Tuesday, July 15, 2014

PEC Honors Stewards of Creation!

Presbyterians for Earth Care (PEC) presented the PEC Restoring Creation Award to First Presbyterian Church, Palo Alto, CA and the PEC William Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award to Lynn Cameron at our Luncheon on June 17 at Fort Street Presbyterian Church. The Lifetime Achievement Award is named for Bill Gibson who shaped the Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice policy that was adopted by the Presbyterian denomination in 1990.

Divestment from fossil fuels was a major issue at the 2014 General Assembly and the group who started it all was recognized for their work. Presbyterians for Earth Care honored First Presbyterian Church, Palo Alto, CA for writing and moving a fossil fuel divestment overture to the 221st General Assembly. PEC also honored Lynn Cameron, former pastoral leader of the Earth Care House Church in the Shenandoah Presbytery, Virginia, for her early work to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

      

At First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto, California, the Cool Planet group was formed in response to the growing threat of global climate change. The group has focused on divestment from fossil fuels for the past year and a half and drafted the Fossil Fuel Overture that received concurrence from twelve Presbyteries, and was presented to the Environment and Immigration Committee. Susan Chamberlain, one of the leaders of Cool Planet and a leader in Fossil Free PC(USA) said, “The energy and hope of the working group has been an inspiration to the rest of the congregation and the Presbytery.”

      

Lynn Cameron has worked tirelessly since the late 1990’s to advance environmental concerns at the local, state and national levels. In 2002, she presented an overture adopted by the General Assembly that called for retirement of all outdated coal-fired power plants in the U.S. She has also advocated for local and statewide issues for cleaner air and water and land protection in the Shenandoah Valley that involve hydro-fracking and other industrial development. At her church, Trinity Presbyterian in Harrisonburg, Virginia, she led efforts to make energy saving upgrades to the facilities that included involving the youth in weather sealing. Lynn serves as an inspiration to all at Trinity Presbyterian and those who know her elsewhere.

Congratulations to our winners!

Creator God,
We give you thanks for the work of all of those that care for Creation and work for justice.  We are especially thankful this year for the Cool Planet Working Group at First Presbyterian Church Palo Alto and for Lynn Cameron.  Please instill in all of us a fervor for continued stewardship.
Amen

Monday, June 23, 2014

Presbyterian Church (USA) Directs Socially Responsible Investment Committee {MRTI} to Discern and Act on Fossil Fuel Divestment

Press Release                                                                                        June 20, 2014


Presbyterian Church (USA) Directs Socially Responsible Investment Committee {MRTI} to Discern and Act on Fossil Fuel Divestment


Contacts: Robin Blakeman, 304-840-4877; Megan Gregory: 847-287-7794; Pamela McVety: 850-422-1440; Dan Terpstra 865-216-6974; Rev. Rob Mark: 617-680-7013


What:                         After a ninety minute discussion, Presbyterian Church (USA)’s 221st General Assembly has directed its socially responsible investment committee {MRTI} to discern and act on fossil fuel divestment. “The PCUSA’s vote to discern and act on divestment is important,” said the Rev. Fletcher Harper of GreenFaith, an interfaith environmental group which has advocated fossil fuel divestment and clean energy reinvestment by religious institutions, “and must lead to divestment.  After decades of clear evidence about the grave threat posed by climate change and resistance to change by the fossil fuel industry, the time to act has arrived.” This means that the 222nd PCUSA General Assembly – in 2016 - will be further considering fossil fuel divestment. This follows referral of overture # 15-01 to the denomination’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment committee: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/mrti/what-mrti/

When:                         June 20, 2014

Where:                       COBO Center in Detroit, Michigan: http://www.cobocenter.com/

What:                         This biennial meeting brings together commissioners and advisory delegates from 172 presbyteries in the United States, as well as other delegates and observers from around the world. The Fossil Fuel Divestment Overture was one of the most talked about items up for discussion and debate.

Why:  The Fossil Free PCUSA group, and other supporters of the PCUSA divestment overture are deeply concerned about current and future effects of climate change. We look forward to working with MRTI on this critically urgent issue. Scientific research confirms that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are the main cause of climate change.  The impacts on agriculture, water, public health, and vulnerability to disasters are severe and will worsen as global temperature rises. In order to limit climate change to less than 2 degrees Celsius, we must transition rapidly to renewable energy. This evidence is motivating people of faith in various communities, as well as students at multiple academic institutions, to embark on divestment campaigns. This reality is motivating people of faith in various communities, as well as students at multiple academic institutions, to embark on divestment campaigns.  The campaigns urge the financial agents of their respective organizations to withdraw stock and bond funds from investment accounts which contain fossil fuel company shareholdings. This action would align our investments with our values of Earth stewardship and social justice, and free resources to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions.  We also hope that as part of a global movement, divestment by the PC(USA) can help build public awareness and political will to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change.   


Sponsoring Groups:  
·         Presbyterians for Earth Care:  http://www.presbyearthcare.org/
·         Presbyterian Peace Fellowship: http://www.presbypeacefellowship.org/
·         Presbyterian Eco-Stewards Program: www.ecostewardsprogram.wordpress.com
·         Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/acrec/
·         Advocacy Committee for Women's Concerns: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/acwc/
·         Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/acswp/

Text of the PCUSA Fossil Fuel Divestment Overture, and the Motion to Refer to PCUSA MRTI: 


FAQ’s and other information:  http://www.fossilfreepcusa.org/fossil-free-101/faq/



Statements:

This General Assembly is clear that discernment about the crisis of Climate Change must and will be accompanied by action to assure that our investments are fossil fuel free.
-          Rick Ufford-Chase, co-director, Stony Point Conference Center, and Moderator, 216th PCUSA General Assembly  

Our first intention was to affirm and appreciate the work done by 12 Presbyteries, not just 1 or 2, but 12 Presbyteries, to bring this critical issue of climate change before the assembly and encourage us to take action now!
Our second intention recognized how complex this work will be. We fully respect and support the operations of MRTI that have managed our church so well for decades. Therefore, we recommended a commission to work cooperatively with MRTI in developing an action plan, along with a timeline for complete divestment by June 2019
-        Gina Struensee, Ruling Elder Commissioner, Winnebago Presbytery, DCE First Presbyterian Church, Neenah, WI; author of minority report.

The Young Adult Advisory Delegates, of which I was one, voted for a stronger action in a minority report. Clearly, when our church decides to take action, it is powerful and transforming. We are not always quick to act. We don’t have much time for engaging in shareholder actions or activism. It’s time for PCUSA to speak with a strong, prophetic voice to break the gridlock on this issue so that we might finally be able to create positive change. Now is the time for bold, transforming action. Just think where we might be in a decade.
-          Ben Terpstra, Young Adult Advisory Delegate, East Tennessee

The Arkansas Presbytery voted for full discussion of this overture and is fully behind this grassroots movement. At Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center, we have the world’s first LEED Platinum certified building, and participants at the camp and conference center are taught about renewable energy sources and energy efficiency; we also have “Solar under the Sun” learning opportunities. We, in Arkansas, also have extreme fluctuations in weather over the past two years which concern us a great deal, and we have environmental problems related to fossil fuel extraction and shipping.
-          Mary Beth Lysobey, Ruling Elder Commissioner, Arkansas Presbytery

As a young person seeking to be faithful to God’s call to care for the Earth and love my neighbors, I want to give my tithes to a church that will use them to “serve and keep” the Creation (Genesis 2:15). By divesting from fossil fuels, and RE-investing in renewable energy, the PC(USA) can strengthen the global movement to mitigate climate change and protect the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable sisters and brothers.
-          Megan M. Gregory, Deacon, First Presbyterian Church, Ithaca (NY) , Overture 15-01 Advocate  

My spouse and I just had our first child. We named him Rowen after the Scottish Mountain Ash tree which is now threatened by a changing climate.  Climate change is frightening. And as a new parent, I want to do all I can to help make the future a less scary for all who come after us. Our son just recently discovered he has hands, and that they are connected to his body, and that he has some agency over them. Our Reformed faith reminds us of the same truth that, like our son, we sometimes don't realize that in God's grace, we have some agency to make real changes to the ways we have always done things in order to make our world less scary for future generations. It is my deepest hope and prayer that we as a denomination will "remember our hands" and make a clear commitment to divest over the next 5 years from fossil fuels. In so doing we do not lose our voice at all, but in fact make a powerful moral statement to our world that we as a church refuse to profit from that which threatens the very future of our planet. We have a wonderful way to shepherd this commitment through our MRTI and I am excited about how we can honor their incredible legacy of prophetic stewardship while making a clear commitment to divest. 
 Rev. Rob Mark, Teaching Elder, Church of the Covenant, Boston Presbytery, Eco-Stewards Program Coordinator

As the church we serve as the moral conscience of the nation.  To divest means we are making a prophetic statement our country needs to hear.
Rev. Paul Henschen, Ellendale, N.D., Overture 15-01 Advocate.

Presbyterians agreed to take on the issue of fossil fuel divestment today. Although no dead line for complete divestment was established most believe that the church will honor the world wide goal of five years for complete divestment of its over $200 million dollars, which may be the largest fossil fuel divestment to date  by any entity. 
 Pam McVety, Overture 15-01 Advocate, Scientist and Ruling Elder, First Presbyterian Church, Tallahassee, Florida

The IPCC reports are increasingly urgent: humanity must disentangle ourselves from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy. Ethically, we cannot profit from earth’s destruction.
Rev. Dr. Patricia K. Tull, A.B. Rhodes Professor Emerita of Old Testament, Louisville Presbyterian Seminary

It is important that the church pay attention to the excesses of our society and the ways in which we do damage to creation and to our own future. The crisis we face calls for prompt action, and this divestment is a gesture in the right direction.
Dr. Walter Brueggemann, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pray for PEC as GA Approaches!

Sisters and Brothers in Creation Care,

It's GA super countdown time!

If you are coming, PLEASE stop by the Exhibit Hall Booth 502 and check in with us!

If you are unable to come, we ask that you hold the overture advocates and commissioners in prayer as we seek to further social and environmental justice at the 221st GA.

Follow PC-Biz on the web including the Immigration and Environment and the Social Justice Committees as they discuss our overtures.  Please keep us in your prayers beginning on Monday and Tuesday, when overtures are presented, including those on Divestment from Fossil FuelsSustainable Development/Precautionary PrincipleCoal Export and Food Sovereignty.

                         

Our PEC Luncheon will be held at Fort Street Presbyterian Church, where we will hear a brief video prepared for us by Bill McKibben of 350.org.  Our keynote speaker will be Fletcher Harper of GreenFaith who will speak on divestment from fossil fuels.  We will also be wishing a happy fifth birthday to Earth Care Congregations and hearing about our annual award winners.

                      

We welcome Fossil Free PCUSA to our booth and hope you will ask your commissioners to visit one of their representatives including Dan Terpstra and Wil Howie, who organized the movement. Abby Mohaupt and Susan Chamberlain from First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto (among 5 others) represent the church who initiated the overture.

PEC is hosting other special guests at our booth:

Saturday 2-4 PM  
  •      Curtis Karnes, EP of Yukon Presbytery, representing the Overture on the Precautionary Principle
Saturday 2-4PM
  •      Tiffany Immingan of Yukon  Presbytery, an indigenous youth representing the Alaska Community Team on Toxins, supporting the Overture on the Precautionary Principle
Sunday 3-5     
  •      Rebecca Barnes, Associate for Environmental Ministries
Monday  
  •      Fletcher Harper, Director of GreenFaith
Wednesday afternoon    
  •      Rob Mark, pastor of Church of the Covenant in Boston and Eco-Stewards coordinator

There are several members of the PEC Steering Committee Attending GA this year who will be
at the booth as well: 
  •     Abby Mohaupt     At-Large Rep
  •     Fred Milligan        At-Large Rep
  •     Holly Hallman       Northwest Rep    
  •     Paul Henschen    Midwest Rep
  •     Sue Smith            Treasurer
  •     Jane Laping         Vice Moderator
  •     Diane Waddell     Moderator

Strength and wisdom to all of us in this amazing journey!

Diane Waddell, Moderator

Gracious God,   
Grant us courage, grace, wisdom, and strength during this General Assembly and in the days ahead.
Give us discernment as a body of Christ in seeking social and environmental justice now and through the years to come.  In deep gratitude we pray.  
Amen.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A New Way of Being PEC is Unfolding

New Ways of Participating in PEC
By Holly Hallman

For years I have been using the phrase “things are heating up” when talking about family and business issues that need attention.  The phrase takes on new meaning when applied to the constellation of issues that involve God’s good earth.  Things ARE heating up!  Literally and metaphorically.  Naming some of them could fill the page.  But, I’d like to talk about solutions instead.  

This year PEC is involved in bringing four overtures to General Assembly.  But, because things are heating up we need to start the process of asking what else needs the blessing of the Church United.  More voices, more ears to hear the concerns, more overtures?  How do we make change happen?  In 2016 the conversation will have moved from trying to convince people that “heat” is happening to “mitigation” for those in hunger, those displaced by rising seas, those who share life with us but live beneath the sea, under, and in, the soil, in our forests…  

How do we, Presbyterians for Creation, gather the issues together to be held up to the next assembly?  In looking at different models, we have found, already in our care, a local group doing just what feels like the-very-thing!  Yukon Presbyterians for Earth Care meets by phone with a computer file of photos (so everyone can put a face together with a name).  People with concerns talk about their communities and problems.  It has worked well enough for them to birth a Regional Conference this September—and we are all invited!  This conference is focused on climate change and is still looking for participants!

The Steering Committee has endorsed the model and is giving it a field test in the Northwest Region.  Meetings will be every other month, for an hour.  A call-in number is used and anyone who wants to join in can.  Meeting minutes are sent to all who have an interest.  Like our national Advocacy meeting, we open and close with prayer, invite someone to address an issue that needs our hearing, and follow with a discussion.  We end with ideas for further reflection and/or action.  

If we start now how many of our hearts concerns can we lay before the next General Assembly?  When the Coal Export Overture came before Seattle Presbytery a young woman stood before the gathered meeting. She spoke of attending hours and hours of meetings on environmental assessment.  She often testifies and when she does she wants to be standing up knowing that the whole PC (USA) is standing behind her.  YES!  When you raise your voice wouldn't you like to know that you have that VOICE standing with you?  That is the dream we hope to turn into reality for the general assemblies to come.

The idea of regional advocacy is coming your way!  The timeline for that will vary with each of my fellow regional reps.  I’m hoping, when they contact you, that you will jump in with ears to hear and ideas to promote!

Blessings to all who HOPE in a world where things are “heating up”.

Holy One,
We pray for the new ventures of PEC.  We pray for a voice that can be heard all over your globe.  We pray that we can give voice for the creatures we live with that have no human sound.  Bless our time in this General Assembly and in the ones to come.  And, give us discernment on how to turn the heat down!
Amen


Rev. Holly Hallman, 
NW Regional Rep

Monday, May 19, 2014

An Update from the PEC Advocacy Committee

How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Psalm 104:24-25

 
One People and One Earth
Jo Randolph

During our advocacy meetings this year we have intentionally established the opportunity to learn about our connections and interconnectedness to one another.  We are one people and one earth!  One recent presentation was by the Rev. Curtis Karns of the Yukon Presbytery.  Rev. Karns gave us his background, passion and involvement in care for God’s environment.  He lives with his wife in a bio-shelter home where they teach about and live the life they espouse. Rev. Karns started a Presbyterians for Earth Care group (YPEC) in the Yukon Presbytery after realizing, as they were locally experiencing the results of climate changing, the faith perspective was missing. Although no one congregation took up the faith connection to climate change, he identified many individuals within the presbytery representing several different churches, who did have the desire to bring theology into the discussions. They have acted to bring Earth Care concepts into the Yukon Presbytery working documents.

Karns focused on two local concerns in his presentation – the effect of toxins on the Village of Savoonga and the effects of climate changes on polar ice and its consequences.

The Village of Savoonga, located on the northern cost of St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea and where 95% of the population is indigenous, has been challenged since World War II.  Because of its position in the Bering Sea, Savoonga was the site for war games and military maneuvers as well as a toxin dump for PCBs. Although it was part of a completed superfund cleanup, the sea mammals in the area have over 10 times the normal amount of PCBs in their bodies. The people of Savoonga rely heavily on sea mammals for food and the result is the toxics are transferring to humans through their diet.


These peoples are also being affected by the winds blowing east from China and Southeast Asia.  These winds are very acidic winds that blow in affecting the caribou on the lands resulting in unhealthy and reduce food sources for the villages.

YPEC is working with the Alaskan Community Action of Toxins (ACAT) to address these concerns to the state, national and international governmental entities. Rev. Karns also recommended Dan O’Neil’s The Firecracker Boy’s to learn about the radioactive testing done off the coast of Alaska.

Climate change has dramatically impacted these villages. The increased temperatures are rising at such an extent that it is now affecting the permafrost of the area. This results in the lack of build-up of the polar ice sheets that have historically provided a barrier to storm surges and protection for the local villages. Not anymore. Now the polar ice builds up late and indigenous villages are being damaged and destroyed. Peoples are losing their lively hoods and their homes.

The latest study reports the U.S. climate has changed everywhere in the United States – we are connected with these Alaskan populations and are called to sustainably nurture and care for God’s creation.  Check out the newestclimate assessment report and see how climate change is affecting your location.

 
Creator God, open our eyes as we study together our interconnectedness.  Help us recognize that all our actions affect all your creations. Guide us as we discern the care that is pleasing to thee in relation to all  you have entrusted to us. May we honor your creation with all our words and deeds.



Jo Randolph co-moderates the advocacy committee for PEC with Holly Hallman.  She is a LEED Associate Professor teaching at the local community college, holds a Certificate in Environmental Ministry and Leadership from McCormick Theological Seminary, heads the Earth Care Team at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church and is an active member of Heartland Presbytery Earthkeepers. In her spare time she enjoys her gardens, her grandchildren and experiencing God’s awesome creation. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

PEC Summer Update

Moderator's Message
From the PEC Summer Update

Read the entire Update here


The time is truly NOW that we who love Creation must rise, reach out and reclaim a banner of urgency in caring for our Home. As climate change is upon us, there are many among us who are sensing the urgency of changing our overly consumptive ways. Many national and world leaders are crying out to be heard. Much of the media still prefers to cling to stories that distract us, such as the fate of the Malaysian jetliner. Yet we must hold our ground and be proactive in focusing discussion on how to tend the Garden with seeds of sustainability rather than with toxic chemicals leading to slow suffocation and destruction.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) has a huge and hugely significant report on the effects of climate change, which is coming in geometric proportions, much faster than previously predicted. After years of very disappointing responses from leading countries such as the U.S. at international climate conferences, many responsible world leaders have researched and prepared a document verifying the disaster upon us.  We who love Earth can feel her groaning under the effects of continued toxic effects of trying to extract more, pollute more, and call it progress.

A new series, “Years of Living Dangerously,” is a set of 10 documentaries that explore the human impacts of climate change. One of many well-known concerned citizens highlighted is Katharine Hayhoe, PhD, an atmospheric scientist and evangelistic Christian, who PEC has previously been in contact with as a keynoter. Many people of faith including Presbyterians are hugely dedicated to working on healing the Earth and holding Earth sacred. Many have been heard at PEC conferences and many will be heard at General Assembly in Detroit this June.

PEC continues to be a leader in the movement and is embracing those prophets who are working toward the true meaning of divestment from the fossil fuel industry. We are working also to hold up sustainable, responsible development and research in technology and production. We are grateful for Yukon Presbytery, who is sponsoring a young woman of indigenous heritage who will speak for the overture on the Precautionary Principle. PEC supports the overtures against coal export, the Overture on Food Sovereignty and against factory farming. Thanks to the extra effort of those presbyteries who concurred with these overtures in order to get them to GA. See these overtures on PC-BIZ. However, as important to get the information through the national level, it is the impact at the individual, congregational and community levels where we also must also focus.

It is at the grass roots level that we need to feed, be fed, and become prophetic in calling for a return to more simple, beautiful, lifestyles and communities of caring, with responsible consumerism, living in gratitude to God, working to heal and hold sacred our Home. Amen.

Diane Waddell
PEC Moderator


Read the entire Summer Update here

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Earth Day Sunday: A Celebration and a Call to Action

With this week being Earth Week, many of our congregations across the country are celebrating Earth Day Sunday on April 27th.  If your church hasn't begun planning an Earth Day Sunday celebration, don't fret! Every day should be cause to celebrate Creation.  Here is how one Presbyterian church is being mindful of God's Earth.  Happy Earth Day!

Water, Holy Water: A reflection in honor of Earth
Written by Jerry Rees 

Water is the most abundant and fundamental element on Earth. Because of climate change and increasing population, there is a critical need for water conservation at home and safe clean water abroad. Internationally, the availability of safe clean water is becoming a major humanitarian and environmental problem with national security implications.

According to water.org:

  • 780 million people lack access to an improved water source; approximately one in nine people. That’s more than 2.5 times the United States population.
  • More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Nearly all deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world. This number is equivalent to the entire population of Los Angeles.
  • Unsafe water affects more people worldwide than AIDS and cancer combined.
  • Clean water means less disease, which means less money spent on medicine which means more money spent on education.
  • Only 14% of plastic water bottles are recycled in the US.
  • Some plastics in the ocean will not break down in the lifetimes of the grandchildren of the people who threw them away.
  • Each day over 200 million hours are used by women collecting water for their families.
  • Lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every four hours!


Blue is the new Green. It is time to acknowledge the growing scarcity of fresh clean water, to declare water as an intrinsic human right, and to communicate the need to preserve water for future generations of all living creatures--humankind and other kind. Changing water use patterns has become a matter of social and environmental justice!

During the past year, the Environmental Action Committee at Village Presbyterian Church (Prairie Village, KS) has been engaged in a World Wide Water Awareness campaign.  To raise our congregation’s consciousness and to stir their conscience, we have provided water-related information at various locations around the church.  Last fall, we presented 4 evening classes focusing on water.  This winter and spring, we offered 5 classes about water, including a Saturday morning seminar and a Sunday school class.

During Lent, we organized a Stop Using Bottled Water campaign. We placed signs at Drinking Fountains and at Lavatories around the church urging folks to Get off the Bottle and Start Drinking Tap Water. Since tap water is significantly less expensive than bottled water, we encouraged them to donate their savings to a worthy cause pertaining to water security, such as water.org or One Great Hour of Sharing.

For Earth Day or Any Day, Creation Justice Ministries has provided a resource entitled Water, Holy Water.  This featured resource explores water as a gift from God that is being threatened by overuse and pollution. Included are information pieces, stories, scriptures, worship resources, sermon starters, and a bulletin insert.  I encourage you to read it and to use it!

“You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills, giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst. By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.” ~Psalm 104:10-13

Village Presbyterian Church - Prairie Village, KS

Jerry Rees is chair of the Environmental Action Committee at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, KS, which won the PEC Restoring Creation award in 2008.  Beyond the walls of his church, he is a former PEC Midwest Regional Rep and one of the founding Steering Committee members of Kansas IPL.  He is currently serving on the Board of the Sustainable Sanctuary Coalition of KC and is also active in Earthkeepers of Heartland Presbytery.  Under his leadership, Village Church is beginning its fourth year as an Earth Care Congregation.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

An Easter Reflection on the Power of Presbyterian Advocacy

Presbyterians for Earth Care Lenten Reflections 2014
Advocating for Environmental and Social Justice

Isaiah 58:1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! 

 

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

Isaiah 58:1-12 - What a beautiful and inspiring passage - one that seems eerily written for us in our time and place. I was asked to reflect specifically on verse 11, and the six lines contain beautiful imagery of guidance, fulfillment, strength, life, energy, and eternity.  All that we yearn for.  Sign me up! 

    But wait, this is the promise at the end of the If/Then clauses of previous verses…  To reach the vision, I, as an individual, and we, as a community, must intentionally remove the yoke from among us, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil and we are to offer food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted.  

    When I read these words, I think of Yolanda who lives in La Oroyo, Peru and came down to Lima to meet with us about her children.  She told us there was a U.S. smelter in the town that was poisoning the air, the water, the people and the animals.  Indeed the town is one of the ugliest towns I have ever visited.   It could be the set for a sci-fi movie as the mountains look dead, the river leaves odd colors on its banks, and ash drifted down from the sky.  God’s creation was being destroyed.  The facts compelled Presbyterians from St. Louis, Columbus, and Washington, D.C. to connect the community to those in the U.S. who could do impartial health and environmental studies, journalists, and even testify before Peruvian Congress about the documented behavior of this company in Missouri.  Presbyterians hosted inter-faith prayer vigils and brought Peruvians to our own government officials.  It became an outpouring of support that has spanned over twelve years.  


Photo of Andes Mountains near La Oroyo, Peru

    And, yes, the company was closed down until it agreed to add scrubbers and other infrastructure it had promised to do years earlier.   And, yes, now the company is suing the Peruvian state for lost profits under a free trade agreement that values a company’s right to risk-free investment more than its responsibilities to a nation’s children and the land they live on, the waters they drink, and the air they breathe.

    I think of Yolanda because it wasn't until months later when I asked about her children that I realized that she was single and had no children.  Her children were all 11,000 kids who lived in La Oroya.  

Creator God,
May we love and care for all of earth as we do our own backyards and may we love and care for all children as we do our own.  Then, you, oh God, will guide us continually, satisfy our needs in parched places, make our bones strong and we shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters never fail.  In the name of our Creator’s son, Amen.



Ruth Farrell has the joy and privilege of coordinating the Presbyterian Hunger Program.  Prior to that she and her husband Hunter served as mission co-workers in economic and community development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Peru. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Reflection for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday from Southeastern Louisiana

Presbyterians for Earth Care Lenten Reflections 2014
Advocating for Environmental and Social Justice

Isaiah 58:1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! 

 

"if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday." Isaiah 58: 10

We in South Louisiana will come to the table this Maundy Thursday and to Good Friday’s deadliness. We will come as people on the edge of Exile. We will come as people who dwell in the dark shadows of a quickening disastrous future. We will come as residents of a sacrificial zone. We will come as a people who see God’s good life giving earth disappearing under our feet. We will come as people who see a cornucopia of good things to share and eat endangered. We will come as people who know every day the consequences of sin. We will come with a growing sense of urgency and foreboding. We will come as the fishers for a nation. We will come afraid to eat the bounty of our place. We will come as a people desperate for hope. We will come as poets and prophets, as fishers, dwellers-in-place, and providers of food. We will come because in the last analysis we have no other place to go. We will come to the table. We will come to face Good Friday. We will come full of fear and seeking hope. We come in darkness and gloom. We will come praying for light and noonday. WE WILL COME TO THE TABLE WHERE THE BREAD OF LIFE IS SHARED.



I See the
Hammer
Strike the crucifying Nails
And I see the Ghost tree
remains of the once mighty
Cypress.  
I see water
where Communities once thrived.
And the Ringing of the Nails
fills the Earth.

I See the
Hammer
Strike the crucifying Nails
and I see the City
a Flood.
Death floating.
And the Ringing of the Nails
fills the Earth.

I See the
Hammer
Strike the crucifying Nails
and I See the Brown Sludge
Cover the Earth
Stopping the Reflection
Of God’s Smile.
And the Ringing of the Nails
Covers the Sea.

I See the
Hammer
Strike the crucifying Nails
I See
the Black Death
Covering the Birthplace,
the Nursery place,
the Resting place,
Of God’s Creatures
And the Places of God’s People.
And the Ringing of the Nails
fills the Earth.

The Hammer Stops.
The Nails are Driven.
The Ringing Ends in
Silence.
Dead Silence.
And the Silence is Louder
Than All the Other Sounds.
It is the Sound of the Death of God.

ONLY THE SILENCE OF RESURRECTION IS LOUDER.


From “Nails” by Richard Krajeski
Richard Krajeski has been a Presbyterian pastor for almost 50 years and an environmental advocate even longer. He has been involved with the Presbyterian environmental program from its beginning.  He is a Fellow in the Society for Applied Anthropology. He is a founding board member of the international Gender and Disaster Network and the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association. Dick is a founder and President of the board of directors of the Lowlander Center, Dick now spends his time working to develop the Wetlands Theological Education Project of the South Louisiana Presbytery and serving the people of south Louisiana with his wife the Rev. Dr. Kristina Peterson and the people of the First Presbyterian Church of Bayou Blue.  
 
Rev. Dr. Kristina Peterson currently facilitates The Lowlander Center, a nonprofit organization that helps create solutions through education, research, and advocacy, beginning at the community level, for Lowland people and places in the bayous of Louisiana.  She received the PEC William Gibson Environmental Award in 2010.

Friday, April 11, 2014

PEC Invitations of the Season

PEC Friends,

We are journeying toward Holy Week and true manifestation of the beauty of spring!  Easter, Earth Day…and GA are approaching.  PEC has invitational reminders:
  • We are happy to be gearing up for our presence at GA. We are supporting a number of important eco-justice overtures which will be sent to committee for review.  Please pray and work pro-actively with your presbytery commissioners to advocate for these important overtures.  They include the divestment from fossil fuels overture, as well as food sovereignty, sustainable development, factory farming, coal export/transport, and others. Please follow PC-BIZ for updates and general information!
  • If you are attending GA, plan to visit our booth and sign up for our luncheon where we will hear from the Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith as well as view a recorded video made by Bill McKibben of 350.org especially for the PC(USA) and PEC.  Both will address divestment from fossil fuels.  (Food will be local and it will be a plant-based, whole foods menu.)
  • Advocacy is SO important in our work and every year,  PEC members have the opportunity to honor those who seek eco-justice.  During our luncheon we will honor the winners of our annual awards – the William Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award for an individual and the Restoring Creation Award for a group, whose work for Creation has been praiseworthy and creative.  We encourage you to nominate award winners.  Follow this link and plan to complete your nomination, by May 1.
I also want to remind you about the importance of supporting the One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) Offering. Financial donations to OGHS fund almost the entire budget of the Presbyterian Hunger Program including Environmental Ministries that partners with us and has supported us in the past.  Currently, however, funding for OGHS is declining.   Please encourage your congregations to share generously...not only these next two Sundays, but to go on-line and donate at any time of the year.
  
May the blessings of the seasons of Lent, Easter, and Springtime be with you,

Diane Waddell
Moderator, Presbyterians for Earth Care