Eco-Justice Ministries  

Eco-Justice Notes
The E-mail Commentary from Eco-Justice Ministries

The 30-Week New Year
distributed 1/3/20 - ©2020

The turning of a new year is generally a time of reflection.

We see innumerable articles and postings about "the year in review," rehashing the previous twelve months in every category of news, technology and celebrity gossip. Many of us take the occasion to look ahead, making bold resolutions (with all good intention!) and naming our hopes and fears for the coming 52 weeks.

Some of my pondering this season has a shorter time frame. Rather than resolutions to cover the whole of 2020, I'm looking at seven months.

I will retire at the end of July this year. The date marks exactly 20 years since Eco-Justice Ministries was incorporated as a non-profit agency. (The middle of the year 2000, I often quip, is back when the conventional wisdom held that Al Gore was destined to be the next President of the United States.) The board of directors of Eco-Justice Ministries has decided that the agency, too, will end its programming at the time of my retirement.

For Eco-Justice Ministries, and for my personal work in this vocation, 2020 is only 30 weeks long. There's a lot to get done!

Between now and the end of July, I will be continuing the long tradition of weekly Eco-Justice Notes. I plan to be revisiting and refining many of the central themes that I've written about over the years. I will be persistent in calling on churches to be faithful, relevant and effective in their worship, witness and advocacy. I will push myself to be even more assertive in prophetic critiques of church and society. I will seek, always, to write in hope, grounding my commentary in the commitment that God's shalom of right relationship for all creation is the guiding vision for a viable world.

In the coming months, Eco-Justice Ministries will continue our work with congregations and church leaders. I will be visiting churches to preach and lead classes. I'll be meeting with pastors and "green teams" -- in person and by video conferences -- to explore the most appropriate ways for each congregation to embody eco-justice in their ministries. I'm eager to do that work as extensively and as broadly as possible. Be in touch soon to schedule a time when I can talk with you and your congregation! (Email me, or call 303-715-3873.)

We're also looking at how Eco-Justice Ministries can continue our witness and influence beyond July.

For many years, we've stressed the idea of "transformational ministry" as appropriate -- and even necessary -- for churches in this time of ecological and social justice crisis. Recently, we've done programs a number of presentations about "Green Churches for the 2020s." Drawing on the conversations and insights of those meetings, I intend to formalize our message in a package of resources that can inform and guide congregations into the coming decade.

Our website will continue in some form, providing an archive of Eco-Justice Notes, housing the "Green Churches for the 2020s" materials, providing access to some other helpful materials, and sharing links to many other recommended sites.

In the first half of 2020, we'll be in conversation with some of our long-standing partners in the faith-based environmental movement. We will see if there are ways to "hand off" some our most distinctive programs and perspectives, and we'll be getting updated news about the expertise of our partners so that we can refer our friends to the other agencies that are doing essential work in this field.

For Eco-Justice Ministries, the new year of 2020 is only 30 weeks long. It will be a busy and exciting time!

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I am delighted to say that there is one thing that Eco-Justice Ministries will not be doing in 2020 -- no fundraising! We enter this year with enough in the bank to be confident that we are fully funded for all of our remaining programming, and to establish an ongoing archive.

We are deeply grateful to the hundreds and hundreds of individuals, and the many congregations, who have provided financial support for our ministry over the last two decades. It is a great blessing to be able to go into the coming months without any worries about finances. Thank you!

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2020 will be a challenging year for the United States and for the world.

This country will soon go through the trial of President Trump by the US Senate -- either as a partisan farce, or as a wrenching time of judgment about the appropriate boundaries of presidential power.

We will endure months of political campaigning -- for president, for members of the House and Senate, and for other offices. There is the opportunity for this election year to open valuable conversations about our national values and priorities, and I pray that faith communities will help to deepen and broaden those discussions within a moral context.

Globally, this is the time when the climate crisis must be addressed, and major transitions initiated. National governments must set new and compelling goals. State and local governments must assume leadership when nations falter, and be flexible and creative in rapid ways to slash emissions, build resilience, and establish climate justice. Here, too, faith communities must be advocates for urgent action, and speak clearly about the ethical principles that must guide us.

The world faces great tensions on many fronts. Migration is driven by poverty, human rights violations, and climate impacts, and resistance to such vast flows of humanity across national borders creates even greater tensions. Trade disputes disrupt both business and diplomacy, with harm within the various countries. The already dangerous conflicts of the Middle East have jumped into frightening new instability this week. Pollution from plastics and toxic chemicals spread around the globe. Extinction and ecological disruption accelerate.

Eco-Justice Ministries was founded 20 years ago, because churches and other faith communities are called to engage these sorts of difficult and urgent matters. Faith communities are uniquely positioned to help us see beyond local and national boundaries, and to think in terms of generations, not economic quarters. Faith communities, in this age, have a fresh message about the entire web of life, and about humanity's appropriate place within the Earth community. Faith communities, drawing on our deep roots, have hopeful wisdom about justice, joy, and the qualities of the good life -- wisdom that provide real alternatives to the shallow and exploitative way of life that is devastating the planet.

Eco-Justice Ministries has centered on the mandate for churches to be active and engaged in this troubled world -- and we will continue to do so for the next seven months.

I pray that churches and people of faith will be at the heart of climate justice and genuine Earth community for decades and centuries to come.


Peter Sawtell
Executive Director
Eco-Justice Ministries

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Eco-Justice Ministries ended all programming on July 31, 2020. This site is an archive of writings and resources.
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