Active Hope: Staying Engaged and Staying Sane is a retreat presented by the Bishop’s Committee for the Environment. Learn tools for spiritual activists from Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects toolbox; Saturday August 13, 9:30am-4:00pm at Christ Church, Tacoma. Lunch provided; $10 first person; $5 additional. Purchase tickets online through Eventbrite here. More details are available in the retreat poster depicted below.
Once again the Bishop’s Committee for the Environment (BCE) is offering $500 matching grants for energy saving projects to diocesan churches. Saving energy in building use supports the diocese’s commitment to the Genesis Covenant which calls for a 50% reduction in energy use. Even small projects such as switching to LED lighting can save considerable energy. That savings will also be reflected in lower energy bills for the church, savings that can be used to fund other church needs.
Churches have also used Green Grants for other greening needs – improved recycling containers or drip irrigation systems for church gardens.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
“Will you cherish the wondrous works of God, and protect the beauty and integrity of all creation? I will with God’s help.” C015 Addition to Baptismal Covenant Language
“You cannot serve God and wealth [Mammon].” Luke 16:13b
Jesus & Jubilee
Throughout this liturgical year of readings from Luke’s Gospel, members of the Bishop’s Committee for the Environment (BCE) and the Commission on Liturgy and the Arts (CLA) invite members and congregations of the Diocese of Olympia to a time of study and reflection focused on the biblical traditions of Sabbath (i.e., periodic rest for all of Creation) and Jubilee (i.e., debt cancellation; freedom from captivity and oppression). In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus draws upon the interrelated traditions of Sabbath and Jubilee to define his public ministry.
With a view toward a shared sufficiency for all and the temperance to live simply within the regenerative integrity of Creation’s bounds, the Sabbath-Jubilee traditions characterize an orderly, economic life. Such an ethos honors God by restraining compulsive work, accumulation, and consumption and by regularly redistributing the wealth of Creation for everyone to have enough. Notably, the economic-ecological wisdom in these ancient traditions runs counter to the predominant “economics” of today. Yet these overlooked traditions permeate the heart of Scripture, as evident in Torah (e.g., Ex. 16, 20; Lev. 23, 25; Deut. 15, 24), the Prophets (e.g., Is. 3, 5, 61; Jer. 22), the ministry of Jesus in the Gospels (e.g., Mk. 10; Lk. 4, 12-19), and the life of the early church (e.g., Acts 2, 4; II Cor. 8).
For Whom Is an Economy “Good News”?
The highly individualistic, acquisitive economic system in which we live and participate in the U.S. privileges, on one side of the coin, a dangerous, deepened divide between rich and poor, and on the other, a destructive addiction to limitless growth on a finite planet. Yet more and more people today are experiencing firsthand the structural violence this system engenders, such as the corruption of democratic governance by private, moneyed interests; the consequent collapse of social services for protecting the most vulnerable; resource wars fought at home and abroad; and the unfolding, ecological catastrophe of climate change.
If we have eyes to see and ears to hear, where do we find ourselves amid this reign or rule of Mammon? If we examine the systemic, cumulative effect of the economic patterning of our lives—our buying, borrowing, investing, working, consuming, etc.—do we find ourselves serving an economy that serves neither the common good nor the true desire of our hearts? If we critically examine the pervasive powers and principalities that perpetuate the dominant economy and our participation in it, how might we move beyond the paralysis of fear, denial, or despair? How might we find the freedom or courage we need to persevere in the practice and hope of discipleship? In what concrete ways might we—as individuals, households, congregations, or ministries of the diocese—move toward more equitable and ecologically sustainable ways of being?
A Sabbath Economy for People & Planet
To this vital inquiry concerning the economic and ecological dimensions of our faith, members of the CLA and BCE invite you into the practice of reading “the Bible economically in order to read the economy biblically.” Recommended guides for such a practice, are the study guides and resources on “Sabbath Economics” developed by Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries. These resources (listed below) can be readily adopted for either group or individual study. For instance, you might consider organizing a discussion group focused on screening the 6-part DVD “Mammon to Manna: Sabbath Economics and Community Investing” during the season of Lent or Easter. Or form a small, informal group interested in working through and discussing the DVD, booklets, or other materials, such as the “Introduction to Sabbath Economics” online course. Or consider an independent, self-paced study. Regardless of which materials or mode of study you choose, we hope that you will find the study and practice of Sabbath Economics an inspiring source of strength in your apprenticeship to Christ and his ministry of “good news to the poor”.
Sabbath Economics: Resources for Study
Curricula for group and individual study
Mammon to Manna: Sabbath Economics and Community Investing (6-part DVD & study guide) This resource explores the ecological-economic vision of Sabbath-Jubilee in Scripture, conjoined with contemporary discipleship practices, including investment practices, for serving God, not mammon.
Why Sabbath Economics? (Recorded webinar)
BIO-A03: Introduction to Sabbath Economics This online class includes the three resources above plus many more recorded webinars, Bible studies, articles, etc.
Free online resources
- Sabbath Economics Collaborative
- Experimenting with a Household Sabbath Economics Covenant by Ched Myers (4-page flier)
A small sampling of related resources
- Sabbath as Resistance by Walter Brueggemann
- Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation by Cynthia Moe-Lobeda
- “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home” by Pope Francis
- What Matters? Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth by Wendell Berry
Workshop at Diocesan Convention 2015
November is the time for Diocesan Convention, but it is also time to count the many blessings we who live in the beautiful Northwest share. So it seems only right that our workshop at Convention (Friday, Nov. 13, 2-3pm) focuses on Caring for Our Common Home, the fragile island earth on which we all depend.
The human family and all of creation share one “fragile island home.” Challenged by actions at General Convention and by Pope Francis to take responsibility for its care, how do we, as individuals and as churches, start? Learn what others are doing and discuss actions you can take: Green Grants, sustainable meals at home and at church, solar panels, creation liturgies, recycle Sundays. Work with others to start drafting a plan to take better care of our common home.
You can access the resources for this workshop here:
- Presentation Slides: Caring for Our Common Home
- BCE: Some Resources for Your Congregation
- Liturgical Materials for Honoring God in Creation
You can also access the latest update on Fossil Fuel Divestment. It reports on divestment actions since the 2014 Diocesan Convention including the resolution passed this year at General Convention. It called on the Investment Committee of the Executive Council, the Episcopal Church Endowment Fund, and the Episcopal Church Foundation to divest from fossil fuel companies and reinvest in clean renewable energy in a fiscally responsible manner.
The 2016 Green Grant application and stories from churches that received Green Grants in 2015 are posted here as well:
- 2016 Green Grant Application (click to download application)
- Green Grant Story – Grace, Bainbridge Island
- Green Grant Story – St. Paul’s, Bellingham
With gratitude for all you do,
Nancy McConnell, chair
Bishop’s Committee for the Environment
Delegation from the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Philippines Visiting in April
Update: EDSP Delegation Itinerary (Revised Apr. 10, 2015)
Visitors from our partner diocese, the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Philippines (EDSP), will soon be crossing the seas. A delegation led by Bishop Danilo Bustamante is arriving in Seattle on April 10. Others in the delegation are Dean Johnny Labasan, Development Director Sergio Bacas, Social Ministry Coordinator Rosanne Imperial, Program Assistant for Evangelism Flora May Lobaton, and Felicidad de Guzman, an instructor at the local college and a member of the EDSP partnership committee.
We are so looking forward to returning the warm hospitality the EDSP has shown visitors from the Diocese of Olympia. Hosting churches are St. Andrew, Seattle; St. John, Snohomish; Saint Mark Cathedral, Seattle; St. Stephen, Longview; and St. Mary, Lakewood. Each host church is planning events open to everyone in the diocese where people can meet this delegation see their presentation about the EDSP and its ministries.
More details are available in the EDSP delegation itinerary.
February 13 and February 14 are Global Divestment Days. People around the world – students, church members, outdoor enthusiasts, parents – are participating in activities and events which draw attention to the dangers posed by the continued use of carbon fuels. As you may know, a resolution requesting that the Board of Directors divest of two fossil fuel stocks in the Diocesan Divestment Fund, Exxon and Chevron, passed at the 2013 diocesan convention. On January 15, 2015, after consideration and polling of invested parishes, the Board of Directors declined to divest.
The Bishop’s Committee for the Environment regrets this decision. The Open Letter to the Board of Directors summarizes its reasons and its determination to continue the conversation. Together as a church we must consider the consequences of climate change for our earth, for its threatened species, and for its poorest people.
The BCE will consider ways to support the growing divestment movement within our church and within our communities. Please don’t hesitate to join this conversation. Our monthly meetings (2nd Thursday of the month, 6 PM) are open to all. Phone conference is available for those throughout the Diocese of Olympia.
2013 Diocesan Convention Joins Other Church Bodies in Saying “Yes, Divest!”
In light of the unfolding crisis of climate change and over two decades of inadequate response from U.S. and world leaders, delegates at the 2013 Convention of the Diocese of Olympia passed a resolution requesting the Board of Directors to divest of direct ownership of stocks issued by the world’s leading fossil fuel companies.
Since November 2013, the Board of Directors has conducted polls to solicit advice from the vestries and bishop’s committees for those congregations invested in the Diocesan Investment Fund.
Though the Board’s decision remains pending, a notable roster of church bodies and other faith institutions have committed to divest from the fossil fuel industry in the meantime.
Notable Divestment Commitments:
- The World Council of Churches
- The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
- The Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts
- The Church of Sweden
- 6 Dioceses in the Anglican Church of New Zealand
- 3 Dioceses in the Anglican Church of Australia and the Anglican National Super, Australia
- The United Church of Christ
- Union Theological Seminary, New York
- University of Dayton (Catholic university)
- … and many other religious institutions, not to mention a growing number of cities, colleges, and charitable foundations that are divesting.
Furthermore, in October 2014 both the annual conventions for the Episcopal Dioceses of Nebraska and Western Massachusetts have passed resolutions that call on the Episcopal Church Pension Fund and the Episcopal Church Endowment Fund to divest from fossil fuels and to reinvest a percentage of these funds into clean, renewable energy.
Theologians & Religious Leaders Sign Statement for Fossil Fuel Divestment
Over 80 prominent theologians, ethicists, and religious leaders, including Walter Brueggemann and Abp. Desmond Tutu, have signed a statement that urges faith communities to divest from the fossil fuel industry.  An excerpt from this statement follows:
“This industry has used its financial power to prevent legislation and binding agreements to reduce carbon emissions, spending over $400,000 per day to lobby the U.S. government alone. It secures unthinkably large government subsidies – $1.5 billion globally per day, according to the International Energy Agency. In 2013, the industry spent over $60 billion exploring for new fossil fuel reserves, far beyond the $24 billion invested globally in renewable energy. This level of spending dwarfs the resources that can be mobilized by advocates for a sustainable future. […] What must faith communities do? They must divest and reinvest now.”
More about Fossil Fuel Divestment
- A print version of this post with further readings in eco-justice and Christian discipleship
 Other notable commitments include Stanford University (divesting from coal companies) and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. A regularly updated list of organizations that have made commitments to divest from fossil fuels is available at http://gofossilfree.org/commitments.
 The full statement and a list of signatories are available online at http://goo.gl/uBHcCN.
Members of the Bishop’s Committee for the Environment (BCE) have been busy during the past few months initiating conversations about divestment. As you know, delegates at 2013 diocesan convention passed a resolution asking the Board of Directors to develop a plan over five years to divest of direct ownership of stocks issued by the world’s leading fossil fuel companies. The resolution also instructed the BCE to “formulate an educational plan for implementation over the next year about the issues and questions surrounding the divestment of fossil fuel holdings”. Our educational plan is conversation, as we share information and ideas about divestment with individual and churches throughout the diocese.
I’m often asked, “Why divestment?” My answer is that divestment is one way to address the challenge of climate change. Climate change threatens the sanctity of God’s creation; the BCE’s mission is to heal and celebrate creation. But I would also like to emphasize that divestment is NOT the only way that the BCE works to address climate change. Here’s a brief list of the other actions that the BCE has taken on climate change.
- Since 2010 the BCE has awarded 29 Green Grants of about $500 each to churches in our diocese. The grants have resulted in over $130,000 in improvements to church facilities. These projects have saved energy and money while shrinking the churches’ carbon footprint.
- The BCE has offered workshops and coaching in the use of Portfolio Manager for Houses of Worship, the EPA’s carbon calculator. A group of ten churches, working together, have reduced their energy use and kept about 390 metric tons of carbon out of the atmosphere.
- The BCE encourages churches to start environmental justice and faith ministries. Eleven congregations are “Greening Congregations” with Earth Ministry. Two congregations have been certified by Green Faith and several are beginning the process.
- Although the BCE is deeply committed to the Genesis Covenant, the pledge made by the Episcopal Church to reduce energy use at all facilities it owns by 50% within 10 years (2019), it recognizes that goal is difficult to achieve in the Northwest where most energy is generated by hydro and other renewable sources. So we were eager to develop a carbon offset partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Philippines (EDSP). Bishop Rickel signed the agreement with Bishop Bustamante of the EDSP in February 2012. To date the EDSP has raised from seed and planted over 5000 trees which sequester carbon, combat deforestation, and provide income for rural churches and farmers. Individuals and churches in the Diocese of Olympia have donated over $12,000, offsetting about 750 metric tons of carbon each year.
So divestment is just one of the strategies the BCE uses to combat climate change. But divestment is an essential strategy. We all know that old saying: “Show me your checkbook and I’ll show you what you value”. The investments in the Diocesan Investment Fund show the world what our faith teaches about caring for creation.