Tag Archives: climate justice

Proposed Resolution for the 77th General Convention: Climate Justice for all God’s People and all God’s Creation.

Title: The Episcopal Church commits to Climate Justice for all God’s People and all God’s Creation.

Resolved, the House of ________ concurring, That the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church stands in solidarity with those communities who bear the greatest burdens of global climate change: indigenous peoples, subsistence communities, communities of color, and persons living in deprivation around the world; and be it further

Resolved, That the 77th General Convention calls on congregations, institutions, dioceses, and corporate offices of The Episcopal Church, to organize and advocate for local, state, federal, and international policies to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions, that such policies be based on the best available scientific consensus, and that they provide tangible benefits to overburdened “frontline” communities (those already experiencing the impacts of climate change) and “fence-line” communities (those suffering in body and spirit for their proximity to the extraction and processing of fossil fuels); and be it further

Resolved, That the 77th General Convention calls on congregations, institutions, dioceses, and corporate offices of The Episcopal Church, to work for the just transformation of the world’s energy beyond and away from fossil fuels (including all forms of oil, coal, and natural gas) and toward safe, sustainable, renewable, community controlled energy, and that fossil fuel workers and their families be supported during the transition to a “post-carbon” society; and be it further

Resolved, That the 77th General Convention calls on congregations, institutions, dioceses, and corporate offices of The Episcopal Church to resist the development and expansion of ever more unconventional, dangerous, and environmentally destructive sources of fossil fuel, including, but not limited to: mountain-top removal coal mining in Appalachia, expanded coal strip-mining in the Intermountain West, offshore oil-drilling, especially in the Arctic, ongoing “tar-sands” development throughout North America, and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas; and be it further

Resolved, That the 77th General Convention calls on congregations, institutions, dioceses, and corporate offices of The Episcopal Church to support the self-determined aspirations of communities around the world, who, like the Iñupiaq Community of Kivalina, Alaska, having emitted minimal amounts of carbon and having received negligible material benefit from fossil fuel consumption, nevertheless bear the brunt of climate-change impacts; and be it further

Resolved, That the 77th General Convention calls on congregations, institutions, dioceses, and corporate offices of The Episcopal Church, including Episcopal Relief and Development, to support the implementation of grassroots, community-based solutions to climate change, including, but not limited to, adaptations to improve local resilience, to build local food sovereignty, to support ecological restoration and economic re-localization.


Especially since 2004, the Iñupiaq community of Kivalina has been ever-increasingly at-risk  because of global climate change. Loss of sea ice has led to increased coastal erosion, land failure, and unreliable, if not perilous, conditions for the practice of subsistence hunting.  Climate change is the latest of environmentally mediated “historical traumas” to descend upon Kivalina in the name of progress and development—these include the ongoing water and fish pollution from the worlds largest zinc mine (the Red Dog Mine), and the community’s near annihilation through a narrowly defeated project of nuclear hubris, known as “Project Chariot”.   In July 2012, Shell Oil is slated to begin oil exploration of the Chukchi Sea—the deepest source of Iñupiaq food, cultural identity and spirituality alike.  Recognizing that Kivalina is but one community which exposes the violence of climate change, the Kivalina Epiphany Church, through this resolution of its Mission Committee, cries out for “climate justice” for all God’s People and for all God’s Creation.

We affirm past efforts and commitments of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church (2006-B002 Response to Global Warming, 2009-D035 Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, 2009-D014 Environmental Justice, 2009-C070 Memorializing the Genesis Covenant, 2009-C064 Endorsement of the Earth Charter, 2009-C012 Scientific Integrity and Environmental Policy, 2009-C011 Governmental Policies for Environmental Stewardship, 2009-A155 Alleviation of Domestic Poverty). We especially take heart in the Bishops’ Pastoral Teaching on the Environment, adopted in Quito in September of 2011 (page 52-54 in “the Blue Book”), which calls on the Church “to work toward climate justice”; we submit this resolution in faithfulness to their pastoral leadership.

As indigenous followers of Jesus, we are emboldened by the 76th General Convention’s repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery and regard new and continued fossil fuel exploration and extraction as a contemporary manifestation of that evil Doctrine, abiding by the very same logic of “manifest destiny.” Such practices add insult to injury when they are carried out in proximity to already vulnerable populations, like Shell’s oil exploration in our Chukchi Sea. We recognize that we are but one of the many climate-vulnerable communities around the world.  It is clear to us that the dominant global culture is in need of a dramatic overhaul—the scope of which may be difficult for those who “hold authority” to imagine, let alone enact—yet as Christians we are called not simply to imagine but to make God’s Kingdom incarnate.

We recognize and affirm the urgent aspirations of environmentally vulnerable communities around the world. To such communities the Episcopal Church has a duty of solidarity and Christian love.  We believe that such networks of compassion and support within the Body of Christ may be our last best chance at survival. We call upon the Episcopal Church at every level to live into its prophetic voice for climate justice as part and parcel of our baptismal commitment to “justice and peace among all people” and to “respect the dignity of every human being.”


You may view the Episcopal Digital Network’s coverage of Kivalina HERE.


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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

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.


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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Disobedience: direct action on global warming, by Bill McKibben

From the Christian Century.

Dec 27, 2010 by Bill McKibben

If there was ever an issue about which civil disobedience should not be required, global warming is it.

It’s not like the civil rights movement, in which protesters had to break through encrusted millennia of ugly habit, making the kind of dramatic and courageous stand that forced the rest of the nation to see them as real, vital, equal. Seeing black southerners set on by dogs, tossed sideways by fire hoses—somehow it managed finally to get across the notion that these were people. It made sense that preachers were at the head of the fight: this was a moral issue ultimately—the moral issue.

By contrast, global warming is, or should be, dry science, an entirely rational question that should be addressed by economists, engineers, scientists working on our behalf and with our thanks; a democratic process, difficult but not controversial. No one has a prejudice against chemistry, an animus about physics. A moral issue? Almost the opposite. Opinion isn’t the issue; no one’s heart should need changing.

But it’s not happening. For 20 years now scientists and engineers and even many economists have spoken with rare unanimity: we need to use much less fossil fuel, and very quickly. They’ve coalesced around a fairly straightforward plan: make fossil fuel pay for the damage it’s doing to the planet, so that we start quickly to shift toward renewable energy. We have to work speedily, because the damage from global warming is already under way; in fact, two years ago NASA scientists gave us the bad news that we were already past the threshold for real danger: above 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere, they warned, we were in serious trouble from flood, fire, melt. We’re at 390 ppm now and rising two parts per million per year, which is precisely why we’re suffering through summers like 2010: 19 nations set new temperature records, drought devastated Russia and convinced the Kremlin to end all grain exports; record rainfalls put 7 million Pakistanis out of their homes. Global warming is under way, and unless we act very quickly the damage will get far worse; on its current path, our atmosphere will hold nearly 1,000 parts per million CO2 by century’s end. That is to say, it will be a strange and dangerous place.

So why are we doing nothing? There are many answers. We’re used to our way of life, so inertia gets in the way. But that’s not the whole picture. Part of it is that the financial power of the fossil fuel industry gets in the way of rational political action. It has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying and advertising—half a billion, by some accounts, just to convince the Senate not even to take a vote on the very mild global warming bill that was before it last summer. It’s managed to obscure the science and drain the sense of urgency from the debate in this country; as a result, last year’s Copen­hagen conference on climate ended in failure, and the prospects for engaging the rest of the planet grow ever dimmer. (Happily, some nations are making halting progress on their own—the Chinese, for instance, though building coal-fired power plants, are also by some counts investing $700 billion in renewable energy programs; when 250 million Chinese take a shower now, the hot water comes from solar panels on their roofs.)

We’ve made the science of climate one more political football—just another issue we square off over, as if physics was simply one more interest group. As things stand, we are nowhere near taking the decisive action that might give us a chance of avoiding the most devastating kinds of warming; as coral bleaches, deserts grow and ice sheets melt across the planet, we’re just marking time.

Which is why some of us have been thinking it may be necessary to mount a campaign of mass action, of civil protest, of dignified disobedience. Its goal would not be to shut down the fossil fuel system—that system is much too big and too pervasive to be shut down, since it powers every action we take from the moment we wake up. The campaign’s aim, instead, would be much simpler: to demonstrate the sense of urgency that this issue requires. It would be in the nature of a witness.

Exactly where that witness makes most sense is an open question. Perhaps outside a few of the coal-fired power plants that spew the most carbon into the atmosphere—plants we no longer need, save to bolster the profits of the utilities that own them. Perhaps outside the headquarters of the fossil fuel billionaires that fund the cynical disinformation campaigns. (For instance, Charles and David Koch, brothers at the helm of an enormous energy empire, have become the bankroll for every organization fighting legislation on climate change, as Jane Mayer demonstrated in the New Yorker earlier this year.) Perhaps outside the offices of those congresspeople who have done the most to block progress.

The where is less important for the moment than the how. Civil disobedience is a tactic that’s in decline, because we’ve forgotten certain truths about how to use it honestly and effectively. Maybe the most important of these is: it’s a last resort, a step we use when other avenues are exhausted.

I’ve been writing and speaking about climate change for a quarter century; I’ve watched as endless panels of eminent scientists have gone before Congress to tell the truth about what’s happening to the planet. At 350.org we’ve organized the most widespread days of political action in the planet’s history. This past October we had 7,400 “work parties” in 188 nations, where people put up solar panels and laid out bike paths—and implored their leaders to get to work too. A coalition of Amer­ican environmental groups last year proposed a mild and tame climate bill—a baby step in the direction we need to travel. They lobbied for it ceaselessly, but in the tidal wave of fossil fuel money, a cowardly Senate refused even to take a vote on the bill. I think we’re justified to press our cause in new ways.

But we’re not justified in doing it carelessly. Advocates like Thomas Friedman and Al Gore have called for students to stage sit-ins outside power plants, and I appreciate their urgency. But I don’t think college kids should be the cannon fodder this time around. For one thing, it’s not really their fault, not yet: it’s those of us who have spent decades pouring carbon into the atmosphere who really need a way to show our remorse. In an ever-tougher economy, it’s not fair to impose an arrest record on someone who hasn’t even landed his first job; those of us with a little more security need to lead the way.

So if I’m going to be involved in this kind of battle, I know who I want by my side, at least at first: those of us born in, say, the Eisenhower administration or before. Many of us participated or watched as the civil rights movement pioneered these tactics and understand that their power derives in no small measure from the dignity that marked those events. I don’t wear a necktie very often, but if I’m going to get arrested, I’m going to have mine neatly knotted.

The lesson we need above all to communicate is this: people asking for action on climate change are not radicals. Just the opposite—they’re in some sense deep conservatives. What’s radical is to double the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and just see what happens—no one, not Marx or Mao, has ever proposed a change as radical as that. Those radicals backed by the fossil fuel industry flirt with destroying the planet’s physical systems, and they do it so a few of us can keep our particular way of life a decade or two longer; that’s not just radical, it’s so deeply irresponsible that there’s really no precedent.

Having been given this earth to keep and protect—dominion over a living planet—we’re on the verge of wiping away much of creation. In the process we’re already making life impossible for millions of our poorest brothers and sisters. This is not just radical, it’s a kind of blasphemy. Global warming shouldn’t be a moral question, but because of our inaction it’s become the greatest moral challenge of our time.

From the Christian Century.

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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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