VTIPL Co-sponsors Green Summit

VTIPL Co-sponsors Green Summit

VTIPL Co-sponsors Green Summit with Dr. Katharine Hayhoe – Sept. 11-14

VTIPL is co-sponsoring a very special four-day virtual gathering next month with Faith in Place and other IPL affiliates. Please join us for the Green Team Summit, Rooted Together.  This year is the 7th Annual Green Team Summit which aims to connect like-minded people, build climate resilience, and explore the intersection of justice and healing work. From Sunday, Sept. 11 through Wednesday, Sept. 14, the Summit’s six sessions offer participants opportunities to engage with faith and environmental leaders from around the world.

The Summit’s opening keynote features Dr. Katharine Hayhoe with a live Q & A exploring her book, Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World. Dr. Hayhoe is an accomplished atmospheric scientist and a remarkable communicator who has received multiple awards including the American Geophysical Union’s Climate Communication Prize and the U.N. Champion of the Earth Award. She is honored in prestigious lists such as Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and FORTUNE magazine’s World’s Greatest Leaders. Her TED talk, “The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it” has nearly four million views. We hope to see you during the free Summit! Review Summit details and register. Summit Agenda.

LIGHT OF THE WORLD RETREAT

LIGHT OF THE WORLD RETREAT

LIGHT OF THE WORLD RETREAT

Looking for purpose, meaning and direction in your life? What is God’s plan for you?
How can I bring more of God’s light into my life?

Come to The Light of the World retreat at St. Augustine Parish, Montpelier, Vermont
Saturday, OCT. 1 – 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, OCT. 2 – 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Monday, OCT. 3 – 5:15-7:30 p.m.

“The Light of the World retreat re-energized my desire to strengthen my relationship with God.” June Knudsen

No cost to attend, meals provided. Masks optional.

You do not need to be a member of St. Augustine Parish to attend.

For more information, call St. Augustine Rectory: 802-223-5285

Brattleboro Catholic school students focus on world peace

Brattleboro Catholic school students focus on world peace

Pope Francis has called for Ash Wednesday to serve as a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine, and students at St. Michael School in Brattleboro are commemorating the day with a variety of art projects.

Among those projects, students worked together in art class to paint a giant Ukrainian flag, and eighth graders taped off a window to paint a stained-glass cross. Students worked on their own creations in art class; student artwork will be hung in school windows during Lent as a reminder to pray for world peace.

Art teacher Lucija Duchaney is originally from Latvia, and she talked to the children the day before Ash Wednesday about the global call for world peace. “Rather than focusing discussions on Russia vs. Ukraine and all the emotional and political complexities there, she shared with the children that the world is coming together in the next 40 days to pray for peace,” explained Lindsay O’Neil, who works in admissions and development at the school. “They looked at photographs of people all around the world gathered together in prayer and found the famous cities on the globe. They then found our location here in Brattleboro and were able to feel connected to an amazing movement that is happening worldwide right now as we enter into Lent.”

Climate/Legislative Report

Climate/Legislative Report

Climate/Legislative Report

by VTIPL Board Member Richard Butz

As we head toward the midpoint of the legislative season in Vermont, I think it is useful to take a breather and assess where we are in relationship to climate policy in the state.

In the last several years. a lot has happened. The Global Warming Solutions Act was passed that MANDATES reductions of greenhouse gases in Vermont; the Climate Council has presented its report to the legislature recommending how the mandates can be accomplished; major bills are being been drafted; the administration has proposed its goals and budget; unprecedented amounts of federal money have flowed in; and the climate crisis, yes crisis, becomes more dire with every scientific report.

So, what do we make of this? In meetings of the Act on Climate Coalition (www.actonclimate.com), we learn that the Vermont Legislature and the administration are swamped. All these issues may seem simple to us, but are actually incredibly complicated, and our legislators and administration have to navigate them while taking care of “ordinary” business.

As we try to “Build Back Better,” it is also imperative that we take this opportunity to address the wrongs that have accumulated regarding those who have been left out or cast out. So, added to the list is the need to bake climate justice into everything we do from this point forth. You’ll see this in the legislation and governmental policy going forward – I believe our legislators are committed to it, and as people of faith, we are too.

With these things in mind, we first need to understand that our legislators and Governor have a herculean task confronting them, and we need to thank them. Secondly, we need to educate ourselves about priorities. I strongly recommend that all read Vermont Conservation Voters’ Vermonts 2022 Environmental Common Agenda of legislative priorities available on their website: Vermont’s 2022 Environmental Common Agenda

After getting up to date on the issues and priorities, we need to act by contacting our legislators and administration to let them know we are paying attention and inform them of our priorities. At this point, I suggest we call, email, or write to our legislators and tell them: We are people of faith who care about our kids and grandkids future on this Earth. We know climate change is affecting us right now.  We know it will get worse if we dont act right now, and we want our representatives and Governor to act decisively right now. We must pass legislation and allocate significant funding to immediately begin reducing our greenhouse gas emissions right now, starting with bottom-up programs that relieve pressure on those who are often most affected, the poor and those who have historically been left out.  We dont have time to waste; our house really is burning.

 Contact information:

  • Call the Sergeant-at-Arms office to have a message given directly to your legislator at 802-828-2228. This is particularly useful if they are voting on a particular bill; pages will run the message right to legislators’
  • Find your legislators’ emails and phone numbers at https://legislature.vermont.gov
  • You can find a link to contact Governor Scott at https://governor.vermont.gov

Thank you for taking action for our future, our childrens

and our grandchildrens future, and the future of Mother Earth.

Living the Questions of Christian Faith

Living the Questions of Christian Faith

Beginning Tuesday, February 8, 2022, at 7:30 pm

Facilitated by Rev. Dr. Arnold Isidore Thomas, Pastor
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Jericho, Vermont 05465

Living the Questions of Christian Faith is a Bible Study based on the DVD series Living the Questions 2.0. In this series of classes, we will explore important topics of Christian faith and theology from the perspective of progressive Christians, not for the purpose of changing your theological point of view but to consider and discuss observations with which you may differ yet still appreciate as Christian. The format of each class will be to read the scripture, take a moment to meditate upon it, view the 20-minute video, and then offer your reflections. We will close in prayer. Each class stands independent of previous or future classes, so if you can’t attend one, join us at another. This will be an online Bible Study that you may access by contacting Rev. Thomas at pastorthomas@goodshepherdjericho.org and a Zoom login will be emailed to you on Tuesday.

The Spiritual Essence of Water and Relation Between Climate Change and Water

The Spiritual Essence of Water and Relation Between Climate Change and Water

The Spiritual Essence of Water and Relation Between Climate Change and Water

No one yet knows the true origins of water, but a story might be something like this: The Big Bang, a possible way through which God created the world, created hydrogen; stellar evolution reformulated this element into oxygen, the two combining into the H2O molecule. Then, in interstellar space, water and other substances over eons condensed and froze, coating planetesimals with ice, which may have collided with the planets, including Earth. In our solar system water is or was present in each of the Sun’s planets, with different fates. At least 60% of the adult human body is water.

We humans emerged over evolutionary time from being water beings.

But this is a scientific description of water, the elixir of life. Water is also spiritually significant in all the world’s traditions. In the Islamic tradition, the purity of water reflects the soul’s ability to purify itself in relation to God through prayer and meditation. In the Bible, the first sentence  in the first book, Genesis, states that God’s spirit (or wind) was moving over the face of the waters. We can perhaps sense this wind from over the waters when we stand at the lake shore or even here in the wondrously beautiful part of creation.

In the Hindu, Jewish, and Christian traditions water is seen as a purifying substance. The biblical understanding that the Earth should rest, be given a Sabbath, extends to water, too.

Japanese people sense that the soul recognizes itself when it beholds water, so Japanese will gaze for hours at a temple pond.

Jesus movingly says to the Samaritan woman at the well: “If you knew who was asking you for water, you would ask him for living water. The water that I will give will become…a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13)

St. Francis sprayed, “Praise be you, O Lord, for sister water, who is very useful, humble, precious, and chaste.”

Following St. Francis’ description, we may say that water is humble, in taking different on varied forms (ice, steam, running water, mist, snow). Water is useful in that as the origin of life. It  contains all possibilities and makes all things possible; 2/3 of planet is water so that Planet Earth should more rightly be named Water.  

 

Water is precious, too; only 3 % of Earth’s water is fresh, and much of that is frozen in ice. Water is chaste. Water reminds us that we live in a contained world, with boundaries; that the consequences of polluting water is always communal, because there is always someone or some community living downstream.

And water chaste, too, and vulnerable, as the effects of climate change are revealed in water, causing water to dry up, or host toxic algae blooms, to absorb pollutants, and lose its ability to be living water, naturally  home to myriad fish, crustaceans, and amphibians, and plant life. Lakes and streams become dead, and the sea has dead zones. Climate change kills coral reefs, which protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms, provide habitats and shelter for many marine organisms, and are the source of nitrogen and other essential nutrients for marine food chains.

The VT Humanities Council in 2021 provided excellent presentations on climate change. Bill McKibben said that each day carbon dioxide emissions create the heat equivalent to 500,000 atomic bomb explosions; we have melted most of the Sea Ice in the summer Arctic and changed the jet stream, which affects water and air temperatures, then affecting the migration and well-being of many species. Of 37 major aquifers, 11 are in retreat. Millions of species are going extinct, 1 mammal in 4. Between 2010-2070 global wildlife populations have been cut in half.

We are now citizens of a geologic age called the Anthropocene, in which humans have the greatest power over Earth’s functioning. But who are “we”? People who cause climate change are less affected than people who suffer; the 2020 hurricane Iota in Honduras caused 40% reduction in the measures of economic well-being, while barely affecting the US; yet we in the US are responsible for ¼ of the world’s emissions.

Environmental Justice issues often concern water. For example,

“Line 3 is a proposed pipeline expansion to bring nearly a million barrels of tar sands per day from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. It was proposed in 2014 by Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline company responsible for the largest inland oil spill in the US. Enbridge seeks to build a new pipeline corridor through untouched wetlands and the treaty territory of Anishinaabe peoples, through the Mississippi River headwaters to the shore of Lake Superior.” (https://www.stopline3.org)

Our situation regarding the many problems that face the human family is very difficult, perhaps dire. News article capture the sense of alarm and catastrophe: they are apocalyptic: “’We’re Losing the War on Climate Change’ (CNN),…’The Insect Apocalypse is Here’ (New York Times),…’Time to Panic’ (New York Times), “End of Civilization: Climate Change Apocalypse Could Start by 2050 If We don’t Act” (USA Today)” (Sarah Jaquette Ray, A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety, p. 80).

Disappointingly to those of us very concerned about climate change, sociologist Kari Norgaard writes, “More Americans can imagine the ‘end of the world,’ than can envision a switch from using fossil fuels or an economic order other than capitalism.” (A Field Guide,, p. 38).

What can be done?

Spiritual and faith communities can work with many other groups while lifting up a vision of abundant life for all, of collaboration, cooperation, resilience instead of exploitation, extraction, dominion and economic growth. To, as McKibben said, “meet the needs of all people within the needs of our living planet.”

Sarah Jaquette Ray, author of A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet. She taught college students. She believed that in giving fact and figures such as I just did would galvanize her students; instead all of the knowledge depressed them, helped them to feel guilty and disempowered.

She decided there needed to be a different approach. Here are some of her thoughts:

It is very important for each person and group to discern the critical area of expertise or effectiveness, plan actions, which can be small or larger,

and also keep healthy and balanced to be in the struggle for healing in the long haul

 and to know about and support groups that offer solutions, so that one doesn’t feel alone.

Her chapters include “Get Schooled on the Role of Emotions in Climate Justice Work,” “Claim Your Calling and Scale Your Action,” “Be Less Right and More in Relation,” “Move Beyond Hope, Ditch Guilt, and Laugh More,” “Resist Burnout,” and “Feed What You Want to Grow.” .

Several of us at Ascension Lutheran Church in S. Burlington have been working with ECHO and All Souls and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum to create the Sacred Waters Event at Shelburne Bay, on the second Saturday in September, in which 50 people participated this past year. The participants were so glad to be out on the lake, with time for meditation and silence, after an interfaith circle blessing, including a beginning blessing by Chief Don Stevens, Chief of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk – Abenaki Nation, and to hear from scientists at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum about the Bay and the LaPlatte River, because the LaPlatte River watershed flowing into Shelburne Bay is a Class 1 Wetland, for example, with endangered freshwater mussels:

“Class I wetlands are exceptional or irreplaceable in their contribution to Vermont’s natural heritage.  They provide unmatched environmental functions and values and therefore merit the highest level of protection.”

(https://dec.vermont.gov/watershed/wetlands/class1wetlands)

We also produced the watershed stewardship manual after worshiping, studying, and advocating for clean water.

Are we kept spiritually sane and whole by joining people of all the ages in recognizing water as the supreme life essence, even reverencing it as not only foundational to physical but also spiritual existence? And in reverencing Earth, Planet Water, and the entire web of life? Keeping alive the understanding of interconnectedness, of sacredness in all things, and of a community acting together to heal and protect.   

When we heal water, when we heal Earth, we heal ourselves.

The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wright

Ascension Lutheran Church, S. Burlington, VT

*Notes for presentations given at All Souls Interfaith Gathering and Congregation Ruach haMaqom in Fall, 2021.

Vermont Catholic Professionals January Meeting

Vermont Catholic Professionals January Meeting

“Perfection of the life or of the work?” will be the topic of the next keynote speaker at the Vermont Catholic Professionals networking meeting.

The speaker, Laurie Brands Gagne, is the retired director of the Edmundite Center for Peace and Justice at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.

Her presentation will be on Jan. 19.

The title comes from a poem by William Butler Yeats entitled “The Choice.”

“I’ll be talking about the importance of that choice and what it means to integrate one’s work-life with one’s whole life as a Christian,” said Gagne, of South Burlington, who worships with the St. Michael’s College community.

Gagne received her doctorate in systematic theology from the University of Notre Dame and taught religious studies for many years at Trinity College of Vermont. While at Trinity, she wrote The Uses of Darkness: Women’s Underworld Journeys Ancient and Modern, which was published by University of Notre Dame Press (2000) as well as a number of articles on philosopher/mystic Simone Weil and the spiritual journey.

When Trinity closed in 2001, she began a new phase of her career teaching “Peace and Justice” at St. Michael’s College.

Outside the classroom, Gagne was an activist, beginning a nationwide campaign on behalf of Congolese women in 2010 and helping to found the Vermont Ibutwa Initiative, a non-profit that assisted women who are survivors of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Now retired, she has edited a book on Simone Weil (“Love in the Void”), serves on Burlington’s Mater Christi School Board of Trustees and gives workshops for the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.

Continuing her activism, she served as a member of Meta Peace Team, an unarmed force for civilian protection, for a month in Palestine in 2018 and conducted a fact-finding trip to Ibutwa’s projects in South Kivu, DRC in 2019.

Among her awards, Gagne received from Trinity College in Burlington the Sister Katherine O’Donnell Outstanding Faculty Award (1988) and from St. Michael’s, the Vermont Campus Compact Award for Excellence in Community-Based Teaching (2012).

“I would advise Catholic professionals to take the time to share their faith with each other and how it might apply to their work. Without support, it is easy to let merely professional goals override the goals we all should be striving for, namely, wisdom and love,” Gagne said.

The purpose of Vermont Catholic Professionals — founded in 2018 — is to join Catholic men and women and others with shared values from the business and professional communities to encourage intellectual discussions, to foster professional and faith-based relationships and to inspire service and charity to the community in Vermont. Events take place quarterly with a professional development speaker that is relevant to the business and professional communities in Vermont.

For more information about Vermont Catholic Professionals and the location of the Jan. 19 event, go to vermontcatholic.org/vcp

Wednesday, January 19, 2022 • 8 a.m.

Laurie Brands Gagne, retired director of the Edmundite Center for Peace and Justice at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.

Register at: vermontcatholic.org/vcp

—Originally published in the Jan. 1-7, 2022, edition of The Inland See.