The E-mail Commentary from Eco-Justice Ministries
Wow! 15 Years!
Eco-Justice Ministries was established as a not-for-profit corporation in Colorado at the end of July in the year 2000. This week, we observe our 15th anniversary!
Our agency was started out of a concern that Christian churches were not able to deal well with this time of great ecological and social justice crisis -- either practically or theologically. From the start, we have been committed to working specifically with churches. We've focused on what congregations and denominations can do as institutional agents of change.
Much has happened in those 15 years. There is much to celebrate. There is much still to be done. As our agency reaches the 1.5 decade mark, it is an occasion to remember, reflect and evaluate. Today, join with me as I share some of those thoughts.
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Long, long ago, in the summer of 2000, it was an election year in the US, and it seemed likely that Al Gore would be the next president. The strong possibility of an environmentally informed and committed President added to my sense that it was The Right Time to launch a new project committed to environmental action.
The election came in November, dragged on into December (remember "hanging chads"?), and was finally decided by the Supreme Court, with Mr. Gore declared the loser. The hoped-for chance to reinforce a national environmental initiative turned into the need to resist anti-environmental tendencies throughout the Bush years. What an unpleasant surprise.
Even before 2000, though, the environmental clock was ticking. James Hansen had alerted us to the dangers of global warming back in 1988. The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio brought the nations of the world together in a first clear effort to take on the planet's environmental crises. By 1994, the experts were saying that we had just 10 years to get a handle on our greenhouse gas emissions. (They were right of course. If governments, businesses and society had mobilized for dramatic changes by 2004, we might have avoided some of the irreversible climate traumas that are now in place.)
15 years of eco-justice witness and ministry. We've been here through the last 6 months of Bill Clinton's tenure, all of the George W. Bush years, and more than 6 years of Obama. The events of those years are powerful icons in the US and the world. (To avoid link overload, I'm not going to point to the countless Eco-Justice Notes that have talked about them!). 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. The Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. Drought and raging forest fires in Colorado (our home state) and elsewhere, and devastating floods here and around the world. The anticipation in 2009 before "Hopenhagen" -- the climate talks in Denmark that went nowhere -- and all of the other annual negotiations that have failed to reach agreements. The awareness of "peak oil" was turned around with the rise of fracking, and a new glut of oil and gas. The long-fought and still-pending battle against the Keystone XL pipeline.
It has been a time of technological change. Compact fluorescent bulbs were just taking hold in 2000, and now they're out of favor, supplanted by LEDs. The Prius -- the world's first hybrid gas-electric car -- was released in 2001. When Eco-Justice Ministries started, we were on the cutting edge with a sophisticated website, and we had problems because many in our constituency didn't have email. Now -- email is passé, Facebook is staid, and Twitter gives us unending hashtags on ubiquitous smart phones.
Through those 15 years, Eco-Justice Ministries has stuck to our work with churches, "persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable" (2 Timothy 4:2). Year in and year out, we've called churches to a broad eco-justice vision, and tried to offer support and guidance for "ministries that are faithful, relevant and effective in working toward social justice and ecological sustainability." Some highlights from those 15 years:
We are grateful that Eco-Justice Ministries has been able to provide leadership in the faith-based environmental movement through the last 15 years. We give thanks wonderful collaboration with for our ecumenical and interfaith partners (GreenFaith and Earth Ministry, the National Council of Churches/Creation Justice Ministries, Interfaith Power & Light, and more).
Unfortunately, the work that we started in 2000 is still necessary. Locally and globally, ecological devastation is accelerating, and the social injustice of an exploitative culture is deepening. Churches still are weak on ministries of "creation care" and few are providing faithful and transformative witness. We haven't solved those problems, yet!
So, Eco-Justice Ministries will continue our distinctive work with churches. We look forward to working with you -- our global constituency of friends and colleagues -- as we put forth the good and hopeful news of justice and transformation.
It has been a fascinating and exciting 15 years, and the years to come will provide more opportunities for our ministry on behalf of all of God's creation.
Eco-Justice Ministries * 400 S Williams St, Denver, CO 80209 * 303.715.3873
Home Page: www.eco-justice.org * E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org