Eco-Justice Ministries  

Eco-Justice Notes
The E-mail Commentary from Eco-Justice Ministries

Take Action in the Season of Creation
distributed 8/10/18 - ©2018

From my perspective, it is always "the season of creation ." Every day provides bountiful opportunities for Earth-aware worship and intentional eco-justice action.

As a broadly recognized time of religious observance, though, the Season of Creation begins on September 1 (the Day of Prayer for Creation) and ends on October 4 (the feast day of St. Francis, the patron saint of ecology in many traditions).

Since 2005, the Season of Creation has been observed world-wide as a worship emphasis, with an excellent set of thematic resources. More recently, a closely related movement says that the Season of Creation must include both worship and action. (A year ago, Eco-Justice Notes provided more background about those two initiatives with the same name.)

In 2018, Eco-Justice Ministries strongly encourages congregations and individuals to participate in this extended month with a creation focus. Bring more attention to God's creation into the worship and spiritual development of your congregation. Use this time to enhance your own ecological spirituality. And participate in coordinated witness and activism during the season to embody the work of protecting creation and establishing environmental justice.

This year, there are two excellent ways to join in activism during the Season of Creation.

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On Saturday, September 8 -- four weeks from now -- thousands of "Rise for Climate" rallies will be held around the world. Each of these events will be calling local leaders to "commit to building a fossil free world that puts people and justice before profits."

The demand for a fast and fair transition to 100% renewable energy for all recognizes that the move away from fossil fuels has some hard impacts on the communities and individuals that are now dependent on the production of coal, oil and gas. A fair transition will provide significant resources and training so that the rapid shift away from fossil fuels will include justice for all -- economic opportunity for workers and justice and dignity for frontline communities that are the hardest hit by the impacts of the fossil fuel industry and a warming world.

At the Rise for Climate website, you can search for a rally being planned near you -- either by state or zip code in the US. (If you can't find an event already scheduled for your community, you can organize an action. It doesn't have to be a huge or complicated event!)

At many of the planned events, people of faith can be a visible presence, making it clear that climate justice is a religious value. It also may be appropriate to schedule a distinctively religious event in conjunction with the Rise for Climate rally. Whether a prayer service before the rally, a meeting of faith leaders with local politicians, or a religious procession to the site of the rally, a vivid faith presence will strengthen the Rise for Climate movement. Check with local organizers about how you can be part of an interfaith witness in your community.

The Rise for Climate events are planned just a few days before the Global Climate Action Summit, which will be in San Francisco September 12-14. That summit will mobilize leaders for climate action in settings other than national government policy -- states, regions, cities, companies, investors and citizens. All sectors of society will coordinate and commit to strategies that prevent dangerous climate change.

Rise for Climate on September 8 will be a moving demonstration of the breadth and depth of the climate movement. It will build momentum and grassroots support for the Global Climate Action Summit. Taking part in Rise for Climate is a great way to kick off this year's Season of Creation -- for you personally, for your congregation, and for faith leaders in your community.

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The Season of Creation ends on St. Francis Day, October 4. St. Francis stands out as Christianity's best ecological hero, with a deep love for all creatures. The period leading up to his feast day is an appropriate occasion to take action in support of Endangered Species -- especially in the United States.

Within the last few weeks, proposals to weaken the Endangered Species Act have been announced by Republicans in the US House, and by the Trump Administration. (See solid reporting on the details of those proposals from EcoWatch and High Country News.)

The High Country News article says that the legislation would "limit the creation and enforcement of endangered species protections while opening up new avenues of influence for special interests. " As a staff member of the Center for Biological Diversity put it, "This is a fairly sweeping, across-the-board reduction in protections for all listed species. The goal is quite clear: to basically greenlight development."

There's probably a need to tweak the laws and regulations related to endangered species, but the proposed actions would bring dramatic changes that go to the heart of the act, and would be a shift away from science-based decisions toward political and economic considerations.

The proposed new rules, announced by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will be open for public comment until September 24. Our close colleagues at the National Religious Partnership for the Environment are preparing materials to help individuals and faith communities submit comments. We'll spread the word as soon as those resources are available. Submitting strong comments from a faith perspective is a great way to take action during the Season of Creation.

The proposed legislation will be moving through the processes of the House of Representatives. During the Season of Creation, you can have a letter-writing campaign in your congregation calling on your Representatives to protect the ESA. You can schedule a meeting of faith leaders with your members of Congress, or their local staff. You can stage a rally, protest event or public witness to bring a clear faith message about protecting and preserving endangered species -- perhaps on St. Francis Day. Be creative in looking for ways to make this witness.

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The Season of Creation is an opportunity to worship the Creator and protect the good gift of creation. This year, there are two clear ways to take action.

  • Rise for Climate on September 8 joins in a global movement for climate justice.
  • A wide variety of actions can be taken to protect the Endangered Species Act in the face of proposed federal rules and new legislation.

I urge you to be vigorous in joining the 2018 Season of Creation -- with personal prayer and action, with congregational involvement, and by joining in coordinated forms of political action and public witness.

Shalom!

Peter Sawtell
Executive Director
Eco-Justice Ministries

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