Try 1, 2 or all 3 of the ideas below. Click on the buttons to jump right to the content.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops issued quite a challenge when they presented this Environmental Pastoral Teaching in September 2011 while convening in Quito, Ecuador. The good news is the Maryland Episcopal Environmental Partners (MEEP) team has created the GreenGrace program, described below, to support our Episcopal community in practicing sustainability and furthering our connection to God’s creation.
My first suggestion is to take the time to closely read this very important Pastoral Teaching. Climate change and sustainability are issues of life and death that we can all agree upon. We are called to live our faith and practice a more sustainable way of living in order to fulfill Christ’s commandment to “love one another.”
The Pastoral Teaching’s key points:
Moreover, in order to honor the goodness and sacredness of God’s creation, we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, commit ourselves and urge every Episcopalian:
- To acknowledge the urgency of the planetary crisis in which we find ourselves, and to repent of any and all acts of greed, overconsumption, and waste that have contributed to it.
- To lift up prayers in personal and public worship for environmental justice, for sustainable development, and for help in restoring right relations both among humankind and between humankind and the rest of creation;
- To take steps in our individual lives, and in community, public policy, business, and other forms of corporate decision-making, to practice environmental stewardship and justice, including (1) a commitment to energy conservation and the use of clean, renewable sources of energy; and (2) efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle, and whenever possible to buy products made from recycled materials;
- To seek to understand and uproot the political, social, and economic causes of environmental destruction and abuse; (ii)
- To advocate for a “fair, ambitious, and binding” climate treaty, and to work toward climate justice through reducing our own carbon footprint and advocating for those most negatively affected by climate change.
The GreenGrace program, developed by the Maryland Episcopal Environmental Partners, focuses on the step #3 from above: Taking steps in our lives to practice environmental stewardship.
“Going green” is often easier said than done. We all questions which eco-steps make a difference and where and how do we start to make daily changes?
The GreenGrace online program was developed to explicitly offer clergy, churches and parishioners three simple actions to choose from and complete in six months.
Simple changes, such as switching to green energy through Groundswell or Celebrate God’s Creation Day are all doable, and do make significant impacts and help us living our faith and keep the God’s garden. Here’s one example, in Maryland we are fortunate as we can choose to switch our home’s energy suppliers to green choices. A one-time switch on-line can eliminate almost half of your greenhouse gas emissions; the gases that have caused our world global temperatures to rise by 1.5 ˚F since 1750.
GreenGrace has done the legwork for you, yet the hardest part is left to you, getting it done. GreenGrace program will offer a set of new green actions every 6 months.
GreenGrace will also share our Episcopal community’s successes. Take a peek at the amazing environmental programs in parishes around the Diocese of Maryland.
Thank you for considering GreenGrace ideas and feel free to email the GreenGrace team any ideas and questions to MEEP@archive.episcopalmaryland.org.
The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Bishop of Maryland
The internet has made accessible vast quantities of faith-based environmental inspiration, yet at times the volume can be overwhelming. We’ve pinpointed a few excellent faith-based eco-movies, YouTube clips, web sites and faith-based environmental organizations to enhance your environmental education.
Web-based eco-films & YouTube clips
- Bishop Eugene Sutton’s YouTube clip on the significance of the environmental sustainability in fulfilling our commandment of loving one another.
- PBS’ Moyers on America: Is God Green? Insightful analysis of the internal environmental debate among conservative evangelical Christians.
- On Faith & Fracking: An interfaith 10-minute presentation on the connection between our faith and the spiritual role of water and the potential harm caused by fracking. Hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a fracking, is a controversial new drilling method used to harvest natural gas. This video complements the Gasland 1 & 2 movies.
Hosting an environmental screening affords congregations deeper education about specific issues and also provides a springboard to discussions, classes, in-house presentations or book groups about the topic.
Interfaith Power & Light’s Eco Film Library offers a rich selection of movies to share with your congregation. Rentals are free.
Movie Topic: Climate Change:
- Chasing Ice – Photographic documenting of glacier retreat in Greenland, Alaska & Montana.
- Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore’s 2006 documentary outlining global warming’s consequences.
- Sun Come Up: Carteret Islanders losing homes due to rising seas.
- Scarred Land and Wounded Lives: the Environmental Footprint of War.
Movie topic: Fracking and fossil fuel extraction:
- Gasland 1 & 2: Outlines fracking and its harmful impacts to air, water,land and people.
- Triple Divide: Beautifully-filmed documentary about fracking in PA’s Potter County.
- Do the Math – 350.org’s fossil fuels math required to keep global temperature rise to 2 ˚C.
Movie topics: Consumerism & Daily Living:
- Bag It: Award-winning movie (short and long version) Is your life too plastic?
- The Majestic Plastic Bag Mockumentary – 4 funny, effective mins about Pacific Garbage Patch.
- Trashed: Documentary about US trash business and its impacts on people and places.
- Dirt, The Movie. Movie about the glorious and unappreciated material beneath our feet.
- The Story of Stuff: 20 minutes on how we make, use, buy and trash the stuff in our daily lives.
- The Story of Bottled Water: Eight short minutes and you’ll never look at bottled water the same.
Though Earth Day is a natural time to deliver an eco-themed sermon, the resources below give many ideas on additional Sundays to weave in environmental themes. Get inspired by these three resources below that will quickly help you find the strategies for developing insightful green sermons.
Click below for for 2 recent eco-themed sermons from Maryland’s own!
Bishop Robert Ihloff - Caring for Creation sermon delivered at the Church of the Redeemer on October 5, 2014
Dan Schoos - Dan’s eco-sermon Listening to God’s Call: Integrity and Environmental Stewardship was delivered at All Hallows Parish, South River on January 11, 2015. Dan is a MEEP member and a lay minister available to deliver an eco-sermon.
Greenfaith’s Eco-Themed Worship Services: A one-stop shop and best practice guidelines for Eco-Themed Services.
Interfaith Power & Light’s Sample Sermon Corner- A comprehensive and creative library of sermons documents and videotaped sermons covering many angles of teaching environmental liturgical principles.
Three Layers of Environmental Preaching by Rev. Peter Sawtell, Executive Director, Eco-Justice Ministries. This guide offers an excellent three layer communication strategy to help weave liturgy and green actions together.