Bishop Andrew Dietsche of the Episcopal Diocese of New York was installed as the 16th Bishop of New York in February 2013 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan. There has been a history of environmental adversity faced by the diocese, but New York has been effective in taking action and making it a point to head those challenges.
Situated on the Hudson River Valley, it poses unique problems as an important agricultural region. This has resulted in congregations being involved in sustainable agriculture and issues of water pollution for a very long time.
A Diocesan Committee on the Environment has been formed and the Diocese appointed a staff Disaster Response Coordinator and formed a Disaster Management Team, in the wake of superstorms Irene and Sandy and similar disasters in the future. Through these organizations they are able to provide food, shelter, and clothing in all parts of the diocese, and prepare for what comes next, which has been an unfortunate direct result of climate change.
It has become a primary goal to make congregations sustainable, to begin education putting environmental issues like food, water, and energy in the sacramental context of Baptism, Eucharist, and the sacred space of the buildings. The Diocese of New York has also made moves to transition to alternative forms of fuel and renewable energy, as every church will be conducting thorough energy audit and implementing conservation measures, committing to reduce greenhouse gasses and lowering operating costs. Bishop Dietsche has appointed a Task Force to make recommendations on how every congregation and the diocese as a whole can invest in socially and environmentally responsible ways.
In addition, the committees have begun a study and evaluation process to provide every congregation with guidelines for socially and environmentally responsible investing.
Bishop Dietsche is quoted to say, “Now, more than ever, members of our church are ready, willing and able to put their belief into action and practice as stewards of our environment. As Christians, we have a unique and integral, spiritual relationship with our environment.” and supports congregations that choose to take action and create positive changes within their own communities. He has recognized the amazing enthusiasm of the members of his diocese to make the necessary changes and deliver on ways to make it happen.
Prior to his ordination, Bishop Dietsche was a freelance graphic designer. He still continues this passion as an award winning cartoonist for the Episcopal New Yorker.
The Eco-bishops will be gathering in Cape Town, South Africa to look at how the Anglican Communion can better respond to environmental challenges and climate change. If you would like to send them a message or a challenge please email Canon Ken Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org or else join Anglican Eco-Bishops on Facebook and post a message.
Willie Lutes is an intern with Green Anglicans from the Young Adult Service Corps of the Episcopal Church.