A Pastoral Message on Climate Change

A Pastoral Message on Climate Change

The following Pastoral Message on Climate Change has been issued by Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori with the heads for the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the  Evangelical

September 19, 2014

We are united as Christian leaders in our concern for the well-being of our neighbors and of God’s good creation that provides life and livelihood for all God’s creatures. Daily we see and hear the evidence of a rapidly changing climate. Glaciers are disappearing, the polar ice cap is melting, and sea levels are rising. Incidents of pollution created dead zones in seas and the ocean and toxic algae growth in water supplies are occurring with greater frequency. Most disturbingly, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at an unprecedented rate. At the same time we also witness in too many instances how the earth’s natural beauty, a sign of God’s wonderful creativity, has been defiled by pollutants and waste.

Many have reacted to these changes with grief and anger. In their outrage some have understandably focused on the neglect and carelessness, both in private industry and in government regulation, that have contributed to these changes. However, an honest accounting requires a recognition that we all participate both as consumers and investors in economies that make intensive and insistent demands for energy. In addition, as citizens we have chosen to support or acquiesce in policies that shift the burdens of climate change to communities that are most vulnerable to its effects. People who are already challenged by poverty and by dislocation resulting from civil war or famine have limited resources for adapting to climate change’s effects.

While an accounting of climate change that has credibility and integrity must include our own repentance, we find our hope in the promise of God’s own faithfulness to the creation and humankind and in the liberation that comes from God’s promise.

God, who made the creation and made it good, has not abandoned it. Daily the Spirit continues to renew the face of the earth. All who care for the earth and work for the restoration of its vitality can be confident that they are not pursuing a lost cause. We serve in concert with God’s own creative and renewing power.

Moreover, we need not surrender to political ideologies and other modern mythologies that would divide us into partisan factions — deserving and undeserving, powerless victims and godless oppressors. In Christ we have the promise of a life where God has reconciled the human community. In Christ God sets us free from the captivity of blaming and shaming. God liberates us for shared endeavors where we find each other at our best.

While the challenge may seem daunting, the Spirit’s abundant gifts for service empower us to find common cause with people who exercise countless insights and skills, embodied in hundreds of occupations and trades. We have good reason to hope in all the ways God’s grace is at work among us. We can commend ourselves to the work before us with confidence in God’s mercy.

Opportunities to act imaginatively and courageously abound in all our individual callings. The Holy Spirit’s work in us leads us as faithful consumers and investors in a global economy to make responsible choices to reduce energy use, carbon emissions, and the wasteful consumption of water and other natural resources. As citizens, we have voices to use in educating children about the climate and in shaping public and corporate policies that affect the environment. The Spirit has also given us our voices to contribute our witness to public discussion of just and responsible use of natural resources.

We also have the resources and responsibility to act together for the common good, especially for those most vulnerable to the effect of climate change in the spirit of the seventh Millennium Development Goal, “to ensure environmental stability”. World leaders will meet this month in New York for a Climate Summit, and in December in Lima, Peru, to discuss global cooperation on climate change. Working under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), participants in the UNFCCC’s negotiations hope for an agreement in 2015 that will move toward reduction of carbon emissions, development of low carbon technologies, and assistance to populations most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate.

We encourage you to take the initiative to engage decision-makers in this godly work in all arenas of public life — in government and business, in schools and civic organizations, in social media and also in our church life.

We are not powerless to act and we are not alone. “We have the power of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling Spirit of Christ to give us hope and courage.”i

The present moment is a critical one, filled with both challenge and opportunity to act as faithful individuals and churches in solidarity with God’s good creation.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church


Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Presiding Bishop

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz


Anglican Church of Canada


Bishop Susan Johnson

National Bishop

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada


Selfishness results in suffering – a #creation theme


A colleague preached the following at a neighboring church Sunday mordimas canjuraning June 22, 2014. Commenting on Matthew 10: 24-39 he said:

Remember that God is always working behind the scenes on our behalf. If this is the case, who shall we fear? As I said in previous sermons, we live in a consumerist society where the multinationals control everything and the system of globalization remains firmly implanted in the world. A system that is driven by the dollar, perpetuating and continuing to promote injustice, hunger, poverty and contamination due to the indiscriminate destruction of God’s natural resources and of the communities that live on His land. The selfishness of some people results in the suffering of many. Fear not those who continue to destroy God’s creations. As Christians it is our challenge, our duty to defend God’s creation, not only for our sake, but for the sake of generations to come; for the sake of all humanity.

Bravo Dimas. Dimas has been a priest for only a couple of weeks. As a lay person, and in his home country of El Salvador, he lived through the turbulent years following the assassination of Oscar Romero who he quotes with insight and ease. His love people and creation comes through in all his speech and reflection.

May God help us all to speak up, loud and clear as we confront the forces of evil which skulk about in our midst.

Ken Gray

p.s. What was preached in your church on Sunday, June 22? Anything about creation? Just askin’

Creation Care and Baptism in the Anglican Church of Canada

Covenant and care–a baptismal promise to safeguard creation

Jesse Hair, Anglican Church of Canada

September 06, 2013 –

Stef Thomas on Flickr

“Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the Earth?”

“I will, with God’s help.”

With the passing of resolution C001 at this year’s General Synod, these words were added to the baptismal covenant in the Book of Alternative Services (BAS) as the ninth question of the “covenant inquiry.”

Though it quotes directly from the fifth Mark of Mission (part of a framework used to describe and encourage ministry throughout the worldwide Anglican Communion), the addition to the baptismal covenant comes from a grassroots movement in the church.

“Sometimes the national church catches up with what’s going on at the grassroots level, and in some ways that’s what’s happened with this,” says the Very Rev. Louise Peters, dean of Kamloops cathedral in the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior, and mover of the resolution.

“This came from families and young people and adults who were coming to receive baptism, wanted and needed something more, and were asking about our role as stewards of creation. It reflects what the church has been exploring for the last 30 to 40 years—the understanding that to be faithful as Christians and as God’s created beings is to be co-stewards with God.

“There is an enthusiasm out there [for the addition]. In casual conversations I’ve had with people, it’s been ‘Well, absolutely-that makes sense.’ We’ve been having those conversations for quite some time.”

The official process of incorporating this language into the baptismal covenant began with a motion by Peters at 2010’s General Synod, asking that Synod direct Faith, Worship, and Ministry (FWM) to consider the best way to include language recognizing the imperative to care for creation, and to make a recommendation to General Synod in 2013.

In the interim, FWM formed a working group that considered baptismal liturgies from other churches, from other provinces in the Anglican Communion, and read them aloud to each other.

“This is language that needs to be heard and spoken as well as read,” says the Very Rev. Peter Wall, seconder of the 2013 resolution and dean of Niagara.

In the course of this reading, the working group found that there was significant emphasis on creation care in provincial rites from around the world. This year, FWM brought a resolution to General Synod recommending an addition to the baptismal covenant based on the fifth Mark of Mission.

“We had a number of different options in terms of how to look at the language,” says Peters. “We felt that the Mark of Mission, adapted, was the most appropriate. It says it the most succinctly, and also connects us with the Anglican Communion.

“In 40 years the language will be clunky, because language changes. But for now, it’s elegant, it’s articulate, it names what needs to be named in terms of living out our responsibility as Christians in relationship to all of life.”

Naming—and taking up—that responsibility is already a way of life in the Diocese of Niagara.

“We’re doing some really aggressive work in this diocese in matters environmental,” says Wall. “This [addition] actually says it out loud, and requires the people who are participating in the baptism—which is the assembled people of God in the congregation-to actually think about that. To even just make people think about it is a really important thing for us to do.”

Water: the Creator’s sacred gift

May 1, 2013–This article originally appeared in the Ministry Report, an Anglican Journal supplement produced by the Resources for Mission department of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Read online at http://news.anglican.ca/news/stories/2592?utm_source=Anglican+Church+of+Canada&utm_campaign=636cc0310b-email&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6285aca377-636cc0310b-243828149

For most of us, a safe water supply is as Canadian as medicare and the cultural mosaic. But for many indigenous people, clean water is a far cry from reality.

Across Canada, however, Anglicans are beginning to address this issue through anWaterBlessing initiative loosely formed by Bishop Mark MacDonald, national indigenous bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada. MacDonald became aware of an uptick in church interest in 2011 when he raised the water question as keynote speaker at the diocese of Toronto’s annual social justice conference.

“There seemed to be little or no church concern about the water issue, and then all of a sudden, dozens of churches across Canada were interested in advocacy work in clean water for First Nations communities,” says MacDonald, who refers to his role as that of a facilitator.

“Some people just wanted to write a cheque, while others wanted to meet and talk and pray about it,” he recalls.

Now the “water group” meets every couple of months at Trinity Church in Aurora, north of Toronto, in sessions that typically attract about 20 people.

“Right now it’s mainly a spiritual movement, but in a couple of years it may become more of an institution,” he says. “We’re picking up people quickly, and a group is forming in Toronto to help the remote northern Ontario community of Pikangikum with water and other issues.”

The advocates’ ultimate aim is to get the federal government to live up to its legal obligations and spend the estimated $12 billion needed for the infrastructure improvements that will guarantee clean water to indigenous communities. “They refuse to do it,” MacDonald says. “It’s a political hot potato; they don’t want to pick it  up and get stuck with it. But it’s not going to go away.”

The Mennonite Church in Canada has been organizing to put pressure on the government, and the water network is now in conversation with the Assembly of First Nations about the best approach to take with the government.

In the meantime, the group is working on bridge solutions to improve access to clean water or replace broken delivery systems.

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) and other organizations such as trade unions have become involved in this galvanizing issue. PWRDF, for example, is reviewing a plan to raise $100,000 for the Pikangikum Working Group over the spring and summer months. If the proposal is approved, PWRDF will be able to accept designated donations for it.

Sometimes the health problem in First Nations communities lies in a polluted water source; sometimes the water pipes are contaminated. A pilot project involving a couple of churches in the network has raised more than $10,000 so far for interim measures to improve water quality. These might include hiring trucks to deliver clean water, digging wells, and providing clean containers for carrying water, filtering devices for tap water or portable purification kits. “It’s going better than we ever anticipated, and there has been an amazing amount of  interest in Vancouver and Victoria as part of the network,” MacDonald says.

Gaining momentum, the group may soon officially assume the name Pimatisiwin Nipi (Oji-Cree for “living water”), and it will likely hold a national meeting at some point. “But for now, it’s a community of spiritual concern that stays together in conversation,” says MacDonald.

(Above Photo: The Rev. Andrew Wesley makes an offering to Lake Ontario in an adaptation of the Eastern Orthodox Church’s Great Blessing of the Water.)