An Episcopal priest, author, retreat leader, and climate activist, Margaret Bullitt-Jonas serves as Missioner for Creation Care for both the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ. She seeks to inspire and support a wave of religious activism to address the climate crisis, deepen reverence for God’s creation, and create a more just and sustainable society.
After graduating from Stanford University (B.A. with honors in Russian literature) and Harvard University (Ph.D. in comparative literature), Margaret turned her life in a new direction: she entered seminary, earned the M.Div. from Episcopal Divinity School, and was ordained in the Episcopal Church. Her first book, the memoir Holy Hunger: A Woman’s Journey from Food Addiction to Spiritual Fulfillment (2000), describes how, during her years at Harvard, she overcame her food addiction and found her way to God.
Margaret was ordained in June 1988, just as mainstream newspapers began to report on global warming. Shortly after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska on Good Friday, 1989, she delivered the first sermon she’d ever preached – or heard – on the urgent need for eco-conversion, calling for Christians to place care for the Earth at the center of their moral and spiritual concern. Making peace with her body led to a wider concern for the “body” of the Earth. Her recovery from personal addiction led to her engagement in the great work of our time: transforming a society addicted to consumerism, endless growth, and fossil fuels. Margaret believes that the root of the struggle is spiritual.
Since 1986 Margaret has led retreats and conferences around the country for dioceses, congregations, and clergy, and for parish groups, religious communities, recovering addicts, women’s groups, and young adults. Topics have ranged from clergy wellness and intimacy with God to methods of prayer, but now her primary focus is on encountering God in the natural world and on cultivating wisdom, compassion, and courage in an age of climate change. As a follower of Jesus, she values the connection between contemplation and action. She treasures the power of prayer to purify and sustain our efforts to be agents of healing, hope, and justice in the world.
Margaret lives with her husband Robert A. Jonas in Northampton, Massachusetts, and is working with him to help preserve farmlands, fields, and woodlands in the Pioneer Valley.