Episcopal congregations, ministries to observe Earth Day with events and festivities

By Shireen Korkzan
Posted Apr 19, 2024

Earth Day is said to be the largest secular observance in the world. Photo: Steve Taylor/AP

[Episcopal News Service] April 22 marks Earth Day, and many Episcopal congregations and ministries will be observing with various creation care-themed events, including neighborhood cleanups, special worship services, educational presentations and more.

About 20 million Americans observed the first Earth Day in 1970, launching the modern environmental movement. It led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Water and Endangered Species acts. These laws and the EPA’s regulatory oversight addressed many environmental concerns of the time — pesticide usage, oil spills, toxic waste dumps, pollution resulting from agriculture and industry.

Environmental regulations have reduced pollution and contamination in some areas. Meanwhile, global dependence and investment in fossil fuels continue to dominate the energy sector over renewable sources. At the same time, temperatures continue to reach record levels, resulting in more frequent extreme weather events, including heatwaves, hurricanes, severe rain events, increased flooding and wildfires. Additionally, humans’ exponential increase in plastic production and use over more than a half century has contributed to a worldwide pollution crisis, killing millions of animals every year and dumping 12 tons of plastic waste into oceans every year

Today, Earth Day is said to be the largest secular observance in the world.

Episcopalians can learn more about the church’s support for the environment and public health here. The Episcopal Church’s Creation Care ministry offers Earth Day 2024 resources on its website. Additionally, The Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music offers liturgical materials for “honoring God in creation” online. The materials are available in English and Spanish.

The following is a list of some Episcopal ministries and affiliates, dioceses and parishes hosting Earth Day events. Check online for additional events in your area. All events listed are free and open to the public unless otherwise specified. All times are local.

NationwideCreation Justice Ministries is an ecumenical nonprofit devoted to protecting Earth and advocating for racial, economic and environmental justice. For Earth Day 2024, Creation Justice Ministries created a free online resource called “Plastic Jesus: Real Faith in a Synthetic World,” to help congregations think critically about plastic’s impact on Earth and how to practically address it. Phoebe Chatfield, The Episcopal Church’s program associate for creation care and justice, and the Rev. Melanie Mullen, the church’s director of reconciliation, justice and creation care, both serve on Creation Justice Ministries’ board of directors.

On April 19 between noon and 1 p.m., Creation Justice Ministries will host an ecumenical Earth Day prayer service via Zoom. The service will draw from “Plastic Jesus” and offer an opportunity for participants to reflect on what they can do to minimize their carbon footprint. The Rev. Caleb Cray Haynes, co-founder and director of Nazarenes for Creation Care, will preach. The prayer service will include live music.

NationwideInterfaith Power & Light is a national nonprofit that helps faith groups respond to climate change by minimizing their carbon footprint through energy-savings efforts. Between April 19 and 28, Interfaith Power & Light will host Faith Climate Action Week, when affiliated congregations nationwide will host events focusing on this year’s theme — Common Ground: Cultivating Connections between Food, Faith, and Climate. Event listings are available on Interfaith Power & Light’s website.

Dioceses of Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts — On April 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Dioceses of Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts will celebrate the conclusion of “An Episcopal Path to Creation Justice,” a four-level pilot educational program to help congregations “amplify and accelerate” addressing the climate crisis. More than 10 congregations participated in the pilot program. The celebration will take place at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Southborough. It will also be livestreamed on Province 1’s YouTube channel. The virtual event will feature presentations and opportunities for discussion and reflection. Massachusetts Assistant Bishop Carol Gallagher and Western Massachusetts Bishop Doug Fisher are scheduled to conclude the event with a celebratory Eucharist.

Coconut Grove, Florida — On April 21 at 8:30 a.m., parishioners of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove, Florida, will clean up Peacock Park by collecting garbage. The event will conclude before 10:30 a.m. Mass.

Vestavia Hills, Alabama — On April 21 at 10:15 a.m., St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, will host a Sunday forum for participants of all ages. Members of the St. Stephen’s Soil Sisters ministry, who tend to the church’s grounds and plantings around the property, will discuss how “working in God’s creation is a spiritual practice.” The forum will conclude with a scavenger hunt on church grounds.

Statesville, North Carolina — On April 21 between 2 and 4 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church in Statesville, North Carolina, will host a “planet party” for all ages. Festivities include games, eco-friendly crafts and creation care education activities.

Diocese of Los Angeles — The Diocese of Los Angeles’ Education Committee of the Bishop’s Commission on Climate Change is inviting every parish, mission, school and institution within the diocese to ring bells, pray or meditate for 425 seconds on April 21 or 22. The number of minutes represents the amount of global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration — 425 parts per million — that is responsible for extreme weather events and catastrophic loss of life and property. More information can be found here.

Nationwide — On April 22 at 3 p.m., the Episcopal Parish Network will host a virtual discussion about the state of climate advocacy. Speakers from the Church Investment Group and InfluenceMap will highlight corporations leading in climate advocacy and share how partisan advocates and fossil fuel interests direct resources to hinder progress. Anyone interested in participating in the Zoom event may register online.

Mobile, Alabama — On April 22 at 7 p.m., All Saints Episcopal Church in Mobile, Alabama, will host a special sunset Earth Day worship service outside in the parish’s garden. Gulf Coast Creation Care is co-sponsoring the worship service.

Tacoma, Washington — On April 22 at 7 p.m., Gordon Okumu, an environmental policy analyst based in Seattle, Washington, will give a lecture on his nonprofit tree planting project, “Angels of Africa,” at Christ Episcopal Church in Tacoma.

Annapolis, Maryland — On April 26 from 7-9 p.m., St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis, Maryland, will host an Earth Day concert and art reception. The church will host an Earth Day arts festival the following day from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Cincinnati, Ohio — On April 28 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Cincinnati, Ohio, will host a Reuse Swap It Earth Day Celebration event to encourage reusing items that are in good condition rather than throwing them away. Participants are asked to bring clean reusable items to swap, including furniture, toys, baby cribs and accessories, shoes, art, housewares and tools. The Church of the Redeemer will also collect metal and plastic hangers, egg cartons, clean and dry #1 plastic containers, wrapped and unused plastic utensils, eyewear and eyewear cases, prescription bottles with attached lids and empty dental care and deodorant packaging. The church will donate these items to the Cincy Recycling & Reuse Hub for recycling. The church is also collecting batteries for recycling but requests a “small donation” to cover the recycling fee. During the swap event, the Church of the Redeemer will also offer presentations on honeybees and kitchen composting.

-Shireen Korkzan is a reporter and assistant editor for Episcopal News Service based in northern Indiana. She can be reached at skorkzan@episcopalchurch.org.