The Mother Church
of The Dakotas
517 Douglas Avenue, Yankton, SD 57078
EARTH DAY 2018: Biodiversity
April 22 is Earth Day. Earth Day is a global event when an estimated 1 billion people in 192 countries celebrate. It is a day that people take action, include marching in the streets, holding rallies, family day, river or town clean-ups, planting trees or native prairies, etc.
Earth Day began 48 years ago, on April 22, 1970. Millions of people around the world marched in the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development, which were causing pollution that lead to developmental delays in children. Biodiversity was and still is declining around the world as a result of heavy use of pesticides and other pollutants, poaching, and habitat loss. This year, the emphasis of Earth Day is the End Plastic Pollution Campaign. You can learn more about this campaign by visiting: https://www.earthday.org/campaigns/plastics-campaign/
Last month, on March 24, a few of us gathered in the church undercroft to recognize Earth Hour between 7:30 and 9:30pm to discuss environmental issues, including the importance of biodiversity, which was the emphasis this year. On that night, millions of people, businesses, and organizations around the globe were doing the same thing; switching off their lights, and making noise for actions to preserve our earth’s biodiversity. For more information about Earth Hour check out https://www.earthhour.org/ .
Many people see these events as political statements and/or civic duties. However, there many Faith leaders and followers, including Pope Francis, that connect Earth Day and Earth Hour with our responsibility to protect God’s greatest creations; humans, biodiversity, and our planet. In a 2015 letter, Pope Francis called on world leaders to address threats to the planet, including climate change and species extinction. He singled out “human activity” as the main driver of these threats.
The Episcopal Bishops of New England published their 2003 Pastoral Letter, “To Serve Christ in All Creation.” In this letter, the Bishops “confess[ed] our past complacency, ignorance and neglect. We regret Christian teachings that claim or imply that human beings have divine sanction to destroy God’s creation. We pledge our prayers, our time, our leadership and our energies to the work that needs to be done. We encourage all members of the Episcopal Church in New England to see in the promises of the Baptismal Covenant the call to serve Christ in all creation.” https://www.episcopalct.org/FileRepository/DownloadFile.aspx?FileID=29
The Bishops committed themselves and urged every Episcopalian in every parish and diocese throughout the Province of New England:
· To act together to honor the goodness and sacredness of God’s creation;
· To acknowledge the urgency of the planetary crisis in which we now find ourselves;
· To pray and take action to restore a right relationship between humankind and creation;
· To lift up prayers in personal and public worship for environmental justice, human rights, and sustainable development;
· To repent of greed and waste, and to seek simplicity of life;
· To commit ourselves to energy conservation and the use of clean, renewable sources of energy;
· To reduce, reuse, and recycle, and as far as possible to buy products from recycled materials;
· To realize that, through participation in community, public policy, and business decision-making, we have corporate as well as individual opportunities to practice environmental stewardship and justice;
· To seek to understand and uproot the political, social, and economic causes of environmental abuse.
Since then, on September 20, 2011, the Episcopal Church House of Bishops met in Province IX, in Quito, Ecuador, and issued A Pastoral Teaching from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in support of the 2003 letter from The Episcopal Bishops of New England for all Episcopalians. https://www.edow.org/files/1214/7157/7333/BishopsPastoralTeachingontheEnvironment.pdf .
In the last few years, I have written articles that were published in our newsletter explaining the importance of conservation and saving our species. I have held presentations regarding environmental issues, what efforts were being taken to mitigate environmental problems, and what actions you could take. I urge every Episcopalian in this parish to commit to the actions in the list from the Episcopal Bishops. On April 22, I will be providing the homily during the service regarding this topic.
Here is an opportunity to show your commitment to our Creation Care responsibilities: The Missouri River Events group and the National Park Service is holding their annual Missouri River Clean-Up Day on May 5, from 8am until noon. For the second time, I am forming a team to represent Christ Church to help with the clean-up effort for this one day. If you are interested in joining the team, please, let me know. It takes a parish.
O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom thou gavest the earth as their home in common with us. We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to thee in song, has been a groan of travail. May we realize that they live not for us alone but for themselves and for thee, and that they love the sweetness of life. Amen. --Prayer of Compassion, by St. Basil the Great, 330-379
Carol Smith, 605-661-5001
Christ Episcopal Church 517 Douglas Avenue Yankton, SD 57078 605.665.2456