Creation Care Network E-news
December 2022
Message from Margaret...
Dear friends,

“There are angels hovering round.” Remember that traditional song, which dates to at least the mid-19th century? (If you’d enjoy a moment of calm, listen to this version and sing along.) Advent invites us to prepare for the song of the angels announcing Christ’s birth. Let’s attune ourselves to hope and notice the beauty in our midst. Let’s renew our commitment to care for Earth and all who dwell here.  As we begin a new church year, let’s rededicate ourselves to pray, learn, act, and advocate for God’s creation, so that our earthly lives resonate with the heavenly choir that brings good tidings of great joy.  
Beloving, by Edith Adams Allison, used with permission.
• A preview of An Episcopal Path to Climate Justice was available at the annual convention of both dioceses in MA. The Rev. John Elliott Lein, our newly hired Project Manager, distributed this brochure, introducing the Path in a handy bi-fold flier. If you are interested in the project and want to get involved in its development, please contact us by email.
JUST PUBLISHED! I contributed a sermon about the Ascension to a new collection of homilies and reflections for Year A released TODAY by Clear Faith Publishing. A Prisoner and You Visited Me, edited by James Knipper, provides insight, warmth, humor, and spiritual food for the reader. All proceeds from book sales go to nonprofits that serve and support people who are living on the margins. The soft-covered book, Kindle version, and Apple iBook version are now available.
(with thanks to Green Justice News for this material)
“Loss and damage” was the focus of the recently concluded 2022 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27). While every continent and many nations are experiencing “loss and damage” from severe weather events made worse by climate change, not all nations are equally resilient and able to recover. (Note from MBJ: Nor are all nations equally responsible for the dirty emissions disrupting the global climate.)

Just as the pollution we emit extends to the air above other nations, so should our responsibility to share the cost of the resulting loss and damage be extended beyond national borders. Climate justice is concerned with the equitable distribution of these costs, but equity is not an easy “ask” of governments or the corporate world. As Christians, we know how necessary and how hard it is to acknowledge this shared responsibility.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry commissioned 18 Episcopal delegates to COP27. Massachusetts was represented by the Rt. Rev. Carol Gallagher and Kelsey Larson. For more about them and their colleagues, check the national Creation Care website. They were joined by dozens of faith-based delegations from across the globe.

The Episcopal Church is committed to equity and shared responsibility for our ailing planet. Since COP26, these have been the stated priorities of the Episcopal delegation:
  • Accelerate ambition. 
  • Increase support for communities experiencing loss and damage.
  • Protect human rights and affirm ecojustice in addressing adaptation and mitigation. 
  • Fulfill climate finance commitments and strengthen mechanisms.

The Conference was extended into the weekend as delegates struggled to find language that all parties could accept. This excellent 4-minute video from The Economist explains the mixed results of the final declaration. For the first time, loss and damage were recognized as legitimate issues that must be addressed, with details to be worked out during the coming year. 

For more insight and information, check out the following: 
An Interfaith Power & Light blog about the Conference.
Thursday, December 1
7:30 - 8:30 pm (Eastern) • Online (free)
I regularly join these events from The BTS Center, which create a contemplative space shaped by music and poetry to help us pray our grief and hope for Earth. Tonight, we’ll join the Lament with Earth Winter Event: Festivals, with the Element of Fire: “Festivals are times of miracles. Both the Christian story of the birth of Jesus and the Hanukkah story of the oil for the lamp point to unanticipated, and unplanned, miracles. And so many of the festivals involve candles or lights of some kind. How might we, even in our lament, make room for the inbreaking of the miraculous? What is illuminated differently by the candles of the Advent wreath, or menorahs, or by solstice bonfires?” For more information and to register, visit here

Led by Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas
Saturday, December 3   
9:30 a.m. – 12 Noon • Online (free)
*Last call! Deadline to register is December 1st*
We live in a time of radical challenge and change. Advent offers us rich material for prayer, conveying images of disruption, struggle, and endings, and images of reconciliation, birth, and beginnings. In this morning retreat, we will seek to create a space of prayer big enough to encompass both what disturbs and shakes us, and what brings comfort and hope. How do the images of Advent enlarge our capacity to midwife Christ’s birth within us and among us? Our time together will include presentations, silence, singing, solitude, and small group conversation.

If possible, please bring a candle and a Bible, and wear something comfortable for an optional walk outdoors.

This free retreat is open to the public and is sponsored by both Episcopal dioceses in MA and by Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ. You can register hereRegistration deadline is December 1.
Photo: Robert A. Jonas.
Wednesday, December 14 & 28 (every other Wednesday, ongoing)
4:30 – 4:50 p.m. • Online (free)
Offered by Radical Joy for Hard Times, Earth Hospice Rites is an 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. More information is here. Visit here to register.
A new oratorio by Linda J. Chase for Chorus, Soloists and Orchestra
The libretto was adapted from Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’. Text advisor was Rev. Dr. Harvey Cox. Listen to the premiere performance (June 25, 2022, at Old Cambridge Baptist Church) now posted on YouTube, and stay tuned for a high-quality studio recording!
Washington National Cathedral
Thursdays in December, 7:00 p.m. • Online (free)
  • WATER, December 6 – Dr. Melanie L. Harris
  • EARTH, December 13 – Dr. Norman Wirzba
  • AIR, December 20 – The Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt
The season of Advent marks something momentous: God’s coming into our midst. That coming is not just something that happened more than two millennia ago; it offers an ongoing opportunity for rebirth in the here and now. And it compels us to consider a second, future Advent—the promised coming of God’s kingdom on earth. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, God’s coming is not only a matter of glad tidings, but “frightening news for everyone who has a conscience.”

If the essence of Advent is expectancy, it is also readiness for action. By meditating on the theology of “Creation Care,” and by connecting ourselves to the elements  of nature, we can learn, advocate, and bring about spiritual awakenings. Only then will we be telling the real story of how “the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains” (Romans 8: 22) as a human-induced climate crisis envelopes and consumes our planet home. For more information and to register, visit here.
Thursday, December 8
4:00 p.m. • Online (free)
The Creation Care Task Force of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is offering a free webinar, led by Dr. Jerusha Neal (Assistant Professor of Homiletics, Duke Divinity School), for clergy and lay leaders. Dr. Neal writes: “One of the hidden reasons pastors avoid preaching about the climate crisis is the breadth and depth of the questions it causes to surface. These questions are less about policy and more about our deepest theological convictions. They are questions of human purpose, Christian hope, and the character of God.” Her book, The Overshadowed Preacher: Mary, the Spirit and the Labor of Proclamation (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2020), challenges preachers to leave behind false shadows of approval to embrace the overshadowing Spirit of God. Click here for more information and to register.  
Thursday, December 8
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 | Online (free, donations welcome)
Drawing on science and scripture, the book A Christian's Guide to Planet Earth: Why It Matters and How to Care for It offers a hope-filled, reader-friendly guide to help navigate questions about caring for God's world. For more information and to register, visit here.
Climate Changed: A Podcast from The BTS Center
The BTS Center's new podcast, Climate Changed offers intimate interviews and conversations around some of the most pressing questions about faith, life, and climate change. Hosted by Ben Yosua-Davis, Director of Applied Research, and Nicole Diroff, Program Director, and produced by Peterson Toscano, the podcast features acclaimed guests such as Corina Newsome, Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Sherri Mitchell, and many more, all exploring what spiritual leadership looks and feels like in a climate-changed world. New episodes will premier monthly. You can click here to find Climate Changed on your favorite listening platform – subscribe now so you can listen to new episodes as soon as they are available!

Anytime • Online (free)
This free minicourse, led by Norman Lévesque of Creation Care School, briskly walks the viewer through 10 steps to greening your church. If you try it out, please let me know what you think!  
Celebrate an environmentally sustainable Christmas
Here’s an article from the U.K. on why it’s important to have an eco-friendly Christmas – and how to do it. Some ideas: use LED lights on your Christmas tree… If you buy clothing as gifts, avoid synthetics and buy clothing made from natural fibers (cotton, wool, linen, jute, hemp, silk, cashmere) and explore shopping at used/vintage clothing stores… donate to a favorite charity in the name of your loved ones… if you knit, sew, or cook, make a handmade gift… ditch commercial wrapping paper (which is often unrecyclable) and make your own… give the gift of your presence and time (e.g. babysit, prepare a special meal)… aim for gifts that are reusable and sustainably sourced or made from repurposed or recycled materials.
I confess that I’m an unabashed reader and giver of books. Two terrific books I’m currently relishing: the sci-fi novel, Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler (the New York Times just published an article about the author’s prescient look at climate crisis, racism, and social disintegration) and Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth, by Debra Rienstra. I commend them both – as gifts to yourself or others.
The campaign for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty was inspired by treaties that addressed the threats of nuclear weapons, landmines, and other dangerous substances. Over the past year the campaign has been supported by 101 Nobel Laureates, 3,000 academics, 320 parliamentarians, thousands of prominent youth leaders, a growing group of faith leaders – including the Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury -- and more than 1,500 civil society organizations. Follow its progress on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
• For more suggestions for responding to the climate emergency, including seasonal suggestions for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, visit the resources compiled by the Episcopal Creation Care Justice Network in Massachusetts (CCJN). If you’d like to be in touch, send a note to As a Christmas gift to yourself, please consider joining Creation Care Justice Network as we build friendships and ideas for climate action among Episcopalians across Massachusetts.

(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
Support the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty 
The Paris Agreement doesn’t mention fossil fuels. The COP27 outcome didn’t mention oil and gas. It’s time for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. We need governments to join Tuvalu and Vanuatu in developing a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Add your name to the list of endorsements from individuals.
Interfaith Resources
A new oratorio by Linda J. Chase for Chorus, Soloists and Orchestra
The libretto was adapted from Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’. Text advisor was Rev. Dr. Harvey Cox. Listen to the premiere performance (June 25, 2022, at Old Cambridge Baptist Church) now posted on YouTube, and stay tuned for a high-quality studio recording!
Read this...
Explore this...
10 Steps to Greening Your Church

Greening Your Church shares with us the theology of creation care ministry and shows us practical ways to live in harmony with creation. Now faith communities have a helpful guide and companion to creating environmentally friendly churches.

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