General Convention 2018 to Consider 20+ Environmental Resolutions

General Convention Michael Curry
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry begins his sermon at the opening Eucharist of the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas. Photo: Mike Patterson/Episcopal News Service

Update: This post is now outdated. To learn the final status of all 29 environmental resolutions, please see “General Convention Passes 19 Resolutions for the Care of God’s Creation“.

General Convention, the triennial governing body of the Episcopal Church, meets for the 79th time July 5-13, 2018, in Austin, TX.

At least 26 different resolutions related to the environment and/or climate change are being considered. Thanks to Chuck Morello of the Episcopal Ecological Network email listserv and members of the Advisory Council on the Stewardship of Creation for alerting ECN to many of these resolutions. See below for the full list.

Resolutions would create a new Stewardship of Creation role on the Presiding Bishop’s staff, create loans and grants to help parishes with energy efficiency as a way of living out our Baptismal Vows, continue grants for local environmental ministry projects, express support for the Presiding Bishop’s UN climate-change conference delegations, take next steps on fossil-fuel divestment, develop teaching materials for seminaries, encourage parish action and commitment, support carbon-tax policies, and much more. Most resolutions cite their strong theological basis in their first paragraph(s).

California Bishop Marc Andrus, co-chair of the Advisory Council on the Stewardship of Creation, told Episcopal News Service: “Such abundance reflects the coming together at the level of the whole church of the work of many individuals and organizations who have been faithfully working away, in many cases for decades. Now these environmental efforts by Episcopalians are connecting up and gaining currency as a focus area in the Jesus Movement, along with racial reconciliation and evangelism. It is a signal moment for ministry in the Episcopal Church.”

Here is the complete list of 26 resolutions as we are aware of it, as of July 7, with partial summaries written by ECN. This list is in order of resolution number, except where resolutions are extremely similar in which case we have grouped them together. Be sure to follow Episcopal Climate News on Facebook for developments during General Convention as we learn them:

  • 2018-A008: Continuing the Advisory Council on the Stewardship of Creation
    • Authorize the continuation of the Advisory Council that administers grants for local eco-ministry projects, track fossil fuel divestment efforts across the church, and support environmental ethics and theology in our seminaries. Proposed by the Advisory Council for the Stewardship of Creation (ACSC).
    • Final Status: “Take No Further Action” by Committee 20 – Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation
      • The work of the advisory council from the past triennium will continue, but it will now take a different form — the new task force described in A013 below. That makes A008 redundant.
  • 2018-A009: Creating Greening Loans
    • States that energy inefficient parishes undermine our Baptismal vows, and commits $500,000 to helping parishes improve energy use in the next three years. Proposed by ACSC.
    • Final Status: “Take No Further Action” by Committee 18 – Stewardship & Socially Responsible Investing
  • 2018-A010: The Planting of “Paris Groves”
    • Commend all Episcopal Schools, Camps and Conference Centers to make environmental stewardship and care of creation key components of formation for the next three years, and commends all 85 camps and conference centers to plant “Paris Groves” as a witness to the Paris Accord on climate change. Furthermore, every person received into the Episcopal Church or who reaffirms their Baptismal vows (as we all do at every Baptism) is encouraged to plant a tree in gratitude and reflect on the wonder and beauty of creation. Proposed by ACSC.
    • Final Status: Passed
  • 2018-A011: Oppose Environmental Racism
    •  States the church’s belief that that no community, especially poor communities or members of marginalized ethnic groups, “should bear a disproportionate risk of environmental pollution or degradation.” The resolution creates a task force of 12 people with funding of $30,000 “to study and report specific recommendations for appropriate changes in federal, state, or local law.” Proposed by ACSC.
    • Final Status: Passed
  • 2018-A012: On the Importance of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relationships for the Stewardship of Creation 
    • Commends faith-based partnerships that address climate change and environmental racism, and directs the Office of Ecumenical Relations to “include the Stewardship of Creation as a priority item for dialogue and action in the Church’s ecumenical relationships.” Proposed by ACSC.
  • 2018-A013: Facilitating the Development of the Church’s Ministry of the Care of Creation
    • Authorizes a new senior staff position for the Care of Creation at the Episcopal Church Center HQ. The resolution also establishes a Task Force for the Care of Creation, which will continue the work of the previous Advisory Council for the Stewardship of Creation. Urges creation of educational materials for clergy formation (possibly in seminaries). A total budget of $1.1 million is requested, including $400,000 for local grants. The resolution specifically cites Psalm 24, John 1, and Genesis 2 as reasons to see the Care of Creation as part of the Jesus Movement. Proposed by ACSC.
    • Final Status: Passed
  • 2018-A014: The Use of Carbon Offsets
    • Requires Episcopal Church Center staff to test a carbon offset program in the next three years for their frequent required travel, and provides budget. Proposed by ACSC.
  • 2018-A016: Trial Use of Creation Care Language in the Baptismal Covenant
    • Authorizes a sixth baptismal vow, to “cherish the wondrous works of God, and protect and restore the beauty and integrity of all creation,” as well as an option to expand the fifth baptismal vow of justice and peace to also include the dignity of the earth in one vow instead of a new sixth vow. Proposed by ACSC.
    • Note: C030: Proposed Baptismal Covenant Language is similar.Identical to the first portion of A016, but without the additional option of amending the fifth vow. (ECN speculation: Presumably creating a stand-alone sixth vow acknowledges both the earth’s value to humans and its own inherent value, whereas condensing justice, peace, and creation care into one vow implies that the environment is primarily a humanitarian/justice issue, a more constraining view but one that might reach wider audiences and plug into more existing ministries.) Proposed by the Diocese of Connecticut, original creator of this idea.
  • 2018-A017: Creation Liturgies in Prayer Book Revision
    • Directs future Prayer Book revision to include creation-focused liturgies which recognize mourning and lamentation, joy and celebration, and repentance and reconciliation. Also directs for the inclusion of the understanding, appreciation, and care of creation in Baptism, Ecuharist, Confirmation, and Ordination liturgies. Proposed by ACSC.
  • 2018-A018: Episcopalians Participating in Paris Climate Agreement
    • Adopts the House of Bishops’ 2011 “Pastoral Teaching on the Environment” as the official position of the church, commits the church to continued involvement in the United Nations Conference of Parties on Climate Change,  and encourages Episcopalians to follow the Paris Climate Accord by living lightly on the earth. Proposed by the ACSC.
    • Final Status: Passed
  • 2018-A019: Create a Task Force To Study and Report on the Intersection of Evangelism, Church Planting and Care of Creation
    • The name is fairly self-explanatory. The task force will interview church-funded ministries from the past 18 years to determine if they incorpored creation care, and if they were effective in engaging younger generations. Includes details about the make-up and budget of the task force. Proposed by ACSC.
  • 2018-A020: Fossil Fuel Divestment
    • General Convention resolution 2015-C045 supported fossil fuel divestment across the church. 2018-A020 calls on the Investment Committee of the Executive Council, the Episcopal Church Endowment Fund, and the Episcopal Church Foundation to report on their progress in this area. Also urges the Church Pension Fund to consider the financial impact of climate change alongside the financial impact of divestment. Proposed by ACSC.
  • 2018-B025: Water as a Human Right
    • Proposed by the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California
  • 2018-B027: Gender Inclusivity in Climate Change Action
    • Proposed by the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California
  • 2018-C008: Advocacy for Creation Care 
    • Requests $30,000 over the next three years “to make a web-based carbon tracking tool such as ‘Sustaining Earth, Our Island Home’ available to all Episcopalians” to support “healthy, sustainable choices.” Proposed by the Diocese of Navajoland Area Mission.
    • Final Status: Passed
  • 2018-C020: Carbon Tax
    • Supports public policy to stop further climate change, including the possibility of a Carbon Fee and Dividend. Also prioritizes protecting the poor from the cost of such policies. Proposed by the Diocese of California.
    • Final Status: Passed
  • 2018-C021: Climate Change and additional support for EC Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility
    • Calls on the Executive Council and the Church Pension Fund to identify 10 companies in which the church owns stock, and file shareholder resolutions designating a “climate scientist position” on their boards of directors. Proposed by the Diocese of California.
    • Note: 2018-C042: Climate Change: Corporate Governance is similar to C021, with additional language about eco-theology, the imperative of climate action, and support for shareholder resolutions as a tactic in general. Proposed by the Diocese of Southern Ohio.
      • Final Status: “Take No Further Action” by Committee 18 – Stewardship & Socially Responsible Investing.
  • 2018-C039: Amend the Parochial Report
    • “Include data on the annual consumption and costs of electricity, oil, and gas of all church properties” in church statistics, in order to identify church consumption patterns and then leverage the church’s better-undstertood role as a consumer in the energy market. Proposed by Province 1.
    • Final Status: “Take No Further Action” by Committee 20 – Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation
      • While ECN has not spoken to anyone about this resolution’s failure, the Episcopal News Service previously reported that two other, non-environmental resolutions related to the parochial report were also considered controversial. Many parishes already consider completing the annual report a cumbersome process, especially small parishes that rely on volunteers to collect their data, and may object to any additional requirements.
  • 2018-C049: Support Producers of Locally Grown Food
    • Urges Church Center staff to “include programs and grants which will encourage Episcopal institutions and individual Episcopalians to serve and promote locally grown food.” Proposed by Province III.
  • 2018-C063: Advocate for Ocean Health
    • Proposed by Province VIII
  • 2018-C064: Support of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Opposing Enbridge Line #3
    • Proposed by the Diocese of North Dakota
  • 2018-D007: Disaster Resilience Policy
    • Commends Episcopal Relief and Development, urges the federal government to support long-term economic recovery from natural disasters (many of which are caused or exacerbated by climate change), and urges the U.S. to invest in climate-change disaster and resilience planning. Proposed by Mr. Bryan Belez Garcia.
    • Final Status: Passed
  • 2018-D008: Practicing Responsible Investing
    • Recommends that the governing body of every diocese, parish, and other church organizations that invest money apply ethical guidelines, engage in shareholder activism, and invest for responsible social and environmental outcomes as well as financial return (“impact investment”), with specific recommendations on how this may be accomplished. Proposed by Ms. Yvonne O’Neal.
    • Final Status: “Take No Further Action” by Committee 18 – Stewardship & Socially Responsible Investing.
  • 2018-D053: Stewardship of Creation with Church-Owned Land
    • Encourages dioceses and congregations to use undeveloped church-owned land for “agriculture and biodiversity conservation projects in order to mitigate climate change” via natural carbon sequestration, with assistance from the Church Pension Group and the Advisory Council on the Stewardship of Creation. Proposed by the Rev. Nurya Parish.
  • 2018-D081: Helping Communities Affected by Change in Energy Use
    • Proposed by the Rev. Paula Jackson

If you know of other environmental resolutions before General Convention in 2018, please let Episcopal Climate News know via our contact link and we will continue to update this page.

By Nathan Empsall.

Episcopal Climate News is the unofficial climate-change communications hub for Episcopalians and Christians, highlighting the spiritual and social-justice sides of this great work. ECN shares stories of Episcopal, interfaith, and ecumenical climate action from local parishes, the national church, non-profit campaigns, and more, as well as mainstream and scientific political news. While this is the first original blog post on the ECN website, please note that we are still primarily a Facebook page – like and follow us there to receive more content like this in your Facebook feed!

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