Creation Care Network E-news
February 2023
Message from Margaret...
Dear friends,

In the heart of winter, we join with “hail, snow and fog, tempestuous winds” (Psalm 148:8) (also with sleet, slush, and freezing rain) in praising God. As you look ahead to the spring, what seeds will you plant? The congregation of Christ Church, Rochdale, recently shared a sermon about Creation care, posting commitment pledges on Post-It notes that range from getting a home energy audit to collecting rainwater and avoiding plastic. What seeds of commitment would you post on your imaginary “Caring for God’s Creation” whiteboard? Spoiler alert: if you’re interested in literal as well as metaphorical seeds, scroll to the bottom of this newsletter.
Creation care pledges on sticky notes. Photo: The Rev. Aileen E. DiBenedetto, Rector, Christ Church, Rochdale
Update from CCJN (Creation Care Justice Network)
Our work on “An Episcopal Path to Creation Justice” goes public
On January 21, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Mass. held its third annual “Bending Toward Justice” conference, sponsored by the diocese’s Social Justice Commission. The choice of afternoon workshops included “Building Creation Care Justice,” which was led twice in succession by members of CCJN: the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas (who works on Creation care for both dioceses in MA), Alex Chatfield (a member of St. Anne’s-in-the-Fields, Lincoln), and the Rev. John Elliott Lein (a priest in DioWMA and Project Manager for An Episcopal Path to Creation Justice). 

Nineteen people participated in our workshops, including Rev. Cindy Davidson (the new Executive Director of Mass. Interfaith Power & Light), Will Harron (Coordinator of Province One), and Phoebe Chatfield (who works in the Presiding Bishop’s office as Program Associate for Creation Care). 
Alex Chatfield, the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, and the Rev. John Lein before the Bending Toward Justice workshop on Creation justice. Photo: submitted.
We relished our first opportunity to introduce “An Episcopal Path to Creation Justice” to people beyond CCJN, and the chance to receive feedback and ideas. The process of requesting feedback will continue in the months ahead. Through “An Episcopal Path to Creation Justice,” we hope 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 build a more just, safe, and healthy future for all. 

Next CCJN meetings
Wednesday, February 1 & 15
7:00 – 8:15 p.m. p.m. • Online (free)
We are poised to launch Phase Two of “An Episcopal Path to Creation Justice”: after we finish a draft of the project, we’ll begin reaching out to interested clergy, lay leaders, and specialists to ask for their feedback as we continue to refine our work. We welcome inquiries about the project. Interested people should contact us by email at
Wednesday, February 8 & 22 (every other Wednesday, ongoing)
4:30 – 4:50 p.m. • Online (free)
Offered by Radical Joy for Hard Times, Earth Hospice Rites is a brief, online, bimonthly gathering to lament, celebrate, share, and offer mindful attention to the places and species we love that are endangered by climate change. Together we take a deep collective breath and say, “Yes, the Earth as I know it is dying.”. Co-hosts are Alison Cornish of The BTS Center and Trebbe Johnson of Radical Joy for Hard Times. More information is here. Visit here to register.
Back by popular demand! Last year’s inaugural series of meditations was so warmly received that the Creation Care Leadership Circle (a small group in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts that advises our Missioner for Creation Care) has prepared a fresh collection of quotes and images for Lent 2023. You’re invited to sign up to receive an inspirational daily meditation (including a short quote and an image) during the Forty Days of Lent. The quotes come from many sources as we honor the wisdom of many voices and traditions. Please join us as we contemplate the gift of the natural world and our calling to reconcile humanity with the rest of God’s creation. You can sign up here.
Creation Justice Ministries has released a Lenten calendar with daily actions to learn, pray, and act for creation justice - you can download that calendar here. In Lent, we reflect on Christ's ministry, death, and resurrection. We slow down and examine our spiritual lives as well as the way we live out our Christian faith in the world. This Lenten reflection and action guide will help individuals take time to learn, reflect, repent, ask God for forgiveness, and take concrete steps to change course.
Climate Stewards USA will help us mark a meaningful Lent! Beginning February 22nd, we’re fasting to draw near to God and deepen our care for the climate. Each week will feature a different theme designed to help us take climate action. As a participant in the Carbon Fast for Lent, we will receive a weekly email containing the fasting challenge and a prayer. Please join me and sign up here.
Led by the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas
Saturday, March 18
9:30 a.m. – 12 Noon • Online (free)
Lent invites us to look deeply into our lives and into the society in which we participate. How is God stretching us to live at our best? How is God calling us to wake up from our dull habits of thought and behavior and to see clearly where love urges us to change? Many people dread (and avoid) the traditional Lenten practices of self-examination and repentance because we fear that these practices will drag us into harsh self-criticism and self-attack. This retreat will invite us to question our kneejerk self-judgment and to open instead to the healing judgment of a loving God who sees our preciousness and seeks our wholeness.

Through silence, guided meditation, personal reflection, and small group sharing we aim to create a space in which we can grow in self-awareness, self-acceptance, and compassion for ourselves, each other, and our wounded, magnificent world.
Please bring a candle, Bible, paper/pen for journaling, art supplies (if you have some), and comfortable clothes for an optional walk outside. To register, visit here.

This retreat is sponsored by both Episcopal dioceses in Massachusetts and by Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ.
Led by the Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade 
Thursday, February 2
12 Noon – 3:00 p.m. • Suggested donation $30 (scholarships available)
This exciting workshop will be led by the Rev. Dr. Leah Schade (co-founder of The Clergy Emergency League, and Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary) and hosted by The Clergy Emergency League and The Wisconsin Council of Churches. Click here for complete information and to register.

Friday, February 3, 17, & 24
12 Noon – 1:00 p.m. • Online (free)
The Yale Institute of Sacred Music is hosting a series of webinars that explore topics relating to Mass Extinction: Art, Ritual, Story, and the Sacred. Anyone is welcome to join, though registration is required. Please register for each webinar event separately.
• February 3: Narrating Extinction in History and Myth with Sadiah Qureshi and Nancy Menning
• February 17: Aesthetics of Extinction with Sugata Ray and Stefan Skrimshire
• February 24: Remembering Lost Species: Rituals for the Anthropocene with Persephone Pearl, Emily Laurens, and Rachel Porter
Wednesday, February 8
1:00 p.m. • Online (free)
The next Creation Justice Webinar from the UCC will focus on one of the most successful movements of 2022: the Land Back Movement, which seeks to put Indigenous lands back into Indigenous hands. Three leaders in the movement will situate it within the framework of dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery and will speak about contemporary efforts. For more information and to register, visit here(Everyone who signs up will receive a link to the recording.) This monthly installment of Creation Justice Webinars is co-hosted by the Rev. Dr. Brooks Berndt (Minister of Environmental Justice, United Church of Christ) and the Rev. Michael Malcom (Executive Director, Alabama Interfaith Power & Light and the People's Justice Council).
Thursday, February 16 
7:00 – 8:30 p.m. • Online ($10; $30 includes a copy of Refugia Faith)
In the midst of climate crises, it is difficult for us to find what feels like solid ground and steadiness as the world around us shifts and changes, sometimes at a pace too rapid to process properly. We seek spaces — both physical and spiritual — where we can fortify our resilience and connect with deep community, spaces that can hold us in the midst of uncertainty.

Debra Rienstra’s book Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth, grounded in her own personal journey of place and healing, offers insight on the possibilities for identifying, tending, and nurturing the places in ourselves, our communities, and our cultures which have the capacity to become refugia for others.

Please join us for an evening conversation with Debra Rienstra, as she discusses the book — how it came to be and how it can be used in communities of faith and beyond. This special event will also feature the music of Pax Ressler; a talk-back time with our Executive Director, Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill; and a panel discussion featuring young(ish) adult spiritual leaders engaged in climate action. Registrants can choose to receive a copy of the book if desired. For complete information and to register, visit here.

Environmental Sundays at Saints James & Andrews
Sunday, February 19
11:30 a.m. • Sts James & Andrew Episcopal Church, Greenfield (free)
The Green Team at Saints James and Andrew (8 Church St., Greenfield) has organized special creation care events every third Sunday of the month. They welcome participation from beyond the parish.

Investigative journalist and Greenfield resident Karl Meyer will speak about the environmental and regulatory issues surrounding Northfield Mountain Pump Storage Station, which affect the welfare of multiple fish species in the Connecticut River. Bring a brown bag lunch. Snacks will be available. Questions? Contact Ella Ingraham (
Looking for a book to read during Lent? In addition to Refugia Faith, you might also consider Wild Hope by Gayle Boss, which Richard Rohr, OFM, founder of The Center for Action and Contemplation, describes like this: “Gayle Boss writes vividly of wild, imperiled creatures as expressions of God’s own self – and of God’s own suffering. What better subject for Lent? Here’s a compelling, relevant way to wake out of our small, ego-centered lives into a deeper compassion and to meet there the One who transforms suffering into something unimaginably new. That’s the wild hope of all creatures!”
Wednesday, February 14
12 Noon – 1:00 p.m. • Online (free)
Are you considering solar now? Bring your questions to this conversation with Mass, Interfaith Power & Light! Did you consider solar in the past but find it impossible to achieve? Share your experience with the group and get practical suggestions on how to restart the process and be successful. With the 30% "direct payment" from the federal government offered in the Inflation Reduction Act, installing solar panels has just become more financially feasible for many congregations. And it makes good sense from an energy savings and wise stewardship perspective, as over 130 houses of worship in Massachusetts have already learned. For more information and to register, click here.

Environment America created the Clean Energy Home Toolkit to help you navigate the new incentives and rebates for electric stoves and other appliances, electric vehicles, solar panels and more. See how the Clean Energy Home Toolkit can help you save energy and money. The Clean Energy Home Toolkit includes guides & resources for weatherizing your home, cutting energy bills, buying an electric car, and information on the rebates & incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act. Switching to clean energy should be easy. Check out the clean energy home toolkit to learn more.

• Eco-friendly palms for Palm Sunday? Eco-friendly lilies for Easter?
There’s at least one good place to buy sustainable, fair-trade palms for Palm Sunday: As they say on their website, “By choosing Ecopalms for Palm Sunday you can promote environmental and social justice through your congregations’ palm-purchasing decisions!”

As for buying eco-friendly Easter lilies, I don’t know where to send you. A scan of the internet reports that Easter lilies grown in California may be drenched in pesticides that pose a threat to land and farmers alike, polluting rivers and harming salmon (for example, read this). Is it time to find another plant to symbolize new birth, resurrection, and Christ’s redemption of the whole Creation? If you know where to find organic Easter lilies or if your church has decided to forego them for other types of flowers, drop me a note ( and I’ll share information in the March newsletter.
Photo: Robert A. Jonas
• Banking on Our Future Day of Action: 3.21.23
Banks are using your money to fund the climate crisis. Your bank may well be the largest part of your carbon footprint! Third Act is preparing for a big National Day of Action on Tuesday, March 21, to put these banks in the spotlight. To stay up to date on plans, sign up here.  Will your congregation hold a prayer vigil outside a local branch of Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, or Wells Fargo? Will you make it ecumenical, inviting members of other branches of the Christian family? Will you make it multifaith? Let me know your plans! In the spirit of Jesus, I hope we make some good trouble that day.

Climate justice in western Massachusetts
Climate Action Now in Western Massachusetts is a hub of grassroots action for climate justice. Sign up for the excellent semimonthly newsletter and check out the monthly meetings (4th Monday of the month, via Zoom). If you like, you can join one of the many working groups (e.g., protest the branches of Chase Bank coming soon to Northampton, Hadley, and Springfield; stop the proposed Eversource pipeline in Springfield; advocate for state legislation; protect healthy soils and forests; understand the links between racism, white supremacy, and climate justice). It warms my heart that such an effective group is centered right here in western Mass!
Looking ahead...
A revised and updated edition of Jim Antal’s Climate Church, Climate World will be released in March 2023. It’s available here for pre-ordering now. Receive a 35% discount for orders of 10 copies or more when you use promo code 4S23CCCW35. Perfect for congregational study, with questions for discussion after each chapter. Over 50 sermon suggestions. (For more information, visit here.)

• Earth Day is Saturday, April 22
How will we celebrate Earth Day 2023?  Here’s an idea: on Saturday, April 22, congregations across Massachusetts could gather outdoors in a place that needs some TLC – maybe a city park, riverbank, or stretch of woods that needs to be cleaned up. The 90-minute, family-friendly event would include outdoor cleanup and prayer. We’ll provide a flexible, ecumenical liturgy that can be adapted to your setting.

For you to think about: 
• Location – what outdoor place in your neighborhood needs hands-on help and offers a good spot for gathered prayer? (If you can’t identify a spot, your local conservancy or land trust may have suggestions.)
• Time frame & logistics – would you like to hold your event from 10:30 a.m. to 12 Noon? Will you invite people to bring a picnic lunch and/or food to share? Will you provide supplies (e.g., garbage bags, gloves, etc.) or will you ask participants to provide them? 
• Participants – will you invite members of other local churches to join you? Will you invite the public? Is this an opportunity to build ecumenical relationships and to witness together to God’s love for all Creation?
• Title – how will you title your event? The best I’ve come up with is Earth Day Cleanup and Prayers.  If you can suggest something better, let me know ( and I’ll include it in the March CCN newsletter! I’d also be glad to promote your event if you send me your info by March 26.
Faith Climate Action Week is April 14-23
Faith Climate Action Week (April 14-23) is Interfaith Power & Light’s annual program of climate-themed worship services and sermons that spans ten days of activities around Earth Day. This year's theme is Living the Golden Rule: Just Transition to a Clean Energy Economy.  
Offerings include: 
online worship resources
opportunity to screen a series of short films for your congregation
postcard campaign and online advocacy petition calling upon Toyota and other car makers to support clean cars
find or add your events to IPL's online national calendar. 

That’s not all! Right now, well before Earth Day, Interfaith Power & Light is offering organic, heirloom, non-GMO seed kits. Grow a Pizza Garden with everything but the mozzarella! Why not engage your congregation in a community garden – to build relationships with members of your congregation and with your wider community? Click here to order your Pizza Garden Seed Kit.

(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.)
Photo: Robert A. Jonas
Opportunities for engagement
Free Webinar - Feb 8, 1pm ET

The Land Back Movement has been succinctly described as the generations long struggle to put "Indigenous lands back into Indigenous hands." Yet, there is much to know and understand about this vitally important movement. In this webinar,...

Read more
Interfaith Resources
Refugia Faith: An Evening with Debra Rienstra

Feb 16, 7pm ET - We seek spaces where we can fortify our resilience and connect with deep community, spaces that can hold us in the midst of uncertainty. 

In search of these spaces in her own life and in her Christian faith, author Debra Rienstra draws on the biological term refugia — meaning places of shelter that endure in times of crisis — to open a conversation on how people of faith can co-create these places of renewal and regeneration.
Read this...
Explore this...
Climate Action Now Western Mass

Building the local climate protection movement to fight the global crisis

Read more
Join our diocesan Creation Care Facebook group!
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MBJ photo: Tipper Gore, 2014