From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: New England religious leaders call for action on climate change plan
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
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
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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