It’s Friday afternoon as I sit down to write this blog and outside my window there are some small patches of blue sky and hints of sunshine. It seems as though it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the sun so this momentary glimpse is very welcome. This will be a busy weekend for me as a residence director in a men’s dorm. The Deans of Men are hosting a 29-hour silent retreat for the guys beginning this evening which affects my resident advisors’ weekend schedule, there are two important basketball games on Saturday, and Sunday is the Super Bowl! Even more significant than the Super Bowl is the opportunity for us to celebrate the Presentation of Jesus in the temple also known as Candlemas. This feast day doesn’t often fall on a Sunday so, I fear, it may be often overlooked. While recently our lectionary has presented us with Jesus as an adult ready to begin his ministry, this Sunday is truly another type of “epiphany” declaring Jesus’ identity as our Savior even while an infant. I do hope that our celebration on Sunday encouraged each of us to look even more deeply at the love and provision of our God through our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Now, on to our business at hand. This year many of my friends and colleagues are retiring from their faculty roles at Hillsdale College. The search for new employees has brought stress and anxiety to a few departments as they try their best to hire just the right candidate for the position looking at many different factors. One of these considerations is trying to balance the genders of the faculty in the department so that there are enough men and women to relate to the student body on campus. For many years and in many departments, men have outnumbered women considerably. Sadly, this has been true in other occupations and concerns as well. The resolution we’re exploring this week addresses this issue in the arena of climate change action. Here’s the resolution at hand:
B027: Gender Inclusivity in Climate Change Action
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church call on our Office of Government Relations to support international and domestic efforts to encourage and advocate for gender inclusive approaches within climate change disaster response and management, recognizing that climate change profoundly and differently impacts people according to their gender; and be it further
Resolved, That this Convention urge congregations and dioceses of The Episcopal Church to act in their own contexts in recognition that women are at the front line of climate impact and need to be involved in decisions affecting their lives, and those of their families and communities in response to disasters and humanitarian emergencies; and be it further
Resolved, That institutions and providers in The Episcopal Church, such as Episcopal Relief and Development, whose ministries are associated with disasters, climate refugees, maternal health, poverty alleviation, and addressing inequalities be urged to continue to lift up and advocate for women’s leadership on climate justice, support gender inclusive approaches to climate resilience and make themselves available as resources to congregations and dioceses for this work; and be it further
Resolved, That the Episcopal Church 1) commit to the revision of previous materials, development and circulation of educational resources to be used in both diocesan and congregational formation and 2) encourage faith communities and dioceses to recommit to allocating 0.7% of their operating budgets in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
While the explanation provided by the originator of the resolution is not part of the final text of the resolution, I do think that knowing what the originators were thinking might help us to understand the background of the resolution:
EXPLANATION The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a comprehensive roadmap for the sustainability of people and the planet. Empowering women and girls and advancing gender equality is central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. With climate change as one of the most urgent and compelling issues of our time, and with women at the front line of impact, ensuring that approaches to address climate change are gender inclusive and that support women’s leadership is crucial. Everyone has a role to play in making gender equality a lived reality by 2030 and thus save lives, strengthen communities, reduce poverty and ensure a sustainable planet.
This resolution addresses the mission priority of Alleviating Poverty and Injustice established at the 76th General Convention, and the Sustainable Development Goals, which include a stand-alone gender goal together with gender integration across all the SDGs.
The Sustainable Development Goals
On 1 January 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit — officially came into force. Over the next fifteen years, with these new Goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.
The SDGs, also known as Global Goals, build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty. The new Goals are unique in that they call for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and addresses a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.
While the SDGs are not legally binding, governments are expected to take ownership and establish national frameworks for the achievement of the 17 Goals. Countries have the primary responsibility for follow-up and review of the progress made in implementing the Goals, which will require quality, accessible and timely data collection. Regional follow-up and review will be based on national-level analyses and contribute to follow-up and review at the global level.
The Global Goals are:
- No poverty
- Zero hunger
- Good health and well-being
- Quality education
- Gender equality
- Clean water and sanitation
- Affordable and clean energy
- Decent work and economic growth
- Industry innovation and infrastructure
- Reduced inequalities
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Responsible consumption and production
- Climate action
- Life below water
- Life on land
- Peace and justice strong institutions
- Partnerships for the goals
Much of this resolution is addressed to The Episcopal Church writ large, yet congregations and dioceses are asked to consider gender bias in climate change as it relates in their context. So what are you and your congregation doing in your community to address climate change and to respond to the need for gender inclusivity? Let’s encourage each other in our mission to live into this resolution and share our stories.
Let us pray –
Dear God, Creator of the earth, this sacred home we share;
Give us new eyes to see the beauty all around and to protect the wonders of creation. Give us new arms to embrace the strangers among us and to know them as family. Give us new ears to hear and understand those who live off the land and to hear and understand those who extract its resources. Give us new hearts to recognize the brokenness in our communities and to heal the wounds we have inflicted. Give us new hands to serve the earth and its people and to shape beloved community. For you are the One who seeks the lost, binds our wounds and sets us free, and it is in the name of Jesus the Christ we pray. Amen.
From the 2017 Episcopal House of Bishops’ Word to the Church on Ecojustice
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council