Starting a New Conversation at St. George’s for Earth Day

By Robert Courtnage, St. George’s Episcopal Church, Fredericksburg, Va.

This Earth Day, let us celebrate and reflect upon the splendor of God’s creation—our planet and all the wonderful life that lives upon it. As a new parishioner at St. George’s, I am looking to become involved in the church and continue to grow my faith in Christ. For me, cultivating my faith includes the stewardship of God’s creation. God’s creation, including his people—in particular his poorer people—are now under threat from a changing climate.

Climate change is a tragically polarized political issue. Even with a scientific consensus on its existence, many continue to deny the severity of the problem or think it is something they can do nothing about. The threats associated with climate change include global food and water scarcity, increases in disease, droughts, floods, other extreme weather events and sea level rise. Even the abnormally frigid and snowy winter we had on the east coast of the United States may become more common in some regions in the future as part of our altered climate. This issue should concern all of us: enough to take action. So why doesn’t it?

It is partly because climate change is perceived as impersonal and highly political. However, climate change has and will have a disproportional impact on poorer people because the poor have fewer resources available to adapt. The aftermath of hurricane Katrina in 2005 is an example of how poorer people are less able to deal with extreme weather. Religious leaders, including our own presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, are changing the conversation on climate change. They realize that climate change is not just a scientific and political issue, but also a moral issue we must and should act upon as Christians. Bishop Schori is speaking out on climate change and recently said, “Like a human being with a runaway fever, the malfunctioning thermostat causes a body to slowly self-destruct as inflammation erodes joints, causes nerve cells to misfire, and prevents the digestive system from absorbing nutrients critical to life. This planet is overheating, its climate is changing, and the residents are sick, suffering, and dying.” You can read the rest of her message here.

I invite you to be part of a new conversation starting at St. George’s on faith and environmental stewardship, including how we as a church can be better stewards of God’s creation by acting on climate change. Here are a few ideas on how we can be better stewards of God’s creation this Earth Day from the Episcopal Church Foundation’s Vital Practices:

Also, tell us your thoughts on climate change, including Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s speaking out on the issue.

Robert Courtnage, his wife and 2-year old son moved to downtown Fredericksburg this past October. Robert is part of a newly forming environmental stewardship ministry at St. George’s. If you would like to join this ministry, contact Robert Courtnage at