Creation Care Task Force
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.
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.
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.
- The Episcopal Church’s vision for creation care.
- Presiding Bishop Curry’s “Finding Hope in God’s Creation” address on the 50th commemoration of Earth Day (2020)
- The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations & Creation Care supports policies that protect Earth’s life-sustaining resources.
- Episcopal Covenant to Care of Creation: Putting It into Practice
- Episcopal Creation Care Facebook page
- Subscribe to the monthly Episcopal Church Creation Care newsletter.
- Agrarian Ministries of the Episcopal Church Facebook group
- Cultivate Episcopal Food Movement Facebook page
- Episcopal Beekeepers Facebook page
- The Center for Religion and Environment at Sewanee: University of the South. Subscribe to their newsletter.
- Subscribe to Province III of the Episcopal Church’s by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diocese of Virginia
- 2019 Creation Care Task Force annual report
- 2019 Resolution on Plastics
- 2021 Creation Care Task Force Strategic Goals
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.
- The Episcopal Church’s vision for creation care.
- Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake’s Faithful Green Leaders Training Program.
- Blessed Tomorrow offers this Moving Forward Guide to help congregations plan action steps
- Interfaith Power and Light
- Virginia Interfaith Power and Light
- Greening Congregations Handbook: Stories, Ideas, and Resources for Cultivating Creation Awareness and Care in Your Congregation is an excellent resource and includes tools for worship, education, forming mission statements and moving into community outreach.
- How do I begin to help my Planet? Ideas to help you get started.
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.
- ecoAmerica’s Webcast Series: Let’s Talk Climate
- Creation Justice Ministries offer ways to work toward climate justice and resilience.
- Download a Creation Justice Resilience Guide.
- Local Action, National Purpose: Five Ways to Take Action Now on Climate: a webinar from Blessed Tomorrow.
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 God’s creation. They are also vehicles for lament, confession, supplication, healing and hope. Read here to learn more about climate anxiety:
- Hope and Mourning in the Anthropocene: Understanding Ecological Grief
- Public Perception: How Americans See Climate Change
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.
- Read this booklet: Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications and Guidance.
- Watch this webinar: My Neighbor is Hurting: How to Serve Those Experiencing Climate Stress and Grief
- 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
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
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.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:
- Good News Gardens: Join the movement – Plant, Pray & Proclaim! Sign up for their monthly newsletter.
- How to Host a Community Garden: A webinar explaining how to pull together community members to plan, build and manage a garden.
- Harvesting Abundance: Local Initiatives of Food and Faith by Brian Sellers-Petersen: Engaging stories of the church in action.
- Food and Faith Podcast: Conversations from the soil and across the table, distributed weekly.
- Agrarian Ministries Facebook group
- Episcopal Beekeepers Facebook group
- Cultivate: Episcopal Food Movement Facebook group
- 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 5 | Deadline to send in your estimate for Earth Overshoot Day This is the date on which humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year. In 2020, this date was August 22.
- June 10, 7 p.m. | Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake offers the first of a 3-part leadership training for Green Teams. Email for info.
- June 12, 1-5 p.m. | Citizens’ Climate Lobby overs virtual conference “The Push for a Price on Carbon”
- June 15, 7 p.m. | Network nation-wide with other Episcopal gardeners at “Good News Gardens.” Meetings are held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month.
- June 21, 7 p.m. | Network nation-wide with other Episcopal gardeners at “Good News Gardens.” Meetings are held 3rd Tuesday of each month.
- June 21-27 | National Pollinator Week
- June 26 | Great American Backyard Campout Whether in your back yard or at a state park, camping is a wonderful way to appreciate nature. Learn more.
- July 17-25 | National Moth Week celebrates the beauty, lifecycles and habitats of moths. Moths are important pollinators and a food source for bats and birds. They face numbers threats including loss of habitat. “Moth-ers” are encouraged to learn about and document in their communities.
- July 20, 7 p.m. | Network nation-wide with other Episcopal gardeners at “Good News Gardens.” Meetings are held 3rd Tuesday of each month.
- July 31, 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. | Southeast Faith Leadership Network presents “The Black Church/The Green Movement.”
- August 17, 7 p.m. Network nation-wide with other Episcopal gardeners at “Good News Gardens.” Meetings are held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month.
- September 1 - October 4 | Season of Creation
- September 7 begins the Jewish year, Shemittah, “The Fiftieth Year,” which will end September 26, 2022. This is a special year for honoring relationship with the Earth. Learn more.
Episcopal & Interfaith Resources
- Blessed Tomorrow (a program of ecoAmerica) is an Episcopal-supported faith network with webinars, information and support groups.
- Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW) is a Massachusetts-based group which helps communities plan for weather resilience with environmental Justice a priority.
- Creation Care Alliance has excellent resources and provides eco-grief circles for individual support in climate grief.
- Creation Justice Ministries Information on climate resilience.
- Dayenu is a Jewish community devoted to climate concerns.
- Greenfaith The Rev. Fletcher Harper is Executive Director.
- Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
- Interfaith Power & Light
- Reviving Creation Read past newsletters or sign up to receive the Reviving Creation newsletter monthly.
- Sacred Earth Community
- The Society of St. Andrew is a leader in preventing food waste. It brings people together to glean and share healthy farm produce that would otherwise be wasted.
- Southeast Climate & Energy Network works for a just, equitable and sustainable South. It works toward environmental justice, clean energy and includes a network of faith leaders.
- Southeast Faith Leaders Network is a collaborative effort building sustainable grassroots power by lifting up the principles and values of a just transition throughout the southeast United States.
- Virginia Interfaith Power and Light
Resources Outside of the Faith Network
- Broken Ground podcast by the Southern Environmental Law Center centering on Southerners living along the coast, navigating sea level rises.
- Caucus on Climate Change and Mental Health (American Psychology Association)
- Chesapeake Bay Trust works for and provides grants to other nonprofits for a healthy Bay and its tributaries.
- Citizens' Climate Lobby focuses specifically on climate change. There are numerous chapters around Virginia and the U.S. View recordings of past guest speakers on their website or Facebook page.
- Climate Psychology Alliance has excellent resources including “toolkits” for dealing with extreme heat.
- Earth911 Provides good advice on recycling including where and how.
- Friends of the Rappahannock works toward the health of the Rappahannock River and its tributaries.
- Mothers & Others for Clean Air
- National Resources Defense Council is a national level organization of over 700 scientists, lawyers and advocates confronting our planet’s most pressing problems.
- Piedmont Environmental Council supports work on and provides a weekly email digest of environmental issues in Piedmont Virginia.
- Science Moms is a group formed by Katharine Hayhoe to educate and motivate mothers for a healthy planet.
- Sierra Club works to protect wildlife, wild places, and working for environmental justice.
- Virginia Conservation Network focuses and reports on specific legislation and related events within the Virginia General Assembly.
- Virginia Green Initiative encourages communities to take innovative steps to reduce energy usage and promote sustainability.
- Virginia Outdoors Foundation works toward protecting open and farm land.
- Virginia Youth Climate Cooperative is a youth-led grassroots organization fighting for climate justice through action, education, and lobbying.
- Zero Waste Food Management