Talking Climate During Lent
A few weeks ago, church members and clergy from all over Alabama gathered at Camp McDowell for our annual Diocesan Convention. It was a wonderful opportunity to visit with friends and fellow Episcopalians from other churches, to hear the work of the church, and together to cast a vision for our ministry in the Diocese of Alabama. This year’s theme was on the Care of Creation and our Keynote speaker was Saint Stephen’s very own, Dr. Jim McClintock. Jim is a world renowned scientist and the Endowed University Professor of Polar and Marine Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Below is his address to our convention.
After opening with a prayer from our Book of Common Prayer, Jim shared his research and study of marine life in Antarctica and how our world is changing and evolving due to climate change. I was struck by the beauty of watching 500 diverse Episcopalian listening, learning, and being moved to talk about the climate. It was powerful to watch such an eclectic group erupt in a standing ovation and compelled to respond. I worry sometimes that people might think talking about climate change is political charged. The different strategies for how we might respond will likely look different based on your own political ideology, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid the conversation. And while I will not claim to know the best answer for how we should respond, I will claim that talking about the environment is a theological issue because we see the Incarnate God when we explore God’s creation. If God has made all that is good, then how we care for what God has made is a response to what we believe in God.
I believe that our faith calls us to take seriously our relationship with the created world, and that includes talking about what we are experiencing and learning. Lent is also a time when we reflect on how we can live better, when we ask for forgiveness for the things we have done and left undone. I encourage you to join me and our brother in Christ, Jim, in the “Can We Talk Climate” campaign. Jim’s talk to the diocese ended on a very hopeful note. He talked about how the people of the world have come together in the past to solve complex environmental problems. Lent is also a season of hope, because God’s faithfulness endures through our trials and time in Lent. Maybe our theology with the created world can lead us down the same path of hopefulness starting with a conversation and beginning to change how we engage with the world we live in.
To learn more about climate change go to The Nature Conservancy’s press release here, or the “Can We Talk Climate” pledge – visit nature.org/canwetalkclimate. Jim is also the face of the Nature Conservancy’s Campaign to talk about Climate Chang.
The Reverend John Burruss, Rector
Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church