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Presiding bishop’s message for Lent: Are you traveling light on the earth?

By Katharine Jefferts Schori, March 08, 2011
Reposted from: [Episcopal News Service]

The Episcopal Church observes Lent in solidarity with Christians throughout the ages. Lent has anciently been understood as a time of solidarity with those who are to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. It’s a time to focus on prayer and study and fasting, and in some traditions, almsgiving. Each of those, when done in solidarity with those preparing to be baptized, isan invitation for us to deepen our own Christian spiritual practice.

I would encourage you this year to expand the realm of that practice; to think about your solidarity with those who walk the way of Christ, with those who walk the way of Jesus, in particular concern for those beyond your local community.

We have a remarkable calling in this era to think about our relationships not only with other Christians, but with other human beings across this planet, and indeed with the rest of creation. Perhaps you might focus your Lenten discipline this year in attention to how you live on this earth.

Do you live like the Son of Man, who travels continuously with never a place to lay his head? Who doesn’t carry two bags or an extra lunch or an extra pair of sandals? That is what he encouraged his disciples to do, to travel light.

Are you traveling light on this earth?

Consider as you live through each day, how you use water, how you use fuel, how you use electricity, and how you use the food that is a gift.

If each of us is able to thoughtfully enter into a more compassionate concern for the blessings of creation, it will change the way in which human beings as a species impact this earth.

I heard at the Primates Meeting recently, from the Primate of Polynesia, a very agonized conversation about the plight of his people on low-lying islands in the South Pacific, which are rapidly disappearing beneath the rising sea level. That rising sea level is the result of the way in which wealthier parts of this human population use energy.

We hear about the concerns of people in Africa who find corn too expensive to buy for food because we are using it here to produce ethanol so we can drive our cars.

The way in which we use our resources is a spiritual matter. The way in which we live on this earth is a matter of faithfulness. Can we act in solidarity with those who are preparing to enter this community and do so more thoughtfully and in a more compassionate way that considers all of God’s creation?

I invite you to a blessed and holy Lent, to a Lent of prayer and study and compassion through almsgiving and fasting.

— The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori is presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church.

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Final Statement and Commitments from December Meeting

December 7-10, 2010
Episcopal-Anglican Climate Justice Gathering
Bishop Kellogg Conference Center, San Pedro de Macorís

*** STATEMENT AND COMMITMENTS***
We are a group of Anglican Episcopals from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States who feel the urgency of addressing climate justice at this time in the world we serve. Participants are from the Episcopal/Anglican Dioceses of California, Central Ecuador, Colombia, Connecticut, Cuba, Cuernavaca, Curitiba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, New Hampshire, New York, Olympia, and Panama; the Anglican Province of Brazil; the Anglican Province of Central America; The Episcopal Church (TEC); the Berkeley Divinity School; the Yale Divinity School (YDS); the Theological Center of the Dominican Republic (CET); the Commission for Theological Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (CETALC); the International Center for Anglican Theological Studies (CIAET); and the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI).

We met in the Dominican Republic at the Bishop Kellogg Retreat Center in San Pedro de Macorís from December 7 – 10, 2010, in parallel with the UN Framework Convention Climate Change COP 16 in Cancun.

In the context of companionship, with worship, prayer and Bible reflection the issues related to climate change were addressed from our varied contexts. We heard powerful witnesses to climate injustice and creative responses by dioceses, communities, and individuals. Within our group we had people who have been advocates for climate justice for many decades, academics who have devoted years of study and effort to the issues, Church leaders, bishops, priests, and lay, who see the destruction visited on their communities, and young people, some who are seminarians who seek to pattern their lives in ways that reflect climate justice as a core value.

Climate change affects the whole planet. Every system of human culture: economics, politics, education – all are inextricably related to climate change. Representatives of our various dioceses described rising water levels displacing entire island populations, deforestation on a vast scale, the decimation of indigenous peoples, and degradation of rivers through toxic pesticide runoff and human waste. We named the truths about the causes of these devastations: we have lost a sense of connection with the world, and have become dominators rather than “good gardeners;” over-developed countries have given themselves over to the sin of consumerism. This sin, as sin always does, has clouded and distorted all our relationships: between people, with the Earth, and with our creator God.

In some places we recognize that the scale and depth of destruction can no longer be reversed. Such irreversibility awaits the whole planet, in a timeframe much shorter than we imagined even a few years ago. We are consuming at such a frantic rate that we are stealing from the future generations of the Earth. It is essential, urgent that we act now.

Among us are representatives of the Diocese of Haiti. They raised their voices in dramatic witness to the most acute abuses of Earth and human dignity. Our Haitian brothers spoke with a prophetic voice, denouncing a history and a present at variance with the teaching of God. Haitians, deeply vulnerable already because of long-standing abuses of the Earth and human dignity, now also live the results of chaotic climate change.

Although each instance of climate injustice we heard of during our meeting is terrible in itself, and together they present a nearly overwhelming reality, we as Christians are people of hope. Our hope is in God, “whose memory is eternal,” who does not forget the covenants made with the Earth, and our hope is in our capacity to love, planted in our very being, the Image of God among us. Further, we have hope in a God who not only goes beyond the Earth, even the universe, but is also intimately with us and all the creation. As a result, we are deeply interconnected. This hope, we recognize, places a great responsibility on us.

As Anglican Episcopals we have received the hope that springs from the love of God through the Baptismal Covenant. This Covenant has shaped our lives to recognize Christ in every person, and to work untiringly for justice and peace in creation. We are strengthened by our life in the Church to take risks in the world in the cause of justice. Just as we act as prophets to denounce injustice, we act as reconcilers and announce the possibility of hope and love. “So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

We met in the season of Advent, when we watch for the coming of Christ. We feel the tension of the nearness of God, and the not-yet nature of a broken world. We trust that by the grace of God and our efforts inspired by the Sprit of God, the following prophecy will come true: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more… The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:1-3a, 20)

In this gathering we have expressed our Advent hope through five concrete commitments to each other, to the Church, to the Earth and its peoples, and to God:

  • to develop a mechanism (ie. a carbon tithe or energy fund) to promote actual reductions of carbon emissions by affluent populations and to offer assistance in ways identified by vulnerable communities
  • to incorporate the issue of climate justice, and related themes, in educational programs, at all age levels and venues, within and outside the Church
  • to support ongoing global initiatives and campaigns aimed at:  the actual reduction of climate emissions by overdeveloped nations, advocacy and support for forest-dwelling and indigenous peoples, and food sovereignty
  • to recruit and empower a core of missionaries from the global south to come to the United States, in a ministry of accompaniment and consciousness-raising about the effects of climate change
  • to maintain our relationships with one another through an active network for climate justice in the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church

These commitments are both in process and part of the process, and we realize that they will only reach their full expression as our group, and others who join us, work and walk together. We leave with a deep sense of gratitude for this time together and with the fervent desire and dedication to follow this path which God is making before us.

Signed,

the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, USA;

the Rt. Rev. Grisleda Delgado Del Carpio, Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Cuba;

the Rt. Rev. Naudal Gomes, Bishop of the Anglican-Episcopal Diocese of Curitiba, Brazil;

the Rt. Rev. Armando Guerra, Bishop of the Episcopal Churh of Guatemala, Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church of the Region of Central America, President of CETALC;

the Rt. Rev. Julio C. Holguin, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic;

the Rt. Rev. Julio Murray, Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Panama, President of CLAI;

the Rt. Rev. Luis Fernando Ruiz, Bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Central Ecuador;

Mr. José Abreu, Theological Center of the Dominican Republic;

the Rev. Soner Alexandre, Episcopal Diocese of Haiti;

Dr. Sheila Andrus, Episcopal Diocese of California;

Mr. David Barr, the Yale Divinity School;

Mr. Pedro Ivo Batista, Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil;

Mr. Steve Blackmer, Diocese of New Hampshire, Yale Divinity School;

the Very Rev. Canon Ashton Brooks, Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Epiphany, Santo Domingo;

Mr. Scott Claassen, Yale Divinity School;

Mr. Leonel Polanco de la Cruz, Theological Center of the Dominican Republic;

the Rev. Luiz Carlos Gabas, Anglican-Episcopal Diocese of Curitiba;

Mr. Luis García, Theological Center of the Dominican Republic;

Mrs. Barbara Gomez, Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic;

Mr. Lorenzo Gómez, Theological Center of the Dominican Republic;

the Rev. P. Joshua “Griff” Griffin, Environmental Justice Missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of California;

Ms. Freddie Helmiere, Seattle, Washington;

Dr. Willis Jenkins, Margaret A. Farley Assistant Professor of Social Ethics at Yale Divinity School, Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut;

the Rev. Stephanie Johnson, Episcopal Diocese of New York, Yale Divinity School;

Ms. Pauline Kulstad, Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic;

Mr. Ken Lathrop, Diocese of Cuernavaca, Anglican Church of Mexico;

the Rev. Alvaro Yepes López, Bishop Kellogg Conference Center, San Pedro de Macorís;

the Rev. Glenda McQueen, The Episcopal Church Global Partnership Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean;

the Rev. Chris Morck, Episcopal Diocese of Central Ecuador, CLAI Environmental Program Coordinator;

the Rev. Canon Ricardo Potter, Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic;

Ms. Angela Maria Pulido, Bishop Kellogg Conference Center, San Pedro de Macorís;

Mrs. Carmen Regina Duarte Gomes, Episcopal-Anglican Diocese of Curitiba;

Mrs. Melissa Ridlon, Episcopal Diocese of California;

The Rev. Diego Fernando Sabogal, Episcopal Diocese of Columbia;

Mr. Vanel Saint Juste, Theological Center of the Dominican Republic;

Ms. Katie Salisbury, Yale Divinity School;

Mr. Mike Schut, The Episcopal Church Officer for Environmental/Economic Affairs, Episcopal Diocese of Olympia;

Mr. Michael Tedrick, Episcopal Diocese of California Missioner serving in the Episcopal-Anglican Diocese of Curitiba;

the Rev. P. Angel R. Vallenilla, Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic;

Mr. Wagner Vergara, Episcopal-Anglican Diocese of Curitiba;

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In the darkness, hope awaits

Reposted from: Episcopal News Service: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/80050_126199_ENG_HTM.htm

By Stephen Blackmer, December 14, 2010

[Episcopal News Service] Last week’s gathering in the Dominican Republic of Episcopalians and Anglicans from Latin American, the Caribbean and the United States — bishops, clergy, staff, seminarians and lay leaders — was a tangible sign that a new world is waiting to be born — and that we are called in Christ to serve as midwives of new life.

As participants from Panama, Brazil, Haiti, Guatemala, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic told us, the effects of climate change are being felt right now. People are being hurt and killed. Other forms of life are being extinguished. The planet we will pass on to our children tomorrow is being impoverished today. Whether we are ready or not, whether we want to believe it or not, a changing climate is bringing social and ecological challenges to every person on this earth.

While we were gathered, Bishop Julio Murray of Panama gave us breaking news of devastating rainfall in Panama. Ten people, at least, died. So much water fell from the sky that the Panama Canal — that great manmade river linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans — had to be closed.

Such violent storms are becoming increasingly common all around the world, signs that a previously stable global climate is becoming volatile and increasingly dangerous. Even the wealthy of the world, including many of us who use money, education, and privilege to keep hardship at bay, will feel the effects. Others with less security will seek escape through migration. Too many will turn to drugs, alcohol and violence. Many will suffer. For this, those of us who consume the vast amounts of oil, coal, and gas that are the primary cause of a changing climate bear responsibility.

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you…

Through our consumption and destruction of the riches of the world, through accumulating the benefits for ourselves and requiring people in other places and times to bear the costs, through ignorance and closing our eyes to the harm we cause, those of us in the United States and other wealthy countries are bringing great harm upon the world that God created for all life.

And yet, in this very loss, in this very sin, new life and a new way is starting to take form. As with all new life, this one is taking shape in darkness and will be born in pain. We are called not only to witness but also to participate in this pain. These are eternal truths we cannot change. There is no other way.

By virtue of our life in Christ, we know it is only by our passage through the darkness that we may find new life. Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio of Cuba movingly told participants about the renewal of her church through not only restoring a lovely building but establishing gardens of abundance to feed hungry people. The church gathering in the Dominican Republic is itself another sign. It is our task to share all this news — news of death, pain, and darkness as well as news of life, joy and new light. All of us in the church have a choice to help this birth or to hold it back.

Alone, God brought the world into being out of darkness. Since then, it is through human beings that God has brought new light into the world. Through Noah after the flood, through Moses seeking liberation from Egypt’s empire, through Jeremiah and the prophets, through Miriam, Ruth, and Esther, finally through the conceiving of Jesus Christ born in the darkness of the Virgin Mary’s womb. It is in human form and through human action — passing through the darkness of both womb and tomb — that hope in human form comes again.

So it may be once more as, through climate change, we learn anew the lessons of the flood and as we cry to be freed from our self-created slavery of consumption. In days ahead, as we celebrate the great liturgy of new birth, those who gathered in the Dominican Republic bear a message for the church and the world to rejoice that hope awaits in the darkest hour — and that our task is to bring new life into the world.

To follow discussion on next steps from the gathering, click here.

— Stephen Blackmer is a student from the Diocese of New Hampshire at Berkeley Divinity School. Prior to going to seminary, he worked for 30 years in forest conservation and rural community development in northern New England and New York.

 

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Deforestation, intensive storms and floods show effects of climate change in Dominican Republic

Reposted from Episcopal News Service http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79425_126122_ENG_HTM.htm

By Lynette Wilson, December 09, 2010

[Episcopal News Service – San Pedro, Dominican Republic] It is estimated that by 2050, 80 percent of the rivers in the Dominican Republic will have dried up unless something is done to stop deforestation and develop a strategy to slow climate change, said Silvio Minier of Oxfam.

Minier, a former Jesuit priest who now works in advocacy and programs for Oxfam based in Santo Domingo, addressed the Episcopal Climate Justice Gathering Dec. 8, giving an overview of the local effects of climate change.

More than 30 people — mostly Anglicans and Episcopalians and a few ecumenical seminarians — from Cuba, the United States, Ecuador, Panama, Colombia, Haiti, Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic are meeting Dec. 7-10 at the Bishop Kellogg Center to explore intersection between poverty and climate change, and perhaps frame the conversation in terms of “climate justice.” The meeting is convened by Bishop Marc Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California, and Bishop Naudal Gomes, Diocese of Curitiba, Brazil.

The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and is crisscrossed by three mountain ranges. In the 1980s, Dominicans migrated to cities from rural areas; 50 percent of the population now lives in cities and surrounding areas, Minier explained, as translated from Spanish.

Some cause and effect can be quantified, Minier continued.

Forests areas surrounding cities have been clear cut to make way for agriculture. Over the last 10 years both the dry season and the rainy season have lengthened. Desertification and deforestation have increased the danger and severity of floods – rivers crest their banks, destroying crops and livelihoods. Water levels in Lake Enriquillo, the country’s largest, along with Lake Sumatra in Haiti, have risen more in the last five years than in the previous 200. Hurricanes and tropical storms have strengthened and wrought havoc, Minier said.

As an example of flood severity, Minier shared a photo from a storm in 2007 that showed flood waters at roof-top levels; adding that the photo was taken in a flat area and that in mountainous regions, floods are even more severe.

“The Dominican Republic is the eighth country in the world that will be most affected by climate change,” Minier said, adding that governments are not doing anything, and that the local environmental council has studied climate change’s effects on the coast and tourism, but not on poor people and agriculture.

The Episcopal-Anglican gathering coincides with the U.N. Climate Change Conference of world leaders who are nearing the end of a second week of climate talks in Cancún, Mexico, to attempt to hammer out the details of an agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions that would replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

At the 2009 U.N. conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, negotiators failed to reach a binding deal to replace the protocol. Developing nations are pushing for a second phase of the Kyoto agreement, including deeper emissions cuts. Developed countries, including Japan, Russia and Canada, have said they will not accept further cuts.

In Cancún, nations have been unable to agree on key issues, such as reducing emissions and monitoring other nations’ adherence to reducing emissions, and the specifics on a disaster fund for developing countries, could potentially mean another Copenhagen-style failure to come to an accord, according to news reports.

Oxfam works with partners in the Dominican Republic to mitigate the effects of disaster before disaster happens, but so far the government, Minier said, only responds to disaster and has not made progress towards prevention.

When asked what the church can do to help, Minier explained that people need to be made to realize their role in what is happening and that the government, which is doing some things, needs to be pushed to do more.

And he stressed, “You can’t have plans for climate change reduction without including women and food security.”

— Lynette Wilson is an ENS staff writer.

 

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Climate justice is focus of four-day Episcopal/Anglican gathering in Dominican Republic

Reposted from Episcopal News Service….

By Lynette Wilson, December 06, 2010

[Episcopal News Service] Anglican and Episcopal leaders from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean are arriving Dec. 6 in the Dominican Republic for a four-day gathering to explore the intersection between poverty and climate change.

“We’re hoping to change the conversation in the church from one of climate change to climate justice,” said the Rev. P. Joshua “Griff” Griffin, environmental justice missioner in the Diocese of California and one of the conference’s organizers.

Representatives from Cuba, the United States, Ecuador, Panama, Colombia, Haiti, Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic will meet Dec. 7-10 at the Bishop Kellogg Center in San Pedro de Macorís, east of the capital Santo Domingo, for the first Episcopal Climate Justice Gathering, convened by Bishop Marc Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California, and Bishop Naudal Gomes, Diocese of Curitiba, Brazil.

Click here for the gathering’s blog.

The gathering in the Dominican Republic will take place as world leaders convene a second week of climate talks in Cancún, Mexico, for the 2010 U.N. Climate Change Conference, which kicked off Nov. 29. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, signed and ratified by 191 nations — the United States signed but didn’t ratify it — is set to expire in 2012. The protocol commits 37 industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent (below 1990 levels) by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

At the 2009 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, negotiators failed to reach a binding deal to cut greenhouse gases when Kyoto expires. Developing nations are pushing for a second phase of the protocol, including deeper emissions cuts of up to 40 percent by 2020.

Anglicans and Episcopalians meeting in the Dominican Republic in parallel with world leaders in Mexico is “symbolic,” said Mike Schut, the Episcopal Church’s economic and environmental affairs officer, in a telephone interview.

“If governments are not going to get it together, it’s time for grassroots awareness building and action,” he said. “This time together in the Dominican Republic could be one significant way to make that happen on an international level.”

The gathering, in fact, is the result of a companion diocese relationship between the Episcopal Diocese of California and the Anglican Diocese of Curitiba, in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, Griffin said, in a telephone interview.

The gathering’s participants will share information from their own countries; look at climate justice from diverse perspectives; consider the climate change issue in the Dominican Republic; discuss the intersection of Christian theology and climate justice; and explore commitments to work together.

In addition to forming partnerships, the hope, Griffin added, is for the gathering “to build relationships that could be the fabric, the root, of a church- and communion-wide network for climate justice.”

Christians are called to take care of creation, said Gomes, in an e-mail.

The church, Gomes added, must work with the United Nations and civic and other organizations to change habits and use technology to reverse the damage humans have had on the environment.

“The church cannot remain outside this call, and other organizations of society should be positioned to act, so that decisions of our governments, which are political decisions, are actually carried out,” he said.

Shared faith and companion relationships have the potential to effect great change, said Andrus, in a telephone interview.

“[Archbishop of Canterbury] Rowan Williams wrote a number of years ago that it takes a global body to address global challenges,” Andrus said. “The communion — before the tensions that have caught our minds the last few years — was a virtual communion; we didn’t really function together.

“The attention that we’ve placed on the existence of the communion over the last few years gives us the chance to be a functioning body regarding globalized challenges. A great deal can be done and has to be done by individuals and congregations in their local context, but we also have to see how we can coordinate efforts across our shared faith and commitments … This presents a great possibility.”

— Lynette Wilson is an ENS staff writer.

 

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An Advent Prayer of Hope from our Sisters and Brothers in Vermont…

To our Episcopal Brothers and Sisters meeting in

Bishop Kellogg Conference Center, San Pedro de Macorís,

Dominican Republic

An Advent Prayer of Hope

O God, Creator, Sustainer, Judge and Lover of all your Creation,

Inspiration and Life-giver through Jesus who shares with us in Earthly life,

We acknowledge our utter dependence upon You and Your creation for life itself.

We thank You, we praise You for the mystical workings of the whole community of life, and

express our sorrow for the pain we cause to You and Your whole creation.

As we live through Advent,

we seek new hearts and understanding to live more gently as part of Your Creation.

 

We humbly beseech you, O Holy Spirit, O Wisdom,

to move through Earth and her wondrous community of life,

to touch and enliven this gathering of your faithful,

that they may amplify your life-giving Word.

Bring Your power, Wisdom and judgment alive in all those who are tired, fearful or cynical.

Pierce the hearts of those leaders of nations gathered in Cancun

that they may gain new understanding from the troubled, beleaguered waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Grant to the world’s leaders, having failed their task in Copenhagen,

a heightened sense of urgency to govern responsibly,

to protect Earth Community

from our stubborn, dangerous path of wanton consumption of Earth’s gifts,

the waning legacy of Your ancient, precious creation.

This we pray in the name of Jesus, who keeps leading us through the darkness, teaching us new ways, bringing us to the Light.

AMEN

–from Members of The Earth Care Ministry

of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Episcopal, Burlington, VT, USA

Sylvia Knight, The Venerable Catherine Cooke, Robert K. Wright,

Travis Puller, Elizabeth Emerson, James P. Vos,

David H. Turner, The Rev. Dr. Nancy Bloomer

 

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Building a movement for climate justice in the Episcopal Church

reposted from: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/80050_125944_ENG_HTM.htm

By P. Joshua ‘Griff’ Griffin, November 30, 2010

[Episcopal News Service] When the “externalities” of fossil fuel production and consumption cause suffering for our neighbor, is it still possible to live ethically in a fossil fuel economy? What is the ecological debt owed by those affluent segments of human society to those who live in material need? These are some of the questions that will be considered at a landmark gathering this December.

Unfortunately, I’m not speaking of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), 16th Conference of the Parties (COP 16) taking place in Cancún, Mexico. Rather, I’m talking about a parallel gathering of Episcopalians and Anglicans being convened by the bishops of two companion dioceses from Dec. 7-10 in San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic.

In San Pedro, Bishop Marc Andrus, of California, and the Bishop Naudal Gomes, of Curitiba, Brazil, hope to raise the banner of climate justice to the church and the world. The intersections of poverty and catastrophic climate change will be the focus for the four-day theological reflection and dialogue in which participants will begin to discern how our church might model justice and global reconciliation given the harsh ecological realities facing our world.

The two companion bishops Gomes and Andrus, will also be joined by bishops from Central Ecuador, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Panama.  The meeting will draw lay and ordained representatives from six additional Episcopal dioceses, as well as the Episcopal Church Center, the Anglican Province of Brasilia, the Consejo Latinamericano de Iglesias (CLAI), Yale Divinity School and the Dominican diocesan seminary, El Centro de Estudios Teologicos (CET). Proceedings from the gathering, including video, will be posted in near real time at the new blog.

As the U.N. gathers in Cancún, as in Copenhagen, NGOs and grassroots activists are also on hand calling for a just, binding, and ambitious treaty, based on scientific data.  But prospects are even lower than they were a year ago. The most vulnerable nations of the world — small island nations, most of the Global South, and indigenous groups — will once again make impassioned pleas for their survival. And once again, overdeveloped countries, and countries with aspirations to “develop” in a particular way, will dominate the discourse.

In particular, the politicians who govern the United States, are unlikely to address climate change in any way which would challenge the exceptional global dominance they currently enjoy. In an effort to find some pragmatic traction within the limited public discourse in the United States, some make the case that addressing climate change is an issue of national security. It may be so, but the self-preserving logic of the nation state is anathema to a Christian ethic, which reminds us that the Christian life is anything but secure.

In this season of Advent, as we await the coming of an infant who would be born in a stable, to refugee parents, I am reminded of our universal human vulnerability. Likewise, I would suggest that when it comes to environmentalism, as Christians we have a moral obligation to privilege the life-experience of the most ecologically vulnerable communities.

We needn’t look past our own communion for examples: amid the abundance of corporate monocultures, Anglicans in Brazil struggle for food sovereignty. We needn’t look past the Episcopal Church: in arctic Alaska, in Kivalina, our sisters and brothers are in danger of losing their homes, parish, and their very lives, as the permafrost melts out from under them. No, we needn’t look past our own dioceses. In California, where I live and work, those Episcopalians who live, play, and worship in Rodeo, Crockett, and Richmond suffer the “externalities” of oil production as they breathe contaminants from nearby oil refineries.

In our ministries we must seek solidarity with the ecologically marginalized. As baptized Christians, having pledged before God to “strive for justice and peace among all people,” through advocacy, organizing, and service, we must further the struggle for justice –climate justice.

— The Rev. P. Joshua Griffin is the environmental justice missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of California.

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