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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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If you would like to find out more about the Episcopal Ecological Network, please click on the links below.





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1375 Residence Drive

Newark, OH 43055 USA
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If you would like to find out more about the Episcopal Ecological Network, please click on the links below.





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[please remove the square brackets from the address before sending]
Contact information:

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Newark, OH 43055 USA
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contains information since the e-mail release

EpEN Quarterly Electronic Newsletter

3rd Quarter 2008: Creation Liturgies and Resources

This is a quarterly update of news and information about activities of interest to the Episcopal Ecological Network (EpEN). This issue is a look at what dioceses and congregations have done and are doing with Creation Liturgies. There were only a few responses so they are arranged alphabetically diocese of the Episcopal Church. We asked for short explanations. Where the responses were lengthy or required more detailed explanation, there is a short summary statement and a link to the full response.

The Rev Franklin "Skip" Vilas, member of the EpEN Leadership Team and one of the individuals who started celebrating creation nearly two decades ago, has provided an overview of how it all began. The overview has been shortened from a larger article he wrote.


Rev. Franklin E. Vilas, D.Min.
EpEN Leadership Team

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Diocese of
New Jersey

Province II




A personal observation

Creation Season Surfaces Worldwide

A news clip on the American Episcopal Church's website of June 06, 2008 read: "[Lambeth Palace] Church leaders in the United Kingdom have called upon Christians to use the period from September 1 until October 4 as an opportunity to put the environment at the heart of their worship. The 'Time For God's Creation' initiative, which would run annually, follows a resolution made at the Third European Ecumenical Assembly in 2007, which was attended by representatives of Europe's Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant churches, that the period 'be dedicated to prayer for the protection of Creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change.'"

This news item caps a process that began in 1991, when the Rev. Philip Wilson, rector of the Church of Redeemer in Morristown, New Jersey, had the inspiration to initiate a liturgical season in the Christian annual cycle dedicated to God the Creator, and to the Creation itself.

In a neighboring parish, St. Paul's Church in Chatham, NJ, the season was celebrated in 1992, and members of that church began spreading word about the Season to other churches in the United States and abroad. During the subsequent decade of the 1990's, many Episcopal, Methodist and Lutheran congregations in the United States received information on the Rev. Wilson’s inspiration from St. Paul's. Material was also sent to Australia and to England.

The original eight week Creation Season as celebrated at the Church of the Redeemer in Morristown, NJ and in St Paul's Church in Chatham, NJ, incorporated the season of the fall harvest, and utilized new vestments and altar hangings which were the color of the changing leaves of the American Northeast – apricot. The altar hanging featured an image of the Earth from space, along with green vines. The priest's vestments were covered with images of the flora and fauna of Northern New Jersey, and the chasuble showed a vine in all of its stages of growth.

The liturgical service contained special scriptural readings celebrating the Creation, along with contemporary readings by such environmentalists as Thomas Berry, John Muir, Henry David Thoreau and Ann Morrow Lindbergh. The music and preaching, church school lessons and adult education were utilized to deepen commitment to an understanding of the spiritual nature of the Creation. At St. Paul’s, a major art exhibit was featured in the sanctuary during the Creation Season.

For St. Paul’s in Chatham as well as for other churches that celebrated the Creation Season over a long period of time, it became one of the most inspirational and involving seasons of the year, drawing members of a younger generation to worship which honors the Earth as a gift from God. It also fueled the development of environmental activism, as members of local congregations discovered spiritual mission through their deepening sense of the sacredness of all of life.

Note: the complete article first appeared in the Forum on Religion and Ecology Newsletter 2.8 (August 2008), which can be found on the Forum's website. The excerpts are reprinted by permission of the Forum on Religion and Ecology.




Diocese of Arizona

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Province VIII





Episcopal Church of the Nativity

Phoenix, AZ
submitted by Phyllis Strupp


For Easter 2, Year A (March 30, 2008), the Episcopal Church of the Nativity (Phoenix) used a Celtic Eucharist. A copy of the service bulletin is available here.





Diocese of California

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Province VIII




All Souls Episcopal Church

Berkeley, CA
submitted by Nancy Snow


In the past, we have only had a special liturgy on the Feast of St. Francis, with a prayer written by the former rector, and some other special prayers. In September, All Souls will welcome a new Rector, the Rev. Phil Brosard. We don't know what liturgies will be used in the future.




Diocese of Chicago

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Province V




The Church of the Holy Spirit

Lake Forrest, IL
submitted by Fred Chase


At Church of the Holy Spirit, Lake Forest, IL no "green" liturgy has been developed as such. What we have done is Blessing of the Animals and prayers with a focus on the environment.




Diocese of Florida

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Province IV





Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

Gainesville, FL
submitted by Kathleen Pagan


Holy Trinity Episcopal Church celebrates St. Francis Day each year with a Blessing of Animals. Parishioners are invited to bring pets, and a variety of animals is blessed each year. The event has been held in the yard of the child care center, at a nearby City Park, and also in the Church Courtyard. When held at the City Park a processional around the historic parade ground is followed by a liturgy including St. Francis Prayer. [One member of the congregation has a service dog in training that attends worship weekly].

Blessing of a Hedgehog
Scenes from the Blessing of the Animals
Blessing of a Cat

The Earth Day Liturgy is now celebrated outdoors in a park. The Folk Choir participates. Afterwards a pot-luck lunch is shared and children's activities on the theme of sustainability are featured.

Scene from Earth Day
Scene from Earth Day

The Earth Stewardship Commission sponsors each of these worship events. Service events include bi-weekly fair trade coffee sales and several times each year a litter clean up at the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.

Sweetwater Clean-up Team




Diocese of Kansas

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Province VII




Trinity Episcopal Church

Lawrence, KS
submitted by Dave Owen

Trinity Environmental Stewardship Team complied a reading/prayer service for the beginning of Earth Day month. The entire community of Lawrence was invited by the Oread Friends Church (Quaker) in our area to present something (reading, song, dance, etc). This group had enough acts to fill an entire day with song, dance, readings and more. The venue was held in a gazebo in Buford Watson Park on April 5, 2008.

Our reading began with the creation story and ended with asking God to strengthen us to become good steward's of this creation. One of our members was the lead speaker, others gave the response and a member, dressed as a mime, emphasized our readings. The entire reading was designed to take around 10 to 15 minutes. We were the only group to present a religious reason for good environmental stewardship. Everyone enjoyed it, especially the actions of the mime. If you choose to use this reading, please let us know how it worked for your group by dropping a note to davidowen[].

Mime praising God in an outdoor setting
Mime Praising God for Creation





Diocese of Maine

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Province I



Diocese of Maine

Environmental Stewardship in the Diocese of Maine
submitted by the Rev Canon Martha Kirkpatrick


We will be doing a creation liturgy/season in the Diocese of Maine this year that will run for 5 Sundays beginning October 5 with St. Francis and ending with All Saints. Our plan is to use an adaptation of the Creation Liturgy in the New Zealand Prayer Book. We’re going to use the appointed lectionary readings and examine them from an environmental and social justice perspective, rather than alternative texts. I’m putting together a table that will offer up some thematic ideas for each of the Sundays, using Jennifer Phillips and other sources. We have adapted the New Zealand Prayers of the People for Maine/New England flora and fauna. We’ll also have a list of creation hymns from The Hymnal 1982 and Wonder, Love and Praise (paltry selection tho it is). Once all of this is in better shape it will be up on our website.




Diocese of Minnesota

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Province VI



Diocese of Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission
submitted by Chuck Morello


The Minnesota Episcopal Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC) has been preparing and using Creation Season Liturgies for many years. Initially, this was done in individual congregations, setting aside 4-8 weeks for a celebration of creation. In 2005 Bishop Jelinek began to set aside a specific period within the Diocese of MInnesota to focus on celebrating creation.

The MEESC has created an posted numerous Creation Liturgies and related materials on its website:

Additionally, in 2005 the MEESC wrote a series for the Seasons of Creation Website based on their 4-Sundays to Celebrate Creation entitled an "Ecumenical Season of Creation" (Forest, Land, Wilderness, and River Sundays).




Diocese of
New Jersey

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Province II



St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Chatham, NY
submitted by the Rev Franklin Vilas


As described in the earlier entry, in 1995 St. Paul's did a Creation Cycle. Two of the Service Bulletins, Blessing of the Animals and Final Service are available on the EpEN website.

Also on the EpEN website is a description of Creation Cycle vestments and hangings done at St. Paul's in 1995.





Diocese of
South Dakota

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Province VI




St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Brookings, SD
submitted by Chuck Berry


Service in the Natural Cathedral at St Pauls, Brookings South Dakota

The grassy lawn of the Natural Cathedral was dappled with sunlight and the gentle breeze from the Cathedral's air conditioning made us all comfortable at Mass in the Grass last Sunday. The emerald grove of blue spruce, pine, basswood, and ash trees provided shade, as strains of flute music seemed to descend from the branches above (thanks to Ginger our flutist for that nice touch).

The glade was decorated with the blooms of coneflowers, crysanthums, lilies, hostas, and hollyhocks. Years ago the steward of this glade had made a simple "altar" by fastening together logs and trees that presented the silhouette of a house. Behind the altar was a trumpet vine with its little red trumpets that hummingbirds find so attractive, and wait - was the other vine a hops vine? Yes, they were hops planted by the current steward of this glade. He attracts the humming birds and feeds them beer!

White petunias grew from the rock garden at the base of the altar - maybe rocky soil can be loosened and prepared to nurture seed (as PB Shori recently preached).

This service was special because of the music provided by Fr. Brugger and his portable reed organ. The reed organ is about as big as a large suitcase and is "wireless." Wind for the organ came from peddle power, provided by Fr. Brugger as he played Hymn 335 - "And I will raise them up, and I will raise them up…"

The potluck luncheon and conversation made our little St Paul's Episcopal campsite a pleasant part of the Natural Cathedral on that glorious Sunday morning.

I saw some heads nod in special recognition and affirmation as we read these words from the prayer book:

"For seasonable weather, and for the abundance of the fruits of the earth, let us pray to the Lord.
For the good earth which God has given us, and for the wisdom and will to conserve it, let us pray to the Lord."

Last Sunday we were reminded that the Lord speaks through two works – the written word and the masterpiece of creation (Psalm 19).

Participants at the Mass in the Grass
Altar and pump organ at Mass in the Grass
Scenes from the Mass in the Grass, Brookings, SD





Diocese of Tennessee

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Province IV



Christ Church Cathedral

Nashville, TN
submitted by Joyce Wilding


First Friday Sacred Soul Space services held on the first Friday of each month at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville, TN celebrate Creation Litugies in May and October. Grounded in the Book of Common Prayer, each service is unique and contemporary. A varied format of different genres and styles of music is provided. Many services are enhanced by original liturgical dance. You may learn more about this at and you will find a link to Episcopal Life article about how this ancient ritural, artistic expression and spiriutal liturgy may produce an Episcopal answer to the turbulent trend of contemporary worship in American religious life.

October 3, 2008 First Friday will celebrate St Francis as artist, a prophet and a healer. The liturgy will use St. Francis' Canticle of Brother Sun that helps celebrates Francis' belief in the universal brotherhood that can help us create a better world. This canticle enables us to behold a mystical vision of Christ. This vision brought a unity and dignity to all creation including the sun, moon, fire, water and Mother Earth. These are beheld as members of the family of God, all groaning together awaiting the revelation of the children of God.






Diocese of Virginia

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Province III



St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

Richmond, VA
submitted by Phyllis Strupp


St. Stephen's has used Liturgies that have been successful in attracting and nourishing people spiritually. Attached to the EpEN website are service bulletins for the following services:





Diocese of
Western North Carolina

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Province IV



Diocese of Western North Carolina

Environmental and Creation Care Ministry
submitted by Joyce Wilding


The Environmental and Creation Care Ministry in the Diocese of Western North Carolina has created special Liturgies for Rogation Day, The Feast of St. Francis, Earth Sunday (last Sunday in April) and Creation Year Round with hymns from Michael Hudson's Songs For The Cycle: Fresh Hymn Texts.

A Contemporary Creed used in the Diocese of Western North Carolina:


We believe in God above us, maker and sustainer of all life, of sun and moon, of water and earth, of male and female.

We believe in God beside us, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, born of a woman's womb, servant of the poor.

He was tortured and nailed to a tree. A man of sorrows, he died forsaken.

He descended into the earth to the place of death.

On the third day he rose from the tomb. He ascended into Heaven to be everywhere present, and God's kingdom is coming on Earth.

We believe in God within us, the Holy Spirit of Pentecostal fire, life-giving breath of the church, spirit of healing and forgiveness, source of resurrection and of life everlasting. Amen.




76th General Convention (2009)

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Resolution for Celebrating Creation

submitted by the Rev Franklin "Skip" Vilas

The Dioceses of Newark and New Jersey are considering the following resolution to go to the 76th General Convention. The resolution focuses on a celebration of creation and inclusion in the Book of Occasional Services.

Resolution to the 76th General Convention
Anaheim, CA, 2009

WHEREAS: God the Creator has made the universe with all its marvelous order, its atoms, planets, galaxies and the Earth with its infinite complexity of living creatures, and

WHEREAS: Our Gracious God has filled all living creatures with plenteousness and gener-ativity, and has blessed human beings with the task of the stewardship of the creation upon Earth, and

WHEREAS: Since 1991, many Episcopal Churches in the United States have celebrated a "Creation Cycle of the Pentecost Season" to honor God the Creator with worship, music and praise for these gifts of life, and

WHEREAS: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Willams, has joined ecumenical leaders the world over in calling for the celebrating of liturgical period annually to recognize the human role as workers to preserve God’s Creation, therefore be it

RESOLVED: That the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church commends to dioceses and congregations the celebration of a liturgical Creation cycle of at least four weeks in length at an appropriate time during the liturgical year, for the purpose of affirming the sacredness of God’s creation, of spreading hope about God’s reconciling work in creation and an under-standing of environmental stewardship and ecological justice, and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Music and Liturgy Commission of the Episcopal Church be encouraged to consider a form for such a Creation cycle to be included in the next issue of the Book of Occasional Services, and be it further

RESOLVED: That the convention affirms the work of the Episcopal Ecological Network in its efforts to encourage "Green Teams" in congregations, and to make available resources for the celebrating of a Creation Cycle throughout the Church.

If your diocese will be presenting this or a similar resolution, please let Skip Vilas know.

This and all known environmental resolutions in the Episcopal Church are found on the EpEN Episcopal Resolutions webpage.




About this Project

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This another in a series of the e-Newsletter where we look at environmental stewardship activities occurring within the Episcopal Church. The submissions and links represent a sampling of materials for the celebration of creation in the Episcopal Church. All of the links from this newsletter are found on the Liturgy Page of our website.The page also has links to Liturgies and prayers from other denominations and environmental spirituality groups. It is a page to bookmark and refer to frequently.

Many of us struggle to bring our concerns about stewardship of God's creation to others in our congregations, communities or dioceses. Part of what we hope this issue will do is provide templates and ideas for our readers to use when approaching their priest or liturgist about doing a series of Sundays to celebrate creation.

If I missed listing your input, please send me another copy. If your congregation's or diocese's efforts are not listed here, please send your information to news[] (please remove the square brackets before sending). The webpage for this newsletter will be updated about every 2 weeks through early November to add additional information. Submitted photos will be posted starting in mid-September.











Take time to visit the EpEN Website. If you have information to share on upcoming events in your area, please send an e-mail to news[] (please remove the square brackets before sending).

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: chair[] (please remove the square brackets before sending).

The next issue will come out in late November 2008 (deadline for submissions to be around November 13, 2008). If you have information to share with the wider church, please send your input at any time to news[] (please remove the square brackets before sending).

Please direct comments about this newsletter to Chuck Morello (please remove the square brackets before sending).

Chuck Morello
EpEN Webminister


last update: 2008-09-16


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