Steeped in prayer and energized for action, the General Convention’s Task Force on the Care of Creation and Environmental Racism held it’s annual in-person meeting in Salt Lake City. Sharing stories of hope and grief, Task Force members encouraged each other in their own eco-ministries, while responding to the call from General Convention to develop strategies for the church to care for creation.
“It is deeply ironic that our group met to challenge and support the Episcopal Church to respond faithfully to the climate emergency, exactly at the same time as the federal government announced its next steps in withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord,” noted The Right Reverend David Rice, Bishop of San Joaquin, and Vice-chair of the Task Force.
“Throughout our time together, we were ever mindful of the fragility of all God’s creation” noted the Reverend Stephanie M. Johnson, Chair of the Task Force. “Therefore, we were very conscious that our own actions in traveling for our annual in person meeting had impacts on the climate. As a group, we chose to make a witness by personally offsetting the carbon impacts of our travel”*.” The Task Force meets every other month via teleconference.
Focused on the mandates from General Convention, the Task Force affirmed its commitment to raising up the intersectionality of climate change, environmental racism and eco-justice while taking action:
• Preliminarily reviewing over 50 grant applications submitted in response to a recent call for Impact and Seed eco-ministry grants. Announcements of grant recipients from this first round will be made in the first quarter of 2020. A second round of grant applications will open on Earth Day, April 22, 2020.
• Planning for an upcoming issue of The Anglican Theological Review, which the Task Force will edit, focused on environmental racism, eco-justice, climate change and practical theology around care of creation.
• Finalizing a proposal for a carbon offset program for travel associated with the Episcopal Church staff offices and interim bodies, which will be submitted to Executive Council.
• Developing a draft strategic plan for the implementation of the Creation Covenant recently developed by the Presiding Bishop’s Creation Care Consultation and affirmed by Executive Council.
• Completing an Environmental Racism Report for submittal to Executive Council by the end of the year as mandated by General Convention.
• Developing strategies for building capacity, throughout the church, to respond to the practical and pastoral impacts that climate change has on all creation, with particular focus on indigenous people, people of color and the poor.
Members of the Task Force are:
Johnson, The Rev. Stephanie Chair Connecticut, I
Rice, The Rt. Rev. David Vice-Chair San Joaquin, VIII
Kerr, Mr. Tyler Secretary Los Angeles, VIII
Acosta, The Rev. Richard Member Colombia, IX
Bascom, The Rt. Rev. Cathleen C. Member Kansas, VII
Demientieff, Bernadette Member Alaska, VIII
Empsall, The Rev. Nathan Member Spokane, VIII
Fitzpatrick, The Rt. Rev. Robert Member Hawaii, VIII
Griffin, The Rev. P. Joshua Member California, VIII
Heck, Dr. Delia Member Southwestern Virginia, III
Hirschfeld, The Rt. Rev. A. Robert Member New Hampshire, I
Hodgkins Jones, Ms. Perry Member Western North Carolina, IV
Lattime, The Rt. Rev. Mark Member Alaska, VIII
Mackenzie, The Rev. Lester Member Los Angeles, VIII
Mallette Stephens, The Rev. Hershey Member North Carolina, IV
Mathews, The Rev. Weston Member Virginia, III
Munoz, The Rev. Canon Dimas Member Puerto Rico, IX
Nolan, Ms. Sarah Member Virginia, III
Powell, The Rev. Deacon Lewis Member Northern California, VIII
Richardson, The Very Rev. W. Mark Member California, VIII
Sellers-Petersen, Brian Member Olympia, VIII
Thompson, Dr. Andrew Member East Tennessee, IV
Curry, The Most Rev. Michael Ex Officio North Carolina, IV
Jennings, The Rev. Gay Clark Ex Officio Ohio, V
Mullen, Rev. Melanie, staff
Chatfield, Phoebe, staff
(* Merriam Webster Dictionary defines carbon offset as an action or activity which compensates for the emission of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.)