Twenty-five Episcopal dioceses explore expansive prayers for God’s Creation

*UPDATE (10/19/23) Three additional dioceses have authorized these prayers, for a total of 28 dioceses:
The Rt. Rev. Patrick W. Bell
Diocese of Eastern Oregon

The Rt. Rev. Lucinda Beth Ashby
Diocese of El Camino Real

The Rt. Rev. Susan Haynes
Diocese of Southern Virginia

After a summer of alarming evidence that the global climate is increasingly unstable, with billions of people around the world experiencing heat domes, fires, floods, storms, and deadly drought, many of us feel a deep need to pray. With sober joy we welcome Creation Season this year, the season from September 1 (“Creation Day” or “Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation”) through October 4 (the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi) when Christians worldwide are invited to dedicate special prayers, study, and action to honoring and protecting the web of life that God entrusted to our care.

 

Earth Icon, watercolor and gold leaf, copyright 2022 Edith Adams Allison

During Creation Season this year, congregations in at least twenty-five dioceses across The Episcopal Church will be trying out fresh ways of praying with and for the natural world. A few weeks ago, my colleague, the Rev. John Lein (rector of St. Aidan’s and Christ Episcopal Churches, Downeast Maine) and I released Creation Season 2023: A Celebration Guide for Episcopal Parishes. This anthology of liturgical material, drawn from a variety of Anglican and ecumenical sources, is an updated version of a Creation Season guide that we produced last year and that was authorized by the two Episcopal dioceses of Massachusetts.

Before putting final touches on the newly updated resource, which is packed with prayers, hymns, readings, preaching ideas, and reflections on eco-theology, we decided to reach out to several other dioceses to see whether they, too, might like to authorize its use during Creation Season. By the time we published the worship guide on August 9, sixteen bishops representing seventeen dioceses had authorized the material. The list of early adopters is below. Little did I know that this was just the start.

 

 

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Anne Reddall,
Diocese of Arizona

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Marc Handley Andrus,
Diocese of California

The Rt. Rev. Russell Kendrick,
Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast

The Rt. Rev. Kymberly Lucas,
Diocese of Colorado

The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey W. Mello,
Diocese of Connecticut

The Rt. Rev. Robert Skirving,
Diocese of East Carolina

The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh, Provisional,
Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan

The Rt. Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano,
Diocese of Long Island

The Rt. Rev. Thomas J. Brown,
Diocese of Maine

The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates,
Diocese of Massachusetts

The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, Provisional,
Diocese of Milwaukee

The Rt. Rev. Brian R. Seage,
Diocese of Mississippi

The Rt. Rev. Deon K. Johnson,
Diocese of Missouri

The Rt. Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld,
Diocese of New Hampshire

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde,
Diocese of Washington

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Douglas John Fisher,
Diocese of Western Massachusetts

Frankly, it was thrilling to move in one year from two authorizing dioceses to seventeen. But that wasn’t the end of the story. As of this morning, eight additional dioceses have authorized Creation Season 2023: A Celebration Guide for Episcopal Parishes.

The Rt. Rev. Mark D.W. Edington
Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe

The Rt. Rev. Cathleen Chittenden Bascom
Diocese of Kansas

The Rev. Carrie Schofield-Broadbent, Bishop Coadjutor-elect
Diocese of Maryland

The Rt. Rev. Samuel S. Rodman
Diocese of North Carolina

The Most Rev. Melissa Skelton, Bishop Provisional
Diocese of Olympia

The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
Diocese of Rochester

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Shannon MacVean-Brown
Diocese of Vermont

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Diana D. Akiyama
Diocese of Western Oregon

I find it deeply heartening to know that this worship resource will be used in so many dioceses across the Episcopal Church. If your bishop hasn’t yet authorized these prayers for use in your diocese during Creation Season, please urge your bishop to do so.

The unfolding tragedy (and sin) of human-caused climate change gives us a precious opportunity to re-claim the biblical vision that all of God’s creation – not only human beings – is embraced in the story of salvation. Like so many other faithful Christians, I am eager to ditch the days of praying for just one species and of imagining that the rest of God’s creation is simply “resources” put here for our (literal) disposal. Instead, we want to pray with and for God’s good earth and for all who live here, human and more-than-human, thereby being faithful to the God who creates, redeems, and sustains the whole Creation.

I trust that these prayers will help Episcopalians and all people of conscience and good will to experience the divine love that sustains all things. And, stirred by that love, to take bold action. I will give the last word to the Bishop of Maine, the Rt. Rev. Thomas J. Brown, who expressed hope that this worship guide would “ignite our prayer life (first step) so that we can act for justice (second step).”

 

 

 

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