Creation Care Network E-news
November 2020
Message from Margaret...
Dear friends,

• Today is All Saints Day and I thank God for the ancestors who brought us this far. They open their hands to us, and we take hold of their companionship and support. Strengthened by the bond of love that reaches into the past and sustains us now, we reach out to the future and commit ourselves to being good ancestors to all who come after us.

The festival of All Saints pierces the illusion that we are powerless and alone. In truth, we are surrounded by a great “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) and claimed by Jesus, whose last words in the Gospel of Matthew are “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Whatever the outcome of the election, we will be faithful to who we are: a people born to serve and proclaim a God of mercy, justice, compassion, and hope. As Rev. Betsy Sowers puts it: Pray for a safe and non-violent election day, and be prepared to be a prayerful, non-violent presence in the coming days, whatever happens.

• If you haven’t yet cast your ballot, please VOTE on November 3. Also, please consider signing the pledge, “With Malice Toward None,” a bipartisan pledge in which we promise that “Regardless of how the election turns out, I will not hold hate, disdain, or ridicule for those who voted differently from me. Whether I am pleased or upset about the outcome, I will seek to understand the concerns and aspirations of those who voted differently and look for opportunities to work with people with whom I disagree.”     

Bishop Mark Beckwith, one of the creators of the pledge, recently pointed out that we may experience feelings of hate, disdain, or ridicule, but we don’t have to hold on to these feelings – to cling to them and nurse them along. As I said in a sermon, “Rooted and Rising: Spiritual Resilience,” delivered last Sunday to an Episcopal congregation in Long Beach, California (and recorded for our diocese), “We urgently need to come together as a people so that with each other’s company and support, we can tackle the social and ecological challenges that threaten to tear apart our common home.” 
Autumn in Ashfield: Fringed Gentians flowering. Photo: Christine Labich
Clergy Emergency League, a network of clergy that formed last Spring to repudiate the fusion of politics with radical, right-wing, fundamentalist Christianity, has assembled original and meaningful liturgical resources for election season. I’ve started working my way through this collection and find it helpful not only for congregational worship but also for personal prayer. To review and download the liturgies and prayers, visit here.

• In October I led two Clergy Days in two dioceses (Mass. and Western Mass.) on emotional and spiritual resilience. I also gave the keynote address for “Deep Green Faith: Earth-Hearted Hope in a Time of Crisis,” a conference hosted by the Center for Religion and Environment and University of the South (Sewanee, TN), and led a two-day workshop for United Theological College in Montreal on how to preach about climate change. In all these settings, we talked about maintaining a "framework for the heart” – an awakened heart, broken heart, and radiant heart – to help us stay grounded in love, feel our pain without being overwhelmed, and receive strength for wise action. I summarize this framework in a talk that I gave several years ago, “Cultivating a heart for hope.” 
Margaret leads a clergy retreat on resilience for the Diocese of MA. Photo: Robert A. Jonas
• Good News Gardens     
Join the Movement – Plant! Pray! Proclaim!

The Creation Care Leadership Circle has been exploring the idea of introducing Good News Gardens in Western Massachusetts this spring. The idea originated at Plainsong Farm and then was modified and embraced by the Episcopal Church's Evangelism and Creation Care Teams.
This program will equip congregations across our diocese – and their individual members – to 1) grow and give healthy food; 2) reflect on connections between scripture, faith, food and gardening; and 3) learn about and influence food systems and policies that affect society as a whole. Grace Church in the Berkshires is already modeling through Gideon’s Garden how growing and giving healthy food can transform lives. We will collaborate with area partners to spread the good news through gardening.

Would you like to learn more about this project? We’re eager to find out who is interested. If you’d like to learn moreplease fill out this brief form.
• Please join me in participating in Creation's Wisdom Book Retreat with Author Rev. Daniel Wolpert.
This 5-session book retreat is offered by The BTS Center in partnership with MICAH (Minnesota Institute of Contemplation & Healing)

Thursday afternoons, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Nov 12, Nov 19, Dec 3, Dec 10, and Dec 17 | Suggested donation $50
Registration includes a copy of Creation's Wisdomwhich will be mailed to your address.
Using Christian scripture and theology through the lens of modern science, Creation’s Wisdom explores the concept of the Tibetan Five Wisdoms to address such questions as: What is a Christian spirituality that speaks to the needs of people in an era of climate change? What practices can guide us? What is a helpful perspective? Author Dan Wolpert uncovers that the answers lie in the elements of creation.

This five-week book retreat will explore the nature of Creation’s Wisdom, how God speaks to us through creation, how we can connect to the wider creation in holistic and meaningful ways, and how we can become ambassadors for a path of healing in this time of climate crisis. The retreat will use a combination of discussion, teaching, and contemplative practice that will strengthen us for the challenging journey ahead.

Gathering in the time after our historic election and as we enter into the holiday season, this book retreat will ground us in the ways of Wisdom as we prepare to enter into the new year. How can Wisdom’s call be heard and help lead and guide us in these challenging times?

• David Attenborough’s magnificent new documentary, “A Life on the Planet,” is now streaming on Netflix. In its “Critics Pick” review, the New York Times notes that the famed naturalist has mapped how steeply the planet’s biodiversity has diminished over his lifetime. The film can be painful to watch, yet it ends of a note of sober hope. “The film’s grand achievement is that it positions its subject as a mediator between humans and the natural world. Life cycles on, and if we make the right choices, ruin can become regrowth.”

I encourage you to watch this movie. You can view the trailer on YouTube here
Monday, Nov. 16, “Drawdown for Congregations,” 1:00 – 2:00 p.m., a webinar hosted by Interfaith Power and Light.

Since the 2017 publication of the New York Times bestseller, Drawdown, the nonprofit Project Drawdown has emerged as a leading resource for information and insight about climate solutions. Dr. Elizabeth Bagley directs the Drawdown Learn initiative and will walk us through their climate framework, offering guidance for congregations on prioritizing solutions. Award-winning congregations – including a net zero congregation - will share what they did to win the Cool Congregations Challenge, in keeping with the Drawdown climate solutions that have the greatest impact. Information is here. Registration is here
Tuesday, Nov. 17,Spirituality, Trauma, & Climate Resilience,” 6:00 -7:00 p.m., a webinar hosted by Creation Justice Ministries.

“The storms of the climate crisis do not only affect our physical lives, burning and flooding our homes and churches. These events have an extreme impact on our spiritual and psychological lives, traumatizing whole communities in their wake. Churches can serve as beacons of spiritual resilience in our communities, providing support in the midst of the spiritual storms of the climate crisis.
Join us for this virtual workshop to learn practical steps on how to learn resilience from God’s Creation and how your church can provide spiritual support for your community in the midst of climate-change-induced trauma. 

Speakers include:
Dr. Beth Norcross, Executive Director, Center for Spirituality in Nature
Dr. Jan Holton, Associate Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Theology and Care, Duke Divinity School
Avery Davis Lamb, Creation Justice Ministries, Duke Divinity School, and the Nicholas School of the Environment
Register for the webinar here.

The struggle against biomass power plants continues. The Boston Globe published an article about our fight to stop the Palmer biomass power plant: “In the nation’s asthma capital, plans to burn wood for energy spark fury.” More information about the fight against defining biomass as clean energy is posted in last month’s newsletter.

Please let me know if you’d like to connect with this local struggle for environmental and climate justice.
Autumn in Ashfield: a milkweed pod bursting. Photo: Robert A. Jonas
• “Staring Down Climate Despair through Kinship,” an essay from Earthbeat, a publication of National Catholic Reporter, explores how a theology of radical kinship could be the answer to both our social and environmental crises. “Joseph Campbell said, ‘If you want to change the world, change the metaphor.’ Radical kinship is a new metaphor.”

The article is singing my song – years ago, I chose KINSHP for my license plate. As Isaiah puts it, God urges us not to turn our backs on our own kin (Isaiah 58:7). I pray that claiming radical kinship will be our guide in the days ahead. 

(The Rev. Dr.) Margaret Bullitt-Jonas
Missioner for Creation Care
Two friends. Photo: Robert A. Jonas
Opportunities for engagement
Spirituality, Trauma, and Climate Resilience
Churches & Sea Level Rise

The climate crisis has arrived. Faith communities must not only react, but also prepare. Over the last decade, hurricanes have intensified, wildfires have burnt stronger, and heat waves have baked our cities. These events can only be expected to...

Read more
Interfaith Resources
Free webinar from
Interfaith Power and Light
Monday, November 16, 2020

Learn how congregations can apply Project Drawdown climate solutions to reduce emissions and hear from Cool Congregations Challenge winners on how they did it!

Read more
Read this...
Explore this...
The Center for Spirituality in Nature

Offers intimate experiences in nature designed to deepen spirituality and develop loving relationships with God and all creatures.

Read more
Join our diocesan Creation Care Facebook group!
If you've enjoyed this newsletter, please feel free to forward to one or two friends you think may be interested.
MBJ photo: Tipper Gore, 2014