Shield of the Episcopal Church of the United States Episcopal Church in Minnesota Shield of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota
Environmental Stewardship Commission
(MEESC)
Environmental Stewardship Reports
The following report was provided by the Rev John G. Gibbs of the Environmental Stewardship Commission.  John attended as the commission's representative.

STRANDS IN THE WEB OF LIFE
Montreat, NC - August 8-12, 1998

With deep gratitude to our Episcopal Environmental Stewardship Commission for underwriting part of the costs of my participating in this conference, I want to bring back to you some of the emphases of, and resource materials for, this informative ecumenical gathering.

I. Emphases: Three major strands in our caring for "the web of life"  were emphasized, namely: ecology, peace, and justice. Commitment to stewardship of our fragile environment requires our participation in all 3 of these complicated areas of work and study. Underlining the long-term nature of such a commitment, one speaker commented: we are planting acorns, not Zucchinis.

Ecology is a recent science that coordinates findings of separate scientific disciplines to formulate a unified view of life processes and their interdependence. That is complicated enough, one might say. But ecology does not in fact stand alone. What we do or fail to do in areas of peace and justice impacts the environment. Human community or lack of it is part of our world's ecology.

Given the complexityboth of the web of life and of any effort to care for it, we in the Church can become effective only when we think and act cooperatively with other bodies in society: political, social, economic; both official and independent foundations and societies. That was the most persistent theme of the conference, repeated in one workshop after another and by one plenary speaker after another. There is correspondence between the complexity of ecology and the complexity of responsible ecological ethics.

Our ecological faith can bear fruit only as we work and research in concert with fellow human beings who share ecological commitments. On one hand, our faith is to be nourished through meditation, biblical studies, and other practices of spirituality. What is distinctive in the Church's ecological theology and Christology is to be emphasized as our unique contribution to ecological ethics. (My own lifework has majored in this.)   And on the other hand, to the extent that "faith without works is dead" our faith reaches out to others beyond the Church in order to become effective partners with them in ecological caring for the web of life.

In accordance with this understanding the conference included expertise in areas beyond spirituality and biblical/theological studies. Among the plenary speakers was an advisor to the World Bank on issues of "environmentally sustainable development." Another is a Congresswoman who serves on Agriculture and Budget Committees in the United States House of Representatives. Another was a delegate to the Kyoto =
Environmental Summit. A workshop on toxic waste was led by the Coordinator of a Tri-State Environmental Council (OH,WV,PA), and she has received awards from Greenpeace, Mother Jones, and Time magazine for her advocacy work with local groups. A workshop on energy efficiency ("Win-Win Solution for the Global Warming Threat") was led by a retired Professor of Electrical Engineering. The workshop "Ecology 101: Scientific Facts and Perspectives" was led by a PhD in Biology who also has become an ordained Presbyterian pastor. Another workshop was led by an American Indian co-founder of a Center for Community Action.

Our EESC cannot, then, practice ecological ethics by confining its goals to spirituality and education within congregations and judicatories of the faithful. Creation cannot be restored only by prayer and a spirituality that is "safe" from opposition. If we heed the main thrust of this conference, which was sponsored both by Presbyterians for Restoring Creation and by the Eco-Justice Working Group of the National Council of Churches of Christ, then we in the Episcopal Church will also be thoroughly interdisciplinary, ecumenical, and community-oriented in our "environmental stewardship." We will welcome partnership with all stewards of the web of life, whether inside the Church or also beyond it.

II. Resources: Unfortunately I could not buy out the bookstore and bring it back with me. They did not have a list of books included. So I scanned through the displays, and surfaced for air with a few items that seemed to me most useful. Some items fit neatly into only one of the following 4 categories, others fit well into more than one category. To these findings I have occasionally added materials from my own library.

A. Spirituality and Worship Resources.
 

 B. Climate Change (or Global Warming)
  C. Sustainable Development & "Simple Living"
  D. Community Actions.

1. Water:

a.  Clean Water Network, A Prescription for Clean Water: How to Meet the Goals of the Clean Water Act (1200 New York Avenue NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005), 29pp. with Appendix of "State Specific Fact Sheets", (October, 1997; CWN). CWN is a national alliance of 1,000+ organizations working together for cleaner waters.
b.  Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Citizen Lake-monitoring Program needs volunteers to help sample quality of lake water. See MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155-4194; 1-800-657-3864, Jennifer Klang who is coordinator of the lake monitoring program.

2.  Air:

a.  Center for Health, Environment and Justice, Inc. (150 S. Washington Street, Suite 300, PO Box 6806, Falls Church, VA 22040; 703-237-2249). The Executive Director of this group is Lois Gibbs, of Love Canal fame. They publish Everyone's Backyard, of which the Summer 1998 issue featured an article on "The Clean Air for Children's Health Campaign" in North Carolina.
b.  Lois Gibbs, Dying From Dioxin: A Citizen's Guide to Reclaiming Our Health and Rebuilding Democracy (pub. by CHEJ, which formerly was CCHW, Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste). E-mail: CCHW@essential.org.

3. Other Political Action:

The above sources instance community organizing for political action on behalf of the environment.  See the climate change strategy packet from the NCCC's Eco-Justice Working Group (address above, or 1-800-762-0968).
League of Conservation Voters, 1707 L Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DSC 20036;email to: lcv@lcv.org  LCV has published a National Environmental Scorecard every Congress since 1970.
POCLAD, Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy at PO Box 246, South Yarmouth, MA 02664-0246.



The Rev. John Gibbs, a retired theologan, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN.   He originally
wrote this report in 1998.  He and we welcome your comments.

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