The Environmental Stewardship group at Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Raleigh has a mission to bring Creation Care from the periphery of our parish life to a more central position. This objective is in harmony with The Episcopal House of Bishops Pastoral Teaching on the environment issued in September 2011 which states we have an ecological crisis, and “Christians cannot be indifferent to global warming, pollution, natural resource depletion, species extinctions, and habitat destruction, all of which threaten life on our planet.”
Many of the Bishop’s recommendations for actions by parishes and individuals had already been introduced in early 2011 at Nativity. During the weekend of February 18 to 20, Nativity and NCIPL cosponsored an Earth Care weekend. On Friday evening, Dr. Kathy Shea spoke about climate change and health, on Sunday morning, Dr. Carl Sigel during the adult education hour, addressed ways to incorporate ecological thinking into worship, education, and institutional life. The worship service that morning included ecological liturgy, hymns and sermon. In April 2011, Nativity started a community garden, which will be expanded in 2012. On several occasions during the summer, fresh produce from the garden was donated to the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. To provide grounding for the garden efforts, a four week program based on the Interfaith Power & Light Cool Harvest was presented in June.
More recently, Nativity participated in Interfaith Power & Light’s national Preach-In on Climate Change on February 12, 2012. Services were led by the Rector Rev. Stephanie Allen with the participation of Rev. Jerry Cappel, Associate for Justice Ministries, St. Matthews Episcopal Church, Louisville, Kentucky, Coordinator of Environmental Ministries for Province IV of the Episcopal Church and President Kentucky IPL. Rev. Cappel also led an interactive Adult Formation session on how Christians should think about climate change. In the afternoon, Rev. Cappel visited Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill, participating in an adult forum and the evening worship service. During Lent 2012, for Adult Formation, Nativity will use a five part Anglican Bible Study, called, “And it was good” http://www.aco.org/ministry/theological/bible/lent.cfm.
At a time when powerful forces in government, business, and the media divert our attention from an environmental crisis that threatens human civilization and all life on Earth as we know it, as people of faith, we need to be mindful of and thankful for our religious leaders, who look to both faith and science to develop a worldview based on reality and provide clear guideposts for us to take action.
-Carl Sigel, Chair of Nativity’s Environmental Committee