Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pastoral Teaching on the Environment

While meeting in Quito, Ecuador, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church issued a Pastoral Teaching about the environmental crisis, saying:

We, your bishops, believe these words of Jeremiah describe these times and call us to repentance as we face the unfolding environmental crisis of the earth:
How long will the land mourn, and the grass of every field wither? For the wickedness of those who live in it the animals and the birds are swept away, and because people said, "He is blind to our ways." (Jeremiah 12:4)

This is a powerful document, bringing together Scripture, science, spiritual practices, and the Church's traditional concern for the poor and the suffering. It is something to read carefully (click here for the full document), something to pray, something to consider when choosing our actions in our daily lives in the world and in our private spiritual practices. It calls us to make changes on a deep level, to repent:

Our current environmental challenges call us to ongoing forms of repentance: we must turn ourselves around, and come to think, feel, and act in new ways. Ancient wisdom and spiritual disciplines from our faith offer deep resources to help address this environmental crisis. Time-honored practices of fasting, Sabbath-keeping, and Christ-centered mindfulness bear particular promise for our time.

This pastoral teaching will enrich the conversation about creation care for Episcopalians and others in the coming months and years. If we study it and act on it, we may indeed find the hope of this document fulfilled:

May God give us the grace to heed the warnings of Jeremiah and to accept the gracious invitation of the incarnate Word to live, in, with, and through him, a life of grace for the whole world, that thereby all the earth may be restored and humanity filled with hope.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pipeline and Pie at St. Stephen's

Tomorrow evening is the forum about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (aka Pipeline and Pie) at St. Stephen’s in Grand Island. This event is organized by the Green Team at St. Stephen’s as part of our stated mission: Drawing on Nebraska’s traditions of conservation and moved by Christian hope and purpose, we will engage in whatever learning, actions, and practices make us more caring stewards of God’s creation and better neighbors to the world’s other inhabitants.

As part of our work, we are trying to stay informed about the pipeline and the concerns that have been raised about it. The Rev. Dr. Kenneth Moore, Regional Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Nebraska and Board Chair of Nebraska Interfaith Power and Light, will speak about why the issues around the proposed pipeline matter to people of faith. Jane Kleeb of BOLD Nebraska will share some general information about the proposed pipeline – what it is, what it would carry, where it would be built – and some of the concerns about the pipeline and its proposed route through the Sandhills and over the Ogallala aquifer. Randy Thompson, whose land is in the path of the proposed pipeline, will talk about his concerns as a landowner and conservationist. We will have time for questions and will continue our conversation over pie and coffee.

The St. Stephen’s Green Team is working toward GreenFaith certification for the parish, which includes a growing point for us: paying attention to environmental justice issues. The Episcopal Church and GreenFaith recently announced the beginning of a new cycle of the certification program in which Episcopal parishes can apply for subsidies to offset part of the cost of the program. Michael Schut, the economic and environmental affairs officer for the Episcopal Church, explains that the goals of the certification program include “supporting the development of faithful, strong environmental leadership; helping congregations learn to reduce their operating costs; and modeling creation care, spirituality and justice throughout a congregation's life and practice.”

Anyone with an interest in the Keystone XL pipeline (or in some good pie and conversation) is welcome to join us tomorrow evening at 7:30. Please come in through red doors on Cedar Street.