From Ash Wednesday to Easter
Christians traditionally fast during the 40 days of Lent, abstaining from certain foods, drinks or luxuries. Increasingly, this spiritual discipline is understood less as punishment or deprivation and more as a practice to help us grow in freedom to love God with our whole heart, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Fasting becomes a way to set us free from habits of craving and self-centeredness that limit our capacity to love.
Earth is groaning because high-consuming individuals and nations are over-extracting, depleting and exhausting her resources. The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Shade invites us to see fasting as a form of resistance to mindless consumption, colonialist greed and capitalist engorgement. In her blog post, “Ash Wednesday and Lent: Fasting for Earth as Resistance to Oppression," she invites us to explore the lectionary texts for Lent through the “green lens” of eco-theology.
The Creation Care Justice Network invites us all, clergy and laity alike, to explore a variety of Lenten spiritual practices that embody our longing for creation justice and the Beloved Community and help us restore our minds, bodies, communities and planet as we journey to Easter.
Observing the season
What is the fast or spiritual discipline that God would choose for you? Here are some ideas to consider. Find others in the "Sustainable Life" resource list. These suggestions are from the Creation Care Justice Network.
- Attend the online Lenten retreat, “Healing Judgment,” on Saturday, March 18, 9:30 a.m.-noon. Register here for this free event led by the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas.
- Subscribe to "Renewing God’s Creation: Daily Meditations for Lent." This collection of quotes and images for the 40 days of Lent invites us to reflect on our relationships with God, each other and the Earth upon which all life depends.
- Lenten calendars, like this one from Creation Justice Ministries, provide daily invitations to "Pray, Learn and Act" on many issues, often with links to more information.
- For a more in-depth study, either as an individual or in a small group, here are two books:
• Wild Hope: Stories for Lent from the Vanishing, by Gayle Boss, introduces readers to 25 endangered animals, suggesting that hope, though wild, is not impossible and is already loose in the world. This title is available as an audio book. A short discussion guide is also available.
• Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth, by Debra Rienstra, provides a way we can help to heal our climate-altered planet and inspire others to do the same. This title is also available as an e-book.
- Consider a carbon fast for Lent, like this one from Climate Stewards.
- Or act on a suggestion from the South African Green Anglican Lenten Calendar 202Tree. Previous calendars are listed on their resource page.
- “Banking on Our Future” is a national campaign sponsored by Third Act to bring pressure on financial institutions. This is a great option for those who are frustrated by the fossil-fuel investments of major financial institutions. Their pledge allows everyone to participate, and in-person events are planned across the state for Tuesday, March 21. Check the Third Act website, "Sustainable Life" or the Diocese of Western Massachusetts Creation Care Network e-news for event registrations and details as they become available.
Creation Care Justice Network
We are Episcopal clergy and lay people across Massachusetts, working together to help our congregations PRAY, LEARN, ACT and ADVOCATE on behalf of God's creation and to mobilize a robust, justice-centered response to the ecological and climate emergency.
For over a year the Creation Care Justice Network has been working to develop a tool for congregations called “An Episcopal Path to Creation Justice.” Our goal is to create an accessible, appealing program that will guide congregations to PRAY, LEARN, ACT and ADVOCATE in ways that are faithful to our Gospel call to love God’s creation and to build a more just, safe and healthy future for all. We hope to share more in the coming months. In the meantime, you are invited to get started by selecting activities from the "Sustainable Life" resource list. Sign up here to get connected with the network and receive its email updates about the Path and other activities.
Here is a short video that frames our mission: a call to climate action in Massachusetts. Please take a look, and then sign up to join our network! Whether you're an experienced climate activist or just beginning to be concerned about the health of our soils, forests, water and air--to say nothing of the human and other-than-human creatures whose lives depend on them--we need your skills and input as we work together to protect the web of life that God entrusted to our care.
If you join the Creation Care Justice Network, you'll receive a monthly newsletter, Green Justice News.
- Sign up here to get connected with the network and receive its e-mail updates.
Ready to roll up your sleeves, leap into action and make some new friends? You're invited to join a working group:
- Action and Advocacy works with groups such as Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light to encourage church and community action and policy changes.
- Spiritual Practice and Grounding offers prayers, liturgies and practices to engage with creation and a theology that centers environmental wholeness.
- Communications and Networking focuses on developing a stronger network among congregations and diocesan groups around creation and climate justice.
For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
If another meeting is more than you can manage, please fill out this short survey to help us learn more about our collective Episcopal community here in Massachusetts.
Meet our diocese's creation care advisor
The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas serves as a liaison to the Creation Care Justice Network. She works in both Episcopal dioceses in Massachusetts and the Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ to build emotional and spiritual resilience as we mobilize action to address climate emergency. To invite her to preach, lead a retreat or speak in your church, contact her at email@example.com or 413-341-3566.
She maintains a website, RevivingCreation.org, which includes blog posts, articles, sermons, books, schedule and more. You can sign up for her monthly newsletter, Creation Care Network e-news and get a message on the first of the month that includes opportunities to learn, pray, act and advocate for the earth.
Massachusetts bishops declare climate emergency
On March 23, 2021, the bishops of the Episcopal dioceses of Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts declared a climate emergency. From their declaration:
“We believe that God is calling us all to embrace brave and difficult change. Everything we do as faithful individuals and as a church must reckon with the unprecedented emergency in which humanity now finds itself.
“We therefore encourage all Episcopalians to explore The Episcopal Church’s Covenant for the Care of Creation , a commitment to practice loving formation, liberating advocacy, and life-giving conversation as individuals, congregations, ministries, and dioceses.
“We strongly urge congregations across Massachusetts to pray, learn, act, and advocate as we build a bold and faith-filled response to the greatest moral challenge of our time.”
Read the bishops’ full declaration and their suggested actions and resources here.
View recordings of four webinars on responding to the climate emergency here.
"For the Protection of Creation":
Three of the world's top Christian leaders--Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welbe, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew--issued a "Joint Message for the Protection of Creation" ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021. This extraordinary ecumenical statement calls on individuals to make meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the planet and asks those in positions of power to lead the transition to just and sustainable economies.
Find the full statement here.
Green Loans and Fossil Fuel Free Fund
Diocesan Green Loans are low-interest loans of up to $100,000 that enable congregations to make energy-efficient changes to their buildings.
- Green Loans are awarded on a rolling basis.
- Congregations interested in applying for Green Loans will find more information and application materials on the Green Loans page.
Fossil Fuel Free Fund: For information about investment opportunities with this broadly diversified portfolio, contact Charlie Jordan, Investment Coordinator, Trustees of Donations (firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-482-4826, ext. 307).
Sustaining Earth, Our Island Home Carbon Tracker
Want to know what your household's carbon output is and how you can reduce it? Want to get others in your congregation and community to work together to reduce your combined carbon footprint? The Episcopal Church's "Sustaining Earth, Our Island Home" online carbon tracker can help.
Go to www.sustainislandhome.org, scroll down to "Massachusetts Diocese" and then click on the "Join the Challenge" button below Bishop Gates's video and letter. The tracker is organized by diocese, congregation, city and region.
- Episcopal Church creation care webpage: The Episcopal Church's "Covenant for the Care of Creation" is a commitment to practice loving formation, liberating advocacy and life-giving conversation as individuals, congregations, ministries and dioceses. Explore the covenant here and sign up for the newsletter and opportunities to formally adopt the covenant in your community.
- Creation care action alerts and advocacy resources, courtesy of The Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations
- Diocese of Western Massachusetts webpage for creation care includes resources on PRAY, LEARN, ACT, ADVOCATE; Earth Day, Creation Season and more.
- Massachusetts Interfaith Power and Light: Offers energy assessments for houses of worship; fees for energy assessment are charged on a sliding scale. Also works to mobilize faith communities to advocate strong climate legislation in Massachusetts.
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Episcopalians Caring for Creation hosted by Episcopalians in the Diocese of Massachusetts
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