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St. Barnabas Episcopal Church NATA Cancer Risk

The Episcopal Asset Map: a multi-layered tool for eco-justice


Dr. Delia Heck is a professor of Environmental Science at Ferrum College and lifelong Episcopalian. She’s also a committed advocate for climate justice who has helped ten Haitian Episcopal churches and their attached schools make the switch to solar power. “For me, eco-justice work lies at the intersection between evangelism, reconciliation, and creation care.” Dr. Heck says. “There are a lot of young people who would join us in the work of eco-justice if they had access to the right tools.”

The Episcopal Asset Map, Dr. Heck believes, could be one of those tools. Using Geographic Information System (GIS) data from multiple sources, she creates map layers that show how the effects of climate change impact local church communities. “A church could look at different map layers to see cancer risks or sea rise levels,” Dr. Heck explains. “And then start asking, ‘What does that call us to do? How do we love our neighbor? What kinds of policies should we pursue? What needs to be done?’”

Working with a grant from Episcopal Relief & Development, Dr. Heck hopes to put access to these layers into the hands of climate-conscious churches via an app-based portal by the end of this year. “The Episcopal Church is ideally positioned to do this work,” she says, “because we believe in social justice and science.”