At Colorado's diocesan Clergy Conference in early May, as part of our closing Eucharist, we were invited to recall/renew our baptismal vows. I’ve done this countless times; I have the service pretty much memorized. So I was surprised when I found myself responding “I will, with God’s help!” to the question: "Will you cherish the wondrous works of God, and protect and restore the integrity of all creation?” I appreciated the question, to say the least, but I had to wonder what I’d been missing from the baptismal ceremony. The Eucharist proceeded, and I laid the question away for another day.
A week later, however, in my Facebook feed, I received a post from the group “Episcopal Climate News”, with the above question and answer as part of the post’s leading image. A little bit of research turned up the answer. At the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in 2015, the delegates and bishops considered the following resolution (2015-C015):
Resolved, That the 78th General Convention authorize the trial addition to the Baptismal Covenant of a sixth question concerning our responsibility as baptized Christians to care for God's creation; and be it further
Resolved, That the additional question and response be worded as follows:
"Will you cherish the wondrous works of God, and protect the beauty and integrity of all creation?
I will, with God's help.”; and be it further
Resolved, That use of this additional question and response be authorized for trial use as part of the Baptismal Covenant for the triennium 2016-2018.
I will admit that I wasn’t paying close attention to many of the actions of General Convention in 2015 (mea culpa!). And, when Convention met again last summer, I, like many others, was watching some of the more “big ticket” items. This particular 2015 resolution, however, came back for further consideration in 2018 (although no action was taken).
As I mentioned above, I appreciated the idea! As someone who grew up at about the same time as the emergence of the “environmental movement”, I’ve long considered myself “green”. (Indeed, for a year in high school, I took all of my class notes with a green pen!) And, in the last several years, as I’ve looked at my major hobbies (bike-riding, fishing, bird-watching, camping/hiking), I’ve noticed an underlying theme: they ALL depend, in part, on a healthy eco-system — whether good habitats for birds and fish, or clean air for cycling and enjoying un-hazy vistas from mountain-sides).
When I started my work at Good Shepherd last September, I was pleased to see, scattered around the building, those familiar blue “waste-baskets” for recycling! I was interested to learn, however, that the contents of those baskets were taken home by various parishioners to be added to their residential recycling. (Yay!) Having our trash collection service add “Recycling” to our service, I found to be pretty expensive. (Rats!) [On that note, we’ve had to ask (more than once) that our cleaning crew stop emptying the contents of the blue bins into the trash.] Then, a few months ago, a parishioner approached me to ask about other recycling practices (such as glass and plastic in the kitchen).
Echoing Obi-Wan-Kenobi in the original “Star Wars” film, I began to feel that there was a “nexus in the Force”. I do earnestly believe that, as part of our God-given responsibility as stewards of creation (Genesis 1.28), we have to ensure that our eco-systems are as healthy as we would like our own bodies to be. I also believe that, as Christians, we need to set an example to the rest of the world in this, as well as many other, areas.
And, so, I am inviting anyone who has interest in exploring what it might be to be a “Green Sheep” to join me for conversation at the Faith Forum (between the morning services) on Sunday, June 30. It will be a fairly open conversation — again, an exploration of how we, as a congregation, might “cherish the wondrous works of God, and protect the beauty and integrity of all creation”.