Volunteers from Seeds of Hope work on the garden at St. Be (St. Barnabas), Eagle Rock. Photo: Seeds of Hope

As we approach Earth Day, I am reminded of what a critical role our congregations play in times of uncertainty and chaos. There is, of course, the spiritual sustenance people of faith receive. However, there is also the gift of location. Churches located in communities are able to do so much for their neighbors. I remember the fire and mudslides of 2017 and 2018 and how All Saints by-the-Sea in Santa Barbara became a community hub through that uncertain and difficult time.

Firefighters take a break at All Saints by the Sea Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, which was a community hub and triage center after deadly mudslides devastated the Montecito area in 2018. At right: Clothing and supplies donated by parishioners and the community for mudslide victims is stored in the parish hall.

The Bishop’s Commission on Climate Change (BCCC) has chosen to focus its disaster resiliency work in local congregations. We are currently in the pilot phase of a program designed by Dr. Lucy Jones and sponsored by SoCal Edison. This program, which eventually will be available to all churches, relies heavily on relational connectivity to build resiliency in the face of climate disasters. Lisa Markus, a parishioner of St. James’ Church in South Pasadena and a professional working in the intersection of clean energy and diversity, equity, and inclusion, calls churches “Resiliency Hubs” not only in terms of clean energy possibilities, but also in times of crisis.

Our churches make a difference. The communities in which we are located are in need of what we can offer as resiliency hubs. Imagine what your community would be like without your local congregations of any denomination. Churches make a difference. One of the reasons I give to the Annual Appeal is because I am a firm believer in the transformational power of Christian community, which is most likely accessed through a relationship with a congregation. I am also a firm believer in the power of the local congregation to effect great change right where it is placed.

Please consider a gift to the Annual Appeal. Please consider helping us help our congregations grow more resilient and ready to respond to the need around them. Any amount you give will make a difference.

— The Rev. Canon Melissa McCarthy is canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Los Angeles.