From Richard Rohr

A System of Too Much

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion.
—Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching 

Father Richard names the tension created by gospel teachings on simplicity and cultural expectations of abundance:  

Most of us have grown up with a capitalist worldview which makes a virtue and goal out of accumulation, consumption, and collecting. It has taught us to assume, quite falsely, that more is better. It’s hard for us to recognize this unsustainable and unhappy trap because it’s the only game in town. When parents perform multiple duties all day and into the night, that’s the story line their children surely absorb. “I produce therefore I am” and “I consume therefore I am” might be today’s answers to Descartes’ “I think therefore I am.” These identities are all terribly mistaken, but we can’t discover the truth until we remove the clutter.

The course we are on assures us of a predictable future of strained individualism, environmental destruction, severe competition as resources dwindle for a growing population, and perpetual war. Our culture ingrains in us the belief that there isn’t enough to go around, which determines most of our politics and spending. In the United States there is never enough money for adequate health care, education, the arts, or even basic infrastructure. At the same time, the largest budget is always for war, bombs, and military gadgets. I hope we can all recognize how the tragic consequences of these decisions are being played out right now.

F. Schumacher said years ago, “Small is beautiful,” [1] and many other wise people have come to know that less stuff invariably leaves room for more soul. In fact, possessions and soul seem to operate in inverse proportion to one another. Only through simplicity can we find deep contentment instead of perpetually striving and living unsatisfied. Simple living is the foundational social justice teaching of Jesus, Francis and Clare of Assisi, Dorothy Day, Pope Francis, and hermits, mystics, prophets, and seers since time immemorial.

Franciscan spirituality asks us to let go, to recognize that there is enough to go around to meet everyone’s need but not everyone’s greed. A worldview of enoughness will predictably emerge in us as we realize our naked being in God instead of thinking that more of anything or more frenetic doing can fill up our infinite longing and restlessness. Francis did not just tolerate or endure simplicity; he loved it and called it poverty. Francis dove into simplicity and found his freedom there. This is hard for most of us to even comprehend.

Francis knew that climbing ladders to nowhere would never make us happy nor create peace and justice on this earth. Too many have to stay at the bottom of the ladder so some can be at the top. Living simply helps level the playing field and offers abundance and enoughness to all, regardless of our status or state of belonging to religion or group.


Read this meditation on

Creation Care – Summer 2023

Meet Reverend Dante A. Tavolaro, Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Greenville, RI. Dante joined St. Thomas Church in June  2020, just as COVID became a factor in all of our lives. Nevertheless, as a “first time” Rector, he has found his role in this great parish to be fun, sometimes challenging, and often surprising…especially with the start of COVID.

Fortunately, Parish Life has returned to more normalcy and he’s thrilled to see that parishioners are again active and even more involved in their church. One surprising outcome from COVID is the development of a new project, now a permanent fixtures in parish life, that might not have been anticipated or recognized for its potential reach. Although many parishioners continued to send their annual or monthly contributions, “Zoom Worship” minimized the regular Sunday collections. Consequently, the Parish was struggling to pay bills.

However, a group of parish leaders concerned about the future of the community came up with a wild idea and approached Dante with their plan to open a Thrift Shop. After a good deal of discernment, the Vestry gave the approval to launch this new ministry to raise funds for the parish, help many in the community, and encourage the reuse of goods. Not only has it become a successful fundraiser for St. Thomas, it has also been a driving force in reuniting St. Thomas parishioners and the community of Greenville. The Thrift Shop and its outgrowth of projects has led to a refugee ministry, a partnership with other community outreach organizations while providing a sense of community for people looking for connection with others, and a (hopefully) emerging program with the local high school honor society.

But, you might ask, what does this have to do with Creation Care beyond reusing older goods and helping teenagers get their service points? Through what began as a small project has led to greater connections in the Greenville community, a greater awareness of how our use of goods affects our environment as well as how our individual use of earth’s resources affect everyone. The thrift store project has also brought the community to see how some locations—even within this village—suffer more environmentally than other areas due to environmental mistreatment.

Dante serves on the Board of the Rhode Island Environmental Education Association (RIEEA), an organization committed to developing Environmental Awareness through a variety of formal and informal Education Programs such as working with teachers and community organizations to provide environmental literacy for their communities, support organizations in making connections with others doing the same work, working with state legislators to pass legislation that supports Environmental Education in RI, and provide opportunities for individuals to get involved in meaningful projects of Environmental stewardship. In this role he hopes to encourage more Communities of Faith become deeply involved in finding ways to protect our environment.

Dante’s work is not a new effort on his part, however. He has always been a strong supporter and investigator of environmental concerns. While in Junior High School, he explored our relationship with watersheds and ecology and developed projects to better understand the health of the Blackstone Valley River. More recently he has partnered with Shareen Knowlton, Director of Education at Roger Williams Park Zoo to create projects around environmental concerns as an avenue to encourage Creation Care. His concern for the environment leads him to speak regularly about this fragile earth, our island home, identifying steps to reduce our individual footprints while encouraging others to care for “Our Earth” on systematic levels as well. He believes in the church’s untapped potential for awareness of environmental concerns making strong connections between the Cross and the need for faithful people to make sacrifices in their own life out of our responsibility as stewards of the earth. During the COVID shut down we witnessed how quickly creation could begin to heal. The Church could encourage her members to make the difficult sacrifices to give creation room to heal again. He also believes that there are opportunities to work with local elected officials to enact public policy which privileges care of creation.

First Creation Care Grant Awarded

Creation Care Grant Awarded to All Saints, Providence

The Creation Care Ministry of the Diocese is pleased to announce the first award given from the Creation Care Mini-grant Program.

All Saints, Providence, has received a $1500 grant to create an inviting urban oasis for reflection and the healing of God’s creation. The deadline for applications has been extended to July 15. 2022.

This is an example of a project valuable in itself and a model for others to employ.

Other applications eligible for $500 to $1500 mini-grants include projects around:

  • Food security and access to locally produced food (i.e. the creation of community gardens and or farm shares on church owned lands, obtaining permits/equipment needed to host farmers markets on church owned lands, obtaining permits/equipment needed to prepare community meals in church facilities).
  • Energy efficiency (i.e. efficiency audits of church owned facilities, insulation/weather-proofing of church owned facilities, replacement of church owned energy intensive equipment).
  • Climate resiliency (i.e. rain gardens for stormwater management on church owned property, flood risk reduction strategies/retrofits for church owned property and facilities, generators and/or heating equipment to support community charging stations, warming stations, etc. on church owned property).
  • Environmental Stewardship (i.e. community/green space clean ups including Christian fellowship components, organic waste recycling at churches, invasive/exotic removal on church owned property, planting native plants and grasses on church owned property).
  • Environmental Outreach and Education (i.e. curriculum development focused on environmental education and stewardship for faith-based communities, development and/or hosting environmental focused programming for faith-based communities).
  • Theological reflection on Creation Care (i.e. development of creation care focused lessons for adult and youth formation classes).

The Creation Care grant period has ended as of July 15, 2022.  Questions about the Mini-Grants can be answered by emailing

Ten Ways to Care for Creation as a Congregation

Ideas for your congregation, compiled by the Creation Care Task Force of Diocesan Council

The Creation Care Task Force is a group appointed by Diocesan Council for the purpose of responding to 2018 General Convention resolutions on the priority of creation care in all our churches. As a start, we’ve developed a list of 10 ways (well, 10 plus one more) your congregation can care for creation. Look for more information as our mission develops.

  1. Recycle everything possible!
  2. Have a free energy audit done on your building (Contact National Grid or RISE — the regional program administrator for National Grid’s EnergyWise home energy services in Rhode Island.).
  3. Eliminate disposable/single use items. Use china, glassware, silverware and ceramic mugs for coffee hour instead.
  4. Treat your church’s lawn with organic fertilizer, and use environmentally friendly cleaning products in your church (see for a list).
  5. Make all meetings paperless (Send documents in advance by email and project others on a screen.).
  6. Create a seasonal worship bulletin template with a weekly changeable insert to save paper on printing.
  7. Designate one Sunday a month as “Carpool Sunday” when church members are encouraged to share rides, build fellowship and save gasoline.
  8. Replace all lightbulbs with long-lasting, energy-efficient LED bulbs.
  9. Start a vegetable garden (use compost from coffee hour) or a flower garden (for prayer).
  10. Install programmable thermostats to regulate energy use in times of limited occupancy.
  11. Install solar panels, electric car charging stations or rain barrels — they all help maximize natural resources.

Interfaith Power and Light

RIPL President, The Rev. Anita Schell, Rector of Emmanuel, Newport with the Governor.

Rhode Island Interfaith Power and Light is a group that advocates for action taken to mitigate the impact of climate change, especially on our most vulnerable citizens. Made up of 29 churches around the state, including several Episcopal Churches, it seeks to:

  • raise awareness about climate change and related spiritual teachings
  • assist religious communities in promoting energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy and other forms of sustainable living
  • advocate for public policies that will effectively minimize global warming

They provide resources about congregational greening certification, food and faith, energy resources, etc.

Visit their website at




Episcopal Ecological Network

The Episcopal Ecological Network (EpEN) is a nationwide network within the Episcopal Church USA that coordinates with the Peace and Justice Ministries Office of the Episcopal Church USA. As such we are part of the worldwide Anglican Communion and find our roots in the Celtic Spirituality of this tradition. As the grassroots network of Episcopalians from around the United States, the EpEN is helping the Episcopal Church in the USA to advocate and articulate protection of the environment and preserving the sanctity of creation.  This network extends throughout the various congregations, Dioceses and Provinces of the Church and includes interaction with other Christian churches in the USA and around the world.

To learn more and find resources visit:


To Serve Christ in All Creation

The environmental crisis is at heart a spiritual issue. This Study Guide is designed to assist each parish in forming a Discussion Circle, through which each participant can examine the roots of his or her connectedness with God’s creation, both in scripture and in our Christian tradition. The core content explores some of the issues of greatest concern for New Englanders and for people of faith everywhere, for whom the degradation of the environment is an issue of justice for all.

This Study Guide explores ways to live out the promise of our baptism and participate in God’s mission to restore all people and all creation to unity with God and each other in Christ. In support of the Pastoral Letter issued by the bishops of New England, it seeks to:

  • Increase awareness and acknowledgement of the urgency of the planetary crisis in which we now live
  • Develop cohesive groups that celebrate the gifts of creation and honor the sacredness of all of creation.
  • Help these groups take action in ways that meaningfully demonstrate gratitude for the gifts of creation.

The Discussion Circle approach aims at engaging people of faith in conversation around their core values and spiritual connections with God’s creation. The process used to conduct the group seeks to model the same values we need in caring for creation: Respect, care, and affirming the value of each creature. The objective is NOT for each group to come to agreement or consensus on the issues raised in the Pastoral Letter. It is rather to create a fun, engaging, informative and empowering setting for congregants of our churches to deepen their personal understanding of what it means to “Serve Christ In All Creation.” Through a shared dialogue, they will gain insights into how their fellow participants may interpret the same ideas in different ways. The Discussion Circle process also seeks to motivate participants to take action in ways that have the most positive impacts in their spheres of influence: within their church community, their personal lives, neighborhoods and workplaces. The hope is that a core group of interested and willing people will form within each church, and that this group will continue to seek ways to celebrate the gifts of creation and honor the sacredness of all creation as integral to the work of the church.

DOWNLOAD To_Serve_Christ_in_All_Creation
73 page guide for congregations and dioceses


Genesis Covenant

Getting Started on the Genesis Covenant: Reduce Energy Use, Save Money, and Care for God’s Creation

On the surface, the Genesis Covenant is about reducing greenhouse gas emissions — and thus fossil fuel energy use — from facilities maintained by your parish, school, diocese, or camp and conference center. Just below the surface, the covenant emerges from a place of gratitude for the beauty and gifts of God’s creation. As the Psalmist proclaims, “The Earth is the Lord’s,” and so all we have and enjoy is a gift. Our covenantal relationship with God calls us to preserve that which God loves: all Creation. This guide begins with an introduction to the Genesis Covenant itself and why it’s an important effort within faith communities. The guide continues with summary discussions in the areas of energy audits, financing, and carbon footprints — and suggests resources in those areas. Finally, there is a section on measuring home/individual carbon footprints, and a section designed to answer some important questions that might come up in the implementation of the Genesis Covenant.

What Is the Genesis Covenant?

Most simply stated, the covenant challenges faith institutions to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of each facility they maintain by 50% in ten years. The Episcopal Church adopted the Genesis Covenant at the 76th General Convention in July 2009. In so doing, the church explicitly accepted that challenge, and implicitly recognized the importance of taking practical actions to
address climate change.

Keep it Simple

Before getting into discussions about financing, audits, and carbon footprints — which can sometimes be overwhelming — probably the most important thing to emphasize is to “keep it
simple” and “get started.” Remember, the easiest way to save energy is by not using it. Your parish may not be able to afford new appliances, but it can probably install weather stripping and turn off lights more consistently. After all, more often than not, the most effective way to begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions —reducing energy use — is through relatively simple conservation steps such as:
– Turning off lights
– Turning down the heat/turning up the air conditioning
– Installing weather stripping/caulking around windows and doors
– Insulating hot water heaters, and so on

Learn more: DOWNLOAD Genesis_Convenant
31 page guide for congregations