Creation Care Network E-news
June 2019
Message from Margaret...
Dear friends,

• “ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27). I’ve been meditating on these words of Jesus and on the peace that he conveys to his friends as he says farewell. In this stressful and turbulent time, Jesus invites us to abide in his love. 

I preached about love and fear at UCC churches in Martha’s Vineyard and in Haydenville. In my sermon, “ Love in a time of climate emergency ,” I acknowledged the fear that many of us feel as we witness the unfolding ecological crisis. If we’re not afraid, we should be. 

“As David Wallace-Wells says in the opening sentence of his new book about climate change, The Uninhabitable Earth : ‘It is worse, much worse, than you think.’ Fear is appropriate and real, and fear can propel us to take urgently needed and long-delayed action. But fear can also freeze us in our tracks, so that we get paralyzed and stuck in inertia, wondering if it’s worth doing anything at all: ‘Maybe it’s too late to change course and maybe we’re too far gone. Besides, what difference can one person make?’ Paralyzed by fear, we can close down, put up our blinkers, and carry on with business as usual, even if business as usual is wrecking the planet. And fear can separate us from each other, so that we push each other aside and build walls to keep each other out and keep each other down. Fear can lead us to oppress and dominate each other, and it’s fear that drives the politics of ‘divide and rule.’ That’s why I find Jesus’ words so powerful: they dispel fear.” 

Take a look at the rest of the sermon if you’d like to read about transforming fear into love, and inertia into action. 

• We need to know what we’re dealing with. This month’s book suggestion is David Wallace-Wells’s new book, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming . It’s a gripping read.

• Faith communities have an essential role to play in mobilizing a strong response to the climate crisis. We can address helplessness, provide vision, offer rituals and practices of prayer, and provide moral leadership – that’s what I said in a recent talk at Christ Church Cathedral as part of its series on “Renewing Our Covenant with Creation.”  
The three principal authors of the Religious Declaration: Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, David W. Carroll, and Dr. Richard W. Miller. 
Photo credit: Robert A. Jonas
And that’s what faith communities did, early in May in Washington, DC, when National Religious Coalition on Creation Care (NRCCC) held its 20 th Annual Prayer Breakfast and released a public statement, Religious Declaration of Unprecedented Human Emergency . (You can read the full statement here .) As I wrote in articles for Daily Hampshire Gazette and Episcopal News Service , adapted from my initial blog post , “The statement clarifies two essential facts: Humanity has an extremely short window of time in which to avert irreversible climate chaos, and religions around the world consider protecting God’s creation a moral and spiritual imperative.” The statement recognizes the urgent need for action on climate, stating that: “Further delay in addressing climate change is a radical evil that as people of faith we vigorously oppose.” 

National Catholic Reporter noted in an article about faith-based environmentalists and the Green New Deal that the NRCCC declaration supports the bold direction of the Green New Deal as an opportunity for this country to commit to stabilizing the climate while also ensuring the security and prosperity of all people in the country, including low-income communities and communities of color. 

The declaration has been signed by religious leaders across the country, including heads of denominations, bishops, clergy, leaders of interfaith, environmental organizations, and our own diocesan bishop, Doug Fisher. 

• During the same week, the Anglican Communion – of which the Episcopal Church is a part – became the first global religious body to declare a climate emergency . The Anglican Consultative Council urges churches to mark September 1, 2019, the first day of the Season of Creation, as a day of public repentance for the damage we have done to God’s good Earth.

• Meanwhile, the White House is making new plans to suppress or call into question the basic facts of climate science (see the astonishing lead story in the New York Times ). In these perilous times, it’s clear that faith communities have yet another vital role to play: we must insist on seeking, speaking, and bearing witness to the truth. Science is an important avenue to discovering the truth. As the Faith Science Alliance for Climate Leadership asserts, people of faith stand with the facts of climate science . No one – including politicians who are well funded by the fossil fuel industry – has a right to their own facts. 
• I am happy to say that Sustain Island Home continues to roll out across the diocese, from Stockbridge to Amherst, from Ashfield and Milford to Williamstown. This “carbon tracker” gives us an opportunity to reduce the harm we cause to the climate by our everyday actions. Have you set up your account and created your household’s energy profile? Do members of your congregation want to learn how to reduce their carbon footprint, perhaps saving money along the way? To introduce Sustain Island Home to your congregation, speak to your rector and contact our Team Convener, the Rev. Eric Elley (phone: 860/394-8728; email:  

• Climate activists across Massachusetts are urging Governor Baker not to subsidize polluting biomass energy. Please read about the struggle to stop expansion of wood-burning power plants and furnaces and sign the petition before June 7 . The petition reads: We, the undersigned residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, call upon the Baker Administration to eliminate all clean energy subsidies for wood-burning and waste incineration and put that money to work for truly clean energy and forest protection .

Do you have time to write a short letter? For 10 years, Arise for Social Justice and other groups have been fighting off a biomass incinerator in Springfield to protect the air we breathe. Under Gov. Baker’s proposed changes, that incinerator could make a comeback – and we need to stop it. Ask Governor Baker and th e De pt. of Energy Resources to drop all plans to count incineration as renewable energy. Send a letter here .

If you’d like to do a deeper dive into the Governor’s controversial plan to allow large, inefficient wood-burning power plants to qualify for renewable energy subsidies, read this open letter to Gov. Baker, rebutting the claims of Massachusetts Forest Alliance .

• Speaking of logging and burning trees for energy, take a look at this free 30-minute version of a longer film, BURNED: Are Trees the New Coal?  This short version of the full-length film is available for free streaming through June. From the website: “BURNED tells the little-known story of the accelerating destruction of our forests for fuel, and probes the policy loopholes, huge subsidies, and blatant green washing of the burgeoning biomass electric power industry.”

June is full of local events related to Creation care! Here’s a sampling:
          June 10, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., Webinar: Massachusetts Leads the Way: Climate Legislation You Can Support NOW. The Faith Science Alliance is pleased to host Deb Pasternak, Director of the Massachusetts Sierra Club, to discuss the issues and opportunities for immediate action on legislation and other policies that can set Massachusetts on a path to a more equitable and cleaner future. For information and registration, click here .
          June 13, 1:00-2:00 p.m., Webinar: Standing Rock and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance . The next in a series of monthly webinars sponsored by United Church of Christ Creation Justice Churches. To register, click here .
          June 14, 4:00-8:00 p.m., Personal change through climate change : An evening of presentations and discussion on personal impacts of climate change and motivations for environmental activism, with host and moderator Kathy Campbell of the Amherst League of Women Voters. Tabling by local environmental groups, green energy providers and agencies. Held at Amherst Regional Middle School, 170 Chestnut St., Suite 1, Amherst. For information, click here .
          June 15, 9:30 a.m. -3:30 p.m., Praying with Creation: A Laudato Si' Retreat , led by Christina Leano of the Global Catholic Climate Movement. Held at Rolling Ridge Retreat & Conference Center, North Andover. For information and registration, click here .
         June 15 , 7:30-9:00 p.m., Premiere of A Passion for the Planet : I’ve already bought my tickets! Join Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble for the world premiere of "A Passion for the Planet" by the noted local composer Geoffrey Hudson, an oratorio about climate change. Come hear the piece in its entirety – we hope that parts of the oratorio will be performed during our diocesan convention on November 9. Held at Sage Hall, 144 Green St., Northampton. For tickets, click here .
          June 28-30, Sacred Earth, Sacred Work: An Immersion Experience into the Essentials of Creation Spirituality . A weekend retreat based on the teachings of Matthew Fox and led by Sid Hall, who works with Creation Spirituality as part of the Fox Institute. Held at Rolling Ridge Retreat & Conference Center, North Andover. Information and registration are here

• I’ll end this month’s newsletter with the questions that concluded my recent sermons on love and fear : “Who inspires you to be bolder than you thought? With whom do you hold hands, literally or figuratively, when you step out to make a difference in the world? And if you knew you could not fail – if you were set free from fear – what would you do for the healing of our world?”

(The Rev. Dr.) Margaret Bullitt-Jonas
Missioner for Creation Care
Interfaith Resources
Downloadable guide to climate action
New Resource Announcement: The Blessed Tomorrow Moving Fo..

Our latest guide, Moving Forward: A Guide to Climate Action for Your Congregation and Community, provides you with guidance and tools to reduce energy use, to build resilient houses of worship for refuge from a changing climate, and to supp...

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Opportunities for engagement
Urge Governor Baker not to subsidize
polluting biomass energy
"There is no evidence that wood heat 'improves health', but instead, as noted above it threatens public health. We’re highlighting this as an example of the kind of unsubstantiated claim that the MFA letter includes. Similarly, claims of 'climate benefit' are not backed by objective science."

"There are more misleading claims in the MFA letter to which we could respond, but this should provide a good sense of how far their assertions have diverged from objective facts. As we assume that you are sincere in your wish to make Massachusetts a leader on climate and the environment, we hope this letter was helpful."

Concert in Northampton
From the Composer:

" 'A Passion for the Planet'  is a new, large-scale work for chorus and orchestra focusing on the pains and perils of climate change, premiering on June 15, 2019 in Northampton, MA with Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble.

We’ll never respond effectively to climate change until we, as individuals, grasp that climate change threatens us all. Choral music is a powerful emotional solvent. In composing "A Passion for the Planet", I’m creating a space—sonic, aesthetic, and communal—where people can gather to hear, to feel, and to be changed.

It’s time to try something different. Faced with a planetary crisis, we’re failing to respond. If science can’t get the message across, perhaps music can."

Read this...
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Faith Science Alliance

Faith Science Alliance for Climate Leadership The purpose of this coalition of scientists and faith leaders is to advocate for public policies in Massachusetts that address the ecological and moral emergency of climate change with bold, swift,...

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MBJ photo credit: Tipper Gore, 2014
MBJ, D. Carroll, & R. MIller photo: Robert A. Jonas