Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno welcomed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and other guests to a March 24 climate change crisis webcast from Campbell Hall Episcopal School in North Hollywood.

“We (the city of Los Angeles) are the thief that steals most of the water in California and brings it here from the farming valleys north of us,” Bruno told the audience, adding that the diocese has taken efforts to care for the environment, including such food justice ministries as the Abundant Table Farm and Seeds of Hope.

The presiding bishop joined panelists who issued a call to action to Episcopalians across the church to help raise awareness and take concrete steps to stem the accelerating climate change crisis, particularly in the next month leading up to Earth Day, April 22.

“We are experiencing more extreme weather and more frequent hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and droughts,” said Jefferts Schori, keynote speaker at the event.

“Sea level is rising, because ice sheets are melting and because a warming ocean expands,” said Jefferts Schori, who holds a doctorate in oceanography and was a research scientist before ordination to the priesthood. “As sea levels rise coastal flooding becomes more likely and severe storms more destructive. The damage done by Katrina and Superstorm Sandy are examples, as is the unusual winter much of this continent is experiencing.”

Well-known Los Angeles area climatologist Fritz Coleman moderated two panel discussions, on the regional impact of climate change and reclaiming climate change as a moral issue. A video describing diocesan Seeds of Hope ministries was screened.

Panelists, who fielded email and audience questions, included Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California; Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board; Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey; and Princess Daazhraii Johnson, former executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, one of the oldest indigenous nonprofit groups in Alaska focused on protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Everyone has a role to play in slowing the shifting climate consequences that alter the ability to grow food crops, expand deserts, melt snow packs and produce drought, making fresh water increasingly scarce, according to the panelists.

“We can choose to change our destructive and overly consumptive ways,” the presiding bishop said, “or we can ignore the consequences of our actions and slowly steam like proverbial frogs in a soup pot. We still have some opportunity to choose, but that kairos moment will not last long. We have before us this day life and death. Which will we choose?”

30 Days of Action

In addition to stimulating conversation and raising awareness about the climate change crisis, the live webcast served as the kickoff to 30 Days of Action. To help individuals and congregations understand the environmental crisis and what they can do about it, daily action item suggestions developed by the Episcopal Church are here; sign up for daily reminders by email. The activities will culminate on Earth Day, April 22.

To view the webcast, click here.

Sermon resources are here.