2021 Global Mission Conference- online


April 22nd-24th, 2021
online, via Zoom

“Earthkeeping: Creation Care in Global Mission”


Conference Overview

Climate change and ecological degradation constitute the major planetary crisis of our time. How can Christians in global mission engage with the crisis through the Creator God, the Redeeming Christ and the Empowering Spirit? What can our mission companions around the world teach us about climate justice, and how can we collaborate with them?

The 2021 conference explored all of these questions in an online format. The conference began on Earth Day – Thursday, April 22 and continued on the following two days for 3 hours each day. Hosting the 2021 conference entirely online had the unexpected blessing of allowing participants to attend from many different countries without the expense or ecological footprint of travel. It was a new way in which we endeavored to inspire the joy of God’s mission amid the planetary crisis. 
Videos of the plenary presentations, worship with our international partners, and Mission Spotlights on a few of the GEMN member organizations can be found HERE

Plenary Speakers

  • The Rev. Dr. Rachel Mash, Environmental Coordinator for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and the secretary of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network
  • The Rev. Melanie Mullen, Director of Reconciliation, Justice, and Creation Care for the Episcopal Church
  • The Rev. Leon Sampson, priest at Good Shepherd Mission, the Episcopal Church in Navajoland
  • The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts & Southern New England Conference, UCC, and Creation Care Advisor, Diocese of Massachusetts
  • The Rt. Rev. Orlando Gomez, Bishop of Costa Rica

Global Mission Workshops

Workshops on Saturday, April 24 included:
“Repairing the Earth through a Carbon-Offset Partnership,” led by the Rev. Jeff Gill and Dr. David Hanson about the diocesan partnership between the Diocese of Olympia and the Diocese of the Southern Phillippines
“Call Waiting? Discerning a Missionary Vocation,” led by Elizabeth Boe, mission personnel officer in the Office of Global Partnerships of the Episcopal Church.
Best Practices for Mission Teams,” led by Bill Kunkle, former executive director of the Dominican Development Group, Appointed Missionary, and veteran mission team leader, who has organized and led over 500 short-term mission trips.
 “Creation Care in Haiti: What does that Mean?” led by the Rev. Donnell and Janet O’Flynn, Episcopal Volunteers in Mission, Haiti, who talked about the environmental problems that are most pressing in Haiti right now, and some of the encouraging local solutions. 

Plenary Speaker bios

The Rev. Leon Sampson, curate priest at Good Shepherd Mission in the Navajoland Area Mission Diocese, has been instrumental in establishing the Navajoland beekeeping program: Bees Bring Hozho to Navajoland.  ‘Hozho’ means harmony in one’s relationship with nature. “As Navajo, we we understand the Earth to be a living being who gave life to us as a people. We are connected intrinsically to her and feel a kinship for every living thing that inhabits this planet with us. As Episcopalians, we believe we must honor Gods creation by stearding Earth’s precious resources. This project allows us to live fully in both beliefs.” 

The Rev. Sampson graduated in 2019 from Virginia Theological Seminary. He returned home to St. Christopher’s Mission in Bluff, Utah, just in time to move to Fort Defiance, Arizona. He began by listening to the community and entered a discernment process as to what his new ministry would encompass. In July 2019, he was ordained to the priesthood. He is focusing on strengthing the community engagement ministry by increasing outreach programs with local schools and other churches, and responding as witness to the needs of the community.

The Rev. Dr. Rachel Mash is the Environmental Coordinator of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, which includes South Africa, Swaziland-Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Angola and Mozambique. She works with the Green Anglicans Youth Movement, which is growing in Africa. She is secretary to the Anglican Communion Environmental Network and sits on the steering committee of the Season of Creation group.

Southern Africa is one of the areas most affected by climate change. “We are suffering both from severe drought in parts of the region as well as devastating floods in others,” says Dr. Mash. “Cape Town, where I live, recently suffered the worst years of drought in 100 years and as Day Zero drew near, there was the threat that we would become the first major city in the world to run out of water. This year the rains have been better, and the situation has improved, but we have gone from rainy winters to drought. This is becoming the new normal.”

Dr. Mash played a critical supporting role in the Southern African Anglican Church passing a resolution to divest from fossil fuels in 2016.  As a Climate Reality Leader trained by former Vice President Al Gore in 2014 in Johannesburg, Dr. Mash is making the Anglican Church of Southern Africa an example for religions across the world to follow.

The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas is Missioner for Creation Care, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts & Southern New England Conference, UCC, and Creation Care Advisor, Diocese of Massachusetts. An Episcopal priest, author, and climate activist, she has been a lead organizer of many Christian and interfaith events about care for Earth, and she leads spiritual retreats in the U.S.A. and Canada on spiritual resilience and resistance in the midst of a climate emergency. Her new book, Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis (2019), is an anthology of essays co-edited with the Rev. Dr. Leah Schade. She has been arrested in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere to protest expanded use of fossil fuels.  In 2016 she received the Steward of God’s Creation award from The National Religious Coalition on Creation Care. She served as Chaplain to the House of Bishops, and at Episcopal Divinity School (then in Cambridge, MA), she taught courses on prayer and spirituality, addiction, and the environment.  She is a graduate of Stanford (BA, Russian Literature), Harvard (PhD., Comparative Literature), and Episcopal Divinity School (M.Div.). Her website, www.RevivingCreation.org, includes blog posts, sermons, and articles.
Bishop Orlando-3x4

The Rt. Rev. Orlando Gómez SeguraBishop of Costa Rica in the Anglican Church of Central America since 2018, is offering leadership to the diocese’s creation care ministries. Costa Rica is well known for its environmentalism, with a full 25% of the country’s landmass consisting of protected forests and reserves. Costa Rica is ranked the second most environmentally sustainable country in the world. The country uses 99.2% renewable energy, of which 78% is from hydroelectric sources and 18% from geothermal and wind power. During one 75-day stretch, the entire country was able to run on renewable resources only.

Bishop Gómez was ordained priest 2000 and has been part of the mission of the Episcopal Church since 1991. He was priest-in-charge of All Saints Mission in San Rafael Abajo, one of the poorest districts in the south of the province of San José. There he developed a social, communal and environmental ministry in conjunction with the local government and other social organizations.

Originally from Turrialba, Cartago, Bishop Gómez grew up in the countryside as a farmer in a Roman Catholic family.  He is the sixth of 10 children.  In 1978, he emigrated from the countryside to the city and began his high school studies. In the city, he stood out as a carpenter specializing in cabinetmaking.

In 1991 he and his wife were invited to participate in an activity of the Episcopal Church. They immediately became active members of La Ascensión. In 1993, he was transferred to serve All Saints’ Mission, where he felt called to ordained ministry. He completed his biblical and theological studies at the Latin American Biblical University.

Conference Schedule

2021 Global Mission Conference Schedule

“Earthkeeping: Creation Care in Global Mission”

Thursday, April 22:

1:00 p.m.          Greeting from the Rev. Dr. Titus Presler, GEMN President

1:10 p.m.          Worship: Diocese of Cape Coast, Ghana (video)

1:20 p.m.          Plenary 1: “Hearing the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor: Global Mission and Climate Justice”                           Canon Dr. Rachel Mash, Green Anglicans, Anglican Communion Environmental Network

2:00 p.m.          Breakout Rooms: small group discussion of first plenary

2:15                  Mission Spotlights #1: Two five-minute videos highlighting the work of some of the mission organizations that                           are members of GEMN

2:25                  BREAK – 

2:35                  Welcome back, announcements

2:40                  Plenary 2: “Responding to God’s Grace: Live Your Life Naturally-Vive tu Fe Naturalmente”  The Rt.                                 Rev. Orlando Gomez, Bishop of the Diocese of Costa Rica

3:20                  Breakout Rooms: small group discussion of second plenary

3:35                  Report Back: All attendees come back from breakout rooms.  A spokesperson from each room reports a brief                           summary of the conversation in their room.

3:45                  Mission Spotlights #2: Two more 5-minute videos from mission partners

3:55                  Closing Prayer

4:00                  Adjourn for the day. See you tomorrow!


Friday, April 23:

11:45 a.m.         GEMN Annual Meeting 

12:45 p.m.        Annual Meeting adjourns. Attendees have a 15-minute break before start of Day 2 of the conference.

1:00 p.m.          Greeting from the Rev. Dr. Grace Burton-Edwards, GEMN Vice President

1:10 p.m.          Worship: Diocese of the Dominican Republic (video)

1:20 p.m.          Plenary 3: “Earth Care, Soul Care: Growing in Spiritual Resilience” Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas

2:00 p.m.          Breakout Rooms

2:15 p.m.          Mission Spotlights #3

2:25 p.m.          BREAK

2:35 p.m.          Welcome back/Announcements

2:40 p.m.          Plenary 4: Rev. Leon Sampson, Priest at St. Christopher’s Mission, Episcopal Church in Navajoland,                             Fort Defiance, AZ

3:20 p.m.          Breakout Rooms

3:35 p.m.          Report Back

3:45 p.m.          Mission Spotlights #4

3:55 p.m.          Closing Prayer offered by Rev. Leon Sampson

4:00 p.m.          Adjourn for the day. See you tomorrow!

Saturday, April 24:

12:45 p.m.        Log in to Zoom, get comfortable

1:00 p.m.          Greeting/Welcome Back- Rev. Maurice Dyer, Conference MC

1:10 p.m.          Worship: St. Thomas Theological College, Karachi, Pakistan

1:20 p.m.          Workshops:    

  1. “Creation Care in Haiti: What Does that Mean?”

            Rev. Donnel and Janet O’Flynn

  1. Carbon Offset Program

            Rev. Jeff Gill and Dr. David Hanson

  1. “Call Waiting: Discerning a Missionary Vocation”

            Ms. Elizabeth Boe, Mission Personnel Officer, The Episcopal Church

  1. “Best Practices for Mission Teams”

           Mr. Bill Kunkle, experienced mission team leader and former executive director of the Dominican Development Group

2:15 p.m.          Mission Spotlights #5

2:25 p.m.          BREAK

2:35 p.m.          Welcome back/Announcements

2:40 p.m.          Plenary 5: Rev. Melanie Mullen, Director of Reconciliation, Justice, and Creation Care, The Episcopal                             Church

3:20 p.m.          Breakout Rooms

3:35 p.m.          Report Back

3:45 p.m.          Closing Worship

4:00 p.m.          Adjourn. 

Conference Fees

Attendance at the conference was by donation.  There was no fee, yet attendees were encouraged to make a donation as they are able. There was also an opportunity to donate to ecological agriculture project or a carbon offset program. 

Workshop Descriptions and Presenter bios

Repairing the Earth Through a Carbon Offset Program

The Rev. Jeff Gill and Dr. David Hanson, Diocese of Olympia Carbon Offset Cooperative Mission

In 2012 the bishops of the Episcopal Dioceses of Olympia and the Southern Philippines discovered they had a common interest in the stewardship of creation, and decided to enter into a Covenant establishing the Carbon Offset Cooperative Mission.  Carbon offsets from the Diocese of Olympia have funded a tree nursery and reforestation projects throughout the Diocese of the Southern Philippines.  These efforts are having a certifiable impact on the sequestration of carbon.  In the Diocese of Olympia funds are raised through offsets for diocesan travel, and parishes participate through paying offsets on their carbon footprint.  Individual households can also pay into the fund to offset their carbon footprint.  Since 2012 over 75,000 trees have been planted by the churches in the Southern Philippines.  This workshop is led by Jeff Gill and Dave Hanson, who will describe the Carbon Offset Cooperative Mission in detail, including the process for measuring carbon sequestration that has been established. 

Call Waiting: Discerning a Call to Mission

Ms. Elizabeth Boe, Mission Personnel Officer, Office of Global Partnerships, The Episcopal Church

Best Practices for Mission Teams

Bill Kunkle, Appointed Missionary, veteran mission trip leader, and former executive director of the Dominican Development Group

Creation Care in Haiti: What Does That Mean?

The Rev. Donnel and Janet O’Flynn, Episcopal Volunteers in Mission, Haiti

There’s a proverb in Haiti: “Bèf pa janm di savann mési.” (The bull never says thank you to the grassy field.) And another one, “Se lè w pa gen sèl nan gode w, ou konn valè sèl.” (It’s only when the salt runs out that you understand the value of salt.)  The agricultural background of Haitian culture informs the understanding that natural resources are not to be taken for granted: they can and do run out. One visible change in recent Haitian culture is the wholesale shift from wooden dishes and bowls to one-time use plastics.  Up in the mountains a gourde,” calabash” is still cut and dried and used as a bowl, while down in the city the Styrofoam boxes are ubiquitous. This is not due to some unique kind of ignorance: hear the wisdom of the proverbs. It is the story of all our world right now. This workshop will give examples of the kinds of vivid environmental problems in Haiti today, and the kinds of solutions that are being tried. Problems include trash management, deforestation, pollution by sewage, need for clean water, increase of heat due to climate change, the long-term threat of rising sea levels. In the search for strategies, there is a tension between foreign-imposed or inspired programs and Haitian-generated programs.  When there is enough creativity, mutual respect, and patience to work through the cultural differences to arrive at a solution that a Haitian citizen would actually want, good things happen.  Education in Haiti gives a win-win: people want and value education, and with it they find their own solutions.

The Rev. Donnel and Janet O’Flynn moved to Haiti with the Episcopal Volunteers in Mission program in 2015.  They were instrumental in starting the first academic program for Occupational and Physical Therapists in Haiti, with the Episcopal University of Haiti.

They have lived in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, and now live in Kalispell Montana. Donnel is an Episcopal priest and Janet is an Occupational Therapist