July 14, 2020
To friends of Eco-Justice Ministries,
As you almost certainly know by now, I am retiring at the end of July, after exactly 20 years serving as the Executive Director of Eco-Justice Ministries. It has been an honor to have been able to do this important and challenging work for two decades.
As you may know, the Board of Directors of Eco-Justice Ministries has decided to end all programming by our agency at the time of my retirement. (We will continue to maintain some portions of our website for at least a year.) Much of our work has been tied to the particular interests and style that I've brought as the only full-time staff member of Eco-Justice Ministries, and the Board has discerned there is not a reasonable succession path that would bring different leadership to our agency.
In this email, I want to do three things at this time of transition: (1) offer some options for keeping in touch after July 31, including how you can be on a mailing list for any writing that I may do in the future, (2) suggest just a few newsletters that bear some vague similarity to Eco-Justice Notes, and (3) point you to some of the agencies who have been our trusted partners through the years, to whom you can turn for resources and support. Please scroll down to the two sections below for details.
I am deeply grateful to the extended communities which have made our work possible through the years. We have been blessed with a marvelous constituency of clergy, church leaders and secular activists who have joined in our eco-justice witness and action. We have been richly nurtured by a vibrant network of other non-profit agencies and community groups who share in our commitment to the protection of Earth community, and who have developed superb programs and resources. As Eco-Justice Ministries ends its 20-year run, we are confident that these communities will continue to lead and act.
Rev. Peter Sawtell
Executive Director, Eco-Justice Ministries
1a) The email address that we've used for Eco-Justice Ministries (firstname.lastname@example.org) will be closed down, probably by the end of August. We are not publishing an alternative address, but we're not cutting off all options for communication, either!
For at least a year, you will be able to send an email to either a volunteer representative of Eco-Justice Ministries, or to Rev. Peter Sawtell, using a contact form that will be maintained on our ongoing website. We'll do our best to get back to you, but in the shift from full-time staffing to occasional volunteer connections, it may be a while before you get a reply from that form.
1b) Many of you have expressed deep appreciation for Eco-Justice Notes. (Thank you!) To the best of my knowledge, my weekly commentaries have filled a unique niche in the faith-based environmental movement, with my weekly reflections from a personally-held ethical perspective. I am not planning to continue a similar series of writings in my retirement, and the mailing list for Notes will be retired next month. (A couple of options for other writings that might interest you are in the section just below.)
It is quite possible, though, that I will write occasional pieces of commentary in the months and years ahead. Be warned: since I will be writing as a private individual, and not on behalf of Eco-Justice Ministries, I will have a greater freedom to comment on political candidates. If you would like to be notified if and when those writings become available, please send me a note with your name and email address, and I'll keep you posted about plans for any of my writing projects.
As I just said, Eco-Justice Notes has been a unique publication. I will suggest three other newsletter options which might be of some interest to those who have subscribed to Notes. Please let me know if there are other publications that we can publicize.
- Reviving Creation has the writings of Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, An Episcopal priest, author, retreat leader, and climate activist who also works with United Church of Christ congregations in New England. She's one of the editors of the 2019 volume, "Rooted and Rising." Her monthly newsletter includes links to her recently delivered sermons. Subscribe at the Reviving Creation website.
- Rev. Stephen Blackmer is the executive director of Kairos Earth, and chaplain of Church of the Woods. The weekly newsletter includes his spiritual and Earth-centered "Letters from Church of the Woods." Subscribe at Kairos Earth.
- On the secular side, one of the great figures of the modern movement for climate justice, Bill McKibben, now has a weekly newsletter, "The Climate Crisis," published by the New Yorker. Regular features of the newsletter are his weekly updates from inside the climate movement, "Passing the Mic" which has short interviews with other leaders, news and information from the "Climate School," and a "Scoreboard" with plus and minus rating on recent news. As with almost everything from Bill, it is honest, accurate, and still hopeful.
|3. REFERRALS TO OTHER AGENCIES AND RESOURCES|
We have worked closely with many agencies through the years. Those described here are the groups at the very top of our list, all with a strong national and international presence. Most of them have a strong bias toward matters of climate justice. I'm sure that there are hundreds of others which could be included, but such a comprehensive list would be overwhelming in this email.
We will be posting an expanded version of this listing as one of the resources on our continuing website. If you have other agencies or resources to suggest as additions to this list (shameless self-promotion is encouraged!), please let me know those names and links soon.
- Denominational resources -- Various religious denominations have a wide range of resources, staff and networks that can be especially valuable to members and congregations of that denomination. On our website, there is a listing of many denominations with links to environmental offices and programs -- which was updated just today.
- Creation Justice Ministries -- the successor organization to the Eco-Justice Working Group of the National Council of Churches of Christ. "Creation Justice Ministries educates, equips and mobilizes Christian communions/denominations, congregations and individuals to protect, restore, and rightly share God's Creation. Based on the priorities of its members, with a particular concern for the vulnerable and marginalized, Creation Justice Ministries provides collaborative opportunities to build ecumenical community, guides people of faith and faith communities towards eco-justice transformations, and raises a collective witness in the public arena echoing Christ's call for just relationships among all of Creation."
- National Religious Partnership for the Environment -- an umbrella for coordination of environmental initiatives among Christian, Jewish and other faith traditions. "The National Religious Partnership for the Environment brings together a diverse alliance of faith institutions and leaders in order to bring voice and action on behalf of caring for God's Creation. Through NRPE's four partners we bring together 160,000 congregations in the U.S. to protect God's creation through worship, education, stewardship and public witness."
- Interfaith Power & Light, and its state affiliates "Interfaith Power & Light is mobilizing a religious response to global warming. Our mission is to inspire and mobilize people of faith and conscience to take bold and just action on climate change." IP&L has congregational resources for worship and energy stewardship, and many programs for political advocacy.
- Green Faith -- "GreenFaith inspires, educates, organizes, and mobilizes people of diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds globally for environmental action. Our work is based on beliefs shared by the world's religious and spiritual traditions. We believe that protecting the Earth is a sacred act, and that environmental stewardship is a moral responsibility." GreenFaith has been important in connecting faith groups with the movement to divest from fossil fuels, and offers religious advocacy for the Green New Deal.
- Earth Ministry -- Based in Seattle, Washington, with a national constituency, "Earth Ministry transforms faith into action for the well-being of communities and the environment. We organize people of faith to advocate for strong environmental policies and provide strategic guidance to religious communities working toward environmental justice. Our Greening Congregations program was the first in the country to help houses of worship implement sustainable practices, and our Faithful Advocacy program is on the cutting edge of empowering clergy and lay leaders to speak out on public policy issues."
- New Community Project -- "NCP is a small nonprofit organization with a Big Goal: to change the world!" They have a transformational perspective which resonates with what Eco-Justice Ministries has long advocated. Their immersion trips and learning tours can be life-changing experiences.
- Faith for Earth Initiative -- affiliated with the United Nations Environment Programme. They're just launching, but they should soon become a very significant leading voice of interfaith climate justice advocacy.
- Yale Forum on Religion & Ecology -- "The Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology is an international multireligious project contributing to a new academic field and an engaged moral force of religious environmentalism. With its conferences, publications, monthly newsletter, and website, it explores religious worldviews, texts, and ethics in order to contribute to environmental solutions along with science, policy, law, economics, and appropriate technology." Their monthly newsletter includes announcements of academic conferences and publications.
- Season of Creation -- There are two related organizations, both using the name of Season of Creation, and both advocating for a Christian environmental focus each year between September 1 and October 4. Both organizations help congregations develop worship services and programs grounded in an ecological faith perspective.
The older of the two groups (using .com), with Australian roots, provides extensive liturgical resources for the season, using a three year cycle of themes and readings.
A newer expression (with .org) is from an international, ecumenical movement which seeks to extends participation in the season beyond worship services to include advocacy and local events.
- There are innumerable issues and advocacy groups for social and environmental justice. For today, I'm just going to name one focused on climate: 350.org. "We're an international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all" -- with many affiliated state and local groups. 350.org has a strong "keep fossil fuels in the ground" focus that helped to shape the long-standing positions of Eco-Justice Ministries.