Creation Justice Ministries executive director receives J Irwin Miller Excellence in Ecumenical Leadership Award from the National Council of Churches USA
It is our delight to share news with the Creation Justice community that our executive director Shantha Ready Alonso has been honored by the National Council of Churches USA with the J. Irwin Miller Excellence in Ecumenical Leadership award.
Each year, the J. Irwin Miller Award for Excellence in Ecumenical Leadership is conferred by the National Council of Churches USA to a layperson who has demonstrated a commitment to church unity, and who, by living out this commitment through action in the world, has been a witness to justice and other values affirmed by our common faith in Jesus Christ.
The 2020 Christian Unity Gathering theme, "Breathing New Life into Our Nation: Repentance, Re-formation, Reparations," has focused on themes of racial justice, a core value of Creation Justice Ministries, and a passion for our executive director.
We also take this special moment to give a big THANK YOU to Disciples Home Missions, our fiscal sponsor, for their extraordinary demonstration of ecumenical commitment by hosting Creation Justice Ministries. Disciples Home Missions is instrumental in fostering ecumenical leadership!
Award Presentation by Rev. Michael Livingston
Shantha Ready Alonso's acceptance speech for the J Irwin Miller Excellence in Ecumenical Leadership Award
Hi, I’m Shantha Ready Alonso, Executive Director of Creation Justice Ministries.
In a spirit of Truth and Healing, I acknowledge am “beaming in” to the virtual Christian Unity Gathering from the ancestral lands of Cahuilla people, in Coachella Valley, California.
I am so honored today to accept the J. Irwin Miller Award for Excellence in Ecumenical Leadership. Thank you to the National Council of Churches for this recognition.
I could not have come to this point without my ecumenical family, for teaching me about Christian unity since birth. Thank you to teachers, mentors, colleagues, and donors who have nurtured my leadership through generous time, scholarship funds, and care.
This is a recognition not just of my leadership, but of the entire, powerful and committed Creation Justice community, who refuse to sit idly by and allow forces of greed and racism to desecrate our one and only shared home, Earth. Together, through our prayers and public witness, we are bringing about eco-justice transformations, and witnessing to Jesus’ call for just relationships among all of creation.
I especially want to express my gratitude to members of the Creation Justice Ministries board, which is comprised of representatives of National Council of Churches member communions. Each of these board members is working toward our creation justice mission within their own Christian communities.
Ministry for creation justice has never been more urgent and important than it is today. It is an extraordinary time to be alive. We are the first generation to truly understand the gravity of the climate emergency. We are the last generation with significant power to change its trajectory. Right now, our collective action, or inaction, could contribute to the sustenance, or the exponential suffering of the generation that follows.
As the mother of a toddler, I feel this mantle of responsibility viscerally every day.
There are many ways we can approach the climate crisis before us. I choose for my approach to be rooted in ecumenical Christian hope.
I do so because it brings me so much more clarity and peace to frame my place in this struggle as SAYING YES to God’s truth of unity than to be in a constant battle against all that is going wrong.
And, a lot is going wrong.
Sins of apathy, neglect, racism, greed, misogyny have sown division and profoundly harmed the integrity of God’s church as well as God’s creation.
It is also true, at the same time, that WE ARE ONE.
Any person who spends time observing God’s creation can see how awe-inspiring unique ecosystems are: their wildly diverse parts, all interacting in mysterious ways, add up to a whole, and this whole is our home.
Christian ecumenism is about accepting God’s gift of unity to the Church – and of embracing our oneness in diverse, dynamic body of Christ, so our oneness in the Spirit can be our spiritual home.
It is up to each of us how we respond to God’s gift of unity, both as members of God’s Church and as inhabitants of God’s Earth:
Will we accept this gift of unity with open hands, and foster anti-racist right relationships, health, and wholeness?
Or will we reject this gift, and suffer in isolation through negligence, domination, and exploitation?
Let us pray:
Creator God, help us say yes to accept your gift of unity...
Say yes to living simply, and learning each day to seek your Godly definition of abundance.
Say yes to rectifying the historic racist injustices that have torn people away from the land, and yes to eco-reparations.
Say yes to embodied, incarnational Christian faith, so no body experiences unequal, sickening burdens of pollution.
Say yes to the healing power of repentance, and humility to learn not only from science, but also from the original caretakers of our communities.
Say yes to compassion through disaster preparation, mutual aid and radical hospitality as together we weather the material and spiritual storms of the climate emergency.
Say yes to wonder -- notice how every creeping thing that creeps is busily signing its own song of praise
Say yes to God’s gift of unity
October 12, 2020
let me be weighed in a just balance,
and let God know my integrity! - Job 31:6
O you who believe! Fear God, and be with those
who are true (in word and deeds). - Quran 9:119
As people of faith and heads of Washington-based offices of religious denominations and national organizations, we call for integrity in the processes that shape our systems of governance and form the basis of our shared wellbeing. We believe that free, fair, safe and respected elections are a bedrock of democracy, and that active and informed citizen participation in the political and electoral process is essential not only to the proper functioning of government but also to the full exercise of our faith. Therefore, we are deeply troubled by any actions or statements that intimidate voters or deny safe and equal access to voting, or that sow doubt in electoral outcomes and raise a threat of violence. Such efforts to corrupt and undermine core electoral freedoms must be condemned in the strongest of terms across the political spectrum.
This nation can only live up to its democratic ideals when all are confident that they can vote freely and without undue hardship for the candidates of their choosing. This is particularly critical in light of the long history of racial disenfranchisement in the United States. Polling places must be equally accessible, safe, orderly, and free from intimidation. All votes must be counted in a fair and transparent manner. The decision of the majority must be upheld with a peaceful transition. These core democratic ideals should be fiercely protected by all of us, regardless of political persuasion or religious affiliation. An election “won” by undermining democratic processes is a loss for us all.
Multi-party commitment to election integrity is a primary factor in preventing election violence across the globe. We call upon all elected leaders and elections officials at every level of government to recommit to our core democratic principles, to look within and consider what they themselves can do in this critical hour to uphold the best in our nation’s values. Tactics to suppress the vote must end immediately, and all candidates and parties must publicly commit to respect the true election results, regardless of who wins -- preserving democracy is more important than the success of any individual candidate. Leaders across the political spectrum must call on their supporters to refrain from violence and the threat of violence regardless of results.
The choice in this moment is clear and stark: shared commitment to sustaining and strengthening the ideals of our democracy, or a descent into an antidemocratic future to secure partisan gains. We pray that our leaders will demonstrate a robust commitment to our fundamental democratic principles with their words and actions at this pivotal time.
(see following page for signatories representing the U.S. policy offices of denominations and nationwide organizations)
SIGNATORIES TO FAITH LEADERS’ STATEMENT ON INTEGRITY, SAFETY, AND FAIRNESS
IN THE 2020 U.S. ELECTION:
Shantha Ready Alonso, Executive Director, Creation Justice Ministries
Sharif Aly, Chief Executive Officer, Islamic Relief USA
Rebecca Linder Blachly, Director, Office of Government Relations, The Episcopal Church
Sr. Simone Campbell, Executive Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Margaret Conley, Director, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Justice Team
Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church
Lawrence Couch, Director, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Rev. Paula Clayton Dempsey, Director of Partnership Relations, Alliance of Baptists
Melanie Roth Gorelick, Senior Vice President, Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Pablo DeJesús, Executive Director, Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice
Susan Gunn, Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Director, Office of Public Witness, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Rev. Dr. Nathan Hosler, Director, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, Church of the Brethren
Robin Aura Kanegis, Director, Office of Public Policy and Advocacy, American Friends Service Committee
Rev. Ken Brooker Langston, Executive Director, Disciples Center for Public Witness (Disciples of Christ)
Brigid Lawlor, RGS, Advocacy Liaison, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces
Catherine Orsborn, Executive Director, Shoulder to Shoulder
Fr. Ted Penton, SJ, Secretary of Justice and Ecology, Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Diane Randall, General Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation
The Rev. Amy Reumann, Director of Advocacy, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Basharat Saleem, Executive Director, Islamic Society of North America
Stephen Schneck, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network
Martin Shupack, Director of Advocacy, Church World Service
Sandy Sorensen, Director, Washington Office, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
Rev. Mark Stephenson, Interim Director, Christian Reformed Church Offices of Social Justice and Race Relations
Rev. Ron Stief, Executive Director, National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, President Elect, Sojourners
Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary, National Council of Churches
Scott Wright, Director, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Carol Zinn, SSJ, Executive Director, Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Johnny Zokovitch, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA
Download a PDF of this letter.
Take a look at the Creation Justice Ministries Staff plans to vote in the upcoming election. What is your voter plan? Tell us here!
Every year, my family vacations in northern Michigan to enjoy the lakes, woods, and fresh air. When I look at climate safety maps, this vacation spot where we usually spend two weeks per year is one of the few places projected to be relatively climate-stable in the coming decades. My current home in southern California is currently in wildfire danger and is projected to struggle with water scarcity. My hometown in Maryland is in danger of flooding and super storms. I am a #FaithClimateVoter because I feel morally responsible to foster a stable climate to uphold the integrity of God's creation everywhere, not just a few select places like my family vacation spot. My #voteready plan to fill in my ballot that I will receive in the mail at home, then personally turn it in at my local polling location in-person, donning my mask.
Ms. Voting in this election matters to me for many reasons, but caring for our marine creation is high on the list. I want a world where oceans are thriving and sea levels are not rising, and one where generations to come can experience the wonder of being seaside. We have so little time to make a meaningful impact, and this election will be a turning point in that timeline. I want to protect the coasts I grew up on and have come to appreciate even more as the pandemic has worn on. I have confirmed my voter registration is valid, and have made my plan to vote in person on Election Day. #voteready #CreationJustice
There are many issues I am concerned with and one is access to clean drinkable water. Water is a human right and gift from God- we must prioritize equitable access to potable water. I am originally from Wisconsin and the state (along with many others) suffers with the lack of access to clean water. From leaded water in Milwaukee, primarily in BIPOC communities to polluted ground water from farming chemical runoff in rural Wisconsin- water has clearly not been treated as a priority. Water is life not only for humans but all of the creatures who crawl, fly, & swim on this planet! I have read the policy plan of the candidates and made my decision based on which candidate will best protect vulnerable communities and restore the Earth. I have made my plan to vote by verifying my new address with the DC Board of Elections and requesting my absentee ballot. Once I receive my ballot I will fill it out immediately and take it to my ballot drop off location. #Waterislife #voteready
California Religious Leaders Applaud Governor Newsom's Executive Order to Protect 30 percent of California's Land and Ocean by 2030
Creation Justice Ministries applauds Governor Newsom's newly announced executive order on climate resilience and biodiversity, which establishes a goal of conserving at least 30 percent of California's state lands and ocean by 2030. California is the first U.S. state to join with more than 38 nations around the world who are participating in this global effort. Creation Justice Ministries has been encouraging people of faith across the US to write to their members of Congress in support of the 30 by 30 Resolution to Save Nature at a national level.
Here are some California religious community leaders' reactions to today's news.
"Wildfires, not just in California, but around the world, are causing us to literally feel the heat that is mobilizing more of us to act on our ecological crisis in the spirit of what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King called 'the fierce urgency of now.' As people of faith, we are instructed by our Creator to ensure those who come after us have a sustainable, nurturing Earth. Governor Newsom's executive order will equip our communities for timely, faithful conservation action -- before it is too late."
The Rt. Rev. Staccato Powell, immediate past President of the Board of Bishops for the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion) denomination; Creation Justice Ministries Board Member
Granite Bay, CA
"California Lutherans have been closely tracking imminent dangers to safe, affordable drinking water, as well as the environmental racism at play in who does, and does not, have water security. As the climate crisis, pollution, and irresponsible corporate practices have made water stewardship increasingly difficult, we welcome the opportunity to leverage the Governor's executive order, which sets clear guidelines for conservation, to protect and redeem California's watersheds. The God-given life-sustaining gift of water requires our careful stewardship, so all people and creation can endure for generations to come."
Regina Q. Banks, Director of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy
"As Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, I am deeply encouraged by Governor Newsom's executive order to protect 30 percent of the land and water under California stewardship by 2030. The Episcopal Church considers action to protect God's creation to be part of fulfilling a sacred trust from God. For us, climate action and conservation mean commitment to personal and local community transformation, advocacy for the best climate and environmental justice policies, and standing with those who are already experiencing the deep pain of climate-related displacement and loss. As Californians seek to implement these conservation goals, may we do so attentive to our moral responsibilities to each other today, an to future generations."
The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California and
San Francisco, CA
"I celebrate this major milestone in our state's conservation ambition, as my ministry strives to foster deeper spiritual connections to, and protections for, God's ocean. We see first-hand what has profoundly made the protected Monterey Bay a place of resurrection, as well as the care California's coastal communities desperately need. As Californians, we now have a clear goal and timeline to protect God's ocean, and our Blue Theology ministry will pursue conservation with not only love, but also renewed urgency."
Rev. Dan Paul, Executive Minister, Blue Theology Mission Station
Pacific Grove, CA
"Creation Justice Ministries has been working at the national level to pursue the goal outlined in Governor Newsom's executive order today: to justly and equitably conserve more than 30 percent of nature by 2030. As a resident of a California desert area, I can attest to the need to protect this unique, magical ecosystem, from iconic Joshua trees to the beloved desert tortoises. Like Jesus, I feel closer to my Creator in this wild desert, a place to retreat and pray.
Consistent with California's newly stated commitment to engage in truth-telling and healing with tribes, this accelerated conservation pursuit must unfold differently than US government land and water protections of the past: Conservation must be done with guidance and consent of tribes whenever decisions impact their traditional territories. This conservation effort is also a pivotal opportunity to counteract environmental racism, as new conservation areas can help all people access the healing power of nature, rather than a privileged few."
Shantha Ready Alonso Creation Justice Ministries Executive Director
About this Blog
This blog shares the activities of Creation Justice Ministries. We educate and equip Christians to protect, restore, and rightly share God's creation.