Christ is risen! Easter coincides this year with a remarkable outpouring of resolve to bear witness to the Lord of life. Determined to preserve the conditions that allow life on this planet to flourish, people are joining hands across boundaries of race and class, listening to each other’s wisdom, pushing for systemic change, and exploring the spiritual resources that will sustain the work ahead.
What better day than today to tell the truth about climate emergency! What better time than now to recognize that business as usual is torturing the earth, its peoples and wildlife – and to declare our commitment to change course! The bishops’ declaration not only lays out the spiritual and theological understanding that impels Christians to care deeply about the earth and her inhabitants – it also provides specific suggestions for urgent action and collaboration. We live out our faith not by spouting beautiful ideas but by living transformed lives. The bishops’ declaration of climate emergency is a call to deep transformation – a call to pray, learn, act, and advocate so that all beings can thrive.
• Interfaith Power & Light: 20th Anniversary Celebration
Wednesday, April 7
8:00 p.m. • Zoom (free)
The celebration will include music, highlights from 20 years of organizing, stories from IPL state affiliates, and a message from The Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Click here to get your free ticket.
• All We Can Save: Book Circle
Four Thursdays in April (April 8, 15, 22, 29)
4:00-5:30 p.m. (Eastern) • Zoom ($20 covers all four sessions; scholarships are available)
The BTS Center is partnering with Montreal City Mission to host a virtual Book Circle to explore All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis. “Each session will be grounded in spiritual curiosity, centered around small-group conversation, and designed to compel hopeful responses to difficult realities. During these four weeks participants are not required to read the entire book. Our aim is to spark connection with the book as a resource of insight and inspiration for the continual task of weaving active care for the earth into our lives and our work.” All We Can Save is a collection of essays, poems, and artwork amplifying feminist voices that help grapple with the existential threats of climate devastation. Learn more and register here.
• Global Just Recovery Gathering
Friday, April 9 – Sunday, April 11 • Zoom (free)
The Global Just Recovery Gathering is a three-day online event hosted by 350.org, with hands-on trainings, interactive workshops, and a powerful lineup of climate leaders from all over the world. Hear from Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, and many more. Registration and full information is here.
• 2021 Interfaith Summit: Healing, Helping, and Building Resilience
Sunday, April 11
2:00 – 4:00 p.m. • Zoom (free)
This is our first opportunity since the release of the bishops’ declaration of climate emergency to learn how congregations in Massachusetts can help their members build resilience from climate impacts such as floods, extreme heat, and severe storms, and from pandemic. Interfaith leaders from the greater Boston area will come together with Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW) to host the third annual interfaith summit on vulnerability and climate change. The schedule, which includes a keynote address by the Rev. Jim Antal, is here. An optional hour of networking from 4:00 - 5:00 pm follows the program. You can register here.
• “Building Emotional and Spiritual Resilience: Pax Christi Spring Retreat”
Led by the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas
Saturday, April 17
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. • Zoom (free) through mail-in form
Last call to join me at this morning retreat! To register, fill out and mail the form. Through a mix of presentations and small group conversations, we will explore a framework for the heart to help us maintain courage and hope as we work to protect the web of life and to build a more just society. If possible, please have available:
- a candle,
- a small object that represents something you love,
- a small object that represents something precious you have lost or fear losing.
The objects can be as simple as a photo, leaf, shell, cross – whatever you like. Offered to everyone at no charge, this retreat is sponsored by Pax Christi MA, Agape Community, and Boston Catholic Climate Movement.
• Earth Day is on Thursday, April 22! Let’s celebrate Earth Sunday on April 18 or April 25.
I hope that congregations in both dioceses will hear a strong Earth Day sermon (on April 18 or 25) about Gospel hope and action in a time of climate crisis. I’ve recorded an Earth Day sermon for Third Sunday of Easter (April 18) that will be available in both dioceses.
• Interfaith Power & Light: Faith Climate Action Week
Friday, April 16-Sunday, April 25
In the days surrounding Earth Day, Interfaith Power & Light will focus its annual Faith Climate Action Week on “Sacred Ground: Cultivating Connections Between Faith, Food, and Climate.” Click here to reserve a copy of your 2021 Faith Climate Action Week kit. The kit includes a Sacred Ground guide with information on how the way we grow our food can help the climate and address injustice. The kit also includes faith-based discussion materials, a free film screening of "Kiss the Ground” (a wonderful movie about how farming for Creation can address the climate crisis), a garden blessing, and other resources. Please be sure to list your congregation's activity on the website. I'm hoping for a big showing from MA!
• Earth Day Network will celebrate Earth Day 2021 with a focus on Restore Our Earth. Sign up for email updates and to find or register an event.
• Ecumenical Advocacy Days, #EAD2021
Sunday, April 18 - Wednesday, April 21 • Zoom (free)
Calling all Advocates! Registration is open for the virtual Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference, an annual gathering for Christian social justice advocates to learn, worship, and speak to pressing issues. The conference ends with an opportunity to meet (virtually) with your member of congress. EAD 2021 will focus on “Imagine God’s Earth and People Restored.” This is our opportunity to support the global movement centered on and led by the people and communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of historic racial and colonial inequities.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will preach at the ecumenical worship service on Sunday, April 18, 2021. The worship service will be shown twice on Sunday, April 18 (10 a.m. & 1 p.m. Eastern) to those who have registered for EAD, and it will be available the week before on EAD’s YouTube channel for congregations to use and share.
Other stellar speakers include:
Rev. Mariama White-Hammond (minister, speaker, and community activist known for her work on environmental, racial, and economic justice issues, and founding pastor, New Roots AME Church, Dorchester), keynote speaker for the 7 p.m. (Eastern) opening celebration, Sunday, April 18
Rev. Mariama White-Hammond
Jacqui Patterson (NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program), keynote speaker for the policy plenary on Tuesday, April 20
Keya Chatterjee (US Climate Action Network, USCAN), keynote speaker for the lobby day on Wednesday, April 21
Workshops will focus on environmental justice, resilience, mitigation, and the many intersections of this climate crisis. Episcopalians have an opportunity to caucus on Monday afternoon. The schedule is available here.
If you are interested in participating in the lobby day and meeting with your members of Congress, you need to register for EAD before April 7, 2021 so that EAD can set up meetings.
• “Earthkeeping: Creation Care in Global Mission”
2021 GEMN Global Mission Conference
Thursday, April 22 (Earth Day) – Saturday, April 24
1:00-4:00 p.m. (Eastern) each day • Zoom (free)
Registration is open for the 2021 Global Mission Conference sponsored by the Global Episcopal Mission Network. This year’s conference will address the urgent question of how Christians can respond to the climate crisis and what we can learn from our mission companions around the world.
Margaret will be the first speaker on Friday, April 23, on the topic “Earth Care, Soul Care: Growing in Spiritual Resilience.”
Other plenary speakers include:
Canon Dr. Rachel Mash (Green Anglicans in South Africa and the Anglican Communion Environmental Network)
The Rev. Leon Sampson (Navajoland)
Bishop Orlando Gomez (Costa Rica)
The Rev. Melanie Mullen (Director of Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care for The Episcopal Church)
For more information, including information about workshops, visit here.
• The Green Sabbath Project is an intriguing new coalition of people and communities of different faiths – and of no particular religious tradition – who observe or celebrate a weekly earth day. Its mission is “to spark a mass movement of observance of a weekly day of rest -- shabbat, sabbath, a green sabbath or a weekly earth day -- on which impact on the environment is minimized as much as possible.” Walter Brueggemann – a theologian that many of us treasure for his groundbreaking reflections on Sabbath and the prophetic imagination – endorses the Green Sabbath Project.
Is there nothing you can do about the environment?
Nothing may be one of the best things you can do.
One day every week. Do nothing.
I invite you to take a look at the Green Sabbath website. Green Sabbath Project will organize a Global Green Sabbath weekend to mark Earth Day: Friday, April 23 - Sunday, April 25. Its goal is to have as many organizations and congregations around the world as possible celebrate a green sabbath day that weekend. Would your congregation like to be one of them?
• “It’s Not Too Late: An Oratorio on the Subject of Climate Change”
Sunday, April 25
4:30 p.m. (panel), 7:30 p.m. (performance) • Zoom (pay what you wish)
Several readers of this newsletter probably remember the premiere in 2019 of Geoffrey Hudson’s stunning choral-orchestral work, A Passion for the Planet, an hour-long oratorio on the subject of planetary crisis. Blending scientific prose, poetry, and sacred texts from many faiths, the libretto traces an arc from beauty and gratitude into darkness and out again into hope. The performance moved many of us to tears. Later that year, several excerpts were performed at the Eucharist we shared at the DioWMA convention, “Holy People, Holy Earth: Restoring God’s Creation.”
I’m excited to participate in this two-part event that brings back A Passion for the Planet. It’s Not Too Late is “an interactive, multimedia experience that delivers a potent blend of science, activism, and art – a microcosm of the coalition converging to change course at this dramatic moment in planetary history.” An afternoon panel will be followed by a fresh presentation of A Passion for the Planet.
A press release with more information is here. To join the conversation, follow the hashtag campaign on Instagram and Twitter #WhatGivesMeHope.
“Prelude: A Conversation on Earth Optimism” 4:30 p.m.
Join A Passion for the Planet composer Geoffrey Hudson, climate scientist Michael E. Mann, activist Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, and others as they discuss the climate emergency and explore just solutions. There is a lot of work to be done, and we are capable of doing it. There is still time to create a better future. And that work is underway all around us. What gives you hope?
“A Passion for the Planet” 7:30 p.m.
The show begins with composer Geoffrey Hudson teaching the audience to sing a simple tune. Next is the viewing of A Passion for a Planet, with director’s-cut-style annotations by Hudson and climate scientist Michael E. Mann. The eco-oratorio ends with audience members and performers joining to sing the tune learned at the top of the program.
• Good News Gardens: “Tending the Garden, Tending the Soul”
Tuesday, April 27
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. • Zoom (free)
Margaret will lead this month’s Good News Gardens webinar. How can tending a Good News Garden become a form of spiritual practice? How does experiencing a more embodied spirituality affect our perception of the Divine? Is it possible that growing a handful of tomato plants – or a big vegetable garden – can actually heal our souls? Join the conversation!
The team planning Good News Gardens in the Diocese of Western MA includes the Rev. Anna Woofenden (Program Director), the Rev. Heather Blais, the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, the Rev. Rachel Field (Farm Educator), and Melanie Cortis (Project Manager). Photo: submitted.
• American Climate Leadership Summit 2021 (#ACLS2021)
Tuesday, April 27 - Thursday, April 29 • Zoom (variable fee)
At a time of unprecedented challenge and opportunity, Eco-America’s tenth annual climate leadership summit will bring together 1,000+ climate leaders to help accelerate our transition to climate solutions.
Please join me on Tuesday, April 27, 12:15-5:15 p.m., to listen to an important conversation about faith and climate. Faith leaders, including (among others) Rev. Mariama White-Hammond and Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, will share their wisdom to support accelerated climate action.
Meanwhile, please check out free resources from Blessed Tomorrow such as Let’s Talk Faith and Climate (how to communicate to people of faith about the climate crisis) and Blessed Tomorrow Moving Forward Guide (how to build a resilient congregation).
• Climate Emergency Declaration Webinars
Four Wednesdays in May (May 5, 12, 19, 26)
7:00 – 8:15 p.m. • Zoom (free)
Registration is open for four webinars, held every Wednesday in May, to support the Climate Emergency Declaration recently issued by the Bishops of the Diocese of Massachusetts and Diocese of Western Massachusetts. Each 75-minute webinar will focus on a plank of the declaration: PRAY (May 5), LEARN (May 12), ACT (May 19) and ADVOCATE (May 26.) These interactive webinars, hosted by the Creation Care Justice Network of the Diocese of Massachusetts and the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, will include presentations, discussion and suggested actions. If you can't attend all four webinars, recordings will be made available.
• “The Climate Emergency: Bringing Head, Hands, and Heart to the Struggle”
Saturday, May 8
3:00 - 5:00 p.m. • Zoom (free)
The U.N.’s IPCCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports that in order to avert climate catastrophe, we must transform our society and economy at a pace and scale that are historically unprecedented. The fight to accomplish this transformation will evoke inner and outer conflicts. In this workshop, two long-time climate justice activists will report on what they have learned along the way and invite participants to share their own insights. Rev. Mariama White-Hammond will discuss how she approaches the conflicts that inevitably arise within and between communities and interest groups as we fight for a just and sustainable future. Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas will discuss how she approaches the inner conflicts that the climate crisis can evoke (for instance, how to work with anxiety, grief, anger, and guilt).
This workshop is offered by The Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership (also known as the “Truth School”), which offers classes to individuals and groups with the goal of promoting and facilitating concrete movement-building. The School seeks to teach the organizing skills necessary to equip people to be active, effective, and empowered. Every class is taught by a person of color, and some classes (such as this one) are taught by biracial pairs. All classes meet on Zoom. Registered participants will receive the link the day before the class takes place. Register here.
• Would you like to offer an adult ed program in response to our bishops’ declaration of climate emergency? Consider showing a new 30-minute video that I prepared, “Christians Advocate for Climate Health.” The video discusses six ways that Christians can engage in public advocacy for climate health, and it comes with a list of resources and a group study guide. The video is intended to help individuals and congregations discern how God is calling them to become actively involved in the struggle to address the climate emergency.
• Love the Earth. Love your forests!
• Breaking news! At the time of this writing, we just learned that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection revoked approval for the proposed Palmer biomass plant in Springfield! This is a big victory for the residents of Springfield and for everyone who cares about environmental justice and clean air! Activists in Springfield and beyond fought this project for over a decade. Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen.
(The Rev. Dr.) Margaret Bullitt-Jonas
Missioner for Creation Care (Episcopal Diocese of Western Mass. & Southern New England Conference, UCC)
Creation Care Advisor (Episcopal Diocese of Mass.)