IN THIS ISSUE
Looking Ahead & Giving Thanks
You Spoke & We Listened
3.21.23 Day of Action
Planning a Rocking Day in DC
You & Worship Resources Needed
Protest with Art & Music
Fletcher Harper Interview
News from Third Act Central
News from Partners & Friends
Did You Know?
Looking Ahead and Giving Thanks
By Pat Almonrode
Welcome to the February edition of Third Acts of Faith. In this edition, you'll find information about the Faith working group's plans to support Third Act's Day of Action, when we "experienced Americans" and our allies all over the country show the Dirty Four Banks (Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America) that it's not okay for them to use our money to invest in the climate-killing fossil fuel industry. Third Act Faith (TAF) is busy gathering interfaith materials for Third Actors to use to provide a spiritual underpinning for local actions, and we're also hard at work planning an online interfaith Service of Solidarity for the evening before the big day. We hope you'll join us for a time of reflection, hope, dedication and "serious joy" as we all get ready for the work ahead.
And as we look ahead, I want to acknowledge the contributions of my outgoing co-facilitator, Adriane "Ace" Leveen, in getting us this far. As one of the first official co-facilitators of our working group, Ace brought energy and purpose to our meetings and was a strong consensus-builder during coordinating committee meetings. Ace is carrying a full teaching load at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, is a founder of the Jewish Climate Action Network, and is working on a book on the biblical story of Job, so she decided to step back from the co-facilitator role in our working group. Happily, Ace will remain a member of the coordinating committee. We welcome Jane Ellen Nickell as our new co-facilitator with a big Thank You to Ace for all her work thus far.
You Spoke, and We Listened!
By Jane Ellen Nickell
Those of you who attended our Jan. 26 General Meeting generated great ideas for the 3.21.23 Day of Action, and planning for many of those is underway, including a virtual Service of Solidarity on March 20 and the collection of spiritual resources for local use (see separate article).
You also suggested that we provide samples of news releases and op-eds to send to local news outlets. This shared folder includes a sample release that has been sent to the Episcopal, Presbyterian (USA), United Methodist and United Church of Christ news services. By March 1, we will add a news release for local use, one or more sample op-eds, and guidelines for using social media to promote and amplify 3.21.23 actions.
We encourage you to locate an action in your area by checking out the map on the Third Act website or reaching out to a location-based working group. You might organize congregations in your community to host an action or coordinate the sounding of bells, gongs, or shofars as a warning that we are approaching a climate emergency. Religious leaders could take part in local actions while wearing clerical attire and offer blessings, prayers or a mindfulness moment for other participants.
Those at the General Meeting also reminded us how important it is that we not take out our objections to corporate policies on local bank staff, who may be our friends and neighbors. As people of faith, we want to remain courteous and respectful, while expressing hope for change.
If you have other suggestions or want to help us further develop these ideas and materials, please sign up here, or email us at email@example.com.
3.21.23 DAY OF ACTION
3.21.23—Five Weeks to Go
By Chris O’Keeffe
TAF 3.21.23 Liaison
Plans for the upcoming Day of Action are accelerating as the day draws nearer. As of this writing, there are now 41 organizations co-sponsoring with Third Act. More than 50 actions have been put up on the map, and more are being added every day.
How you can help:
Before Feb 21, take the pledge to close your accounts (or never open one) at JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citi if they persist in funding the expansion of the fossil fuels industry. Third Act is planning a formal presentation of the pledges that week. Keep in mind that the pledge is a good-faith statement of your intent. You don’t need to close the accounts immediately (and you shouldn’t, anyway, until after the Day of Action).
Check the map to find an event near you, and sign up! New actions are being listed daily.
When you go, publicize your faith motivation with a sign, symbol or song. We keep hearing that the faith voice on climate is especially impactful. I’ll be bringing my cardboard Pope Francis (life-sized!) with me.
Stay tuned, and sign up!
Planning a Rocking “Day of Action” in the Nation’s Capital
By Mark Rasmuson, Third Act Faith Coordinating Committee Member,
and Deborah Kushner, Third Act Virginia Coordinating Committee Member
Washington DC will be the locus of several signature events to be held during Third Act’s 3.21.23 Day of Action, and a small team of Third Actors from DC, Maryland and Virginia has been working together since mid-December to plan for a full day and a half of big, bold and creative actions. We are building on the successful work of Third Act Virginia, which over the past year has partnered with frontline communities and youth in opposition to the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Dirty Four Banks, while engaging nascent DC and Maryland working groups and the recently formed Third Act Labor affinity-based working group.
Here’s how the event is shaping up.
In the late afternoon on March 20, the first day of spring, we will gather in downtown Washington to begin an overnight vigil of seniors sitting in rocking chairs outside branches of all four banks, located in a two-block radius of one another. Our objectives are to hold the space, meditate on dispelling the forces of greed, and appeal to the banks’ leaders to consider the impacts of their actions. Handouts and banners will send messages to passersby warning of the banks’ contribution to the climate catastrophe.
On the morning of March 21, we will gather at a local church for breakfast, training in nonviolent direct action (NVDA) and an interfaith prayer service to launch the day’s activities. Then, we will begin a slow march around the two-block area with faith groups, singers and large puppets to cheer on the rocking chair vigil keepers and pass out information to motorists and pedestrians along the way. The vigils will continue and grow larger outside each bank throughout the day.
At midday, we will hold a rally at a nearby park, where there will be some prominent speakers, food, music, testimonials from frontline communities and appeals from youth. We also will be cutting up credit cards during the rally and providing information on green credit cards and banking options.
From the rally, a louder, rousing afternoon march will step off, featuring union and youth contingents, drummers, more music and more big puppets. The marchers will join the rocking chair brigades, where Third Act Labor members will form picket lines outside each bank. Additional actions being planned may include street mural painting and “die-ins” inside or outside the banks. The day will culminate with the rocking chair brigades joining forces to blockade the entrances of two of the banks at a main intersection.
Since we have come together from three different states and have an ambitious plan, organizing our Day of Action events has taken a lot of meetings and coordination. We began by establishing a weekly meeting of our core group and a second weekly meeting with interested partners to brainstorm ideas for the events. We then created working groups, each on a specific component of the planned action (the vigil, the rally, the interfaith service, communications, art, and logistics), which have their own meetings and report back to the larger coordinating group. We had to increase our core group meetings to twice per week, and we also have a weekly touch-base call with Third Act Central. We’ve also conducted several scoping visits to the planned event site. While all this adds up to a huge amount of time and effort, it has also been a joy to get to know and work with such a lively and dedicated group of senior activists.
We have found a wonderful home base for an interfaith gathering—the historic Luther Place Memorial Church in downtown DC. A challenge we are facing is finding the right tone and messaging for the different faith communities within the larger context of actions that are quite specifically aimed at shaming the Dirty Four Banks. We are also taking care regarding the “branding” of our interfaith service and march so that we do not exclude any people of conscience who do not identify with a particular faith community. So, while it is still a work in progress, we are calling our interfaith march the “Mindful March” and emphasizing themes related to earth stewardship, walking lightly on Mother Earth and protecting future generations.
For specific details and updates about Day of Action events, check out Third Act’s interactive map. There, you not only will find information about the event and contact information, but you also will be able to sign up.
You and Worship Resources Needed
TAF members will hold an online Service of Solidarity on March 20, the evening before Third Actors, their friends and partners gather in their communities for the Stop the Dirty Banks 3.21.23 Day of Action. The 45-minute service will begin at 8:30 p.m. EST (5:30 p.m. PST).
What we need
We are asking for ideas and service planning resources from you. To collect resources to use in designing this service, TAF invites you to submit your favorite faith-based music, poetry, prayers, liturgies and readings.
How to help
To submit your ideas for worship resources, upload New Resources here. To participate, go to 3.21.23 Third Act Faith Signup.
Spearheading our initiative to offer spiritual support to those participating in the Day of Action is the Rev. Jerry Cappel, a TAF coordinating committee member, with the assistance of the Rev. Jane Ellen Nickell, TAF co-facilitator. Jerry is a longtime environmentalist active in the Episcopal Church’s creation care ministry. Jane Ellen, a Methodist minister and former chaplain at Allegheny College, has been active in the religious environmental movement for 25 years.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and put Service of Solidarity in the subject line.
NVDA Training Scheduled
On Sunday, Feb. 19, from 4-7 p.m. EST (1-4 p.m. PST), the first of two Nonviolent Direct Action training sessions will be offered to engender radical, embracing, justice-based community building for the earth and all beings. The workshop will encompass messaging, internal and relational connections, foundations for social change and spiritual/community, anticipating conflict, the role for civil disobedience, and the grounding needed to take impactful action. The training, open to everyone, will be an opportunity for us to consider our personal relationship to conflict in order to determine what action is right for us and our group. Register here.
The second session will be on March 2 from 6-8 p.m. EST (4-6 p.m. PST ). It will focus on the specifics of preparing for action: agreements, what to bring, general logistics, support roles, preparation for all roles, general legal questions, and establishing a legal support team. We’ll also touch on how to incorporate media, messaging, art, and other topics for which Third Act is providing detailed resources. Visit the event page here to sign up for the second session.
The trainers are Marla Marcum, co-founder and director at the Climate Disobedience Center, and Cathy Hoffman, a leader, movement elder and activist from Massachusetts. Together they bring about 70 years of NVDA training experience, with several years working as a team.
Protest with Art and Music
“Art speaks directly to those deep inner spaces where the stories are stored,” says Minneapolis artist-organizer Ricardo Levins Morales. “For our Day of Action we aim to use the powerful language of art and music to win change for ourselves and future generations.” To that end, a 90-minute “Visual Arts and Song” webinar will be held on Feb. 25, beginning at 2 p.m. EST (11 a.m. PST). All participating in a local action are encouraged to attend. It will offer hands-on how-to’s on making signs, banners, patches, the giant-scissors-to-cut-giant-credit-card and more. Also, those attending the webinar will learn four new songs created for the Day of Action and will get tips on how to lead songs and use them to create a powerful action. Register here.
Unable to attend? Check out the Arts and Music toolkit, where you can find stencils and sign designs, how-to videos, instructions for taking Action Day photos and much more.
For GreenFaith Leader, the Faithful are Needed in This Work
One of the things that are really important is that when we go into action publicly as religious people, we do so as religious people and not go in as some kind of pale imitation of secular activists... It is our religious identity that gives us a shot at getting people to engage…
Too often this issue is turned into a matter of political polarization when in reality this issue is about preventing trauma and loss and people losing their livelihoods, their homes, their health, and any stability they have in the world... It is a very fundamental issue about love, and you cannot pretend to be committed to a God of love … and not be active on this.
(Excerpts from Fletcher Harper's interview )
Speaking at Third Act Faith’s virtual General Meeting last month, the Rev. Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith, drew upon 20+ years of experience as an environmentalist and climate activist to share with us his insights on what it means to do this work as a religious person and why it is so important that faithful people are involved in this growing and evolving movement.
His observations about climate work, now and in the past, were made during an interview with TAF Co-Facilitator Pat Almonrode and the Question and Answer session that followed. The Rev. Harper spent some 25 minutes with TAF members on a zoom call from Germany (where it was 1:30 a.m.). Read more
NEWS FROM THIRD ACT CENTRAL
Welcome to Third Act: Let’s Get Started
New to Third Act or just want to learn more? Join the “welcome call,” which is held every two weeks from 7:30-8:30 p.m. with the next one on Monday, Feb. 20. You’ll learn from our volunteers about how you can engage with Third Actors and join our activities, as well as hear about our working groups, Third Act campaigns and our growing network. Everyone has a role in Third Act to protect our climate and safeguard democracy! RSVP here.
Two new working groups launch
TAF members from Pennsylvania and North Carolina should take note that new working groups are being launched in your states next week:
The Pennsylvania working group launch: 8 p.m. EST Feb. 23. Register here.
The North Carolina working group launch: 7 p.m. EST Feb. 24. Register here.
NEWS FROM PARTNERS & FRIENDS
Order an IPL toolkit
You can keep the momentum from the 3.21.23 Day of Action going by taking part in Interfaith Power and Light’s annual Faith Climate Action Week. Scheduled April 14-23, the week’s theme is “Living the Golden Rule: Just Transition to a Clean Energy Economy.” Their comprehensive toolkit includes faith-based worship ideas, discussion guides and action steps. Order a toolkit today.
Nurturing a deep green faith
Creation care ministry is often disconnected from the larger community life of prayer, worship, fellowship and faith, and congregations’ “Green Teams” often find themselves operating in small corners of church life. Consequently, the concerns and opportunities of creation care often fail to permeate the core life of the church. In response, The Center for Deep Green Faith is offering a five-week online course, beginning on Feb. 27, to explore ways to expand creation care beyond committee actions, material stewardship, and personal life adjustments into a more integrated expression of whole church life. Read more
DID YOU KNOW?
Thanks to human activity, it is likely that “the oceans are now at their hottest for 1,000 years and heating faster than any time in the last 2,000 years,” according to a Jan. 12 story in The Guardian, republished by the Journal of Atomic Scientists. The oceans absorbed about 10 zettajoules more heat in 2022 than in 2021, which is the equivalent of every person on Earth running 40 hairdryers or 35 home microwaves all day, every day. If you want to understand global warming, scientists say, you must look to the oceans, which absorb 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions. Why is this important to know? As we have all witnessed most recently in California, warmer oceans “help supercharge extreme weather,” leading to intense hurricanes and typhoons and prolonged rainfalls. Warmer water also expands, pushing up sea levels. Five Solomon Islands have already disappeared, making them the site of the first “sinking islands” of the 21st century.
For a Lenten “Carbon Fast”
Climate Stewards USA has organized a 40-day “Carbon Fast” for Lent as a way for participants to draw near to God and deepen their care for the climate through action.
Each week will feature a theme-related fast. The first two weeks are devoted to fasting from “Consumerism,” when participants will be challenged to buy nothing except essentials between Feb. 22 and March 4. Each week thereafter will involve a different focus for fasting: participants will refrain from eating meat and dairy or desserts (week 3); having cheese, chocolate and coffee (week 4); taking long showers and using a clothes dryer (week 5), “temperature luxury” (week 6) and driving (week 7). Sign up here.
For celebrating Passover and the earth
With Passover beginning at sundown on April 5 and Earth Day on April 22, now is a good time to check out The Promise of the Land: A Passover Haggadah by Third Act Faith member Rabbi Ellen Bernstein. Third Act founder Bill McKibben says her book “will reopen the wonder of Passover, adding a deep layer of connection to the planet making the old rituals new for the 21st century.” Ruth Messinger, Global Ambassador for the Jewish American World Service, praises the book for telling “the profoundly Jewish story of our relationship to the land, building a seamless connection between the Seder as we know it and the Seder as a window into the ecology of our lives.”
The book was written for all those who are interested in the religious holiday and the world, regardless of their Jewish background, according to its website, which offers perhaps the most compelling endorsement in its explanation of what is meant by its title: “The promise of the land is the promise of life, the promise of freedom. The promise of the land also refers to the promise made to the Israelite ancestors: we would live freely in relationship with a land and have agency over our own lives. The land would never be ours to own because only God owns the land. That the Hebrew word eretz means not just ‘land’ but also ‘earth’ conveys a profound ecological sense.”
If you haven’t by now…
Go to Banking on our Future and sign this pledge: “If Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo are still funding climate-destroying fossil fuel projects in March 2023, I pledge to close my account and cut up my credit card. If I don’t bank at these institutions now, I pledge I won’t do so in the future.”
This is beautiful! Thank you.