Thursday, December 1, 2016

Beloved Community: Take Action for Standing Rock TODAY

Beloved Community,

For many generations, Native leadership has been at the forefront of protecting God’s creation, often at great sacrifice to themselves. This is especially true for the Standing Rock Sioux, who have stood as peaceful and powerful warriors on behalf of their ancient lands on the Missouri River in North Dakota. They have drawn a line at the Oceti Sakowin camp (the Native name for Sioux) against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that threatens to poison the water of this great river.

The Water Protectors at Standing Rock are at a crisis point, since the company behind DAPL is pushing hard to complete the pipeline by January 1 at current contract prices. Pipeline owners need the Native resisters out of the way NOW. While the Army Corps of Engineers has issued an eviction notice to the camp as of Monday, December 5, the Corps has since said they will not enforce the action.

The Governor of North Dakota, on the other hand, is not so gentle. He intends to starve the water protectors and freeze them out. While this is nothing new to indigenous peoples of the Dakotas, it is shocking that it is still going on today. Governor Dalrymple is a Presbyterian and we are asking people of faith to write to him this week, urging him to live into our shared religious values, including loving our neighbors as ourselves.

As people of faith of all traditions, we have been asked to join the warriors of Sioux Nation this week by taking these steps:

Email Governor Dalrymple here (or send a letter to him c/o Office of Governor, State of North Dakota, 600 East Boulevard Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58505) and ask him desist from attacking the Oceti Sakowin camp— on behalf of our shared faith and care for God’s creation.

Pray with the Standing Rock Sioux in your faith communities this weekend, as requested by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota tribes (the Buffalo people). He has asked for prayers for the Morton County Sherriff’s Department deputies who have attacked the water protectors, prayers for the Governor and the DAPL pipeline owners, prayers for President Obama, and prayers for the people at Oceti Sakowin.

Call your Senators today, as precious few have heard from religious voices on behalf of the Water Protectors. Washington’s Senator Maria Cantwell is on the Indian Affairs Committee of the U.S. Senate and can be reached at (206) 220-6400. Senator Patty Murray is at (206) 553-5545. If you live outside Washington State, find your senators here.

The Standing Rock Sioux have stood strong against that which will pollute their water and sacred lands. They are no less powerful for their good prayers and peaceful means. May we join them in compassion and resistance.


Jessie Dye

Program and Outreach Director
Earth Ministry
Washington Interfaith Power and Light

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Beloved Community: Uplifting Gratitude

Photo by Let Ideas Compete on Flickr
Beloved Community,

Gratitude is one antidote to grief, and both can live in our hearts at the same time. This Thanksgiving we are full of appreciation for so many of our friends, partners, and colleagues who have been heroic models of courage and joy in the past year.

We are grateful for Native American leadership in the Northwest and around the country. Lummi, Quinault, Yakima, and the Great Sioux Nation among many others, have stood in protection of God’s creation, the land and water their ancestors gave them to hold in trust for their descendants. Indigenous people have shown us how to be strong warriors despite terrible losses, how to be resilient strategists, and how to forgive. At this moment, in the middle of several battles for clean water and clean air, tribal communities are in the forefront spiritually, politically, and legally. We are deeply in their debt.

We honor and value the many strong advocates for climate protection who worked hard on Washington’s Initiative 732, a proposal to put a tax on carbon in our state. Though it did not pass, the initiative has been a powerful tool for uplifting climate concerns and bringing home the desire of so many voters to find real solutions to a warming planet. Environ

We uphold the many, many victories that we have won for environmental protection and a healthy future for all God’s children. With your help, Earth Ministry/WAIPL has stopped five of six proposed coal export terminals that would have irreversibly damaged the stability of Earth’s climate. In fact, we and our partners have defeated or seriously delayed 25 different fossil fuel projects in the Northwest! Nationally, the Keystone XL oil pipeline is history, the three largest coal companies in the country have gone bankrupt, and people across the nation are standing with the Standing Rock Sioux. Globally, representatives from 175 countries signed the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the UN and Pope Francis has unleashed a faithful climate revolution. Can you believe this all happened in the last year?

When the future is uncertain, remembering the good we have done gives us strength. Thank you to everyone who contributed even a small act to make these successes possible.

Finally, it is our love, acceptance, forgiveness, and gratitude for each other that carries us forward. If you are reading this, you have a special place in our hearts at Earth Ministry. You matter to us, and your support and friendship over so many years has given us life, energy, and the spark of Spirit in our work. Thank you.

Blessings to you this Thanksgiving,

LeeAnne Beres
Executive Director
Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light

Friday, October 24, 2014

Religions for the Earth

Written by Jessica Zimmerle
Earth Ministry Outreach Coordinator
Dear friends,

"A peacemaker takes on the causes, not just the consequences."
- The Rev. Jim Wallis

Climate change is a major ethical dilemma facing my generation. This challenge, and the resonating issues of environmental justice within faith traditions, is the passion to which I will devote my life’s energy. For further professional and personal development in this field, and thanks to a generous grant from the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship, I attended the Religions for the Earth Conference at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

The Religions for the Earth Conference was both captivating and inspiring. Interfaith representatives gathered from around the world, each bringing their own unique perspective with the goal of building a collective movement of people fueled by a spiritual essence to combat climate change.

I was in awe of the amount of wisdom shared by global faith and environment leaders, scribbling down notes frantically in an attempt to absorb the abounding knowledge they offered. One specific session I would like to share was the opening workshop that focused on what moves us. Faith traditions met to discuss what creation care means to their spiritual practice, afterwards sharing their main points with the large group.

Buddhism focused on the delusion of separation from the Earth; Islam invoked caring for creation as a form of worship; Indigenous traditions called for Mother Earth to be treated as a relative rather than a resource; Christianity honed in on revitalizing the tradition of stewardship within existing practices; Judaism spoke to the indivisibility of sustainability and justice; Secular Humanists desired connection as one people on one planet; and Indic traditions offered nature as an inspiration to change our own hearts. The collective message was fantastic, presenting unique gifts from each tradition and acknowledging that, although we are not one in the same, Earth is an equalizer and a foundation for interfaith collaboration.

Throughout the conference, I identified three major themes: contemplation, commitment, and action. A main focus of the contemplation aspect was the question of how can we stand in the center of this crisis with love? This question was addressed by acknowledging that love and experience generally proceed caring and action. Building off of this foundation, faith can, in the words of Al Gore, “become a wellspring of energy for transformation.”

Taking time for personal contemplation after each session was also incredibility beneficial. This self-reflection gave me space to personalize what I was learning and ponder further questions, contributing to a deeper understanding of my own beliefs and developing methods to move forward towards action.

Another strength of this conference was the level of commitment articulated by incredibly influential leaders. Terry Tempest Williams set a serious tone by saying that “the eyes of the future are looking back at us, and they are praying that we see beyond our time.” The intergenerational implication of our actions, and the severity of current climate disruption, resonates on a different level when placed within the framework of how our faith values call us to strive for justice in this world. With this motivation, we can breach the identity barriers that may otherwise divide us to strive for a stronger collective commitment.

Not only were commitments implied throughout our discourse, but they were solidified through a powerful ritual. At the closing multi-faith worship service, each speaker shared their personal commitment with the audience and set it in stone by placing a rock on the central alter. Everyone in attendance participated, building a mound of commitments to combat climate change. Personally, I vowed that I would commit my life to this movement and draw strength from this experience when I lack faith, courage, or hope.

The goal of the conference was not simply to engage with one another in conversation, but to prepare strategic ways to put our faith into action. For, as Larry Schweiger said, “it is one thing to know the truth, another to act on it.” The conference aligned with two major international gatherings, the UN Climate Summit meeting and the People’s Climate March, both of which were significant opportunities for faith leaders to show the world that climate change is a moral imperative.

I was one of the 400,000 that participated in the People’s Climate March in New York City. The entire march was historic and exhilarating, but it was especially outstanding to see the faith contingent, 12,000 individuals strong, demonstrate that we are serious about climate action. The collective spirit of the crowd was absolutely electric, providing a space for folks from all walks of life to share in a common vision of a more sustainable future. This global action certainly caught the world’s attention and was an excellent way to take what we discussed in the conference and enact it on the streets.

This experience definitely provided further clarity in my vocational calling for faith-based environmental justice. I left feeling renewed and empowered with hope that, as peacemakers, we can take on the root cause of climate change and strive towards a faith-based paradigm shift.

This experience was invaluable and I am incredibly grateful that I had to opportunity to attend the Religions for the Earth Conference and the People’s Climate March due to the generous support of the Krista Foundation and Earth Ministry. I am excited to continue onward towards a more cohesive global faith network, spreading the good news that religions are indeed for the earth.

In peace,
Jessica

To read more about my experience at the People's Climate March, please click here.