The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops issued quite a challenge when they presented this Environmental Pastoral Teaching in September 2011 while convening in Quito, Ecuador. The good news is the Maryland Episcopal Environmental Partners (MEEP) team has created the GreenGrace program, described below, to support our Episcopal community in practicing sustainability and furthering our connection to God’s creation.
My first suggestion is to take the time to closely read this very important Pastoral Teaching. Climate change and sustainability are issues of life and death that we can all agree upon. We are called to live our faith and practice a more sustainable way of living in order to fulfill Christ’s commandment to “love one another.”
The Pastoral Teaching’s key points:
Moreover, in order to honor the goodness and sacredness of God’s creation, we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, commit ourselves and urge every Episcopalian:
- To acknowledge the urgency of the planetary crisis in which we find ourselves, and to repent of any and all acts of greed, overconsumption, and waste that have contributed to it.
- To lift up prayers in personal and public worship for environmental justice, for sustainable development, and for help in restoring right relations both among humankind and between humankind and the rest of creation;
- To take steps in our individual lives, and in community, public policy, business, and other forms of corporate decision-making, to practice environmental stewardship and justice, including (1) a commitment to energy conservation and the use of clean, renewable sources of energy; and (2) efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle, and whenever possible to buy products made from recycled materials;
- To seek to understand and uproot the political, social, and economic causes of environmental destruction and abuse; (ii)
- To advocate for a “fair, ambitious, and binding” climate treaty, and to work toward climate justice through reducing our own carbon footprint and advocating for those most negatively affected by climate change.
The GreenGrace program, developed by the Maryland Episcopal Environmental Partners, focuses on the step #3 from above: Taking steps in our lives to practice environmental stewardship.
“Going green” is often easier said than done. We all questions which eco-steps make a difference and where and how do we start to make daily changes?
The GreenGrace online program was developed to explicitly offer clergy, churches and parishioners three simple actions to choose from and complete in six months.
Simple changes, such as switching to green energy through Groundswell or Celebrate God’s Creation Day are all doable, and do make significant impacts and help us living our faith and keep the God’s garden. Here’s one example, in Maryland we are fortunate as we can choose to switch our home’s energy suppliers to green choices. A one-time switch on-line can eliminate almost half of your greenhouse gas emissions; the gases that have caused our world global temperatures to rise by 1.5 ˚F since 1750.
GreenGrace has done the legwork for you, yet the hardest part is left to you, getting it done. GreenGrace program will offer a set of new green actions every 6 months.
GreenGrace will also share our Episcopal community’s successes. Take a peek at the amazing environmental programs in parishes around the Diocese of Maryland.
Thank you for considering GreenGrace ideas and feel free to email the GreenGrace team any ideas and questions to MEEP@episcopalmaryland.org.
The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Bishop of Maryland