operational efficiency. St. John's is working with the gas-electric utility to take advantage of its incentive program to bring greater efficiency to the energy consumption of the church plant. St. John's keeps the issue (as well as MDGs generally) in front of its parishioners all the time through bulletin board displays, emails, sermons, newsletter information, and liturgically. Shortly before Christmas, the Diocese of North Dakota list-serve shared ideas of Christmas gifts for the environment .
  7. In small town Hebron, population under 1000, 35 miles east of Dickinson, the local theater owner is offering a free showing of An Inconvenient Truth sponsored by the Hebron Business Club, urged on by its president Jane Brandt, a member of St. John's, Dickinson, and publisher/editor of the Hebron Herald and the Richardton Reporter.
  8. State-wide and not through church auspices, there is great emphasis in several areas with the nation's most successful work on carbon sequestration, wind energy, research on solar electric and hydrogen fuels, and development of both biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol.
Bruce also thanks all members of the Episcopal Ecological Network for liturgies, and for the raft of information generated by the conference call in which he was unable to participate because of a conflict with a special Standing Committee meeting. He found it wornderful to hear reports of all the grass roots efforts and of the support of many bishops in a public way.

Chuck

 

 

 

Sue Raker

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Diocese of Northern Michigan

Guest Contributor

 

Lent is here. It arrived with unseasonable weather here along Lake Superior, comments of global climate change, and gray skies spilling rain, ice crystals and high winds..

My childhood tradition in the church dictated dietary and routine changes during Lent. I'm trying a return to some of these this year, and would like to hear of your own observances. In my own home, there will be no meat (and no fish or seafood, either) during Lent. This hardly seemed to be much of a loss or even simplification on the
kitchen table, but this year I decided to cut back to one light meal a day, whenever possible. Money that would've gone for more food, including meat will be given to ERD and Oxfam.

I'd like to reclaim the practice of fasting for a day, at least a few time over Lent as well. It's an Anglo-Catholic tradition, and one that can intensely sharpen the mind and all of the senses. It was explained to me as a process, wherein God works the fast within you, and you are granted insight and energy to pray and work in a more
focused manner. How about the rest of you? I'm in it, for Lent, who's with me?

In fasting we can discover the incredible beauty of a simple glass of cold water. In it, the realization that we can exist without money, but we cannot live without water. This is not some exercise in 'spiritual materialism' it is a chance to savor something life-giving, finite and which we need to protect, strive for and help others to access. Our own Upper Peninsula is being slated for sulfide-process mining which will degrade entire ecosystems and riparian zones. Since no sulfide mine has ever "succeeded" the fact that multinational mining interests want to extract metal deposits adjacent to Lake Superior is horrifying. Giving thanks and vowing to protect the resources of creation can be a daily practice we incorporate into Lent in our personal lives.

By eating no meat and preparing simple food during this time, we can re-focus on the need to treasure life and the fact that sharing can provide steps not only toward the millennium goals but help us turn from the excess "too much is not enough" toward the fellowship of preparing and consuming food that is shared and seen as sustenance rather than a benchmark of consumption. My four year old friend from up the road walked over to fix lunch with me, at my invitation. He was so excited to be involved in actual food preparation and talked incessantly about how we should prepare our simple meal. As we sat down to eat, he shouted out to the ceiling and later the sky, "Oh thank-you so much for our lunch and being here! I love fixing your food!" Are others of you using meal time as a chance for discussion of hunger, abundance, where food comes from? With children? Elders? Neighbors? Let's hear about it.

In our church's tradition of Lent being a season of opportunity for learning and growth, what are some of you reading? I'd like to recommend "Monocultures of the Mind" by Vandana Shiva, "Home Ground", edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney and in case you haven't grabbed a copy, our PB's , "A Wing and a Prayer". The last isn't a plug for in-house literature, because as soon as you start to read it, you'll see that water, land and life are all intertwined in Bishop Katherine's views of our world and what we can help bring about. ("Will you be water for those with no home to call their own?" and later, urging us to dream to bring about "a river of peace.")

C.S. Lewis spoke of the sin of gluttony being "when you have more than you need". Just how much do we need? We 'need' more than simple survival necessities, but at what level do we become the media's favorite term, "consumers" rather than 'individuals' or 'citizens'? I know I'm a consumer -of music, books, food, but that term doesn't conjure up anything more than Pac-Man sorts of busy noshing! How about the rest of you, out there? How do you identify in this society? What are your collective parish identities like?

We had an exciting week here in our parish. The bishop of our diocese (Northern Michigan) came to visit. Having a 'purple shirt' around, especially last week, was pretty cool. Reassuring. New ideas. Stuff to discuss. (I, personally, practiced saying "and also with you" for an entire day, instead of my recalcitrant and reflexive clinging to "and also with thy spirit." Old habits die hard. Not just verbal ones. Our bishop is very clear on where we, as a diocese come down on social justice issues. Personally, though, I'm sad about us being called names by those who just don't seem to want to be as accepting as Christ's words urge us to be. How are your dioceses dealing with the hatred, rudeness and psychological violence of the primates conference? There's a direct linkage between disrespectful animus and ecological violence, you know. Who can give voice to experiencing that?

In the north, I've always thought of the Incarnation as the season of magic. Northern lights, and the beauty of shared warmth away from storms. Of familiar phrases. "And all the bells on earth shall ring.." But Lent and Easter are truly magnificent maple syrup time. Rebirth and rescue from darkness and fear. Soon, the geese will fly
north and pull the mittens from my hands.

That's it, from here. I truly do want to connect over Lent with all of you, and my thanks for all of the e-mails and great messages.

Pray for our church. Pray for our world.

'And also with you..'

sue raker

 

 

Alice Speers

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Diocese of Oregon

Province VIII

 

The Diocese of Oregon is seeking GC resolutions that would help us in a current crisis with logging issues at our diocesan camp.

Are there resolutions on forestry, on forests sequestering CO2, on children needing to grow up with some time in the woods, on how we maintain green spaces at our churches and institutions?

Alice

 

 

 

 

Skip Vilas

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Diocese of Newark

Province II

 

 

News From Province 2

GreenFaith, Inc., the interfaith environmental organization created through the Diocese of Newark, has formed an advisory committee in addition to its board of trustees. The Rev. Skip Vilas, founder and Dr. Laurel Kearns of Drew University will serve as co-chairs. The Honorable Thomas Kean, former Governor of New Jersey, President of Drew University and Co-Chair of the 911 Commission, has agreed to serve as honorary chair of the advisory committee.

This winter, for the second year in a row, the Environmental Commission of the Diocese of New Jersey is working with GreenFaith to conduct a detailed energy audit of a property in the Diocese. This year, St. Peter's in Freehold will receive the audit and the chance to reduce its energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. GreenFaith audits customarily identify opportunities for congregations to reduce their energy use between 15-20%.

This fall, Church of the Holy Spirit in Lebanon, NJ, celebrated the installation of its solar energy system through GreenFaith's Lighting the Way program, an initiative that has placed solar panels on 25 religious facilities around New Jersey. Holy Spirit joined four congregations in the Diocese of Newark - Epiphany in Allendale, Good Shepherd in Wantage, Messiah in Chester, and Christ Church in Teaneck -and Crossroads Camp and Conference Center (the retreat center for both Episcopal dioceses in the state) as the sixth Episcopal institution to "go solar" through GreenFaith.

In recognition of his environmental leadership, the Rev. Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith's Executive Director, received the Governor's Award for Environmental Leadership for 2006 at a ceremony in November, the highest honor in relation to the environment in New Jersey.

With Rabbi Laurance Troster, Fletcher has become the Co-Chair of the Interfaith Partnership on the Environment, an advisory group to UNEP (the United Nations Environment Programme). IPE works with UNEP and the NGOs to assure religious presence in the inter-national environmental debate and program. Martha Gardner of the national church office is a member of IPE.

Skip

 

 

 

 

Joyce Wilding

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Diocese of Tennessee

Province IV

 

 

Environmental Ministry (EM) leaders from 10 dioceses of Province IV (six of 8 Southeastern states) will attend Sewanee's Year III ENTREAT Living Waters & Water Sustainability March 8-9. While at Sewanee, the leaders will share news about diocesan and parish EM work in small break out sessions. To learn more about this science and religion program see www.sewanee.edu/ENTREAT home page link to Conference.

The last T in ENTREAT is for Treatise and our work is about implementing a Treatise for the ecosystems and people around he domain - Cumberland Plateau. You may view the beauty of this bio gem at great risk on Peter Kreitler's web pages. Click on "Saving Great Spaces" to see the beauty of Middle Tennessee wilderness and the challenges for preserving it. And see the "Healing The Rivers" show that shows the collaborative work of Prov IV.

Many Dioceses and Parishes Continue to Offer Global Warming Programs

The University of South at Sewanee an a few parishes are supporting Focus the Nation, a major educational initiative on global warming. See www.focusthenation.org/ to learn more. Three dioceses have active Power & Light networks. A few dioceses are still promoting ICCN- Interfaith Climate Change Network and some GreenFaith programs.

Many parishes and dioceses have adopted MD (Millennium Development Goals). Some are working hard on Goal # 7 - Ensure environment stability and how this goal is connected with the other goals. They are using resources that are free and on-line from ENEJ, ERD, EGR and EPPN. Some have used the ENS Sunday MDG bulletin inserts.

Alabama - Diocesan Creation Stewards endorse ALEEC Spring Conference (Alabama Environmental Education Consortium) on Saturday, April 21, 2007 from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM at Wright Center, Samford University. This is a FREE ADMISSION event, with lunch included. Contact Virginia Brown or call 205.726.4246.
Speakers:

  • Dr. E. O. Wilson, one of the world's top scientists, and one of the most highly respected people in the world today and professor of Biology at Harvard University. His last book, The Creation, in which he challenges the religious sector to lay aside their differences and work toward the common goal of saving Creation, will be his focus for this conference.
  • The Rev. Sally Bingham, a priest currently working as the Environmental Minister at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco; founder and co-director of The Regeneration Project.

North Carolina - EM leaders have produced and distributed a Preserving the Earth handbook; hosted annual environmental Conference at the Summit (now part of a new state park); continues to endorse Haw River Education Program; and works with the NC Council of Churches program on global warming (called Climate Connection: Interfaith Ecojustice Network, affiliated with Interfaith Power & Light).

Western North Carolina - St. James' Hendersonville parish has a new group called EPIC - Environment, Peace/justice, Inclusiveness (human relations), Caring./outreach. They have shown Inconvenient Truth; raised consciousness about fair trade coffee and subsidize using it at coffee hour; seek modes to get everyone to reduce their carbon footprint; and developing a campaign to get everyone to commit to doing one small thing to help the environment as well as involved in parish's ongoing work trips to rebuild from Katrina in LA.

Two EM leaders report new environmental at conference/camp centers:

  • Kanuga - garden spirituality 2006 conference was a BIG success ... 240 participants plus staff. This conference is offered in again in 2007. They hope by getting gardeners involved they'll get more interested in environmental concerns. A workshop on gardening with native plants and xeriscaping and conservation is offered. The new director, Stan Hubbard is very environmentally conscious. Kanuga is planting more native species, installing new energy systems and selling excess back to the power company.
  • Lake Logan - offers new nature wilderness programs and collaborating with GreenFaith.

Tennessee - leaders in this diocese are pursuing options for EM Diocesan Commission with their new bishop and are tracking MDGs programs in Prov IV. Christ Church Cathedral has started a Community Investing Economic Justice (CIEG) committee. CIEG programs model how to move from the ole giving a "fish", teaching "fishing" to teaching "fisheries" (economic and ecological viable approaches that address all the needy in holistic manner). They are moving focus on raising money for small feel good ministries to building viable systemic approaches including Micro Loans.

Western Tennessee - A resolution to authorized the formation of a voluntary, non-budgetary task force on the stewardship of creation to work with numerous others in the region in the care and preservation of creation was passed at diocesan convention in Feb.

East Tennessee - Key focus to MDG was given at February 2006 diocesan convention. The director of the diocesan camp and conference center is promoting LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) and other sustainability programs in its building and grounds.

Joyce

 

 
 

 

Notes

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

IMPORTANT: During March 2007 the EpEN e-list will be migrating to a new server. Given the size of the list and the manual typing necessary to accomplish this move, there may be some unusual occurrences in transmissions (e.g., some subscribers may receive duplicate copies). If you are on the old EpEN e-list and have not received a notice of the change, please contact Chuck (theiceismelting@yahoo.com)

Take time to visit the EpEN Website as our upgrading and revisions continue. If you have information to share on upcoming events in your area, please send an e-mail to: theiceismelting@yahoo.com

The EpEN also seeks individuals interested in being contacts within Provinces and Dioceses as well as individuals interested in researching and writing about topics of interest. If you are interested, please send an e-mail to: theiceismelting@yahoo.com.

The next issue will come out in late May 2007 (deadline to be around May 15, 2007). If you have information to share with the wider church, please send your input at any time to theiceismelting@yahoo.com.

Please direct comments about this newsletter to Chuck Morello.

Chuck Morello
EpEN Webminister

last update: 2007-03-15

 

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