Shield of the Episcopal Church of the United States Environmental Stewardship Commission
Shield of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota
Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Resolution

The following is offered for your information and comment.  On this and similar pages the Environmental Stewardship Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota intends to offer thoughts and ideas on how any congregation or individual with a congregation can implement portions of the Resolution.

From "A Resolution on The Spirituality of Food Production"
passed at the 144th Annual Convention (October 26-27, 2001)

"WHEREAS we believe that feeding people is an honorable and socially just endeavor; that farming is a noble vocation that gives great pride to those involved in it; that farmers can feed the whole world with safe, healthy, and nutritious food; ...

Thoughts on Sustainability
by Teri Mann

  Is sustainability something that we as Christians and Episcopalian strive for?
I think, Yes, and I think that we are asked to think about sustainability every time we celebrate Eucharist and baptisms, and from those, to put it into our daily life and work.
In our Baptism we are asked “Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?” and we respond “I renounce them.” In the covenant that follows we are asked, “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” and  “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” and our responses are “I will, with God’s help.”
I believe that these are statements that ask for our acting in sustainable ways.
Sustainable action is what is called for.  Sustainability is to be strived for because it is the way in which we respect the “creatures” and the creation of God.  We look for ways in which we work for the continuing existence of all God’s creation.
We now live in a time when the rate of destruction of the environment is higher than it has been in many millions of years, and most of it can be linked to humans and human’s consumption. On just one issue we can ask ourselves: How can we look at sustainable actions and burn petroleum products?  How do can we expect to sustain oil or gas supplies?  The oil and gas we burn now is actually billions of plants and animals that lived on this planet millions of years ago.  Where are we giving back, to sustain that gift?
I believe that our Arctic neighbors understand all this when thy ask us not to develop the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.  Those who are closer to sustainable living understand it took a long time for the caribou and other creatures to come to live there and a major disruption of the processes, that brought the oil, gas, and the creatures there, is not part of a sustainable picture.
For most of human existence we have understood the circle of birth, death, life and rebirth.  The relationships between all things is celebrated in our Eucharist, and in the life of Christ.  Some of us describe those infinite relationships as God - that which is all things. The Body and Blood of Christ are symbols of that sacred relationship of all God’s creation.
So I ask, how are these celebrations of Eucharist and Baptism to be lived out?  I think we are asked to think about our relationships with all of creation, with all our actions.  We need to ask how our actions help to sustain creation, and work for the justice and peace among all people.  How can we strive to be in a co-creative relationship with God in respect to all creation?  What does it mean to be living members of the body of Christ—all God’s creation?
If we take the statement from the baptism “Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?” and make it a positive statement it could read something like: “I will strive to act in ways that protect and sustain the creatures and creation of God.”  This is something we step away from regularly and I ask us to think about this as we consume things that we don’t need, that come from half way around the world, that are toxic, in their manufacturing, transporting, etc. and that exploit the environment and economies of our native and indigenous sisters and brothers, and ourselves(the dignity of every human being).
I believe we are asked to be a part of, and never separate from, God and God’s creation in our baptism and we acknowledge that sacred relationship with all God’s creation- with Christ, when we break bread and drink wine in our Eucharist- The Body & Blood of Christ.
From the New Zealand Prayer Book’s Liturgy of Baptism:

Dear Friends in Christ,
God is love, God gives us life.
We love because God first loves us.
In baptism God declares that love,
In Christ God calls us to respond.

Copyright Statement

Teri Mann is attends St. James' Episcopal Church, Fergus Falls, MN.  She originally wrote these thoughts in 2003 and they appeared in the December 2003 issue of Soundings, the newspaper of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota.  Teri and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to Teri Mann or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 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 Website.

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