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Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

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Shield of Episcopal Church

Upcoming Activities:

Next Meeting:

We meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.


Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds

Resolution on Creation Season

Resolution on Green Congregations

On our Website:

Environmental Events:


If you find the information in this reflection to be of interest or concern, please contact MEESC Members.

Members of MEESC reside around the Diocese of Minnesota and are available to assist you and your congregation in their environmental stewardship walk.

Please contact us at any time with your questions.



Creation Season 2011 (Year A)

Welcome! We're glad you're planning on observing a liturgical season of creation. We have prepared some materials for you to use in worship, teaching, and personal reflection.

The Notes on the readings for this topic are available for you to use. You may

  • copy and paste what you wish from this page directly to your preparation materials or
  • download the materials in PDF as part of a reference materials for the individuals involved in preparing religious education, homilies, or special liturgical materials for your Service. Click here for the list.

This Sunday's topic is Oceans. The following themes may be useful in preparing a sermon, prayers, or study:

chaos; transport by ship over the ocean; Leviathan; schools of fish (dolphins, etc.); coral reef providing community center; Jonah being swallowed; rising waters; scarred bottom; floating on water; diving into water; ruach' serene on top and teeming below; mystery because it is hidden even in sight; bottom life/pearls; roaring of the waves; migratory birds pass over.


  • Water runs through so much of our scripture and ritual. Water is a primary spiritual spiritual metaphor.
  • Three quarters of the earth's surface is covered by water. The ocean conceals billions of creatures interacting in ways that we will never fully understand. Much of the ocean is mysterious. We cruise along on boats on the ocean's surface, and sit on beaches watching the ocean's surf meet the land. One of the great things about the ocean is that we cannot build on it. It will remain a vast open space perfect for contemplation.
    Source: Ocean by Family Friend Poems
  • Water is the common link among the five biomes and it makes up the largest part of the biosphere, covering nearly 75% of the Earth’s surface. Aquatic regions house numerous species of plants and animals, both large and small. In fact, this is where life began billions of years ago when amino acids first started to come together. Without water, most life forms would be unable to sustain themselves and the Earth would be a barren, desert-like place. Although water temperatures can vary widely, aquatic areas tend to be more humid and the air temperature on the cooler side.
    Source: University of California Museum of Paleontology

Alternate Scripture Readings:

One or more of the following readings could be used in place of those specified in the lectionary:

  • Genesis 1: 1-8
  • Psalm 104: 24-26
  • Psalm 107: 23-32
  • Job 38: 4-11

Non-Scriptural Writings

In place of or in addition to a scripture reading, you may use an alternative reading. We offer these for your consideration:

After The Storm

After the storm
the sea is calm
Once dark clouds,
threatening and cold,
separate and
the light again
shines brightly
over now gentle waters

Peace surrounds us
Fears fade away
Chill winds that stirred
and left us cold and shaking
are now at rest.
Life again fills with light,
calming fears of life's storm
that rise within oneself.

Beyond the clouds
the sun is always shining
the sky is always blue.
Clouds change and waves
rise and fall, come and go.
The unchanging is eternal.
Storms are but awhile
and so with faith I wait!

Peace, serenity.
Tranquil seas.
Light overcomes darkness.
The gentle breeze
awakens my spirit.
My soul is ready for the new day.
Beautiful is God's creation and love
and I embrace the Eternal embracing me!

~ N. Ellsworth Bunce 1998
Source: Poetry About the Oceans
(Copyright © 2005-2009 Liza's Reef)

The South Pacific

... wish I could tell you about the South Pacific. The way it actually was. The endless ocean. The infinite specks of coral we called islands. Coconut palms nodding gracefully toward the ocean. Reefs upon which waves broke into spray, and inner lagoons, lovely beyond description. I wish I could tell you about the sweating jungle, the full moon rising behind volcanoes, and the waiting. The waiting. The timeless, repetitive waiting.
~James A. Michener from "Tales of the South Pacific”
Source: Poetry About the Oceans
(Copyright © 2005-2009 Liza's Reef)


for whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea
~ e.e.cummings
Source: Poetry About the Oceans
(Copyright © 2005-2009 Liza's Reef)


There has long been a belief that the sea, at least, was inviolate, beyond man's ability to change and to despoil. But this belief, unfortunately, has proved to be naive.
~Rachel Carson
Source: Ocean World (Copyright ©

Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.
~Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
Source: Quotes Museum


How inappropriate to call this planet 'Earth' when it is quite clearly 'Ocean.'
~Arthur C. Clarke Source: BrainyQuote


The reason I love the sea I cannot explain - it's physical. When you dive you begin to feel like an angel. It's a liberation of your weight.
~Jacques-Yves Cousteau
Source: Marine Education Trust


Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.
~ Loren Eiseley (American essayist, philosopher, and literary naturalist, 1907-1977) Source: ThinkExist.com

Out of the Rolling Ocean, the Crowd.

OUT of the rolling ocean, the crowd, came a drop gently to me,
Whispering, I love you, before long I die,
I have travel'd a long way, merely to look on you, to touch you,
For I could not die till I once look'd on you,
For I fear'd I might afterward lose you .

(Now we have met, we have look'd, we are safe;
Return in peace to the ocean my love;
I too am part of that ocean, my love—we are not so much separated;
Behold the great rondure—the cohesion of all, how perfect!
But as for me, for you, the irresistible sea is to separate us,
As for an hour carrying us diverse—yet cannot carry
us diverse for ever;
Be not impatient—a little space—know you, I salute
the air, the ocean and the land,
Every day, at sundown, for your dear sake, my love.)

~Walt Whitman
Source: The Walt Whitman Archive, Copyright © 1995–2011

Some additional readings can be found in Earth Prayers From around the World: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth, Edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon; Published by Harper Colllins. The readings below (with their authors noted) may fit within this topic.

Allah Renee Bozarth
Thomas Merton
Mary Rogers - Gaelic
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin*
Ashanti Prayer
Irish Blessing*
African Canticle

* Useful as litany or adapted to Prayers of the People


There is a large selection of creation-related hymns found on the MEESC Listing of Creation and Environmental Music.

Educational Ideas

Coral Reefs - The Crown Jewels of Earth

Coral reefs are universally considered to be one of the crown jewels of our beautiful planet. Shallow marine habitats, coral reefs are defined both by a physical structure and by the organisms found on them and are found in all of the world's oceans, at all depths, and are shallow marine habitats. They are defined by both a physical structure and by the organisms called coral polyps that are found on them. These have a very small cylindrical body, topped with a ring of tentacles which are used to capture food from the waters around them and as the polyps die, new polyps grow on top of and next to the dead ones, and this contributes to the gradual slow growth of the coral reef. Other types of animals and plants, algae, sponges and mollusks also contribute however the primary building forces are the living coral polyps. Often referred to as the "rainforests of the sea" because of their incredible diversity, coral reefs are home to over 4,000 species of fish, 700 species of coral species and thousands upon thousands of other marine plants and animals.

A great number of corals have developed the ability to live in colonies and to build up a communal structure. Some, known as reef-building or hermatypic corals, build a stony structure out of calcium carbonate. This type of coral reef is almost entirely confined to warm, shallow waters, and it is their limestone skeletons which are critical to coral reef formation. These reef building corals do their work slowly, and some large corals may build up their structure at a rate of just a few millimeters per year, while the faster growing tips of branching corals may grow at rates of 150 millimeters per year or more. Corals can only grow in warm, well lighted waters and require a solid surface or platform on which to grow. These factors restrict the reef building corals to the shallow rocky waters of the tropics.

Multi-functional, reefs provide food, shelter and breeding grounds to thousands of ocean species, protect shorelines from erosion, and provide recreational opportunities and sources of income for millions of people who rely on them. Although they cover less than one percent of the ocean floor, they are home to a quarter of the known marine plant and animal species. Twenty five percent!!! That's a lot! And this rich, precious habitat is now being threatened on many fronts. While they are the most spectacular of underwater environments, they are also the most fragile. Coral reefs have evolved over millions of years to cope with natural forces such as hurricanes, floods, ocean currents and diseases, but they are no match for man's destructive patterns and activities. Coastal development, over fishing, coral mining, sewage, fertilizer and chemical pollution, sedimentation, ocean warming and the use of cyanide and dynamite on the reefs as fishing practices are all taking a major toll, and they all can be traced by to man's activities.

Already over eleven percent of the world's coral reefs have been lost to human impact and it is predicted by scientists that over the next thirty years, up to thirty more percent could be lost if intervention does not occur. Over sixty percent of reefs in the world are either now severely damaged and threatened. The loss of these coral reefs around the world would be devastating -not only would millions of people lose their only source of food and income, we would see the extinction of many fascinating and beautiful ocean species, as well as lose the opportunities for advances in science and medicine. Many corals have already provided a number of medical break throughs in HIV and cancer treatments.

Global Distribution:
Charles Darwin is considered to be the first person to prepare a global map of coral reefs. As a rule, coral reefs are confined to a broad band, roughly confined to the tropics and circling most of the planet. Unevenly distributed within this swath, large numbers of reefs are confined to remote island locations and offshore regions far from the mainland. Coral reefs are largely absent from the Central Atlantic and the shores of Western Africa and are greatly restricted along the Pacific shores of the Americas as well as the coastline of South Asia from Pakistan to Bangladesh. There are over 280,000 square kilometers of coral reefs worldwide, and this figure represents only 0.089 percent of the world's oceans and less than 1.2 percent of the world's continental shelf. The greatest majority of coral reefs are found in the region known as the Indo-Pacific, which stretches from the Red Sea to the Central Pacific. For more information on specific coral reefs of the world, visit these other sections of my website devoted to coral reefs.

Source: Coral Reefs (Copyright © 2005-2009 Liza's Reef)

Additional resources:


Creating One, all that is came into being through your Naming: skies and planets, oceans and dry land. Your creating spirit is honored as we live with integrity toward all life. Shape our lives to be stewards in your image, that all may be safe and nurtured under our watchful care, in the name of Jesus who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one for all eternity. Amen.

Some discussion topics:

  1. How does Scripture help us to understand the place of water in our society and in our worship?
  2. Why do you think so many people distrust the scientists, and the Arctic explorers who witness the north pole melt down?
  3. How can I be a more just, sharing steward of all the water sources around me?
  4. Share some of you experiences with the Ocean
  5. What difference would it make to you, to future generations if coral reefs were destroyed and fish stocks depeleted?
  6. One can apply a variant of the Gospel Based Discipleship questions to almost any reading or situation:
    A. What particularly jumps out at you or gets your attention?
    B. What is this reading/information/situation saying to us?
    C. What is this reading/information/situation calling us to do?

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Easter 2, Year A:

PDF Version of these notes:

To the other Topics in this series
May 1, 2011
May 8, 2011
May 15, 2011
May 22, 2011
May 29, 2011
June 5, 2011
This Page

Note: The Reflections and Notes for this Sunday were prepared by the Rev Wanda Copeland, with contributions from the Rev Margaret W. Thomas, the Rev Tom Harries, and John G. Gibbs, PhD.

  • The Rev Wanda Copeland was Interim Rector of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, Roseville, MN, when she originally prepared these materials.
  • The Rev Margaret W. Thomas was a retired Episcopal Priest residing in Duluth, MN, and doing supply work when she contributed to these materials.
  • The Rev Tom Harries was the rector of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion, St. Peter, MN, when he contributed to these materials
  • John G. Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, resided in Park Rapids, MN, when he contributed to these materials

Wanda, Margaret, Tom, and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to Wanda Copeland, Margaret Thomas, John G. Gibbs, Tom Harries, 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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