At Diocesan Convention in January, Bishop Mariann commissioned the Creation Care Task Force and called upon its members “to engage with congregations and regional leaders to identify current practices and offer concrete ways we can collectively strengthen our commitment to the care of God’s creation.” After months of steady work, the Task Force is pleased to share its initial findings: Taking Stock of Parish Engagement on Creation Care.
“We invite the engagement of all interested parishioners in this work,” say Task Force co-chairs Doug Holy and Melissa Sites. If you have additions to the data provided in the report–or wish to help our creation care efforts in other ways, please email the Task Force.
Este mandamiento que hoy les doy no es demasiado difícil para ustedes, ni está fuera de su alcance. No está en el cielo, para que se diga: “¿Quién puede subir al cielo por nosotros, para que nos lo traiga y nos lo dé a conocer, y lo pongamos en práctica?”. . . Al contrario, el mandamiento está muy cerca de ustedes; está en sus labios y en su pensamiento, para que puedan cumplirlo.
El domingo, en camino a la iglesia, escuché el final de una conversación entre Krista Tippett, presentadora del programa de radio On Being (Siendo), y alguien de quien nunca había oído hablar, pero que ahora ha pasado a encabezar mi lista de lecturas/podcasts: Ayana Elizabeth Johnson.
Johnson es una joven bióloga marina dedicada a abordar nuestras crisis climáticas desde el doble punto de vista de la evaluación honesta y la creencia de que no todo está perdido. Es la editora de una antología titulada All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis (Todo lo que podemos salvar: Verdad, coraje y soluciones para la crisis climática); cocreadora del podcast How to Save a Planet (Cómo salvar un planeta) y cofundadora del All We Can Save Project (Todo lo que podemos salvar). Ahora está trabajando en un manuscrito cuyo título provisional es What If We Get It Right? (¿Y si lo hacemos bien?)
Por el sonido de estos títulos, se podría suponer que Johnson es una persona naturalmente esperanzada, pero se describe a sí misma como una persona atraída por las soluciones y por hacer las cosas. “No soy fanática de la esperanza como principio rector, porque supone que el resultado será bueno, lo cual no es un hecho”, dijo. “Pero estoy completamente enamorada de la cantidad de posibilidades que están disponibles para nosotros”.
Mi corazón dio un salto cuando Johnson habló de la posibilidad de que hagamos las cosas bien, de que ya tenemos gran parte de lo que necesitamos para abordar el cambio climático y otros problemas medioambientales. “Sólo tenemos que hacerlo”, dijo.
Me pregunté: “¿En cuántas otras áreas de la vida es también cierto que ya tenemos las soluciones que necesitamos al alcance de la mano?”
El Grupo de Trabajo Diocesano para el Cuidado de la Creación está terminando su tarea inicial de hacer un balance de las muchas maneras en que nuestras congregaciones están trabajando para reducir los residuos, disminuir su dependencia de los combustibles fósiles y cuidar el mundo natural. Pronto publicaremos su informe como base para nuestros esfuerzos colectivos en el futuro.
Alerta de revelación: los esfuerzos locales son inspiradores.
Lo mismo ocurre en otros ámbitos. Hay personas entre nosotros que se dedican activamente a la equidad racial, al apoyo a los refugiados, a la inseguridad alimentaria y a la prevención de la violencia armada. Tenemos líderes apasionadamente comprometidos con la vitalidad de la congregación, con la participación de las nuevas generaciones y con animar a cada uno de nosotros a dar nuestro siguiente paso fiel en el camino de seguir a Jesús. Es inspirador estar cerca de ellos, porque ellos mismos están inspirados y motivados por el amor.
Mi oración para este verano es que todos nosotros volvamos a conectarnos con nuestras fuentes de descanso e inspiración: las personas, los lugares y las experiencias a través de las cuales Dios puede alimentar nuestras almas y animarnos a vivir con valor y amor. Porque, como insiste Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, el amor y la creencia en lo posible son lo que motiva el cambio con mucha más eficacia que la desesperación y el cinismo.
El rechazo de Johnson a una esperanza simplista basada en ilusiones está, de hecho, muy cerca de la comprensión cristiana de lo que es la esperanza: la capacidad de enfrentarse a la realidad, por difícil que sea, y seguir buscando el bien que sea posible. Como personas de fe, nos atrevemos a confiar en que Dios está actuando en medio de las realidades más desafiantes de nuestras vidas, y que por gracia y aceptación, nos unimos a Dios en la santa obra de transformar el mundo.
“Este es un momento que requiere muchos líderes”, dijo Johnson, “porque lo que necesitamos es una transformación en cada comunidad, en cada sector de la economía, en cada ecosistema, con los cientos de soluciones que tenemos. . . Se trata de cómo construir un futuro en el que queramos vivir, en el que haya un lugar para nosotros y para la gente y las cosas que amamos”.
¿No sería maravilloso que la Diócesis de Washington fuera conocida en todo el mundo por la forma en que vivimos la posibilidad de la esperanza realizada? Tal vez estemos en camino.
¿Y si, por gracia y perseverancia, hiciéramos bien las cosas más importantes?
Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” . . . No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.
Driving to church on Sunday, I caught the end of a conversation between Krista Tippett, host of the radio program On Being and someone I’d never heard of before but who has now risen near to the top of my reading/podcast list: Ayana Elizabeth Johnson.
Johnson is a young marine biologist dedicated to approaching our climate crises from the dual vantage points of honest assessment and belief that all is not lost. She is the editor of an anthology entitled All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis; co-creator of a podcast How to Save a Planet and cofounder of the All We Can Save Project. She’s working on a manuscript now with the working title, What If We Get It Right?
From the sound of these titles, you might surmise that Johnson is a naturally hopeful person, but she describes herself more as one drawn to solutions and getting things done. “I’m not a fan of hope as a guiding principle, because it assumes that the outcome will be good, which is not a given,” she said. “But I am completely enamored with the amount of possibility that’s available to us.”1
My heart leapt when Johnson spoke of the possibility of our getting things right, that we already have much of what we need to address climate change and other environmental concerns. “We just have to do it,” she said.
I found myself wondering, “In how many other areas of life is it also true that we already have the solutions we need at our fingertips?”
The Diocesan Creation Care Task Force is finishing up its initial task of taking stock of the many ways our congregations are working to reduce waste, decrease their dependence on fossil fuels, and care for the natural world. We will soon publish their report as the baseline for our collective efforts going forward.
Spoiler alert: local efforts are inspiring.
So, too, in other realms. There are people among us actively engaged in the works of racial equity, refugee support, food insecurity, and the prevention of gun violence. We have leaders passionately committed to congregational vitality, engaging rising generations, and encouraging each one of us to take our next faithful step on the path of following Jesus. They are inspiring to be around, for they are themselves inspired and motivated by love.
My prayer this summer is for all of us to reconnect with our sources of rest and inspiration–the people and places and experiences through which God can nourish our souls and encourage us to live with courage and love. For as Ayana Elizabeth Johnson insists, love and the belief in the possible are what motivate change far more effectively than despair and cynicism.
Johnson’s rejection of a simplistic hope based on wishful thinking is, in fact, very close to the Christian understanding of what hope is–the capacity to face reality, no matter how difficult, and still seek whatever good is possible. As people of faith, we dare to trust that God is at work amid the most challenging realities of our lives, and that by grace and acceptance, we join God in the holy work of transforming the world.
“This is a moment that calls for many leaders,” Johnson said, “because what we need is transformation in every community, in every sector of the economy, in every ecosystem, with the hundreds of solutions we have. . . It’s all about how we build a future that we want to live in, where there’s a place for us and the people and the things that we love.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Diocese of Washington became known far and wide for the ways we live into the possibility of realized hope? Perhaps we are well on our way.
What if, by grace and perseverance, we got the most important things right?
1On Being – Ayana Elizabeth Johanson: What If We Get This Right?
The new EDOW Creation Care Task Force has leapt into spring 2022, learning and listening to the many exciting ways our parishes are taking care of God’s Creation – and is looking for more examples from you!
Various parishes in the Diocese of Washington have redesigned their grounds to include pollinator gardens, regenerative agriculture, and to better manage water runoff. They’ve planted trees, contemplative gardens, and community food gardens. They’ve eliminated pesticides and gasoline-powered landscaping equipment. Parishes have also seen big savings on energy costs through more efficient lighting and heating equipment, switching to solar, wind power, and geothermal heating and cooling.
Creation care has fostered spiritual growth through developing outdoor worship areas (a real advantage during the pandemic!), labyrinths, Earth care-centered retreats, hikes along the C&O Canal, and stream clean-ups – a favorite activity for energizing young people to join in.
Parishioners have become expert at recycling, reusing, and reducing to zero waste. They’ve also reached outside their church walls through advocacy, educational forums, book discussions, parish presentations, community action for environmental justice, and fruitful partnerships with organizations like Interfaith Power and Light, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, the Washington Interfaith Network, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), Anacostia Watershed Society, Georgetown Ministry Center, Charlie’s Place, Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington, So Others Might Eat, Montgomery County Interfaith Council, and many more.
Charged by Bishop Mariann to learn how our parishes understand God’s call to care for Creation and to take stock of their Creation care activities, the Creation Care Task Force is in the process of making personal calls to all parishes in each of the eight EDOW regions. It has been exciting for Task Force members to hear about all the fruitful work already underway, to gather best practices and information about Creation care efforts, and to brainstorm how the Task Force can offer the most effective assistance.
If you can help us learn more about what your parish is doing or planning, please reach out to the Task Force leadership at [email protected]. The information we acquire will be shared with EDOW parishes, and will guide the next efforts of the Task Force.
The Task Force’s co-chair, Doug Holy, of St. James, Potomac, is enthusiastic about the Task Force, whose 18 members bring an array of talents and passion for God’s Creation from around the Diocese. “We have a team with the experience and the passion to learn from the successful efforts of many of our parishes and to assist all parishes in strengthening their focus and actions regarding Creation care,” he said. “We know that, with the continued strong support provided by Bishop Mariann and the diocesan staff, we will be successful.”
The Creation Care Task Force was commissioned at January’s Diocesan Convention to promote Creation care practices in all our communities by:
- Amplifying and expanding the efforts of our Creation care leaders
- Sharing best practices among us; and
- Establishing regional and diocesan goals for reducing waste, preserving natural resources, and lowering our carbon footprint.
But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you.Who among all these does not know, that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing.
This week world leaders, scientists, and non-governmental organizations are gathered in Glasgow for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26. Each day we hear impassioned calls for a global strategy to avert the catastrophic consequences of a warming planet.
The effects of climate change are not in some far-off future or distant lands. In the United States, we are experiencing historic floods, heat waves, fires, and droughts. In our region we are experiencing hotter summers, cooler winters, and damaging coastal flooding. This summer one in three Americans experienced a weather disaster.
In my last article, I wrote of our diocesan strategic goal for 2022 to cultivate the soil of our diocese so that we might establish up to three new worshipping communities with a primary focus on rising generations. I write here of our second new initiative for 2022, part of our original strategic plan but one we have not yet devoted collective effort to: We will promote Creation Care practices in all our faith communities.
Our first task will be to gather our most passionate leaders to help us form a diocesan-wide Creation Care network. Guided by these leaders, we will establish yearly goals for both our congregations and households along with implementation strategies to accomplish them.
I have great confidence in our capacity to reach this goal in 2022, given the number of congregations actively committed to reducing their global footprint and other creation care practices. By example, here’s what two of our congregations are already doing: St. James’, Potomac has a dedicated ministry to promote home-based Creation Care practices and reduce their overall carbon footprint. San Mateo in Hyattsville, our largest Spanish-speaking congregation has begun an initiative to stop serving water in single-use bottles.
EDOW Missioner for Equity and Justice Hazel Monae reminds us that Creation Care initiatives are an integral part of our primary commitment to racial justice, given how people of color bear the disproportionate impact of climate change and other environmental disasters. Moreover, it is a way for us to work in solidarity with the indiginous people of our lands, for whom care of the creation is a primary value.
It is also part of our legacy to our children and grandchildren, those for whom we are dedicating our efforts for church revitalization and the establishment of new worshipping communities. For what value will our churches be to rising generations if we do not care for the earth, our island home?
Many in our diocese are already engaged in the work of Creation Care. If you are among them and feel called to help us expand and amplify your efforts, please email me. We want to convene leaders before the end of 2021 in order to officially launch our collective initiative at Diocesan Convention in January 2022.
* We can be proud that the Episcopal Church is well-represented at COP26, as well as the broader Anglican Communion. You can follow our leaders on Twitter and the Anglican News Service