Bob Chapman, the Vestry Warden at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Detroit, was able to share with Michigan IPL how his congregation impacts their Detroit community for the better. As an Episcopal/Ecumenical/earth-based congregation, involvement with Sacred Spaces will help St. Peter's achieve their energy justice goals.
As an Episcopal/Ecumenical/earth-based congregation, solar panels are one part of the efforts to protect the environment at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Detroit.
Mr. Chapman, how would you describe St. Peter's Episcopal Church?
St. Peter's has been in the Corktown neighborhood near downtown Detroit since 1858. It has a long history of attending to the underserved, to peoples' physical as well as spiritual needs. We also are known for taking stands on social justice issues. For example, a few years ago a half dozen members, including the pastor, were arrested in a direct action protesting the City of Detroit's mass water shutoffs. Programs central to our ministry include hosting a soup kitchen five days a week, shower and laundry services for the homeless and near homeless, allying with peace and justice movements including environmental justice, and being a welcoming congregation including to those who have been marginalized due to their sexual/gender orientation.
What is your congregation's spiritual or religious inspiration for practicing earth stewardship?
We ground our environmental stance as Biblical, calling us to be in right relation with not just other humans but all of Creation. We understand that relationship to extend backward and forward in time; that we have responsibilities to those who come after us. Finally, we try to practice humility and recognize there is much to be learned from other wisdom traditions including Indigenous traditions.
How do you understand environmental justice?
We understand environmental justice to mean several things. One is that it is wrong for environmental damage to rest disproportionately on those of low income, whether in this country or another. Secondly, the natural world is not simply a "resource" meant only for human consumption and use. Other beings have their own value and worth. Thirdly, we believe climate change and our response to it is the great moral challenge of our times. Violence is being done to people and the planet. What is the proper nonviolent response?
What’s one key take away that you hope your congregation and/or community gains from your participation in Sacred Spaces?
One key thing we hope will come out of this is that we find ways to raise up and celebrate our actions as living out our values; that every action we take to promote a healthier environment is a prayer.
...every action we take to promote a healthier environment is a prayer.
Michigan IPL is inspired by the work of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, and we are eager to see the benefits of the Sacred Spaces program at this congregation and its Detroit community.