Finding Hope in a World of Climate Change

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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 8, 10:10–10:50 A.M., Bloedel Hall

The Creation Care Ministry will host a Sunday morning forum that asks the question: How do we cultivate a deepening, evolving relationship with God that gives us the strength, vision, and courage to face climate changes in our world? Presenters will explore practices of the Spirit, and actions we can all take to nourish the planet. Be prepared to touch the roots of hope, community, and joy.

Greenbelt Work Parties

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Parishioner Robert Hayden, longtime forest steward for the Saint Mark's Greenbelt, led a wonderful tour through the Greenbelt last Sunday. Now it's time to get our hands dirty! Work parties are scheduled every 2 weeks beginning Saturday, September 30, then October 14, October 28, and November 18. Each work party is limited to 18 people, and you MUST SIGN UP BEFOREHAND for each date. More details and sign-up can be found here. Sign up links for each event can be found at:

You do not need to commit to working all of these dates. (Please note the closure of the north parking lot on September 30.) Tools and training will be provided. Bring a snack and a water bottle, and enjoy working alongside fellow parishioners and members of the community in this beloved space. For questions and more details contact Guy Oram or Kathy Minsch at:

Composting Workshop with the City of Seattle and Nurturing Roots

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SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7, 3–4 P.M., Leffler Garden

Hosted by the 20s/30s group and the Creation Care Ministry

Learn about composting basics at home and how to use compost in your home garden. Representatives from the City of Seattle’s Master Composter Sustainability Program and Nurturing Roots Farm will guide the interactive discussion and activities. Enjoy snacks and refreshments on the Cathedral front porch before the St. Francis Celebration and Blessing of the Animals at 4:30 that day. Questions? Email Emily:

Sunday Morning Greenbelt Tour

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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 10:10-10:50 A.M., meet at the Greenbelt sign off the lower south parking lot

Urban Forest Steward Robert Hayden will lead a Greenbelt Tour for all ages on Sunday, September 17, co-sponsored by Intergenerational Ministries and Creation Care. Learn about this precious urban green space and the public-private partnership that works to maintain it, and see up close the work that needs to be done now.

UPDATE: Check out a few photos from the tour below! (Click to enlarge) 

Creation Care Stories, Volume 2

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The Creation Care Ministry has created a Story Sharing Project to allow parishioners to share actions they are taking related to Creation Care, as a way for parishioners to share their good work and to encourage others to help reduce climate change. Stories can be about any action you are taking, large or small, to care for creation and mitigate climate change. Stories can take the form of a brief written essay, a video, a photo album, an infographic, or a piece of podcast-style audio. Sharing these stories can help others to learn, lead to new ideas about what to do, and be an inspiration for others to take action too. See guidelines to submit your own story here, or share a response or idea by simply using the "reply" box below! 

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Creation Care Stories, Volume 1

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The Creation Care Ministry has created a Story Sharing Project to allow parishioners to share actions they are taking related to Creation Care, as a way for parishioners to share their good work and to encourage others to help reduce climate change. Stories can be about any action you are taking, large or small, to care for creation and mitigate climate change. Stories can take the form of a brief written essay, a video, a photo album, an infographic, or a piece of podcast-style audio. Sharing these stories can help others to learn, lead to new ideas about what to do, and be an inspiration for others to take action too. See guidelines to submit your own story here, or share a response or idea by simply using the "reply" box below! 

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Learning to be Kinder to Nature—Lecture/Demonstration by the Royal Wedding & Coronation Florist

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2 P.M., in the cathedral nave; find the link purchase tickets here

Tickets have now gone on sale for this very special event, presented by the Slow Flowers Society and co-sponsored by Saint Mark’s Cathedral. Learning to be Kinder to Nature is a lecture, floral design demonstration, and book signing with Shane Connolly, an influential role model in sustainable floristry and environmentally-mindful design practices. His artistry is guided by the garden and the seasons, and the values brings to flower sourcing are inspiring. Seattle audiences will learn from Shane in person during his lecture and floral design demonstrations. This lecture will also encompass Shane’s remarks about the Sustainable Church Flowers project in the U.K. as he shares his message with flower enthusiasts, organic gardeners, and floral professionals.

His clients range from great public institutions like The Victoria & Albert Museum, the Royal Academy of Arts, and the National Portrait Gallery, to a veritable who’s who of the great and the good of British life. He is perhaps best known for his public work for The Royal Family. His most recent commission was The Coronation of Their Majesties The King and Queen in Westminster Abbey in May 2023. But he also designed the flowers for their marriage at Windsor Castle in 2005 and for the wedding of The Prince and Princess of Wales in 2011.

Shane has approached all these iconic moments with the same respect for nature, season and setting. Everything is thoughtful, in all senses of the word. Shane has designed events in countries as diverse as the USA and India, and always with the
same aim: to leave the smallest footprint behind and be led by what is local and available. Shane works with the Royal Horticultural Society to improve sustainability in floristry in their annual shows, and he is also a judge at RHS Chelsea. He has written five books and teaches his approach to flower design all over the world.

Tickets: $45 per person; $70 includes a signed copy of A Year in Flowers by Shane Connolly. Learn more and find the link to buy tickets here.

Share Your Creation Care Story!

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In volume 2, Judy Raunig-Graham tell the story of her climate-related actions, Carolyn White on clothes-drying, and a delightful video from Nicole Thomson about motor vehicle idling.
In the first installment, Elizabeth Clark-Stern reflects on choosing to eat vegan, Marjorie Ringness shares a strategy for saving water in the kitchen, and Richard Hartung writes about buying second-hand.

July 2023

The Creation Care Ministry has created a Story Sharing Project to allow parishioners to share actions they are taking related to Creation Care, as a way for parishioners to share their good work and to encourage others to help reduce climate change. Stories can be about any action you are taking, large or small, to care for creation and mitigate climate change. Stories can take the form of a brief written essay, a video, a photo album, an infographic, or a piece of podcast-style audio. Sharing these stories can help others to learn, lead to new ideas about what to do, and be an inspiration for others to take action too.

You can also share a short idea by typing in the "reply" box below!

Creating and Contributing Your Story

Families and individuals in the congregation can decide on the story they want to share. If you'd like input on their idea, check with Richard Hartung at

Once you've decided on what you'd like to share, you can tell the story using whatever media you prefer. Write a story, record a short video or podcast using their phone, create a collections of photos with captions, or use another way of communicating their story. Written stories should be 300 words or less. Videos and podcasts should be less than 2 minutes and preferably less than 90 seconds. (While writing or recording a longer story can be tempting, many people will not read or watch stories longer than these length!) Anyone can contribute and everyone is welcome to contribute more than one story.

If there's a story you'd like to tell, but you don't feel that you can write/film/record it yourself, please reach out so the ministry can match you up with a writer or other collaborator.

The story should focus on a specific action you have taken related to Creation Care, including what you did, how you did it, and any impact you saw from taking action. Even small actions can make a big difference, so sharing any action you’ve taken can be beneficial. Some examples of possible stories include:

  • Expanding from meatless Monday to add on Meatless Tuesday.
  • Walking to meet a friend or to go shopping rather than driving.
  • Installing a heat pump.

When you have completed your story, please send it to Richard and the Creation Care Ministry team will read/watch/listen to the story and may share feedback or suggest changes.

Once the story has been reviewed and finalized, it will posted on the cathedral website, and shared on social media, in cathedral newsletters, and other channels. Storytellers will be credited in the post, although you may remain anonymous if you prefer.

More Information

For more information about the storytelling project or to provide suggestions, please contact Richard Hartung at, Marjorie Ringness at or Kathy Minsch

Oxbow Farm CSA Pickup at the Cathedral

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It's not too late to sign up for weekly box of local organic produce from Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center, with convenient pick-up at Saint Mark's every Saturday. Sign up for 20 weeks of seasonal farm-fresh goodness, including veggies such as arugula, squash, tomatoes, and more. By joining, you support their mission to inspire sustainable food choices, foster a connection to nature, and conserve our precious resources for future generations. The season runs from June 24 through November 4, and pick-up is every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the Carriage House. (Note the slightly different time and place than announced earlier.) They accept EBT, and payment plans are available. Other pick-up locations include the farm itself in Carnation, as well as locations in Mercer Island and Monroe. Subscribers receive a number of additional benefits—find out more and sign up here!

New Summertime Traditions by Richard Hartung

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May 31, 2023

Summertime conjures up good memories of years past and excitement about plans for a multitude of activities. Backyard barbecues with hamburgers and steaks. Sparklers and fireworks in the back yard for the Fourth of July, after a delicious dinner from the charcoal grill. A road trip in the car or travel by plane to a national park or historical site. S'mores around a campfire. An afternoon at a baseball game with hot dogs and beer. While each family does things differently, a combination of activities and expectations have long made summertime in America American.

While even just the mention of these traditions often brings back warm memories from years ago, few of us may have thought about the climate impact of these traditions. As carbon emissions grow and climate change causes increasingly worrisome weather catastrophes, though, it may be time to look at the climate impact of our traditions and pause for a rethink.

Let’s start with that backyard barbecue. Producing a hamburger takes about 450 gallons of water and results in about 90 pounds of carbon emissions, about the same as a three-hour shower and a 90-mile drive. A one-pound steak causes about 40 pounds of carbon emissions. And traditional charcoal, which is produced by cutting down trees and burning them in kilns, releases about 11 pounds of carbon emissions per hour. If each of the 38 million owners of charcoal grills in the US fires up their barbecue for just one hour on the Fourth of July, they will collectively release more than 427 million pounds of carbon dioxide on that day alone.

Along with releasing carbon dioxide, fireworks cause health problems. Fireworks use black powder, also known as gunpowder, which is made from carbon or charcoal, sulfur and potassium nitrate. Studies have shown a drastic drop in air quality at the first rocket’s red glare and bomb bursting in air. "If you happen to be downwind from a big fireworks event, it is very hazardous," according to Paul Walsh, Meteorologist and General Manager of, as "fireworks also release fine particulate matter, which includes something called heavy metals, which is really bad to breathe in."

And that long trip for your vacation has an impact too. Let’s say you decide to drive to Yosemite National Park in California, 893 miles from Seattle, rather than flying to Boston. While the impact differs depending on whether you’re driving a Hyundai or a Hummer, emissions average about 0.7 pounds per mile. You’d release 1,250 pounds going back and forth. If you decide to have a campfire to cook dinner and s'mores, emissions from burning wood include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and benzene.

So, what can we do? It turns out that small changes can make a big difference.

Take that barbecue, for instance. Switching from beef to chicken can reduce carbon emissions by about 75%. Tofu, mushrooms and eggplant are great on the grill. And using an electric grill rather than charcoal or gas reduces carbon emissions tremendously. Alternatives to fireworks include blowing bubbles or creating a laser light or drone show. And consider driving 106 miles to North Cascades National Park, rather than to Yosemite, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1,000 pounds.

Changes like these can easily seem too idealistic. Altering long-standing cultural practices and traditions can feel impossible. If we look at the Bible, though, we can learn from individuals who propelled change when catastrophe loomed.

When Noah faced a calamity, he and his family made radical changes. In Genesis 6, we read that “God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out…' Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” 

When Egypt faced the potential catastrophe of a famine, Joseph changed the entire culture of how Egypt produced and stored food. As Genesis 41 says, “Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea.”

Noah, Joseph and other leaders in the Bible upended traditions and may well have faced disbelief or criticism as they prepared for a coming catastrophic event. They overcame culture, ridicule, and more to do what was right and literally saved humanity from disaster. These decisions can be difficult, but this path can lead to growth and renewal both for the planet and for us as individuals. As God says to Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 29, "For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me, I will hear you." In other words, as one commentator reflecting on this passage has written, “while change can be hard, we can grow in our faith when we learn to embrace it. When we trust God's plan, He transforms us each and every day as His followers.”

Just as leaders throughout the Bible have done, we too should embrace change and shift our traditions to care for creation and avert a catastrophe. Starting new summertime traditions can create new memories and help us to care for creation at the same time.

Neighborhood Eucharist 2023

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SATURDAY, JUNE 24, 4–5 P.M., at the home of Betsy Bell (RSVP for address)

All are invited for a Neighborhood Eucharist in West Seattle at the home of Betsy Bell.

This simple liturgy is family-friendly, meaningful, and brief—a great way to strengthen the connections among us as well as to God's good earth. (Similar services were presented in various locations last summer,)

RSVP to Canon Barrie and you’ll receive the address, parking instructions, and other information:

Beekeeper Forum & Blessing of the Hives, 2023

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SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 10:10-10:50 A.M., meet in Bloedel Hall 

Don't miss this Sunday forum between the 9 and 11 a.m. services on June 4. All are invited to taste the honey made by the bees that live on the Saint Mark’s property, meet the beekeepers, learn about pollinators, and try a bee craft. At the conclusion of the forum, everyone will head outside, and The Rev. Linzi Stahlecker will bless the hives for the new season.

See a video introduction to the beekeeping ministry from Fall 2020 below:

A Rogation Day Liturgy, 2023

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WEDNESDAY, MAY 17, 2023, 6:45–8:15 P.M., in person only in Bloedel Hall (and throughout the cathedral grounds). Optional community dinner at 6 p.m. ($6/child; $8/adult; $25/max. family).

Join Rev. Stahlecker, Canon Rosario-Cruz, and Canon Barrie as we celebrate and give thanks for the gifts of Creation with an outdoor liturgy for Rogation Day, an observance that dates to the 5th century. For 1,500 years, the weekdays preceding Ascension Day have been marked by outdoor prayers and thanksgiving for the fruitful Earth. Following the community dinner in Bloedel Hall, participants will process around the cathedral grounds, stopping to reflect and pray at significant locations. The liturgy ends with includes a portion of the Great Litany.

UPDATE: The leaflet for this year's procession may be seen here

Earth & Spirit: Sunday Forum with Gordon Miller

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SUNDAY, MARCH 19, 10:10 A.M., Bloedel Hall

In this Sunday morning Forum on 19 March, on the eve of the vernal equinox, Saint Mark’s parishioner and Emeritus Professor of Environmental Studies at Seattle University Gordon Miller will share ideas and images from two of his books: Wisdom of the Earth, which displays relatively unknown ecological riches of the Christian tradition, and The Metamorphosis of Plants, his photographic edition of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 18th-century botanical classic that encourages readers to look beyond the surface of the natural world to its nonmaterial depths.

“Autumn Returns” by Doug Thorpe

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November 13, 2022

Autumn returns with the rain and cold. This time it seemed to happen overnight. I talk with my daughter over WhatsApp and—along with the beloved and very mobile grandson Walter—she shows me the blue skies, the red and golden leaves of Buffalo New York. The flames of autumn give way to grays and ash.

I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one around here who welcomed the rain with a sense of relief—more so this year because of the oddly high temperatures we had into October. Now we relax a little, bid farewell to the fruits of summer and early autumn, and settle in with the wind and rain. It’s a time of endings, marked in particular by the Triduum of All Hallows, All Saints and All Souls, a time in the calendar to honor and remember those who have passed, the saints of our own lives and of the church.

Fittingly, Advent is just around the corner. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that the word comes from the Latin, meaning to come to or towards, and more specifically “the arrival of a notable person or thing.” Out of the darkness, Advent affirms, comes new light—most generally in the form of the solstice, with days growing longer. For us. of course. that new light comes more specifically in the form of a child.

This fall I’ve been reading Karen Armstrong’s most recent book, Sacred Nature: How We Can Recover Our Bond with the Natural World. In the title chapter, she tells us the story of a group of seventeenth century Jesuit missionaries trying to explain the shape of the cosmos to a group of Chinese intellectuals, using a map of sorts that showed the earth, the planets and the location of God out at the edge of the universe in the form of the Primum Mobile. As Armstrong tells it, the Chinese were bewildered. Why should the deity whom the Jesuits called the “Lord of Creation” be content to be confined to a tiny sector of the universe that he had supposedly created? The Confucian scholar Fang Yishi (1611–71) concluded that the West was detailed in material investigation,” and deficient in comprehending seminal forces (qi). By qi, Fang was referring to the essence of Being—a force that the Chinese regarded as “unknowable,” the “recondite,” and the “uniting layers of mysteries.”

As Armstrong concludes, “when faced with the ultimate reality, [Fang] believed, humans must fall silent because it lies beyond the reach of verbal concepts.”

There is much about these ideas that I find compelling—this sense of a “basic ‘stuff’ or essence of the universe ... neither wholly spiritual nor wholly material,” as Armstrong describes qi. “It is ineffable; it is something that we cannot define or describe. It is not a god or a being of any kind; it is the energy that pervades all life, harmoniously linking the plant, animal, human and divine worlds and enabling them to fulfill their potential.” This is similar, she continues, to the Hindu concept of Rta, “best understood as ‘active, creative truth’ or ‘the way things truly are.’ Like qi and Dao, Rta was not a god but a sacred, impersonal, animating force. . . [which] could be experienced as the sublime whole, which flowed from itself expansively, bringing about the cosmos, humans, and the god themselves.”

We seem close, in a way, to the idea of the Holy Spirit, which similarly “flowed from itself expansively” and which mysteriously and invisibly moves through all things. On the other hand, we are far from the world of the prophet Jeremiah, from whom we’ve been hearing this fall, who claimed to speak as the voice of a very personal God who called his people back to a path of justice. We are also a long way from a child born in a cold barn in a small village in an insignificant country which was little more than a crossroads and was under the control of the military power of Rome. And yet that child is why we are here together as the community of Saint Mark’s, and within that community why we form the Creation Care Ministry. Seemingly impossibly and yet truly, we believe that this energy—this holy spirit—is fully manifested in the person of Jesus, who in turn inspires us in our justice work. Literally, he fills us with that same spirit. Like disciples going back in an unbroken chain two thousand years, we believe that we’ve been touched by that same energy, which we also experience directly and powerfully in creation: in the mountains, in a forest, by the ocean.

Yes, it’s autumn. We are moving steadily towards winter and into shorter, darker days. Yet the new year approaches in that same form of a child in whom we see all the hope of the world. And that same child awakens in us the knowledge that we too are that light—and that hope. May it continue to sustain us.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue,
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river shallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourne;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.


—John Keats, To Autumn, September 19, 1819

Longtime Saint Mark's parishioner and former vestry member Doug Thorpe is Professor Emeritus of English at Seattle Pacific University.

Climate Conversations

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SECOND THURSDAYS, 6:30–7:30 P.M., online via Zoom

Looking for practical ways to reduce your impact on the environment? Saint Mark’s Creation Care Ministry is hosting Climate Conversations about everyday things in our lives. These monthly conversations will be held on environmentally-friendly Zoom on the second Thursday evening of each month.

Register to participate using this link (same Zoom link each month).

Scroll down on this page to find materials, slides, and videos of past conversations in this series. 


OCTOBER 12, 2023: Save Money by Caring for Creation

It seems like buying climate-friendly food and clothing, installing devices to use less carbon-spewing energy and doing more to care for creation would be costly. In reality, the opposite is true. You can save money by consciously caring for creation. We’ll discuss how to buy groceries and clothes in ways that save money. We’ll look at alternatives that can save energy or use less water. And we’ll take advantage of the insights on the St Mark’s Carbon Tracker to learn to do more. Our discussion will focus around how to spend less while caring for creation more.  

NOVEMBER 9, 2023: Celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with a Creation Care Mindset

Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful times for getting together with family, meeting friends and celebrating a special season. There’s about 25 percent more trash in December, however, and homeowners produce 22 percent more light with their Christmas decorations. We can care for creation and still have a great time. From shopping and traveling better to enjoying climate-friendly meals and travel, small changes we make can have a big impact. We’ll show how to care for creation better around the holidays and we’ll center discussion around actions participants take for climate-friendly holiday celebrations.

DECEMBER 14, 2023: Find Great Deals for Local Foods and Plant-Based Meals 

While many of us think first of going to farmers markets to buy produce from local farms that is far fresher and tastes better, there are other places to purchase products. For people considering a switch to plant-based meals and who don’t find products such as Impossible Burgers that cost too much, there are alternatives. We’ll discuss where to buy local produce, where to find plant-based products, and alternatives to better-known plant-based foods such as Impossible that taste great and cost less.

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Intersectionality and Environmentalism: A Reflection by The Rev. Edie Weller

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The Intersection Between Environmentalism, Racism, and Privilege

A Program at Town Hall Seattle on May 10, 2022

Reflections by The Rev. Edie Weller

Leah Thomas, author of The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People and Planet (2022), recently spoke with Hannah Wilson, Farm Manager at Yes Farm, leader of the Black Famers Collective and co-chair of the Environmental Justice Commission of the City of Seattle, as part of a program offered by Town Hall Seattle. Their conversation focused on Thomas’ work in the field of environmental justice with direct focus on intersectionality—how to understand and give voice to environmental issues and actions through multiple perspectives of race, gender, physical and cognitive ability, age and other factors. A video of their conversation is available here.

Thomas described her motivation to enter into environmental advocacy because she realized she saw little evidence of contributions to environmental science and sustainability by Black scholars and professionals. This was especially so during the crucial time of protests related to both racial justice and climate change in recent years.  

Here are some observations and recommendations from Thomas’ conversation with Wilson:


Environmental science curricula in both predominantly Black and white academic programs need to be more inclusive and deepen their focus on intersectionality around topics of racial & social justice, environmental racism, and climate justice.

Access to environmental education at all levels should be a priority. Social media has a role to play in expanding access to multiple levels/cohorts of people (though this is not necessarily the primary teaching platform).


Thomas advocates for increasing staff diversity (in terms of race and other dimensions) across every level of environmental organization, including academic programs. It’s not enough to have an officer for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. More opportunity needs to be given for BIPOC and other non-dominant voices to contribute to analysis, goal setting, community interactions, and overall action.

More established, white-led environmental organizations need to examine and confront their legacy of not hiring diverse staffs.


Thomas identified the need to broaden the funding of smaller environmental organizations (majority are non-profits), particularly those led by BIPOC staffs. She noted that 8 of the largest and best-known environmental organizations receive about 70% of grants and other funding, while Black-led organizations receive less than 2%. This distribution needs to shift to build capacity for action over a broader base.

Advocacy development:

Thomas and Wilson both advise getting to know local climate and environmental justice organizations and coalitions, as well as the issues most salient to that community or region. This will increase the capacity for advocacy as well as deepen relationships and coalition-building.

Thomas and Wilson both see a connection to disability justice, especially the need to include voices and ideas from those with ability issues who might not have an easy time physically participating in meetings or actions.

Both speakers were very clear that many serious environmental issues face BIPOC and other marginalized communities right now—action is needed to help people live healthy, productive lives now, not only in future (white) generations. The complexity of climate change and its impacts—and other environmental challenges—calls for an intersectional perspective and participation NOW!

White allies need to be aware and intentional in working with diverse communities:

  • Be aware of bringing a “white savior” attitude (that whites need to help/lead others in defining the critical areas of focus and action)
  • Recognize that there is always more to learn: be open to what BIPOC and others have to contribute from their own experience and priorities. Do not attempt to speak for communities that you aren’t actually a part of.
  • LISTEN to others and respect their right to give input into issues of deepest concern to them.


Black Nature – A poetry anthology of the Black community’s experiences in nature across the last century

Generation Green – Environmental Liberation, for and by Black people

The Intersectional Environmentalist Platform – resources to accompany Thomas’ book

A Complete video of this program – from Town Hall Seattle

“Moments in the Wilderness” by Doug Thorpe

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July 19, 2022

It’s an old game I’d often play with my students to jog them into writing, especially in Spring Quarter as we moved into May.  We all get a little restless indoors by this point in the academic year, sitting in a sterile classroom; we start to feel some warmth rising up from the earth and can imagine again a life beyond the rain and cold. So I’d ask: if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?  Tell me about it—make me feel it in your words.   

My own answer would vary. I dearly love the Gulf of Mexico and the beautiful white beaches of Siesta Key, just as at certain moments I might choose the Left Bank of Paris early in the morning as the bakeries were opening, or even certain quiet streets in the old city of Jerusalem at dusk. But it’s clear to me that my own preference finally lies with the Cascades.  So many memories up there—so many hikes and backpack trips with Judy and Kate over the years, and with the hope and expectation of more to come. And of course part of the pleasure is coming to know these places fairly intimately after numerous trips. For me the Cascades are specific: among many other sacred spots I think of Dishpan Gap, just north of  Lake Sally Ann on the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT), or Meandering Meadows, still further north by a few miles and a mile below the PCT, or Macalester Pass, a few miles north of Stehekin. 

Of course all of these spots are beautiful, but I could have chosen others which are clearly more picturesque. So what is it about these places? It’s certainly that sense of truly being out there—in the mountains, far from roads and cities, far from Starbucks—but it’s also being out there with people whom I love. And so the memories of those places are filled not just with glorious mountains and deep green valleys but with people.   

This awareness of mine may well mark a difference from when I first wrote about these mountains in a book called Rapture of the Deep: Reflections of the Wild in Art, Wilderness and the Sacred. Back then, fifteen or twenty years ago, I was focusing on the connection I felt between my experiences on these trips with Judy and Kate and what I knew from my life teaching great literature and from my experience with contemplative and mystical spirituality. All of these, I argued, have something to do with the kind of depth of power we feel in wilderness—in the mountains, the desert, the ocean—as Belden Lane has written about so often. In my Introduction to the book I talk about this literal and metaphorical place into which so many of us are drawn, where we might well feel both fear and wonder. Writing of the ancient Sumerian hero Gilgamesh, I say that (metaphorically) “he has known the rolling waters of the sea, the great silence of the mountains, and in those places has felt something so huge and beautiful that he’s ready to surrender everything to be part of it.” 

I still can feel this desire, and acknowledge that it remains central to my understanding of Christ and my own spiritual longings. But what’s curious is that, even as I look back through this book of mine, what moves me most are those passages where I’m with Judy and Kate. At the beginning of the first chapter, for example, I describe a moment with them on our first backpack trip when we did a loop around Stehekin, making our way to Macalester Pass where we spent a night in our family-sized tent. Kate was eight at the time; early in the morning I was out listening to the howling of wolves to the east of us and in my mind making some connections to those beautiful animals and my daughter. And then I wrote: I remember this moment nine months later as I stand on my front porch and watch my daughter walk down the sidewalk, lunch box in hand, to her carpool. She turns, smiles and waves, then vanishes from my sight. 

This was a moment in time that is now more than thirty years ago. It’s long gone, as of course we both—we all—will be long gone in what is really just a blink of an eye. And yet I’m convinced that in some other sense, or in some other understanding of time—Kairos versus Chronos—this moment endures. It’s these tiny threads of love, these connections we have to people and to places. Suddenly I’m aware that it’s not just the magnificent mountains that surround us here beside the Salish Sea that last, but—perhaps even more—it’s  the tiny mycorrhizae, those threads that weave all things together beneath the forest floor and, as we now know, that connect those trees into one magnificent community.   

Into, I might say, another part of the body of Christ. 

And so yes, I do still experience that fear and wonder up there at Dishpan Gap or camped down in Meandering Meadows or up at Macalester Pass; I still feel the sense of adventure setting out down a narrow mountain trail. All that I wrote about decades ago is still true to something in my own spiritual journey. But now, gratefully, gracefully, there’s also this—all those years and memories with friends and family, memories that I see now are their own form of mycorrhizae, spiritual threads woven through time and space connecting us to each other and back to parents and grandparents and forward to the generations still to come. “Fibres of love” Blake calls these connections, and like love, as love, they endure.

We are dust certainly enough, but we are also, as Joni said long ago, star dust.

Longtime Saint Mark's parishioner and former vestry member Doug Thorpe is Professor Emeritus of English at Seattle Pacific University.

Eat! Play! Love! 2022: Water of Life

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THREE WEDNESDAYS: JUNE 22, JULY 27, and AUGUST 24, 5 P.M.–8 P.M., in Bloedel Hall and throughout the cathedral grounds. Registration requested. Fee: $10 in advance; $12 at the door.

UPDATE: On the Sunday following all three evenings (JUNE 26, JULY 31, and AUGUST 28) between the morning services at 10:10 a.m., participants in the Wednesday gathering will share some of what was presented and created at the event. Meet on the front patio. The gathering on July 31 will include the splash mat!  

First offered in the summer of 2019, Eat, Play Love (Not Your Average Bible Study) is an opportunity for all ages to share a meal, learn, explore, and have fun together at the cathedral. Now this offering returns for 2022!

Take a night off cooking and enjoy a delicious dinner prepared by our own Chef Marc Aubertin, then participate in a variety of creative and reflective activities, including the option to attend in-person Evening Prayer 6–6:30 p.m. The evenings end with a brief service of Compline in the Cathedral Nave.

This year, we will explore the theme "Water of Life" through three scripture stories (Creation, the Baptism of Christ, and The Woman at the Well) and respond to them creatively through activities such as music, art, and science. We'll also dive into justice-seeking as it relates to clean water and water access, both locally and globally.

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Made in Faith: Forum on Clothing and Sustainability

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WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 6:45-8:15 P.M., online via Zoom only

Join Creation Care for a special forum featuring parishioner Clara Berg, fashion historian and curator, and Richard Hartung, sustainable writer/blogger to discuss connections between clothing, the environment and our faith.

We'll share ways to buy less, choose well and make clothes last.

UPDATE: The slides form this presentation may now be seen here.

A video can be seen below:

Beekeeper Forum & Blessing of the Hives

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SUNDAY, MAY 29, 10:10–10:50 a.m., Bloedel Hall 

The cathedral beekeepers will share about their ministry and the current state of the bees who live on the roof above Bloedel, and we’ll conclude with a blessing of the hives.

Note: Doreen Tudor's birthday celebration, previously announced for this time, will be rescheduled for a later date.

See a video introduction to the beekeeping ministry from Fall 2020 below:

A Rogation Day Liturgy

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WEDNESDAY, MAY 25, 6:45–8:15 P.M., in person only, outdoors on the cathedral grounds

Rev. Stahlecker, Canon Rosario-Cruz, and Canon Barrie will lead this intergenerational, prayerful exploration of the tradition of Rogation days, an ancient practice, dating from the 5th century, of blessing and giving thanks for the earth which sustains us.

The service begins with a blessing of Leffler House gardens, followed by a procession with stations, and concludes with the Great Litany (including the Supplication for use "in times or national anxiety or of disaster")

The service leaflet for this liturgy may be seen here.

Group Viewing of “Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water” at SAM

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SATURDAY, MAY 21, 10 A.M. TO NOON, Seattle Art Museum

Come explore the vast connections of water in the context of artwork at a new exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. A group from Saint Mark’s is planning to attend on Saturday, May 21 at 10 a.m. and then discuss the art afterward at SAM’s cafe, MARKET. Interested in meeting up? Email Wayne Duncan ( or Emily Meeks (

This exhibit closes May 30, and It’s what SAM calls “an experiment in artistic activism.” On display are the works of 74 artists from 17 countries and seven Native American tribes. Visitors are greeted with a welcome in Lushootseed, one of many Coast Salish languages, by Ken Workman, a Duwamish Tribal Member and descendant of Chief Seattle.
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