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Faith Climate Action Day Statement

Faith Climate Action Day Statement from
The Rt. Rev’d Shannon MacVean-Brown – 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Vermont
The Rt. Rev’d Thomas C. Ely – 10th Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Vermont (retired)

Good morning: My name is Thomas Ely. I served as the Episcopal Bishop of Vermont for 18 years until my retirement in October 2019, and now live in Newfane, Vermont. I was also a founding member of Vermont Interfaith Power and Light. This morning, I also have the privilege of speaking on behalf of my successor, Bishop Shannon MacVean-Brown, who is not able to be here in person.

The Episcopal Church in Vermont, along with the wider Episcopal Church, has a long history of commitment to environmental stewardship and creation care. Creation care is a priority for all of our congregations in Vermont, and we are committed to helping our churches develop sustainable practices that reduce their carbon footprint.  I believe that more than 20 Episcopal congregations, along with the diocese, are members of Vermont Interfaith Power and Light.

Perhaps our most demonstrable commitment is the Solar Array on Rock Point, our church property in Burlington. The array provides all the electric energy for that property and its many ministries; and remains, I believe, the largest solar array on any religious property in Vermont.

In fact, creation care is so central to our faith as Episcopalians that it is one of our three churchwide priorities. Many of us across the Episcopal Church have taken the Creation Care Pledge, in which we have promised to place the care of God’s Creation at the heart of our common life, to safeguard the integrity of Creation, and to sustain and renew the life of the Earth. [1] That is why today, we stand with other faith leaders and people of faith to urge action in the face of the climate crisis facing God’s world.

Now, most preachers like to have a text as their reference point when speaking. And while there are many passages from the Bible we might have chosen as our text for today, Bishop Shannon and I have chosen instead a quote from H.688, which is now before our Vermont Legislature, where we read: “A climate emergency threatens our communities, State, and region and poses a significant threat to human health and safety, infrastructure, biodiversity, our common environment, and our economy.” [2]

This threat we are facing is why we are here today. However, environmental issues are not just scientific, political, or economic, but are also profoundly moral and spiritual. In the face of the current climate crisis, people of faith cannot remain silent. It is our conviction that we are called by God to engage, by word and action, in the healing and reconciling work of protecting and caring for, as we say in the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer, “this fragile earth, our island home.” (BCP page 369)

Today, we urge people of faith throughout our state and others who care deeply about the environment to rise up and appeal to Governor Scott and the members of our State Legislature to support the full Climate Solutions Caucus platform including:

  • The Global Warming Solutions Act – H.688 – which will turn our climate goals into law with binding requirements, aiming to make Vermont net zero by 2050.
  • Instituting a 100% Renewable Energy Standard for Vermont by 2030 that will put us on track to power Vermont with entirely clean electricity sooner than any other state in the country.
  • Modernizing our energy efficiency utilities, like Efficiency Vermont, to focus their work on reducing climate pollution, and developing our clean energy workforce to grow jobs and our economy while improving building efficiency and saving Vermonters money.
  • Participation in the Transportation and Climate Initiative that will provide Vermont with millions in new revenue to put towards efforts to transition off of fossil fuels, particularly for low-income and rural Vermonters.

The crisis is real. The time for action is now. Please join us!

Thank you,

+Bishop Shannon and +Bishop Tom
February 20, 2020
Vermont State Capitol

 

[1] https://episcopalchurch.org/creation-care

[2] https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2020/Docs/BILLS/H-0688/H-0688%20As%20Introduced.pdf

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