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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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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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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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