Shield of the Episcopal Church, USA Environmental Stewardship Commission Shield of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota
Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

MEESC Urges Vote to Support Gwich'in

St. Paul, September 27, 2005 – MEESC today joined the Alaska Coalition, US PIRG, and Republican Environmentalists in urging Senator Coleman and Representative Kennedy to block drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. At a press conference outside Coleman’s office, The Rev. Thomas Harries, co-chair of the Minnesota Episcopal Environmental Stewardship Commission made the case that caring for creation is part of our responsibility as people of faith.

In his statement Mr. Harries said, “Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all understand the natural world to be God’s creation. We may not agree on exactly how God did it, but we do agree that creation is God’s handiwork. People of faith are called to care for God’s gift and pass it on to future generations. From this perspective, drilling in one of the last virtually untouched wilderness areas makes no sense. We must not destroy what we have received in trust.

The Rev Tom Harries at Press Conference

“Most of the Gwich’in people, whose way of life is threatened by drilling, are Christian, and many are Episcopalian. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Although we should always speak out for justice, it is particularly important when the people affected are so close to us.

“This is a religious issue as well as a moral and environmental one. The Prophets are clear that the test of faith is the way we treat the most vulnerable among our neighbors. In biblical times the catch phrase was “widows and orphans,” but it included all those who were on the margins, without political or economic power. We’ve just seen how poorly we cared for the poor in New Orleans. Let us not multiply the injustice by destroying the culture of the Gwich’in people in Alaska. People of faith are called upon to do justice and love mercy.”

Two years ago several members of MEESC traveled to Alaska, where they met with Bishop Mark McDonald and representatives of the Gwich’in people to learn first-hand about the cultural and spiritual importance of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the people of central Alaska. They also traveled to several of the Gwich’in villages along the Yukon river, where they spent several days with the local people.

More details of the events available on the Minnesota Public Radio coverage of this event.

The Episcopal Church has more information available through its Public Policy Network Website.

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The Rev Tom Harries has been co-chair of MEESC since 2001.  Tom and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to The Rev Tom Harries or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
Holy Trinity Church
Box 65
Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the web site.

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