Oh, the places you’ll go!

A brief presentation to lay and clergy deputies of the 115th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, delivered on October 29, 2016. The three missional priorities of The Episcopal Church are evangelism, racial reconciliation, and environmental stewardship. This talk about environmental stewardship in our diocese came after talks on evangelism (by Rev. Nancy Strong) and racial reconciliation (by Rev. Harvey Hill). Thank you for inviting me to …

What roles can faith communities take on in a time of crisis?

Imagine there is a fire in your house. What do you do? What do you think about? You do whatever you can to try to put out the fire or exit the house. You make a plan about how you can put out the fire, or how you can best exit the house. Your senses are heightened, you are focused like a laser, and you put your entire self into …

Sixteen clergy arrested, singing for our lives

The day before I got arrested, I woke up singing. “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around, turn me around, turn me around. Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around.” Resolve filled me as I sang my way through the tasks of the day, preparing for the morrow. Do you want to gather your courage? Lift your spirits? Find your true north? Stay the course? You get there by singing. …

Pray the bird

Sometimes I am perfectly capable of scanning large swathes of bad news with aplomb, keeping my feelings at bay. I know how to brace myself before I open the morning paper, turn on the TV, or scan the news online. OK, world, I’m ready! Bring it on! Give me the latest list of apocalyptic woes! I can take it! I can handle it without blinking an eye! But then comes …

Protesting Pipelines on Palm Sunday

On Day #3 of a four-day, 46-mile walk to stop the construction of the Kinder Morgan NED pipeline, scores of activists gathered in the sanctuary of St. James Episcopal Church in Greenfield, Massachusetts, for a spirited rally organized by Sugar Shack Alliance. St. James Church is a grand old beauty of a building, a neo-Gothic stone structure that was consecrated in 1849. The sanctuary buzzed with excitement as a diverse …

Thanks, Wow, Help

A presentation to clergy and lay leaders in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts that was given on Parish Leadership Day, March 5, 2016. A handout of suggested action steps is available for download here. Friends, I’d like to take a page from writer Anne Lamott, who wrote a book a few years ago called Help, Thanks, Wow. She calls these our three most basic prayers, and they make a …

Sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see

Before you embark on a protest march on a day that is bitterly cold – 18 degrees Fahrenheit with a gusty wind – you take stock and prepare yourself. As walkers of all ages assemble in the fellowship hall, you greet old friends, meet new ones, and debate whether or not you’ll really need those two layers of long underwear when you head outside (you will). Even more important, you …

Jobs, justice, and climate bring us together

On December 12, 2015, the same day that nearly 200 nations adopted a historic pledge to lower their carbon emissions, more than two thousand people from across New England marched and rallied in Boston in the biggest climate justice demonstration that the city has ever seen. A wide range of groups were represented, including, among others, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Maine’s Penobscot Tribe, National Nurses United, New Bedford Worker …

Not just about Paris

On the eve of the U.N. climate talks in Paris, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide took to the streets to join the Global Climate March. Here in western Massachusetts, 200 people gathered in Amherst and an even larger group assembled nearby in Northampton, all of us calling for decisive international action to keep 80% of current fossil fuel reserves in the ground.     I was the opening speaker …

The interfaith climate movement and “The Francis Effect”

If you’ve been wondering whether public opinion on climate change has changed in the U.S. since Pope Francis published his encyclical in June, look no further. A new study shows that during the six months since Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home was released, Americans have become more concerned about global warming and are more actively engaged in the issue. About 17% of the study’s respondents overall, and …