The Rev. Nathan Empsall is a justice-focused Christian organizer, the executive director for Faithful America, the founding editor of Episcopal Climate News, and a priest associate at the Episcopal Church of St. Paul & St. James in New Haven, CT. He is also a member of the Episcopal Church’s 2018-2021 Task Force on Care of Creation and Environmental Racism.
Rev. Nathan’s motto is “God loves you. Accept it, and spread it!” For Rev. Nathan, “spreading love” means focusing his ministry on social, environmental, economic, and racial justice. As the Rev. William Barber says, “To be a pastor and then not be concerned about the social and public conditions that create the pastoral needs of your people is a form of malpractice.” Or as the Mother of Christ sang of God’s example, which Christians are called to follow, “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” Rev. Nathan affirms the equality and God-given dignity of all LGBTQ persons, and believes that no one can truthfully say all lives matter until we have achieved a society where Black lives matter.
Before going to seminary, Rev. Nathan was trained in digital campaign strategy by President Barack Obama’s Organizing for America and M+R Strategic Services, then built a record of success at the national Sierra Club and the petition website Care2.
Rev. Nathan holds a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, a Diploma in Anglican Studies from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, and a B.A. in government and Native American studies from Dartmouth College. At Yale, he studied religion and ecology under the field’s pioneers John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker, focusing his studies and research on climate science, God’s interconnected design for all things on earth, and the challenges to implementing new creation-care ministries in Christian churches.
Rev. Nathan has served as a CPE hospital chaplain intern in Virginia, worked as a parish ministry intern with the Episcopal Service Corps in Nebraska, and interned for the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations in D.C. and United Nations staff in New York City, as well as for the Episcopal Dioceses of Spokane and Louisiana. As part of his Episcopal Church internship at the U.N., he helped represent Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the 23rd United Nations climate-change conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, and the 17th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. At Dartmouth, he was an active member of multiple campus ministries, Episcopal and evangelical alike, including the Navigators Christian Fellowship.
Rev. Nathan is a proud native Texan who calls Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and the gorgeous northern Rockies home, while also maintaining an appreciation for the White Mountains, Cape Cod coast, New Haven pizza, and people of his more recently adopted New England. He is fired up by the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, Americana and bluegrass music, fighting against white supremacy and for Native American Indian rights, U.S. geography (44 states and counting), and the Boston Red Sox (while not forgetting his childhood Houston Astros). Rev. Nathan is extremely lucky to be married to Diana Church Empsall who currently works for the development office at Yale Divinity School and is utterly brilliant, creative, and amazing. They have one child.