A pastoral message on climate change

Posted Sep 19, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The following Pastoral Message on Climate Change has been issued by Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori with the heads for the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the  Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

A Pastoral Message on Climate Change

from the heads of

Anglican Church of Canada
The Episcopal Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

September 19, 2014

We are united as Christian leaders in our concern for the well-being of our neighbors and of God’s good creation that provides life and livelihood for all God’s creatures. Daily we see and hear the evidence of a rapidly changing climate. Glaciers are disappearing, the polar ice cap is melting, and sea levels are rising. Incidents of pollution created dead zones in seas and the ocean and toxic algae growth in water supplies are occurring with greater frequency. Most disturbingly, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at an unprecedented rate. At the same time we also witness in too many instances how the earth’s natural beauty, a sign of God’s wonderful creativity, has been defiled by pollutants and waste.

Many have reacted to these changes with grief and anger. In their outrage some have understandably focused on the neglect and carelessness, both in private industry and in government regulation, that have contributed to these changes. However, an honest accounting requires a recognition that we all participate both as consumers and investors in economies that make intensive and insistent demands for energy. In addition, as citizens we have chosen to support or acquiesce in policies that shift the burdens of climate change to communities that are most vulnerable to its effects. People who are already challenged by poverty and by dislocation resulting from civil war or famine have limited resources for adapting to climate change’s effects.

While an accounting of climate change that has credibility and integrity must include our own repentance, we find our hope in the promise of God’s own faithfulness to the creation and humankind and in the liberation that comes from God’s promise.

God, who made the creation and made it good, has not abandoned it. Daily the Spirit continues to renew the face of the earth. All who care for the earth and work for the restoration of its vitality can be confident that they are not pursuing a lost cause. We serve in concert with God’s own creative and renewing power.

Moreover, we need not surrender to political ideologies and other modern mythologies that would divide us into partisan factions — deserving and undeserving, powerless victims and godless oppressors. In Christ we have the promise of a life where God has reconciled the human community. In Christ God sets us free from the captivity of blaming and shaming. God liberates us for shared endeavors where we find each other at our best.

While the challenge may seem daunting, the Spirit’s abundant gifts for service empower us to find common cause with people who exercise countless insights and skills, embodied in hundreds of occupations and trades. We have good reason to hope in all the ways God’s grace is at work among us. We can commend ourselves to the work before us with confidence in God’s mercy.

Opportunities to act imaginatively and courageously abound in all our individual callings. The Holy Spirit’s work in us leads us as faithful consumers and investors in a global economy to make responsible choices to reduce energy use, carbon emissions, and the wasteful consumption of water and other natural resources. As citizens, we have voices to use in educating children about the climate and in shaping public and corporate policies that affect the environment. The Spirit has also given us our voices to contribute our witness to public discussion of just and responsible use of natural resources.

We also have the resources and responsibility to act together for the common good, especially for those most vulnerable to the effect of climate change in the spirit of the seventh Millennium Development Goal, “to ensure environmental stability”. World leaders will meet this month in New York for a Climate Summit, and in December in Lima, Peru, to discuss global cooperation on climate change. Working under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), participants in the UNFCCC’s negotiations hope for an agreement in 2015 that will move toward reduction of carbon emissions, development of low carbon technologies, and assistance to populations most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate.

We encourage you to take the initiative to engage decision-makers in this godly work in all arenas of public life — in government and business, in schools and civic organizations, in social media and also in our church life.

We are not powerless to act and we are not alone. “We have the power of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling Spirit of Christ to give us hope and courage.”i

The present moment is a critical one, filled with both challenge and opportunity to act as faithful individuals and churches in solidarity with God’s good creation.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Anglican Church of Canada 

Bishop Susan Johnson
National Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada


Comments (6)

  1. Lynn Kuhlman says:

    Just a question… What impact on helping the environment does playing the games on the website: FreeRice.com? The site has been recommended as part of the Millenium Developmet Goals. My understanding is that for each correct answer, advertisers contribute monetarily toward the goals.

  2. Do you own a car? Do you hold bishops’ meetings halfway around the world when you could just as easily learn what the term “videoconference” means? Then I’m not even remotely interested in what you have to say about “climate change.”


    Before anyone recommends converting to renewables, shutting power plants and reverting to 19th century transportation, read “Climate Science Is Not Settled” in the Wall Street Journal, September 20-21, 2014. The author, Dr. Steven E. Koonin, was undersecretary for Science in Obama’s first term and currently director for the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University. He says climate change is for real and climate has changed and always will, “sometimes over only a few decades.” He notes Arctic Ice has been shrinking while Antarctic sea ice is at record high. He also says science lacks the knowledge needed to make good public policy.

  4. Don Keil says:

    This article breaks my heart. To think that these learned pastoral leaders have bought into the biggest hoax ever hoisted on mankind makes me very sad. The planet has not warmed in nearly 18 years. The so-called “scientists” had to change their scheme to “Climate Change” to try and not look too foolish. The fact is that climate changes constantly – that’s what it does. Sea levels have not risen. Polar Ice has INCREASED. Michael Mann & Al Gore’s “Hockey Stick” has been completely debunked. The East Anglia University scandal has proved that the climate “scientists” lied to skew the results of their findings. The climate models don’t take into account relevant data such as cloud cover, rain and solar activity. Also, while eschewing politics, the article places faith in the United Nations, which is the most politically corrupt, anti-semitic, and wasteful agencies in the history of man. Carbon dioxide is indeed increasing in the atmosphere, but it hasn’t made any differences relative to the computer models that were thought to be gospel a few years ago. I could go on and on about how wrong this article is, and how sad it makes me as a christian and an Episcopalian that our leaders can be duped like this.

    1. Jim Owen says:

      Don et al – A few very minor and some major corrections . Warming has paused for nearly 18 years IN SPITE OF A 25% INCREASE IN CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS OVER THAT TIME PERIOD. The “settled science” that made a direct connection between CO2 and temp increase NO LONGER APPLIES. Sea level is still increasing at the same rate as it has for the last century. Glaciers are melting IN SOME PLACES – and are GROWING in others – just as they always have done. The IPCC (UN) report makes claims in its Summary for Policy Makers that are insupportable – and NOT supported – in the science sections of the report. That same report was once claimed to use only peer reviewed science but the latest report dialed that back and now uses what’s called grey literature (non-peer reviewed information from environmental groups designed to further various environmental causes). And finally, the computer models that have been the basis for much of the “science” and policy decisions for the last 17 or more years have NOT been mirrored by the physical observations and are presently producing entirely erroneous predictions. Your statement wrt the reason for the model failure is part, but not all of the reasons for failure. All of these statements are easily checked if anyone cares to do so.

  5. nicholas vanderborgh says:

    Interesting to read the deniers of only a few years ago, commenting on the leaders of the Episcopal Church. The idea that the earth is not warming conflicts with all the data. The ideas that the models written and used to predict future trends are thought foolish and wrong. Everybody understands that models just predict probability, and if the location of one foolish person is modeled, there will be some results that suggest he does not have any location, and some that predicts he has two locations. Ironically, if you look, the models written around 1992 were indeed wrong. They erred far too much on the “wrong” side, predicting far less change that we can observe now. Our last resort, is it not, is to plea with our Creator, much like Moses did on the mountain, to not destroy his creation. If you think about, we are there now, and maybe this hope is always our only hope. In the end, however, “this is my Father’s world”. Certainly turning down the intensity if well-within the capabilities of the creator whose creation, the sun, shines on our planet. So, I urge us to include the Creator and raise our concerns in that direction as a first step.

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