Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Urgent Standing Rock Update: Act NOW!

Yesterday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced their intention to issue a permit for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe –a route that would jeopardize the drinking water and desecrate the sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux –as soon as tomorrow. The Army Corps also stated that they would grant the easement without completing an Environmental Impact Statement (an inclusive project evaluation process that allows for public input).

Last December, the U.S. Army Corps found that an Environmental Impact Statement was necessary to determine the safety and environmental impact of the pipeline’s construction, and yesterday’s announcement circumvents this legal process while jeopardizing the health and cultural rights of our Sioux brothers and sisters.

The Department of Defense has direct jurisdiction over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 
Act Today: Call Secretary of Defense James Mattis at 703-571-3343 and urge him not to grant the easement without a full Environmental Impact Statement that properly consults the Standing Rock Sioux and upholds treaty obligations. If the voice mailbox is full, please keep trying!

Call Script:
"As a person of faith, I am deeply concerned about the welfare of the Standing Rock Sioux people. Granting an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline without first completing an Environmental Impact Statement circumvents an important legal process and jeopardizes the health and human rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. I urge you to ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers abides by the processes they set forth in December by completing a full Environmental Impact Statement, while properly consulting the Standing Rock Sioux and honoring treaty obligations."

Thank you for taking action. To read the official Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's press release on the decision, click here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Beloved Community: DAPL Actions

Beloved Community,

Tens of thousands of us have stood behind the Great Sioux Nation against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). President Obama rightfully declared that a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required to test the safety of a pipeline that would cross a river providing water to 28 million people.

Now, a president with no mandate has signed executive actions to advance approval of the Dakota Access Pipelines, meaning that tribal leaders will not be consulted on issues that affect them directly. As people of faith and citizens in a democracy, it is our responsibility to speak out against this action for what it is: sinful. It is sinful and illegal to once again disregard the sovereignty and Treaty Rights of Native Americans.
Flickr: Dark Sevier

Our Indigenous neighbors have asked people of faith to speak against the greed of the President and his fossil-fuel infused cabinet. Here’s how:

Tell the Army Corps of Engineers to support the full environmental review currently underway for DAPL. Remind them that your faith calls you to be careful with creation, protect future generations, and demand justice for Indigenous peoples. Submit a quick comment here.

Call the United State Capitol switchboard and leave a message for your senators: 202-224-3121 *Especially if you live in RED states or districts*

• If you are near Seattle, come to next week’s City Council Meeting on Wed, February 1 from 9:30 to 12:30. An ordinance will be discussed that would divest $3 billion of Seattle’s money from Wells Fargo to end the city’s relationship with one of the major banks funding the DAPL.

We can do this with love and respect for all God’s children as we say NO to theft of Native sacred lands, our water supply, and our children’s inheritance,

 Jessie Dye
 Program and Outreach Director
 Earth Ministry and Washington Interfaith Power & Light

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Beloved Community: Compassion and Resistance

Beloved Community,

Flickr: Mumu Matryoshka
We are living through a challenging week. We Americans are standing directly in the path of history and the moral arc of the universe. Everything we do – and don’t do – will make a difference. How do we navigate this very dangerous passage, being true to our faith and to our one and only planet? In deep discernment in the weeks after the election, Earth Ministry has committed to two values that we affirm in our decisions and actions in the times ahead: compassion and resistance. 

The Golden Rule has iterations in all faiths – the requirement to love our neighbors is a deeply-held religious value. Unfortunately, our neighbor can be a bully and a thief or someone who cheers on bullies and thieves. Our neighbor can condone hate crimes, make racist comments, and denigrate women. Yet as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said:

“Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”

Compassion – in the Buddhist sense – is love combined with wisdom and non-attachment. Compassion isn’t weakness, it is strength beyond measure. It is a positive and powerful force against darkness. Compassion flowed through the Civil Rights Movement, because non-violence requires that we respond to evil with peace. MLK also reminded us that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” The faith community is uniquely positioned to model this kind of meaningful response.

Yet we must also resist evil when we see it. Resistance is the ability to set clear limits on the way we and others are treated, and on decisions that affect us all.

Resistance means standing up for justice, speaking out for equality, and putting our faith into action. Resistance has a strategic purpose in protecting our neighbors, our communities, and our common home from harm. It is extremely powerful when carried out in community, though it requires honesty and courage.

We are entering a period when our outspoken and compassionate resistance may have an historic, even evolutionary effect. Our greatest strength as a faith community lies in our deep commitment to care for each other as a way to honor the Creator of life. At Earth Ministry we know that the faith community is up to the challenge of our times.

To begin this profound undertaking, we invite you to gather with Earth Ministry at the Seattle Womxn’s March on Saturday, January 21 at 10am in Judkins Park.

March Start Location: Judkins Park, 2150 S Norman St, Seattle, 98144
10am Start time - arrive, find Earth Ministry (we will try to be at the south end of the park near S. Judkins Street between 21st and 22nd Avenues South.)
10:30 rally/speakers begin
11:00 groups begin marching
End Location: Seattle Center, 400 Broad St, Seattle 98109
Route Length: 3.6 miles

March with us and thousands of others in compassionate resistance to the ugliness taking root in our highest public offices. We are better than this, and our love for each other, our country, and all of creation will see us through. See you on Saturday!

LeeAnne Beres
Executive Director

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Beloved Community: Two Pieces of REALLY Good News!

Dear Fabulous Friends of Faith,

Great news! Today, the Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark announced that he is rejecting the aquatic lease permit for the Longview coal export terminal because the company refused to provide basic information about its finances after the bankruptcy of the previous owner, Arch Coal.

For many years Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light – with your help – has been fighting proposals to ship coal mined in Montana and Wyoming through Northwest’s deep-water ports to be burned in Asia. Thanks to today’s decision, we are one step closer to defeating the last of six fossil fuel export projects proposed in the Northwest. Good work, team faith!

And speaking of excellent news, Lummi Nation applauded Commissioner Goldmark and the Department of Natural Resources for honoring the tribe’s request to protect the lands of Xwe’chi’eXen, Cherry Point, by adding 45 acres of aquatic lands to the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve. Lummi was determined to protect this area permanently as it has been their ancestral home and traditional fishing area for millennia. 

In May – through the advocacy led by Lummi Nation and supported by Earth Ministry on behalf of the faith community – the US Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for a coal export terminal at Cherry Point. Today’s decision by Commissioner Goldmark to place these acres into an aquatic reserve will  protect the area marine habitat and keep future fossil fuel proposals away.

In this dark time of the year and state of our democracy, let this news be a reminder that you can make a difference. The faith community is an important part of the rich partnership that led to these victories. We are grateful to our Native neighbors, to Commissioner Goldmark, and to each of you who contributed to this success in so many ways.  

With gratitude and joy in 2017,
The Earth Ministry/WAIPL team

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,

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