From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: New England religious leaders call for action on climate change plan

Date Wed, 12 Jun 2002 15:46:04 -0400

June 12, 2002


Episcopalians: New England religious leaders call for action 
on climate change plan

by Jan Nunley

(ENS) Calling global warming "a crime against Creation," New 
England religious leaders, including many Episcopalians, 
converged on their state capitols on June 11 to ask the six New 
England governors to implement the Climate Change Action Plan to 
which they agreed last August. The plan calls for regional 
reduction of greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 and 
long-term reductions of 75-85 percent.

At the Massachusetts State House, more than a hundred 
Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other worshipers called upon 
Governor Jane Swift to reduce the state's greenhouse emissions 
through conservation, efficiency, and the use of alternative 

"Like Noah, we must build an ark to save Creation and our own 
children," said the Rev. Fred Small of Religious Witness for 
the Earth, which convened the service. "The sky is 
darkening, the rains have begun, and still we pretend it's just 
a passing shower. We beseech our leaders in government to take 
courageous action before it's too late." 

"We're asking our governor to keep her promise," explained 
the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, associate rector of All Saints 
Parish in Brookline. "With our national leaders shirking their 
moral duty to confront global warming, we're taking our prayer 
out of the sanctuary and into the public square." Bullitt-Jonas 
joined the religious delegation that delivered to the governor's 
office the New England Interfaith Call for Climate Action signed 
by 328 clergy, including more than 100 Episcopalians.

Also leading worship were Bishop Steven Charleston, dean of 
the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge; Sister Tess Browne 
of St. Anthony Cares; Rabbi Daniel Siegel of the Alliance for 
Jewish Renewal (ALEPH); Dr. A. Karim Khudairi of the Islamic 
Council of New England; the Rev. Mel Hoover of the Unitarian 
Universalist Association; the Rev. Dr. Andrea Ayvazian, dean of 
religious life at Mount Holyoke College; and Joshua Raab, a 
13-year-old seventh grader at Wellesley Middle School who 
dedicated his Bar Mitzvah to stopping global warming.

New England not spared in warming

A small group gathered outside the Connecticut State House in 
Hartford as the Rev. Susan Veronica Rak of the Unitarian 
Universalist Church of Greater Bridgeport sounded a tone on a 
Tibetan singing bowl and read from the Psalms. 

"Even though the Environmental Protection Agency recently 
released a report admitting that climate change is happening and 
will greatly affect the United States, the current 
Administration in Washington is likely to do nothing to help 
stop climate change," Rak said in a statement. "We cannot remain 
silent as global warming alters the earth's climate, melts 
Arctic ice, floods low-lying homelands, spreads tropical 
disease, unleashes devastating storms and droughts, exterminates 
countless species, and threatens agriculture and society 
worldwide." After a prayer, the group went to Governor John 
Rowland's office to deliver the Call for Climate Action with 
signatures attached.

In Maine, more than 50 people assembled in the state house's 
Hall of Flags to hear author and environmentalist Bill McKibben, 
a United Methodist Sunday school teacher, note that New England 
would "not be spared" in the event of drastic climate change, 
facing the possibility of a climate not unlike that of 
Georgia--which would devastate the maple sugar industry and 
other economic benefits unique to northern New England.

Maine Department of Environmental Protection commissioner 
Martha Kirkpatrick accepted the 1,300 New England signatures 
from the group, and spoke about the efforts her department is 
making to move the state forward on meeting the goals of the 
climate change action plan. She pointed out that the most 
significant way that Maine could lower its greenhouse gas 
emissions would be for CAFE standards to be increased, since 
cars and trucks contribute nearly 50 percent of Maine's 
greenhouse gas emissions.

An interdependent web

A circle of prayer was held on the front steps of the Rhode 
Island State

House in Providence, as the Rev. Amy Freedman led a service with 
four members of Channing Memorial Church (Unitarian 
Universalist) of Newport.  Gathered around the United Nations 
flag, participants offered readings, joined in song and shared 
about their commitment to protecting the Earth.

"We are a part of an interdependent web of existence, 
therefore our own actions effect not only our own communities 
but also New England, the United States, North America, and the 
entire globe," proclaimed Freedman.  The group then delivered 
the Call to the office of Governor Lincoln Almond, urging a 
strong state plan.

Fifteen people sang, spoke and prayed on the steps of the 
Vermont State House in Montpelier in support of the Call, and 
then presented Governor Howard Dean's receptionist with a letter 
to him, the text of the Call and the signatures of approximately 
75 Vermonters of many faiths.


--The Rev. Jan Nunley is deputy director of Episcopal News 

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