Honoring and Protecting Creation

Caring for creation means striving for justice and peace among all people by living in mindful, ethical, and humane relationship with the earth, its resources, and the life it supports, and by seeking to restore a healthy environment in the face of problems such as pollution and climate change that diminish the health, safety, and economic wellbeing of people.

Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth,
you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom
and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one
may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet
to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(Prayer for the Conservation of Natural Resources, BCP 827)

In Colorado, we live in a beautiful and sacred part of God’s creation, a place that calls us to reverence, prayerfulness, proclamation, conversation, and action. In the face of the many challenges impacting creation, we seek more than simple solutions that don’t go far enough. We want to be educated, informed, and equipped, avoiding aggressive and confrontational attitudes and actions that polarize and divide.

We hope the following resources will help individuals and congregations learn more about caring for creation and discern ways to take action–through lifestyle changes, by creating a Creation Care ministry, or by advocating for programs or policy changes at the local, state, or national level.

Who Can Help Us in this Work?

Faith Formation Team

We welcome your comments and questions at any time. Please reach out to anyone on the Faith Formation team:

The Rev. Greg Foraker, Canon Missioner for Faith Formation
Tracy Methe, Coordinator for Faith Formation
Elizabeth Cervasio, Director of Children and Youth Ministry

Communications Support, including Websites

Mike Orr, Director of Communications

Mentors, Coaches, Advisors (Caring for Creation advocates in The Episcopal Church Colorado)

The Rev. Gary Brower, Priest-in-Charge, Good Shepherd, Centennial
Sue Carter, Parishioner, Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, Broomfield
Pastor Alena Lamirato, Pastor, Peace in Christ Episcopal-Lutheran Ministry, Elizabeth
Suzanne Satter, Parishioner, St. John’s Cathedral, Denver
The Rev. Teri Shecter, Deacon, Church of the Nativity, Grand Junction

Resources

Access the resources below by clicking on the plus sign next to the topic you wish to explore.

World Oceans Day, June 8, 2020

June 8 is World Oceans Day. How will you celebrate our beautiful, bio-diverse, and critical ocean ecosystems this year? The United Nations website has resources, ideas, and public virtual events from around the world.

Poor People’s Campaign, June 20, 2020

“The Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington is going digital! On June 20th, we will hold the largest digital and social media gathering of poor and low-wealth people, moral and religious leaders, advocates, and people of conscience in this nation’s history. A global pandemic is exposing even more the already existing crisis of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. On June 20, the 140 million poor and low-income people across this nation will be heard!” Learn more and register for the June 20th virtual event >

Our Fragile Island Home: Protecting God’s Creation, August 20-23, 2020

Deacons from Provinces VIII and VI Conference
August 20-23, 2020, Phoenix, Arizona

Speakers: Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop Marc Andrus, Katharine Hayhoe, and Dr. Sheila Andrus

Learn more >

In living out our baptismal covenant to strive for justice and peace among all people, we are called to tend to the planet that houses and nourishes all people and to have wisdom and reverence in this work so that the earth is a source of healthy life for each of the more than 7.5 billion people now inhabiting the planet, as well as for those who come after us. Created in the image of God, we are co-creators–fellow workers–inspired to bring about healing and wholeness when we see sickness and brokenness. We see the suffering of people that is caused by lack of clean water, clean air, and nutrient-rich food. We see the many signs of environmental degradation. We can’t ignore the impact of our habits and lifestyles on the earth that supports all people.

What does the Episcopal Church say?

The Episcopal Church says, “As we are called by God to care for creation, we support policies that protect the natural resources that sustain all life on Earth. The Church calls for policies that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, promote sustainable energy and the safe and just use of natural resources, and support communities impacted by a lack of environmental stewardship.”

Nineteen resolutions regarding the care of creation were passed at the 2018 General Convention. Read more >

In addition, as part of living into the Jesus Movement the Episcopal Church has asked individuals and congregations to commit to its Creation Care Pledge by:

  1. Loving: We will share our stories of love and concern for the Earth and link with others who care about protecting the sacred web of life.
  2. Liberating: We will stand with those most vulnerable to the harmful effects of environmental degradation and climate change–women, children, poor people, and communities of color, refugees, migrants.
  3. Life-Giving: We will change our habits and choices in order to live more simply, humbly, and gently on the Earth. Read more about pledge in English> or in Spanish >

What does scripture say?

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Gen 1:26-28)

“The call to have dominion over creation is not a call for domination,” writes Carla Barnhill in The Green Bible Devotional. “Our care for the earth, our care for one another, is to reflect God’s care for us. This reciprocal relationship between God, humanity, and the whole of creation puts us in a place of extraordinary privilege. We are the image bearers when we care for all of God’s creation in the way of our Creator.”

Some resources to help you explore what the Bible says about creation and its care include:

  • The Green Bible, which seeks to highlight the more than 1,000 references to the earth found in the Old and New Testaments–verses that teach about God’s care for creation and how God interacts with creation. Also included are essays from conservationists and theologians about reading the Bible through a “green lens.” Consider using the Green Bible for Bible study, adult formation, or a Lenten series.
  • The Green Bible Devotional provides 60 days of scripture reading, prayer, and reflections to that reflect them of hope, renewal, restoration, and redemption. This is a good resource for Ordinary Time. Read it during the summer months and set up a private FaceBook group where participants can post their thoughts and insights when inspired.
  • The Episcopal Church has compiled a list of scripture passages relating to the Care of Creation. Start with this list and ask people to think of other passages they think should be included. See list >

Today’s environmental challenges, many of them interconnected, include climate change, pollution, overconsumption of natural resources, loss of habitat, loss of biodiversity, and waste. Because climate change presents one of the most urgent crises of our planet, it is the primary focus of this page.

What is climate change?

Climate change refers to the changes in weather patterns due primarily to the increase in atmospheric CO2.

  • Carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere, causing temperatures to rise.
  • For the past 800,000 years, atmospheric CO2 been less than 300 ppm (parts per million)
  • In the past 50 years, atmospheric CO2 has increased to 400 ppm
  • Very rapid CO2 increase destabilizes systems (such as weather patterns)

From the news and from events we may have experienced directly, we are likely familiar with the major trends of climate change:

  • 16 of the 17 hottest years ever have occured since 2000
  • The ocean is warming, rising and becoming more acidic
  • Glaciers, sea ice and snowpacks are melting
  • Hurricanes, droughts, fires and winter storms are getting worse

The primary way humans have contributed to climate change is by causing increasing amounts of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere through industrialized processes, energy consumption, and modes of transportation.

For more information, see Interfaith Power and Light’s webpage Climate Change 101. For answers to some commonly asked questions about climate change, see the New York Times article Climate Change Is Complex. We’ve Got Answers to Your Questions.

The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit provides details of the many areas impacted by climate change, from food, water, and health to transportation, ecosystems, and populations that are especially at risk. It provides steps for building resilience: exploring hazards, assessing vulnerability and risks, investigating options, prioritizing and planning, and taking action.

Although we mostly hear about the physical health affects of climate change, the impacts on mental health and wellbeing are significant. Mental Health And Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance, sponsored by the American Psychological Association and ecoAmerica, discusses in detail the mental health effects resulting from the health, economic, political, and environmental impacts of climate change: stress, depression, and anxiety; strained social and community relationships; potential increases in aggression, violence, and crime. Psychological responses are also discussed: conflict avoidance, fatalism, fear, helplessness, and resignation. These responses, says the report “are keeping us, and our nation, from properly addressing the core causes of and solutions for our changing climate, and from building and supporting psychological resiliency.”

Individuals may think they have little control over environmental issues like climate change and pollution compared to corporations and industries, or that their lifestyles can impact the quality of life of other people. However our daily choices in consumption are what drive our economy, meaning that each choice is able to influence trends and corporate decisions. In addition individuals can be powerful advocates for policy change at the local, state, and national level.

The Earth 911 website is full of practical information about recycling and ecofriendly lifestyle choices. Provide the link to your congregation or consider offering tips each week in your e-newsletter or bulletin.

Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming, calling us to be faithful stewards of Creation “by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.” Key to this effort is helping shrink carbon footprints and educating people about their important role in addressing global warming. Resources include educational materials such films and discussion guides, worship and prayer suggestions, ways to reduce carbon, and ways to take action. This is a good resource for congregations considering a creation care ministry.

Also, to keep current on research, articles, and actions, follow the Facebook page Episcopal Climate News, “An unofficial and independent climate-change hub for Episcopalians and other Christians, sharing stories about interfaith, ecumenical, and Episcopal climate action, as well as general and scientific climate-change news to keep the church informed.”

Commit

Educate

  • Educate your congregation about the goals and vision for Care of Creation developed  by the  Presiding  Bishop’s Office and  leaders of the Advisory Council on Stewardship of Creation and in alignment with actions by the 79th General Convention. Read about goals and actions >
  • Include weekly creation care tips in your bulletin or e-newsletter. Earth911 is a great source for tips. Episcopal Climate News also offers weekly items for bulletins or newsletters. Read more >
  • Hold an adult forum about creation care. Use a variety of media to stimulate discussion. Bullfrog Films has an extensive list of videos on topics ranging from energy efficiency and composting to threats to water quality in the Colorado Rockies. Films can be purchased or rented. Visit the Episcopal Climate News website for recommended books and curricula. Read more >
  • Do a Bible study that focuses on our relationship to creation.
  • Go deep into a theme of creation care. How about ending plastic pollution? The Plastic Pollution Primer and Toolkit, created for Earth Day 2018 provides detailed information about plastics production and health and environmental impacts.
  • Learn more about topics such as climate change, eco-justice, and loss of biodiversity, and how we ground action in hope and faith, by reading one of the many excellent books on care of creation:
    View list of books recommended by the Denver Zoo Conservation Team >
    View EarthDay.org recommended reads >

Worship

  • Make reverence for creation part of your regular worship. The language of Eucharistic Prayer C (BCP 369) especially calls us to think about creation: At your command all things cam to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in there courses, and this fragile earth, our island home. In addition, see the Liturgical Resources for Honoring God in Creation beginning on page 289 of the Book of Occasional Services, Revised 2018.
  • Go outside to worship during the summer months.
  • Schedule a prayer hike. The Wilderness Worshipers ministry at St. Luke’s, Fort Collins, holds monthly hikes during the summer months and has created A Hiking Eucharist that has hikers pause along the way for the Gospel reading, Prayers of the People, and The Peace, and culminates in sharing communion at the hike’s destination. Camino Divina at Transfiguration, Evergreen, practices “walking the Divine Way” every Thursday morning. Walkers are invited to be present in the moment, grow in awareness and stillness, and celebrate the divine beauty of the earth.
  • Bless your church garden or have your families bless theirs at home using the Rite for the Blessing of a Garden on page 98 of the Book for Occasional Services, Revised 2018.
  • Hold a blessing of animals on St. Francis Day (October 4) with the creation-honoring St. Francis / Blessing of Animals service on page 100 of the Book for Occasional Services, Revised 2018.

Green your church

  • Find ways to be more energy efficient: use LED bulbs, purchase Energy Star appliances, install a programmable thermostat, consider solar panels.
  • Eliminate single-use plastics at church functions (cups, bottled water, plastic utensils).
  • Recycle.
  • Use paper goods made with post-consumer recycled paper.
  • Purchase Fair Trade coffee. Fair Trade practices promote farming techniques that are safe for workers and environmentally sustainable.
  • Reduce water use: fix leaks, install water-conserving toilets, xeriscape part of your church grounds.
  • Become a carbon-tracking congregation and find ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Learn more about this new initiative sponsored by the Diocese of California >

Check out the ENERGY-STAR Action Workbook for Congregations, ENERGY-STAR Treasure Checklist for Congregations, and Supporting Healthy Houses of Worship from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Make creation care part of your year-round stewardship model

  • Expand your vision of stewardship to include caring for creation. The Sundays after Pentecost are a perfect time to focus on themes of creation. Consider setting up a sharing table to swap produce from each other’s gardens. Lent can be time to take on disciplines that help us live more gently on the earth.
  • Purchase local food/locally made items whenever possible to reduce the impact of transporting goods long distances.
  • Eat what’s in season. Unsure what that means for Colorado? Visit the Seasonal Food Guide.
  • Strengthen the social fabric of your community by supporting local businesses, especially those owned by women and/or people of color who are intent on building financial security for themselves.
  • Adopt a highway. Apply on the CDOT website.

Start a green team

Creating a creation care ministry can provide the vision, commitment, and momentum needed to begin making significant changes at your church and within your congregation.

Form a team. Start with people who are passionate about this work. Develop a mission statement and create a calendar for the next 6-12 months. Then begin to take actions, one at a time, starting small if necessary, to gain momentum and inspire others. The Green Team Academy can help you get started.

EcoAmerica’s 24-page guide Moving Forward encourages congregations to get started with concrete steps that have big impact.

For recent articles, practical resources, and current events visit BlessedTomorrow.org.

Denver-based Eco-Justice Ministries describes guidelines for getting started for churches at different stages of readiness for creation care ministry:

Understand your carbon footprint and how you can begin making more sustainable choices. The best way to assess carbon emissions is to use a carbon tracker. The Sustain Island Home carbon tracker (sustainislandhome.org) was developed by the Diocese of California and endorsed at General Convention 2018. It is a web-based tool available to all Episcopalians. The Diocese of California website provides a presentation, posters, a demo, and FAQs to train individuals and congregations on using the tracker, and offers frequent live webinars for getting started and ongoing support.

In addition to measuring your carbon footprint, the tracker suggests actions you can take to reduce your footprint, and measures the reduction of your footprint based on actions you choose to take. Data from each household is aggregated by church, allowing you to see how you are doing as a community compared to other churches in the Episcopal Church in Colorado. As a diocese, we can also see how we compare to other dioceses in the Episcopal Church.

Know what’s happening in your community and across Colorado

Know what’s happening in Colorado and in your community. There is lots of work to be done right here. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, which includes information about air and water quality, Superfund sites, and EPA news. Learn more >

In addition, find out about Natural Resources and Environment bills and resolutions in the Colorado General Assembly. Read about the Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution.

Know how to talk  about Creation Care

Do you feel passionate about creation care, but don’t feel confident talking about sometimes controversial topics like climate change? Or maybe you need help discussing environmental problems in the context of faith? The following guides provide simple advice and concrete examples for talking about creation care.