In May 2021, members of the two Episcopal dioceses in Massachusetts recorded a one-hour video about how the climate crisis calls us to pray.
Preaching regularly about climate change is one of the most effective ways for clergy to address the spiritual, moral, and pastoral aspects of our changing climate and to mobilize a bold, faithful, and Gospel-centered response.
Our diocese is committed to preaching and speaking about climate change. In 2017 we passed a resolution entitled We Are Still In: A Resolution to Fight Climate Change. The resolution pledges support of the goals of the Paris Climate Accord and calls upon preachers “to speak from the pulpit about the moral obligation to protect God’s creation.”
We invite you to read Rev. Margaret’s short essay, “Why we need to preach on Creation care” (a talk given for a webinar hosted by Church of England Environment Programme) and her longer article in the Anglican Theological Review, “Preaching When Life Depends on It: Climate Crisis and Gospel Hope.” The article reflects on the power of sermons to awaken moral courage and to create the conditions for spiritual awakening and prophetic action. It considers six ideas for preachers, starting with how to frame the climate emergency in terms of Christian theology. The article includes resources for “best practices” in climate preaching and communication.
For additional sermon resources, visit RevivingCreation.org, the website of the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, to read her lectionary-based sermons on climate.
Preaching for God’s World is a helpful resource for preachers, offering notes on each Sunday’s Revised Common Lectionary readings as viewed through the lens of the Anglican Five Marks of Mission – in particular, on caring for people and planet.
Take a look at Climate Church, Climate World, by Jim Antal (Rowman & Littlefield), which includes an excellent chapter on climate preaching. Read Rev. Fletcher Harper’s provocative Sojourners article, “Stop Preaching about ‘Being Good Stewards of the Earth.’”
Looking for easy-to-use climate preaching resources that include both sermon tips and suggested actions? Check out a new free resource, Eco-Preacher 1-2-3. Drawing from Eco Bible, a Jewish ecological commentary on the Hebrew Scriptures, Dr. Leah Schade, author of Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015), provides sermon preparation for preaching about caring for God’s Creation that is short, accessible, and based on a solid biblical foundation.
EcoPreacher 1-2-3 offers a brief “eco-exegesis” for interpreting a Hebrew text from the Revised Common Lectionary for that Sunday. This is followed by one “eco idea” for the basis of the sermon, two “eco questions” to go deeper, and three “eco actions” to choose from to help a congregation put their faith into action. With this resource, preachers can use the sermon ideas in their own context and make it relevant for their congregation.
Members of our diocese gathered four times in September 2020 to discuss the challenges and opportunities in climate preaching. Guest presenters included seminary professors and a local pastor. Click here to find these short (under 30-minute) videos.
Are you considering preaching on the Green New Deal? Seven preachers known for their work in caring for Creation were asked to offer a tip on how to talk about the Green New Deal from the pulpit. Read the seven tips here.
Bishop Doug Fisher encourages everyone in the diocese to add this closing promise to the five promises we make in our Baptismal Covenant. This promise is being widely used in The Episcopal Church.
Celebrant: Will you cherish the wonderful works of God and protect the beauty and integrity of all creation?
People: I will, with God’s help.
Go for a meditative walk without goal or agenda. Pause wherever something attracts your attention or curiosity. If you like, find a comfortable place to stand or sit, and take time to see, smell, hear, and touch the living world around you. How does God speak to you through the wind on your face, the Earth beneath your feet, or the leaf in your hand?
If you would like to learn some contemplative exercises for befriending God’s creation as a crucial aspect of Christian faith, read Steven Chase, Nature as Spiritual Practice (Eerdmans).
Those who contemplate
the beauty of the Earth
find reserves of strength
that will endure as long as life lasts.
- Rachel Carson
In 2022 and 2023, the Creation Care Leadership Circle (a small group in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts that advises our Missioner for Creation Care) prepared a collection of inspirational quotes and images for release during the Forty Days of Lent.
The Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts created a special liturgy for the service of Holy Communion at our 118th diocesan convention in 2019. Our convention theme was “Holy Earth, Holy People: Restoring God’s Creation.”
We encourage congregations to use or adapt this worship service as they plan services that honor God’s Creation. As described on the first page of the PDF version of the leaflet, please honor copyright and licensing requirements. The sources used in the service are carefully cited within the context of the leaflet so that you can find the larger works more easily. We did our best to honor copyright and licensing requirements, and we hope that you will, too! Permissions to reprint service components and music were obtained through RiteSeries.org. Permission to print music and lyrics not found in hymnals of The Episcopal Church was obtained through OneLicense A-729200.
The four beautiful Creation Care banners that adorned the worship space were created by the St. Andrew’s Guild of Ss. James and Andrew Episcopal Church (Greenfield) as a gift to our diocese. You may borrow them for use in your parish by contacting the church (413-773-3925).
Episcopal Liturgical Resources for Honoring God in Creation: Explore a host of liturgical resources for honoring God’s Creation, from the Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. Also available in Spanish.
To create a very special service, consider including elements of the climate oratorio, “A Passion for the Planet.” For more information about this powerful piece of music click here.
Try adding a new prayer to your church’s weekly services. Sts. James and Andrews Episcopal Church, Greenfield, includes this prayer in every Sunday morning service:
A Collect for Creation Care
Bountiful God, you call us to labor with you in tending the earth: Where we lack love, open our hearts to the world; where we waste, give us discipline to conserve; where we neglect, awaken our minds and wills to insight and care. May we with all your creatures honor and serve you in all things, for you live and reign with Christ, Redeemer of all, and with your Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Especially during Lent, Rogation Days, and Creation Season, or at any appropriate service, consider using this powerful new prayer composed in 2021 by the Rev. M Lise Hildebrandt (Diocese of Massachusetts), “The Great Litany of Creation,” which recognizes the connections between climate emergency and white supremacy.
Pray that we will be guided and strengthened to reweave the web of life.
Pray that we will awaken to our kinship with the whole creation.
Creation Season provides an opportunity to explore new Eucharistic prayers, collects, Prayers of the People, litanies, confessions, music, and sermon topics that focus on God’s love for and redemption of the whole created order.
The Rev. Nina Pooley (Rector, St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield) has shared several worship services that she developed for Creation Season. View and download them here: 2017, 2018, 2019. Please honor all copyright notices.
Here are some other Christian resources for creation-centered preaching, worship, and prayer:
God’s Good Earth. Anne and Jeffrey Rowthorn have published a wonderful new book that could become a classic – an anthology of prayers and worship services.
God’s Good Earth offers Christians and their communities an engaging resource for prayer, reflection, and worship that reflects and nourishes their efforts to serve God and care for God’s creation. Compilers Anne and Jeffery Rowthorn have prepared 52 beautiful, ready-made prayer services, each around a specific theme, drawing from a rich variety of ecumenical resources: psalms and other responsive readings, Scripture, hymns, prayers, and reflections from the world’s most engaging nature writers and interpreters of the social and cultural landscape. Each section can be used in full, or the user may select smaller sections; permission is granted to the purchaser to reproduce for use in public prayer.
Holy Hikes® is an eco-Ministry committed to rebuilding Communion between all of God’s Creation. Celebrate Holy Communion outdoors, in communion with sun and wind, birds and trees.
For information about Holy Hikes and how to start a local chapter, click here.
Check out an article about Holy Hikes, published by Episcopal News Service.
Consider organizing a morning, afternoon, or whole day retreat to facilitate a deep spiritual experience and to encourage our ecological conversion. Pray outside. Reflect on texts that speak about God’s presence and power in the natural world. Consider the cry of creation and how we can join with God to heal the world entrusted to our care.
Would you like to join a growing network of folks in and beyond the Diocese of Western Mass. who care about Creation and want to stay connected?
To receive Rev. Margaret’s “Creation Care Network” e-news, you can sign up here. Get a message from Margaret on the first of the month that includes opportunities to learn, pray, act and advocate for the earth.
Visit RevivingCreation.org to sign up for Rev. Margaret’s blog posts.
Check out our Facebook Group, Creation Care, and join the conversation.
Explore the resources of the Creation Care Justice Network (CCJN), a growing band of Episcopalians across Massachusetts working together to build a robust response to the climate/ecological emergency. Three working groups meet separately from time to time: Action and Advocacy, Spiritual Practice and Grounding, and Communications and Networking. To connect with our network and receive email updates, please sign up here. For more information, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a spectrum of additional creation care resources, please visit Sustainable Life: Responding to the Climate Emergency, a collection of resources assembled and periodically updated by members of CCJN.