Convocation 2020

Engaged Hope: Grounded Leadership in an Era of Ecological Emergency

The extraction and burning of fossil fuels has resulted in a warming planet, and the evidence paints a bleak picture: global temperature rise, warming oceans, shrinking glaciers, rising sea levels, dying coral reefs, extreme weather events, and ocean acidification. Together these result in devastating consequences for human beings and other species with whom we share this fragile planet. All over the world, forests are burning, destroying habitats and releasing still more carbon into the atmosphere. Two-thirds of bird species in North America and a third of insect species are at risk of extinction if global temperatures continue to rise. Climate-related disasters are forcing millions of people to leave their homes annually, and we can expect that trend to continue, with the numbers of climate refugees increasing as the ecological emergency intensifies and portions of the planet become essentially uninhabitable. “What’s at stake here is a liveable world,” warns Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. 

How are faith leaders and faith communities to respond? What does it mean to live and serve faithfully in this moment? What theological convictions and spiritual practices will guide us and ground us?

This era of ecological emergency requires spiritually grounded leaders who embrace an active, embodied practice of hope — leaders who dismiss the paths of denial and despair and choose to live in a state of engagement. This kind of hope is different from passive optimism — it is a way of being in the world, rooted in faith, expressed in action, and sustained by contemplative practice.

For over a century, Convocation has been a gathering for faith leaders – clergy and laity – meant to educate, inspire and connect. 

This year’s Convocation will invite faith leaders and faith communities to be part of a transformative response to the current climate crisis. Presenters will confront the flawed values of Western culture that prioritize individualism, consumerism, and unrestrained growth, while calling us to just and sustainable practices that protect the common good and honor the sacredness of our planetary home. The gathering will incorporate worship, music, poetry, and contemplative practices, all designed to lead participants to a deeper, more spiritually grounded engagement with God’s Creation.