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

• Here we are, deep into Lent and longing for Easter. My heart goes out to all of us in this time of pandemic. I am praying with you and for you. In a season of extraordinary suffering and fear, it is good to remember that our efforts to heal and bless a hurting world are rooted in the love of God. God will never abandon us (Romans 8:31-39). God’s love is always being poured into our earts (Romans 5:5). Jesus’ last words in the Gospel of Matthew say everything we need to know: “Remember, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). 

What are we feeling and how do we pray? In response to the pandemic, Harvard Business Review (of all places!) just published a conversation about grief with David Kessler. Kessler worked with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross on the importance of finding meaning in grief, and his interview, “ That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief ,” is worth reading. 

Can this time of pandemic – with its uncertainty, confusion, sorrow, and fear – become an opportunity to grow in intimacy with God? How do we pray when we are flooded by intense feelings or when we are overwhelmed and numb? I reflect on that question in an article I wrote almost 20 years ago, “ Feeling and Pain and Prayer .” If you’d like some spiritual encouragement, I commend it to you. I am with you on the journey. 
Photo: Robert A. Jonas
Coronavirus and climate change: Making the connections
What are the connections between the coronavirus and climate change? Here are some opportunities to deepen your own exploration of this topic.

•I will be one of the panelists in a free webinar at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1, “The Coronavirus and the Climate Crisis: Connections, Comparisons, and Lessons.” Sponsored by the UCC Council on Climate Justice, the conversation will be livestreamed on The Pollinator’s Facebook page . You can also register for the webinar here . Even if you can’t make the scheduled time, you will still receive a recording. (The Pollinator is the UCC’s digital platform focused on building the movement to care for God’s Creation.)

  Earth Day Network just published an article that I co-wrote with Leah Schade, 6 Lessons the Coronavirus Can Teach Us About Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt:

"Earth Day 2020 comes at a tumultuous time. COVID-19 has upended our lives… What would it look like if we emerged from this pandemic with a fierce new commitment to take care of each other? What would it look like to absorb the lessons of pandemic and to fight for a world in which everyone can thrive?"
  Jim Antal, author of Climate Church, Climate World , published an article in Sojourners, Crisis Can Help Us Reorient What We Prize . ” Here’s an excerpt:

"The coronavirus crisis presents the church with an opportunity to help humanity reorient what we prize: spiritual and moral growth in place of material growth, resilience in place of fear, interdependence in place of rugged individualism, cooperation in place of competition, sharing in place of hoarding."
  For an ongoing, updated collection of articles about climate change and coronavirus, visit Yale Climate Connections

  Thursday, April 16, The Future We Choose: Christina Figueres and Living on Earth, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Join the Living on Earth Radio/Podcast for a live interview featuring Costa Rican Diplomat and 2015 Paris Agreement architect Christiana Figueres about her new book, The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis . (Figueres is one of my heroes. I heard her speak in Greece two years ago and her clarity, passion, and conviction are inspiring.)

5 ways to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22

1.) I invite you to join me at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, April 19, when I preach at Washington National Cathedral to mark the 50 th anniversary of Earth Day. Because the cathedral is closed to the public, the service will be live-streamed and led by a core team of worship leaders. I will pre-record my sermon. You can watch the live-stream on the cathedral website . Music begins 5-10 minutes before the 11:15 a.m. service.

2.) Creation Justice Ministries offers free ecumenical resources on the theme, “ The Fierce Urgency of Now .” Materials can be downloaded online or sent via mail. To connect with others who are celebrating Earth Day, join the Earth Day Sunday 2020 Facebook Event . Although congregations can’t celebrate Earth Sunday in person this year, we can hold Earth firmly in our hearts – and make plans to celebrate Earth Day once our communities re-gather.
3.) Interfaith Power & Light is planning Faith Climate Action Week, April 17-26, on the theme “ Love Made Visible .” You can order a kit that includes, among other things, “For Love of Trees,” a special interfaith tree planting blessing and ceremony, and Faith Climate Voter Pledge cards, for collecting pledges from your congregation to vote with the climate in mind. The kit includes everything you need to run a successful climate activity with your faith community. What’s more, it is “evergreen” – it can be used anytime during 2020.

4.) On Earth Day, watch one of the foremost leaders of the environmental justice movement deliver an online address, “ The Earth is the Lord’s: Celebrating the 50 th anniversary of Earth Day. ” The Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, who coined the phrase “environmental racism,” will present in a webinar on April 22 at 1:00 p.m.  Register now ! Even if you can’t make the scheduled time, you will receive a recording.

5.) Help the United Church of Christ plant 50,000 trees ! Have a tree planted for $1 in a National Park or support one of the UCC’s Global Mission Partners in planting trees. Between April 17 and 26, the UCC hopes to plant 50,000 trees.  Options abound in this 3 Great Loves campaign
Photo: submitted
• Looking for some inspirational reading about how churches are leading the way in addressing climate change? Sojourners published an article, “ How Three Coastal Churches Became Hubs of Climate Resilience .”

• This month we feature a brand-new book, This is God's Table , written by a member of our diocese, Anna Woofenden, Protestant Chaplain at Amherst College. Our guest book reviewer is Jimmy Pickett, an intern at Lawrence House who oversees Jeremiah's Garden (El Jardín de Jeremías), a garden-based ministry at St. Paul’s Church, Holyoke. Jimmy writes:

"In this season, more than ever, we are faced with the question of how to be Church outside of our buildings. In her new book, This is God's Table: Finding Church Beyond the Walls, Rev. Anna Woofenden tells the story of how she gathered a community to plant the Garden Church, which sprang from the soil of an abandoned lot in Los Angeles. She explores questions such as: 'What happens if you plant a church that is a garden and a garden that is a church? How do you sit, listen, and act in a way that is true to your specific place?' In this case, the promise of Resurrection is manifest in the beautiful messiness of the compost pile and in people from a wide range of backgrounds being drawn together to work, pray, and share a meal. As you read the book, you may be inspired to listen to that still small voice that is calling you to something new. All fresh expressions of Church start with a dream. What is your dream for a new way of being Church together?" 

This is God’s Table is available for pre-order at , at your local bookstore , or on Amazon .
"Compassion Mandala" by Robert Lentz, OFM (available from
• I encourage you to remember to step outside. This period of enforced retreat gives many of us a fresh opportunity to experience how God comes to us in the natural world. In the weeks ahead I hope to hike many new trails. Whatever we’re worried about – be it climate change, coronavirus, or anything else – spending at least 20 minutes a day in a peaceful place can help restore our soul. The Sierra Club offers a thoughtful article, “ Nature Rx: The Outdoors Can Be an Antidote to Quarantine Anxiety .”

• Easter is coming – indeed, whenever we experience gratitude for Earth, air, water, and sunshine; for friends and family; for the plants and animals with whom we share this planet; for the sheer miracle of life – such a gift! – the light of Christ is already dawning in our hearts.

(The Rev. Dr.) Margaret Bullitt-Jonas
Missioner for Creation Care
Opportunities for engagement
Help the United Church of Christ plant 50,000 trees!
Plant a Tree

Over the course of 50 days in 2013, the United Church of Christ planted over 141,000 trees as part of Mission 4/1 Earth. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2020, we are seeking to plant over 50,000 trees in ten ...

Read more
Interfaith Resources
Free webinar: The Earth is the Lord's
April 22, 2020, 1:00pm. Register now!

The Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr. was a central leader in the launch of the environmental justice movement in the 1980s and 90s. He coined the phrase "environmental racism" and played instrumental roles in Warren County civil disobedience...

Read more
Read this...
Explore this...
Nature Rx: The Outdoors Can Be an Antidote to Quarantine ...

Chances are, you're starting to get a little cabin fever. Bars and restaurants in many cities and states are closed, sports have been canceled, and governments from California to New York City are ordering residents to shelter in place.

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.