Episcopal Church Statement on the Environment

JUSTICE, PEACE, and THE INTEGRITY OF CREATION

Continuation of the Report to the 1997 General Convention, from Executive Council - Part 2

History

The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee (JPIC), a new entity of the Executive Council, was established in February, 1995. According to the enabling resolution, JPIC’s mandate is “to facilitate communication and collaboration between the Executive Council and ministries throughout the Episcopal Church and Church Center units which address issues of peace, social and economic justice and the environment.”

That resolution also requires JPIC “regularly to report to the Executive Council through its Standing Committee on Program, on the trends, needs and directions regarding this Church’s mission for justice, peace and the integrity of creation.”

JPIC was structured by the Executive Committee to continue the work of bodies created by previous General Conventions and/or entities of the Executive Council. These include the Economic Justice Implementation Committee, the Environmental Stewardship Team, Jubilee Ministries, and the Racism Commission.

Some of the members of JPIC were appointed from these bodies, and from the Episcopal Peace and Justice Network. Others have been involved in local or diocesan peace and justice ministries, but are new to national church service. Thus, JPIC is a diverse group, able to continue the necessary work of its predecessor bodies, but also able to bring new insights, experience, and commitment to its deliberations and work. Our members represent all nine provinces and, for the most part, the diversity of this church.

How JPIC Works

The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee is divided into five subcommittees: Anti-Racism, Global Peace and Justice, Economic Justice, Environmental Stewardship, and Jubilee Ministries. At each JPIC meeting, these groups meet together in plenary sessions, as well as separately, to address common and specific concerns. JPIC meetings have included bible study, worship, and sharing of case studies. The conveners of each subcommittee, together with the JPIC Chair, have served as a steering committee to develop meeting agendas and review actions between meetings. The steering committee, subcommittees, and ad hoc committees of JPIC accomplish considerable planning and work by telephone conferences between meetings. JPIC has met as a body four times since its inaugural meeting at Camp Allen in the Diocese of Texas.

A Critical Analysis of Church and Society

The first meeting proved to be a launching pad for the directions and agenda to be set by JPIC. It included discussion of the atmosphere of mean-spiritedness, greed, selfishness, and racial scapegoating prevalent in our society (including the church), which was particularly evident in the congressional and public debates on affirmative action in education and employment, and also in debates on welfare reform, immigration, and health care issues. JPIC also observed the degrading impact of global forces on the economic and social life of peoples, on all other living creatures, and on the total environment of Earth. These global forces include some international trade and production policies, arms production, global debt, development strategies, and structural adjustment programs. Such forces can exacerbate conditions of hunger, malnutrition, and disease, infant mortality, unemployment, homelessness, and migration, and they can widen the gap between rich and poor nations and between the the “haves” and “have-nots” within nations. These conditions, in turn, spawn armed conflict within and among nations and peoples, incite violence and crime on the streets and in homes, and justify the structural denial of equal access to resources and services to peoples of color, including women and children.

Participants in the first meeting shared their special concerns about the “faithless fear and worldly anxiety” underlying this destructive climate in society, and unfortunately, also given expression within the Body of Christ, including some of the people and structures of our own communion. The same fears and anxieties which haunt our members in their home and work communities are brought with them to church. Participants also identified the need, in the Episcopal Church and in society in general, for forums and strategies to address these issues creatively, courageously, and in the light of their shared faith. Considerable time in this and subsequent meetings has been spent reviewing JPIC’s mandate from Executive Council in the light of this analysis.

A Statement of Mission

The Word of the Lord:

“Come you blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Jesus of Nazareth [Matthew 25:34b].
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah the Prophet [Micah 6:8b]

For our salvation and the sanctification of all: JPIC, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, lives out the Baptismal Covenant by:

- ensuring equitable access to available resources, thereby enhancing the well-being of our communities;
- practicing peace and seeking reconciliation in a violent world;
- acting to eradicate the sin of racism in the church and in society;
- standing in partnership with those who are poor and oppressed to build a just society; and
- accepting our responsibility to actively care for God’s good creation.

JPIC: A Celebration of the Way of Jesus

Let us pray:

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving spirit may so move every human heart that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The “JPIC Approach”

Based upon our analysis, and biblical and theological reflection, three important insights have emerged which define the “JPIC Approach”:

1. All of the issues under debate in the public arena and being addressed through the ministries we represent are inextricably linked. For example, persons of color experience racism, not only through acts of personal prejudice and discrimination, but also through the systemic and institutional blocking or controlling of their access to economic and social power, and in the environmental degradation of many of their communities. Thus persons engaged in ministries to combat racism must work in an integrated fashion with those working on issues of economic justice, environment, and public policy. Similarly, local economic justice issues are linked with global forces and need to be understood and addressed in that light. It is recognized, on the other hand, that there are concerns specific to each of these ministry areas that need to be addressed in a focused manner.

2. The most effective way for JPIC to foster collaboration among these areas of ministry and to report to the Executive Council on trends, directions, and needs is to promote, nurture, and gather information from grassroots networks of Episcopalians who are engaged in these ministries. It is abundantly clear that little is to be gained by a JPIC national program in which the issues for concern and strategies for action are developed centrally. What will be helpful are mechanisms which strengthen the capacity of the church at local levels to develop, implement, and support their own strategies for addressing issues of peace and justice.

3. The organizing principles and theological perspective of Jubilee Ministries will guide the work of JPIC. Thus, it is recognized that peace, justice, and the integrity of creation are central matters in the Gospel and are inherent in the Baptismal Covenant. From this perspective, ministries to achieve national and world peace, a healthy and sustainable environment, and social and economic justice are not simply “extra-curricular activities” of the church, depending upon the availability of financial resources. They are biblically based, bound up in our worship, sacramental, and prayer life, as well as in activities for education and community action. Our theological perspective shapes our action in the community and our action in the community shapes our theological perspective.

JPIC Initial Accomplishments

Three goals were established for completion during the remainder of the first triennium:

1. to sponsor an event, informed by the “JPIC Approach,” which would launch an orientation process for JPIC teams and others throughout the church;

2. to promote and support the development of provincial networks of JPIC ministries; and

3. to convene a national summit on Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation to celebrate these ministries and create a church agenda for the next triennium and beyond.

The first goal was met with a conference, “Visions of Justice: Activating the Church’s Voice,” which took place in Columbus, Ohio, November 2-4, 1995. The 225 Episcopalians who attended this conference were oriented in the “JPIC Approach” and began collaborative networking. The primary conference participants were five-member teams selected by each province to represent each of the five JPIC ministries. Their participation was essential to the success of the second JPIC goal.

Accomplishment of the second goal began at the “Visions of Justice” conference when the Provincial Teams convened meetings of their provincial representatives in order to begin the collaboration process. Since the conference, each Provincial Team has met, organized, sponsored, and conducted provincial JPIC conferences and training events. They have begun orientation and networking within their own provinces and have encouraged participation in the JPIC Summit. These activities were supported by special grants of up to $16,000 to enable the provinces to carry out their networking and orientation strategies.

The third goal will be accomplished between February 27 and March 1, 1997, when the national Summit on Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation is held in Cincinnati, Ohio. The primary aim of the summit is to bring together hundreds of Episcopalians to forge an agenda for future action in all areas of the JPIC ministries. In order to assure broad-based identification of issues and participation, the planning committee includes representatives of all five JPIC ministries as well as some members of other church bodies and Church Center staff. A key outcome of the conference will be the establishment of visions and goals for the next triennium and beyond for the grassroots networks represented at the conference, and recommendations to the Executive Council for presentation at the 72nd General Convention.

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES FOR THE COMING TRIENNIUM

In addition to the goals which will have been established at the national Summit on Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, JPIC envisions the following overall goals:

1. work with the Peace and Justice Ministries Cluster to bring about further synchronicity of peace, justice, and environmental ministries at the Church Center and all levels of the church;

2. provide resources for communication and training in advocacy, organizing, and other areas which nurture and support the networks of JPIC ministries;

3. coordinate a national Summit on Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation for all networks and persons engaged in JPIC-type ministries for the purpose of gathering data and assessing accomplishment of goals set at the 1997 Summit, and share experiences of living into those goals with the administration of the next Presiding Bishop;

4. support the sponsorship of JPIC Summits in each province; and

5. support and strengthen provincial JPIC Teams by continuing the annual grant for the organizing work in their provinces, coordinating a yearly meeting of the teams for interacting, sharing models and planning; and monitoring the accomplishments of the agenda established by the 1997 JPIC Summit.

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution A036 Continuation and Funding of JPIC ADOPTED by Convention

Resolved, the House of ________ concurring, That the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee of the Executive Council, with its subcommittees for Anti-Racism, Global Peace and Justice, Economic Justice, Environmental Stewardship, and Jubilee Ministries continue its mandate to facilitate communication and collaboration between the Executive Council and ministries throughout the Episcopal Church and Church Center units which address issues of peace, social and economic justice and the environment; and be it further

Resolved, That these ministries be funded to organize, plan, and implement strategies to support Episcopal regional and local networks corresponding to the work of each of the subcommittees.

Explanation

Under the guidance of the JPIC, the Episcopal Church has accomplished an integrated and well focused set of goals for empowering persons at local levels who are engaged in ministries for justice, peace, and the environment. The JPIC Provincial Teams and other networks of persons working in these areas of ministry facilitate this process. Without support at the national level, these networks would become largely weak and ineffective.

Resolution A037 Commending and Responding to the JPIC Summit ADOPTED by Convention

Resolved, the House of ________ concurring, That the 72nd General Convention commend the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee and its related networks for convening the National Episcopal Summit of members of this Church on Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation held in Cincinnati, Ohio, Februay 27-March 1, 1997, and particularly for the recommendations of the Summit for action by this convention and the Episcopal Church at all levels; and be it further

Resolved, That this 72nd General Convention seriously consider the content of these recommendations, their having been reviewed by the Executive Council prior to this Convention, and commending them for active response by the Church; and be it further

Resolved, That recommendations for action be referred to the Executive Council for development, funding, and action through its Program Committee and the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee.

Explanation

This resolution anticipates recommendations from the Summit for the justice, peace, and environmental stewardship agenda of the Episcopal Church during this Triennium and beyond. However, since these recommendations would have come too late for submission in the Blue Book, this resolution provides an opportunity for recommendations from this significant event in the life of our church to be properly considered by this Convention.

Resolution A038 JPIC Grant Fund Discharged

Resolved, the House of ________ concurring, That the 72nd General Convention create a JPIC Grant Fund to be administered by the Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee of the Executive Council with the support of the Peace and Justice Ministries staff under guidelines established by the Executive Council for the support of local church initiatives for peace, justice, and the environment.

Explanation

- Such grants will provide seed support for local ministries of our church which serve and advocate on behalf of people who are poor, oppressed, victims of racial or economic injustice, and for ministries which promote local efforts for global peace and justice and environmental stewardship.

- Since the elimination of the grants program of the Coalition for Social Witness and Justice, there have been no grants to support such initiatives, thereby seriously curtailing or ending existing ministries and preventing the development of new ministries.

 

Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation: Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee

SUMMARY OF THE COMMITTEE’S WORK

History

The 1991 General Convention of the Episcopal Church established environmental stewardship as a priority by allocating funds to the Environmental Stewardship Team. This was the first such commission appointed by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies. Its mandate was “to educate, motivate and facilitate congregations, dioceses and provinces toward local and regional plans, advocacy and action.” In 1994, the General Convention overwhelmingly reaffirmed the work of the Environmental Stewardship Team, and instructed it to continue its work. Following the Executive Council’s organization of the Peace and Justice Ministries Cluster and the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee, the Environmental Stewardship Team became one of its five subcommittees.

The curriculum developed by the team for use in small groups in local churches and conferences, One God, One Family, One Earth, became a part of the central theme of the 1995 General Convention: “By Water and the Holy Spirit— Proclaiming One God, One Family, One Earth.” The significance of the integrated concerns of creation, family, and God became inseparable in the Episcopal Church.

Working to enhance communication among the newly expanded network of environmental workers in the church, the subcommittee funded and facilitated a successful, action-oriented gathering of network leaders and promoted the JPIC Provincial Teams. The subcommittee sponsored a national conference that modeled conservation of God’s Creation, and it works continually within the church to facilitate a new understanding of stewardship through supporting conservation in church building projects; networking with other desks at the Church Center, and making the church accountable for its resolutions to protect and nurture all of God’s Creation.

Theological Statement

For the past two triennia, the Episcopal Church, through the work of the Environmental Stewardship Committee, has become exemplary in moving toward an understanding of the great need to preserve and nurture Creation. As God said to Noah in setting the bow in the clouds: “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you for all future generations.” [Genesis 9:12]

Our church has begun to live into the call of the World Council of Churches 1991 Convocation on Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation “for building a culture that lives in harmony with Creation’s integrity.” We are deepening our biblical understanding and perspective with regard to Creation and our relationship to the wisdom of the ages. However, the liturgy of the Episcopal Church must come to reflect and teach our interconnection to God through loving relationships with all things. In Romans 1:20, it is declared that the invisible things of God, even in his eternal power and Godhead, can be clearly seen and understood in Creation.

Our church is becoming the light in a great darkness. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants, for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. “Therefore a curse devours the earth and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt.” [Isaiah 24:5-6] We are living in a time when the shepherd of today, the church, must guide the blindly following sheep away from running themselves over the cliff.

“If my people which are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven. I will forgive their sins and heal their land.” [2 Chronicles 7:14]

Greed must be healed. The economics which drive creation’s destruction, the dumping of toxic waste and garbage on minority communities, the devastation of forests and wetlands, the total disregard for every living thing, and the inability to find peace in our lives comes from greed. Violence is as subtle as pollution and as horrific as murder. Pollution of our planet affects the health of every living thing. We must learn that violence is the barometer by which we see the manifestation of our spirituality.

Accomplishments

The Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee has achieved the following during this triennium:

- supported the JPIC Provincial Teams and the JPIC Summit of 1997;

- expanded the environmental network of various Episcopal environmental groups;

- convened a gathering of the new Episcopal Ecological Network (a collaboration of the Episcopal Environmental Coalition, JPIC Provincial Environmental Team members, and the JPIC Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee) for future planning and action;

- supported Provincial Teams in bringing forward the JPIC concept to the provinces and promoted JPIC work in the dioceses;

- established a working relationship with the 9th Province toward enhancing communication for accessing church and network data and identifying educational materials for translation into Spanish;

- initiated communication with the Church Building Fund to work collaboratively for environmentally sensitive church building and remodeling;

- consulted with the Episcopal Public Policy Network to expand membership to the environmental networks and to identify issues that need policy actions by Executive Council;

- hosted a conference for Episcopalians that modeled stewardship and conservation. [At the JPIC “Visions of Justice” conference, there was no styrofoam or plastic disposable wares, paper and cans were recycled, food served was delicious but low on the food chain, and coffee was bought from sustainable coffee growers];

- began communication with Haiti and the Virgin Islands to work with the bishops in implementing environmental education;

- promoted “One God, One Family, One Earth,” our environmental curriculum, by networking with Women’s, Youth, Native American, and Stewardship desks at the Episcopal Church Center; and

- contacted seminaries to identify education in holistic creation theology and offer assistance to promote environmental stewardship training.

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES FOR THE NEXT TRIENNIUM

In the coming triennium the committee will:

1. Call on the Executive Council to implement and promote Resolution A044a passed at the 1994 General Convention calling upon members of our church to use practical, environmentally sound, and energy-efficient behavior in all aspects of our church’s life: at the Episcopal Church Center, at church conference centers, and at all church-related events.

2. Coordinate and fund annual meetings of the Episcopal Ecological Network to plan, strategize, and promote JPIC work on the provincial and diocesan levels.

3. Provide information about national, local, and interfaith meetings, educational materials, model liturgies, etc., by coordinating materials and mailing packets to parish workers in congregations throughout the country.

4. Sponsor educational segments on the interconnectedness of God’s creation at four clergy conferences a year.

5. Provide educational expertise to at least two seminaries by sending a well-qualified educator in eco-justice to assist in programs of ethics study or field internships.

6. Create a youth curriculum on environmental justice, with the help of the Church Center Youth Ministries office.

7. Provide a world-renowned consultant to spend two days briefing interested church staff on environmentally sensitive construction methodologies.

8. Promote our environmental curriculum “One God, One Family, One Earth,” and a new curriculum about creation and lifestyle, “Simplicity As Compassion,” through our network, and at church conferences and conference centers.

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution A040 Continuing the Mandate of Environmental Stewardship Action not Completed by Convention

Resolved, the House of ________ concurring, That the 72nd General Convention of the Episcopal Church, recognizing that as a Church we have more work to do to become a Church which honors the earth and the created order, continue the mandate of the Church of environmental stewardship through the Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee of the Executive Council; and be it further

Resolved, That the focus of this subcommittee will be: “to educate, motivate and facilitate congregations, dioceses, and provinces toward local and regional plans, advocacy, and action.”

Explanation

Resolution A195, adopted by the 70th General Convention in 1991, and reaffirmed by Resolution A041 at the 71st General Convention gave this mandate. During the last Triennium, these efforts were continued through JPIC, including the development of wide and effective networks. This network ministry must continue.

Resolution A041 General Convention and Executive Council to Implement Environmental Stewardship ADOPTED WITH AMENDMENTS

A041a Amended Text as Adopted

Resolved, That the 72nd General Convention of the Episcopal Church, reaffirm Resolution A044a, adopted by the 70th General Convention, calling upon the Church to adopt practical, environmentally sound, and energy-efficient lifestyle behaviors that discourage wasteful consumption and encourage the recycling of material resources; and be it further

Resolved, That the Executive Council implement this resolution in concrete ways that are accountable to the Church at large through annual written reports of accomplishments during the remainder of this Triennium; and be it further

Resolved, That all future General Conventions and conferences of the Episcopal Church be models of the stewardship of God’s Creation, and that the General Convention Office and Planning and Arrangement Committee be directed to implement the following:

- provide recycling centers for newspapers, office paper, computer paper, aluminum cans, glass, and plastic;

- use pottery or glassware instead of plastic cups, when possible;

- eliminate the use of polystyrene cups and plates due to their toxic by-products;

- photocopy both sides of paper distributed at conventions and conferences;

- use recycled papers, non-toxic dyes, and/or appropriate technologies for printing; and be it further

Resolved, That, if necessary, registration fees be increased to cover any additional costs incurred to implement these changes, and be it further

Resolved, That Executive Council be the model for such environmentally responsible behavior, and implement these changes at the Episcopal Church Center, conference centers, and Episcopal Church-sponsored conferences.

Explanation

Resolution A044a, passed by the 71st General Convention, speaks to practical ways to model sound environmental stewardship. The concepts set forth are to be shepherded and implemented by Executive Council. However, to date no significant action appears to have been taken during the 1994-1997 Triennium. It is urgent that these measures be implemented as Episcopal Church policy at General Convention and at all national meetings, conferences, and events, under the guidance and direction of the Executive Council, both in order to reflect our church’s commitment to model stewardship of God’s Creation, and to serve as examples for provinces, dioceses, local congregations, colleges, schools, and other units of the Episcopal Church, of how to implement this policy of the church.