Diocese of California dreaming and acting to care for creation

Posted on April 23, 2019

Deepa Abraham and a group of fellow like-minded members of St. Bartholomew’s, Livermore envision creating a sustainable church campus that will serve as a visible sign of its commitment to creation stewardship. Such a campus would also offer outreach and welcome in this partly rural agricultural, partly tech-savvy suburban community in transition at the Eastern edge of the Bay Area.

The start of a greenfield project: Deepa Abraham and Rector Andy Lobban view an open space at St. Bartholomew’s that could become a native plant garden or community garden.

Abraham discussed these plans and sought ideas for grant funding from Nancy Grove, newly appointed chair of the Diocesan Commission on Care of Creation (formerly Commission on the Environment) when Grove visited St. Bartholomew’s recently to give a talk on the diocesan-sponsored carbon tracking app, SustainIslandHome. Grove was able to connect Abraham to sources at The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of California, and California Interfaith Power & Light.

The story is a good example of how the newly re-invigorated commission plans to work at the parish, deanery, and diocesan levels to promote faith-based, theologically literate responses to the climate crisis and to environmental justice issues. Other members of the commission are the Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, Barbara Bisel, the Rev. Justin Cannon, and the Rev. Andy Lobban.

The most urgent task of the commission, in the minds of its members, is to support the ongoing rollout and implementation of SustainIslandHome, the carbon tracker, throughout the Diocese. A core diocesan team comprised of DioCal staff: Stephanie Martin Taylor, Working Group Head for Communications and Dani Scoville, Communications Project Director, worked with Sheila Andrus and Nancy Grove in partnership with Lisa Altieri, Climate Solutions Net, to customize a tracker for the Episcopal Church. After the tracker was introduced and affirmed by Resolution C008 at the 79th General Convention, twelve “pilot DioCal parishes” introduced the tracker to their congregations. At the start of Lent, Sheila Andrus and Lisa Altieri began an enrollment and training process for additional Episcopal dioceses, with another 12 dioceses anticipated to be up and running by Earth Day April 22. The tracker will be available throughout the continental United States by later this spring.

Any Episcopalian in the Diocese of California can sign on to the tracker by navigating to sustainislandhome.org. The web-base app allows a household to measure its carbon footprint, and select actions to reduce that footprint. As actions are taken, points (which equal a pound of CO2 — or equivalent greenhouse gas — emission reduced) are credited to one’s church, the Diocese, and, ultimately, The Episcopal Church. Actions taken become a measurable “outward and visible sign” that Episcopalians care for the planet, and are an important part of The Episcopal Church’s national and global advocacy work.

Sheila Andrus, head of the task force implementing the tracker, says, “My approach and hope for the ongoing rollout for DioCal is that it will be both organic and strategic. I welcome people, who are using the tracker in their homes/churches, working independently to introduce the tracker into other communities. In addition to this organic approach, there are clearly strategic opportunities that I hope to identify and support, such as introducing the tracker at deanery meetings and other gatherings of diocesan-wide groups like the community of deacons and the seminary, among others. It's the strategic approach that will be discussed at an upcoming DioCal users meeting. For those interested in introducing the tracker at their churches, please contact sustainislandhome@diocal.org for an introduction.”

The tracker is but one of a wave of new opportunities that the Episcopal church endorsed at the 79th General Convention. To learn more about other Episcopal church wide resources and opportunities, please view the new Episcopal church creation care website. In the meantime, stay tuned for more news and updates from the DioCal Commission on Care of Creation! This group of dedicated Episcopalians is set to support the dreams and actions of the Diocese of California, in caring for all of creation following the lead of our Presiding Bishop Michael and Bishop Marc. The good news of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement is that our loving, liberating and life-giving God is with us as we celebrate and care for all of life.