Creation Care Task Force

“When the bow is in the clouds, I will look upon
it and remember
the everlasting covenant
between God and every living creature of all
flesh that is on the earth.” Genesis 9:16

Our mission is to be a sustainable and inclusive network of Episcopalians in the Diocese of Virginia committed to faithfully uplifting, stewarding and protecting God's Creation. 

Creating a Green Team      Environmental Justice 

Eco-Anxiety      News You Can Use 

Creation Care Calendar     Resources   

 

An Earth Day Message from Bishop Susan Goff: Life Wants to Live

Four years ago, a strong winter wind blew down a tree in the park in my neighborhood. The crown of the tree landed in the small lake and the roots stood upright, exposed on the bank. That spring, the tree burst into bloom, then leafed out fully in its new life turned sideways. Life wants to live.

This spring, the tree is leafing out again. Birds find shelter in its branches. Fish find safety in the submerged crown. Insects of many kinds find sustenance. Life wants to live. Even when turned sideways, life wants to live.

On this Earth Day, the fifty second in the United States, we recognize how human choices have turned life sideways for many species on this planet. We recognize the great diversity of living things as we grieve the loss of so many species. We celebrate that life wants to live. 

God give us courage to turn ourselves sideways for the sake of all living things on this beautiful, complex, intricate, life-sustaining planet, our island home. God help us, who want to live, to choose life for all creatures and, by so doing, to choose life for ourselves and our descendants.

Join the Diocesan Creation Care Task Force

Members of the Diocese are invited to apply to serve on the Creation Care Task Force for the Diocese of Virginia. The Task Force is responsible for developing programs that meet strategic vision and goals. It is the conviction of the Diocese that this group represent a depth of diversity in Creation Care experience parish, school or organization, geography, age, racial and cultural, as well as experiential diversity. The Task Force will be comprised of 15-20 people. Terms will be staggered. Those serving will be appointed by the Bishop. Please submit applications to DioceseOfVACreationCare@gmail.com by Tuesday, May 18, 2021.

   

Climate Emergency Declared by the Dioceses of Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts

On March 23, 2021, the Dioceses of Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts issued a declaration of a climate emergency, with suggested resources and actions.

A series of four webinars on ways to respond are offered in May (recordings will also be available.) A monthly message of current opportunities to learn, pray, act and advocate is available. 

Episcopal Creation Care Resolutions and Resources

The Episcopal Church, on all levels, has made Creation Care one of its top priorities.

The Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church welcomes all who worship Jesus Christ, in 111 dioceses and regional areas in 17 nations; 100 of which are in the United States. The Episcopal Church’s Covenant for the Care of Creation is a commitment to practice loving formation, liberating advocacy and life-giving conversation as individuals, congregations, ministries and dioceses. To ensure our future and that of our planet, learn, get involved and take advantage of resources offered through the links below.

Diocese of Virginia


Creating a Green Team in Your Church

Each congregation in the Diocese of Virginia is unique. Having a Green Team within your church means creation care worship, education and action goals can be made meaningful to your own congregation. Environmental justice issues can be addressed at the local level. Even the smallest steps help. The diocesan Creation Care Task Force is here and ready to help. Send us an email at DioceseOfVaCreationCare@gmail.com. Below is a list of additional resources for use by green teams in local congregations.

Environmental Justice

Climate Change is already happening with unequal impact. How should we respond? To learn about The Episcopal Church’s position, watch, Let’s Talk Faith and Climate, a co-production between The Episcopal Church and ecoAmerica’s Blessed Tomorrow program.

The Episcopal Church Task Force on Creation Care and Environmental Racism is offering grants for appropriate projects now. Deadline to apply is April 16, 2021 at 5 p.m. Learn more and apply. Watch this webinar recording for additional information on this grant.

Additional resources: 

Eco-Anxiety

Many people feel overwhelmed by the enormity of our environmental challenges. This is a place where the Church is called to be present. Worship and prayer are pathways for celebrating Gods creation. They are also vehicles for lament, confession, supplication, healing and hope. Read here to learn more about climate anxiety:

The Episcopal Church and other faith-based organizations offer excellent resources:

  • Reviving Creation: The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, focuses on these issues on her website. Her resource “Preaching Hope” is helpful. Learn more. In May, along with the Creation Care Justice Network, she offers four webinars on how to respond to our climate emergency: Pray, Learn, Act, and Advocate (they will be recorded).
  • Blessed Tomorrow: Blessed Tomorrow is a coalition of diverse religious partners working to advance climate solutions in faithful service to God.
  • Creation Care Alliance: Creation Care Alliance offers eco-grief circles for safe conversation and support.
  • John Luther Adams: The arts provide a way to express grief in a different way. One example is the music of John Luther Adams. Watch this video or read this article to learn more.
  • The study book Active Hope by Joanna Macy and “Active Hope Training” are interfaith resources that groups including Virginia Interfaith Power & Light have found helpful.
  • James’, Warrenton, provided 1-hour Listening Sessions on climate change. Participants sat in a circle, were led in prayer and a time of quiet. Then, each person was asked to share their feelings about climate change as they were able. Prayer ended the session. St. James’ also offered  “Worship in the Woods” with meditative walks and celebration of the Eucharist in local natural settings. Both the Listening Sessions and “Worship in the Woods" received positive feedback. They could be done separately or combined. For more information, contact Father Randolph Charles.
  • For Children and Youth: The Hopeful Family: Building Resilient Children in Uncertain Times by Amelia Richardson Dress has helpful points and good questions for group discussion. This article also provides more ideas on how to talk about climate anxiety with youth and children.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved, and though the mountains be toppled into the depths of the sea. Psalm 46


News You Can Use: Resources and ideas to spark creation care ministry in your congregation.

International Compost Awareness Week is May 2-8

Now that we are beginning to enjoy outdoor activities again, it is an easy project for your Green Team to encourage composting and recycling of waste at such an event – and it’s a good opportunity to gain name recognition, too.

Composting is an easy but important way to help our planet. The breakdown of organic matter – both food and yard waste – in a landfill causes the creation of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Of the 267.8 million tons of trash annually created in the US, more than 40.6 million tons is food waste that could be composted. (Earth 911)

Prior to the pandemic, the St. James’, Warrenton, Green Team collected and composted all organic waste from Sunday cafe’s and coffee hours. At St. James’ School’s 2019 “fun run,” they collected and composted all banana peels and other organic materials, too.

     

All Saints' Church, Henrico, Creates Effective Rain Garden

Heavy rain storms make good water management even more important. All Saints' Church in Henrico County recently completed an exciting environmental stewardship project. The nearly 70-year-old facility had experienced drainage problems and interior flooding due to blocked and damaged downspouts outside. The congregation decided to fix the drainage issue in a sustainable way. They contracted with Ecosystem Services of Charlottesville to design a bioretention garden which collects runoff from the roof and infiltrates it to the ground. The construction was completed by C.T. Purcell Excavating of Montpelier. The new bioretention garden alleviates the drainage issue while reducing polluted runoff. The garden uses sandy soils to infiltrate stormwater and native plants to absorb pollutants. The practice protects nearby waterways by treating stormwater on-site. The congregation received financial support from the Creation Care Task Force to  help pay for engineering designs and the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program to help pay for construction. Questions about the project can be addressed to Lorne Field. 

   

Photos courtesy of the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program.

St. Peter’s in the Woods, Fairfax Station, Features Native Plants

Mary Wharton stands in St. Peter’s In The Woods’
Native Plants Pollinator Garden

 

Restoring native plant habitat is vital to preserving biodiversity. By creating a native plant garden, each patch of habitat becomes part of a collective effort to nurture and sustain the living landscape for birds and other animals. Audubon

Mary Wharton, parishioner at St. Peter’s in the Woods, Fairfax Station, worked with the Plant NoVa Natives organization and the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District to obtain a grant for a native plants demonstration garden in front of the church in 2018. With her Master Naturalist background, she worked with other church members to design and plant a large selection of natives including Virginia Cardinal Flower, Joe Pye Weed, and Hoary Mountain Mint. We have enjoyed observing the bees, butterflies and birds attracted to the garden throughout the growing season. For more information contact St. Peter’s in the Woods at 703-503-9210 or dswietlik@aol.com.

St. James’s Children’s Center, Richmond, Brings the Farm to the City

An introduction to nature can’t start too early. Children living in an urban area often have few opportunities to be exposed to farm animals, and field trips have been limited this year due to Covid. The Children’s Center is finding new ways to give children diverse learning experiences that they can build on and grow from. "Most of our children will encounter only cats and dogs in their daily lives. We wanted them to add to that list of loved animals. Our Center is located in Richmond’s Fan District and many of our children will never have the opportunity to visit a farm or play with farm animals, so we are trying to find ways to bring those experiences to the Children’s Center when possible. It was a fun day for everyone involved and we want to thank Izzy Zechini and Caromont Farm for the special playdate." For more information, email dwhittington@stjameschildrencenter.org.

 

St. James’, Warrenton, Transitions to LED Lighting

In 2019, St. James’ in Warrenton engaged in a complete re-lamping project in cooperation with Dominion Power and their sponsored contractor, Electric & Lighting Solutions of Richmond. The scope of this project included two phases. Phase one involved replacing all incandescent lighting with appropriate LED lighting. This was done completely at Dominion’s expense, with the exception of replacing several dimmers at a modest fee. The second phase involved replacing all fluorescent fixtures with LED fixtures. In this phase Dominion covered 30% of the cost. Electric & Lighting Solutions estimated the payback period for phase two is approximately 38 months. The observable effect of this project is higher lighting levels in the nave, parish hall and other areas of the church with a reduced cost. Due to COVID induced closures, month-by-month cost comparisons have not yet been made, but the savings are expected to be significant. For more information, contact St. James’.

Catholic Diocese of Richmond Transitions Seven Diocesan Entities to Solar Power

In response to Pope Francis’ call to care for creation, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond has partnered with Catholic Energies, a service of Washington-based nonprofit Catholic Climate Covenant, to install solar panels and/or complete LED lighting retrofits in four churches, two schools and the diocesan Pastoral Center. According to Catholic Energies, the projects will save more than $2 million in energy and operating costs during the term of the solar agreements and generate over 1.6 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity each year for decades to come. Learn more about this project.

Community Garden at All Souls’, Mechanicsville

The Community Garden at All Souls’, Mechanicsville, produced spring, summer, and fall crops last year. Over 18 thousand pounds of fresh, beautiful vegetables were grown and distributed to people in need in the Mechanicsville area. Guests are always welcome! If you’d like to learn more about the All Souls garden, contact Lee Hanchey, Senior Warden.

Browse resources from The Episcopal Church on community gardens:


Creation Care Calendar: Worship, Learn, Act

May

  • May 2-8 | International Compost Awareness Week
  • May 4, 6:30-8 p.m. | Webinar from Virginia Natives Learn how to use the right plants in the right places.
  • May 5 | National Bike or Walk to School Day
  • May 5, 12, 19 and 26, 7 p.m. | Climate Emergency Declaration Webinars: Pray, Learn, Act, Advocate The Diocese of Massachusetts has declared a climate emergency. The Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas offers a series of four webinars on how to respond to this emergency.
  • May 10-12 | Rogation Days Traditionally, these are the three days before Ascension Day on which the litany is sung (or recited) in procession as an act of intercession. They originated in Vienne, France, in the fifth century when Bishop Mamertus introduced days of fasting and prayer to ward off a threatened disaster. In England they were associated with the blessing of the fields at planting. The vicar beat the bounds” of the parish, processing around the fields reciting psalms and the litany. In the United States they have been associated with rural life and with agriculture and fishing. The propers in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) (pp. 207-208, 258-259, 930) have widened their scope to include commerce and industry and the stewardship of creation. The BCP also permits their celebration at other times to accommodate different regional growing seasons. The Book of Occasional Services contains material for a Rogation procession, including petitions to be added to the Great Litany and the prayers of the people. The term is from the Latin rogatio, asking.”
  • May 18, 7 p.m. | Network nation-wide with other Episcopal gardeners at “Good News Gardens.” Meetings are held 3rd Tuesday of each month. This gathering will highlight Benison Farm, St. Petersburg, Florida, a partnership between two Episcopal churches.
  • May 21 | National Bike to Work Day May is National Bike Month.
  • May 31 - June 5 | Clean the Bay Day is a virtual six-day event this year, sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Clean trash around the Bay, its tributaries, or plant native plants and put in rain barrels – all to help the Bay.

June

July

August

September

 

Resources

Episcopal & Interfaith Resources

Resources Outside of the Faith Network


Contact the Diocese of Virginia's Creation Care Task Force