[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians are encouraged to join 31 religious denominations and faith organizations, including The Episcopal Church, in a new ecumenical and interfaith campaign to encourage solutions to climate change rooted in faith-based calls to care for God’s creation.
A kickoff event for the seven-year campaign, One Home One Future, is set for 7 p.m. Eastern Oct. 4 on Zoom. Those interested in attending the one-hour event are asked to register in advance. Those who don’t participate in the kickoff can still join the campaign by visiting the One Home One Future website.
The campaign, led by the nonprofit ecoAmerica, aims “to strengthen vitality, relevance, and community connection across generations – to care for our shared home – in local congregations nationwide,” according to a news release. To participate, individuals and congregations agree to bear visible witness to the deepening climate crisis and engage “in meaningful and just climate solutions at the local, regional and national level.” Banners, congregational took kits and other resources will be available to bolster local efforts in all 50 states.
The Episcopal Church has identified creation care as one of its three top priorities, in addition to racial reconciliation and evangelism, since Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was elected in 2015. That also was the year nearly 200 countries reached the Paris Agreement, setting voluntary goals aimed at limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels. Scientists have warned that the intensifying global climate crisis could only get worse in the coming years with human-caused global warming proceeding unchecked.
Under Curry’s leadership, Episcopalians have been at the forefront of the global response, from the Episcopal delegations that attend the United Nations climate conference each year to the more than 1,000 individuals who participated in the church’s Creation Care Pledge.
“As we have given grants, shared liturgies and practiced advocacy about creation care and environmental racism, folks have wanted to get to the next step, asking, ‘What more can we do?’” the Rev. Melanie Mullen, the church’s director of reconciliation, justice and creation care, told Episcopal News Service in a written statement. The new One Home One Future campaign “is designed by faith leaders to equip communities with skills to integrate climate justice and spiritual expression of repair.”
General Convention has passed numerous resolutions on these issues, whether supporting federal climate action or pledging to mitigate the church’s own impact on the environment. Through its Washington, D.C.-based Office of Governmental Relations and the Episcopal Public Policy Network, the church has advocated for government policies in line with General Convention stances on climate change.
Although short-term local weather fluctuations cannot be attributed entirely to global warming, scientists say longer-term climate patterns and the increased frequency and intensity of severe weather is connected to industrialized countries’ long reliance on energy generated from burning fossil fuels, which releases carbon into the atmosphere. In response, Episcopal dioceses, congregations and parishioners are increasingly investing in clean, renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind.
“We are a faith community completely and utterly committed to creation care. It is our delight and our pleasure to participate, to engage in the One Home One Future campaign,” San Joaquin Bishop David Rice said in the news release announcing the campaign. His central California diocese has set a target of shifting entirely to renewable energy sources, and it now is on track to reach 95% by 2024. Similar efforts are underway in other dioceses.
The 80th General Convention endorsed the turn away from carbon-based energy with a resolution on “net carbon neutrality.” Among the resolution’s provisions, it encouraged “parishes, dioceses, schools, camps and other Episcopal institutions to pursue their own goal of net carbon neutrality by 2030 through a combination of reducing emissions from travel, reducing energy use, increasing energy efficiency in buildings, and purchasing offsets from duly investigated, responsible, and ethical partners.”
The church is joined in One Home One Future by ecumenical and interfaith partners who say they are just as committed to finding solutions to the climate crisis.
“In the ELCA we are called to care for creation and for each other,” Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said in the campaign news release. “I look forward to seeing ELCA congregations participate in cities and towns across the country, and I am proud to stand together across faith traditions to protect our given and shared home.”
The Roman Catholic Church, though not a partner in One Home One Future, also has underscored the need to respond to human-caused climate change. On Oct. 4, Pope Francis issued a letter on the topic, looking ahead to the next United Nations conference, scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 12 in Dubai. An Episcopal delegation is expected to attend.
– David Paulsen is a senior reporter and editor for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at email@example.com.