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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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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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