Logo of MEESC

Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Coat of Arms of Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota
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 Rivers. The following themes may be useful in preparing a sermon, prayers, or study:

Jordan; life-giving in the midst of desert; cutting through; forming the edges or boundaries; raging river pours its plenty out over the land; uprooting force uprooting even large trees; dammed up so we can tame them; floods hiccupping over the banks for a time; laying waste to the edges; carrying me on; Nile replenishes; Moses being carried gendly in a basket; rain and run-off


From River and Water Facts:

  • The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System has only 11,434 river miles in it—just over one-quarter of one percent of our rivers are protected through this designation.
  • Currently, 600,000 miles of our rivers lie behind an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 dams.
  • The United States has over 3,660,000 miles of rivers. The 600,000 miles of rivers lying behind dams amounts to fully 17% of our river mileage. (Source: Environmental Protection Agency 1998 National Water Quality Report)
  • The Missouri River is about 2,540 miles long, making it the longest river in the United States. The Nile is the longest river in the world at 4,132 miles as it travels northward from its remote headwaters in Burundi to the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The 8 longest rivers in the U.S. are (in descending order) Missouri, Mississippi, Yukon, St. Lawrence (if you count the Great Lakes and its headwaters as one system), Rio Grande, Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio.
  • The 8 largest rivers in the U.S., based on volume, are (in descending order) Mississippi, St. Lawrence, Ohio, Columbia, Yukon, Missouri, Tennessee, Mobile.

From River Facts:

  • More than 235,000 river miles in the United States have been channelized.
  • More than 600,000 river miles are impounded behind dams.
  • More than 25,000 river miles have been dredged for navigation.
  • More than 50% of wetlands have been lost or destroyed nationwide in the past century.
  • Nearly 40% of the rivers and streams in the U.S. are too polluted for fishing and swimming.
  • Thirty percent of the native freshwater fish species in North America are threatened, endangered, or of special concern.
  • On average, we have built one dam a day every day since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. (Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior, 1993-2001)
  • Fully 80% of all vertebrate wildlife in the Southwest depend on riparian areas for at least half of their life. (National Park Service)
  • Of the 1200 species listed as threatened or endangered, 50% depend on rivers and streams. (National Park Service)(National Park Service)
  • At least 123 freshwater species became extinct during the 20th century. These include 79 invertebrates, 40 fishes, and 4 amphibians. (There may well have been other species that were never identified.) (National Park Service)
  • Freshwater animals are disappearing five times faster than land animals. (National Park Service)
  • In the Pacific Northwest, over 100 stocks and subspecies of salmon and trout have gone extinct and another 200 are at risk due to a host of factors, dams and the loss of riparian habitat being prime factors. (National Park Service)

Alternate Scripture Readings:

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

  • Genesis 2: 10-14
  • Psalm 46: 4-7
  • Ecclesiastes 1: 7
  • Isaiah 43: 19-21; 44:1-3

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:

Floods in Australia and a prayer of hope
A Christian Science perspective
by Beverley Beddoes-Mills, January 6, 2011

... At the beginning of this new year, my heart goes out to my fellow Australians confined in evacuation centers, homeless, without all those special possessions that bring comfort and joy and a sense of belonging. These people are facing an uncertain future and have before them the heartbreaking task of trying to restore their homes and lives after the flood has receded. Our prayers are needed to support them in these challenges. ...
(complete article found online, © The Christian Science Monitor. All Rights Reserved)

"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters."
~Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories; found on GoodReads.com

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 asa litany or adapted to Prayers of tje People

Aerial view of the Yukon River near Beaver, Alaska
Yukon River from the air, 2002


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

Educational Ideas

To be added


Prayer for Those Affected by the Floods

God of compassion,
You created a world for us
To know your love and peace
Yet amidst the beauty of creation
We encounter pain and hurt
And forces beyond our control.
At times like this our hearts are shaken and ache with sorrow
At the destruction of our lives, homes and livelihoods.
Hear our prayers for those affected by the floods
And for all those working
To bring relief and fresh hope.


source: Day of Prayer and Reflection for Flood Victims, Copyright © 2011 The Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church for the Archdiocese of Sydney

Some discussion topics:

  1. What are your local rivers? Are they the source of your drinking water? How does Scripture help us to understand the place of water in our society and in our worship?
  2. Do your storm drains flow into your river? What is your town/county/state doing to protect you from the run-off?
  3. How can I be a more just, sharing steward of the fresh water sources around me?
  4. As we look at the annual flooding in Minnesota, how will the survivors be fed, clothed, housed, given water, be wrapped around with new communities, and warmly challenged to hope again?
  5. 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:

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 and the Rev Tom Harries.

  • 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 co-chair of MEESC and the rector of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion, St. Peter, 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, 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.


This page last updated 2011-05-17.

This page maintained for the MEESC by Logo of IRIS Enterprises.

Please send any corrections to
the MEESC WebVerger or our Web Team