Friday, November 27, 2015

First Week of Advent Devotional

Shine On
by Rebecca Reyes, M.Div., MSW

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:5)

One of the songs I learned early in my childhood was
            “This little light of mine.
            I am going to let it shine.
            Let it shine.
            Let it shine.“

This song is simple yet it’s a very clear reminder that our faith is to be active and visible. God’s creation was entrusted to us. As stewards of God’s creation how do we let the LIGHT shine?

Pope Francis has put out the call to the community of faith to care for the earth. He urges us to remember that the air we breathe must be kept clean for all living in the world. Likewise, he urges us to care for our water—in oceans, rivers, lakes, and all sources, knowing how humans, fish, and other beings depend on clean water for health.  He makes this call to care for all elements of our earth home a moral challenge. 

My undergraduate focus of study was in environmental ecology. I learned about the relations and interactions between organisms and their environment.  During college I became involved in the “Don’t Litter” campaign as a way to live out my commitment to keep our roadsides clean. For a summer internship in the Gulf of Mexico I focused on ocean life and the impact of oil pollution on the migration of fish due to offshore drilling. This experience nudged me to pay attention to policies which impact local and global communities.

Whether it is recycling, advocating for clear water, paying attention to policies which impact the destruction of forests, water conservation, or the utilization of national resources, these acts give witness that God’s creation is sacred.  

As we light our candles this season of Advent, let us also commit to let our “little light” be an active witness to the care of the earth in our daily life.

A prayer-meditation from my friend, Jim Rigby: RECEIVING THE GIFT OF THIS DAY

Take one breath conscious of the fact the air you breathe has passed through every kind of plant or animal you can imagine. Remember every breath is a gift.

Wiggle your toes if you have them. Remember every part of your body is a gift.

Consider the electricity pulsing invisibly in your brain like a hidden firefly's tail. Remember that your consciousness is a gift.

Before you get lost in the problems and dramas of this day, remember your life is a confluence of countless cosmic elements. Remember this day of life is but an ephemeral kiss shared between ocean, earth and sky.

Rebecca Reyes, M.Div., MSW, lives in Durham, NC. She is parish associate at Church of Reconciliation, as well as facilitator and consultant for non-profits.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Perhaps the World Ends Here


Earth Action, Reflection, Theology and Hope
Dear Friends in Earth Care,

On our recent Steering Committee call, we shared how each of us will give thanks this week. Our rituals ranged from gathering with 50 people around one great table to taking a few days for solitude and rest, from gathering with family to gathering with friends. I was struck by the diversity of our plans and yet each of us spoke with anticipation for time set aside to be grateful.

Below you'll meet the newest member of our Steering Committee, find the link to our Advent Devotional, as well as art and poetry. We've also landed on a new name for these monthly emails--EARTH: Earth Action, Reflection, Theology, and Hope. Such a name mirrors the myriad of ways we engage in creation care, and I look forward to how we're explore these ways together.

However you spend this week, may you remember how deeply you are loved by God and how cherished the whole Creation is. Thank you for being part of Presbyterians for Earth Care.

with hope and gratitude,
Abby Mohaupt, Vice Moderator and Newsletter Coordinator
Presbyterians for Earth Care

Jiyoung Kim is a South Korean artist for children's books
 and her work is made from clay and found objects.

Perhaps the World Ends Here

By Joy Harjo
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

"Perhaps the World Ends Here" from The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.,

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Divesting from Fossil Fuels

Will PC(USA) Divest from Fossil Fuels?
by Jerry Rees and Nicola Juricak

Jerry Rees and Nicola Juricak, members of Earthkeepers of Heartland Presbytery, helped inform and motivate commissioners in Heartland Presbytery on the Fossil Fuel Divestment Overture. On September 22, Heartland became the first presbytery to concur. San Francisco Presbytery was the first presbytery to approve the document. An excerpt of their report is below, which is meant to serve as a guide for others who are interested in concurrence. PEC encourages you to concur with the divestment overture as well as working toward approval of other eco-justice related overtures which are listed on the sidebar. 

Fossil Fuel Divestment is a complex and provocative issue, where climate change, earth care, and financial gain converge.  As people of faith, we are being challenged to stop investing in fossil fuels that contribute to climate change and to start reinvesting in projects and companies that are sustainable and restorative to God's Creation.

The Fossil Fuel Divestment Overture recommends that the General Assembly call on the Board of Pensions and the PCUSA Foundation to immediately stop new investments in a list of 200 fossil fuel companies and work to eliminate all current holdings over the next three years.

This Overture was authored by Fossil Free PCUSA. It is stronger, more specific, and more effective than the 2014 Divestment Overture. There are two major improvements:
1. Calling for reinvestment in renewable energy projects,
2. Retaining a minimum value of shares ($2000) required to participate in shareholder action and advocacy.

Divestment is a moral and prophetic act more than an economic one.  It means taking a stand and refusing to invest in and profit from an industry that is destroying Creation. In the succinct words of Bill McKibben, "If it's wrong to wreck the planet, then it's wrong to profit from that wreckage." 

PC(USA)'s divestment from fossil fuels will not financially cripple fossil fuel companies any more than putting risk-of-death warnings on cigarette packages destroyed tobacco companies. However, joining the growing global movement to divest sends a powerful public statement that will revoke the moral license and tarnish the veneer of respectability which shareholders grant fossil fuel companies to profit in ways known to be destructive to the planet and its most vulnerable populations. 

When your investment choices hope for good returns from companies that produce burnable carbon, you're not likely to be an advocate for policies that cut their profits. "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21 and Luke 12:34).

As it says in the Overture’s Rationale, People of Faith “have the privilege, responsibility, and obligation to speak with moral authority on issues of great importance.  As we work to mitigate the climate crisis, we must shed the burden of our investments in climate destruction.  This act will speak more loudly and more clearly than any prophetic declaration.”

If you have questions or comments please let us know. Please also refer to the document on the overture process. Your work and interest is very important and greatly appreciated. 

Jerry Rees served as PEC's Midwest Regional Representative from 2008-2012. He was an original member of Earthkeepers of Heartland Presbytery and is a member of the Environmental Action Committee at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas.  


Friday, October 30, 2015

Honoring our Faith in Harvest Time

Dear Friends in Earth Care,

I serve a rural, farmworking community in Northern California. Over 85% of the school district is Latino, and over 50% of the people we collaborate with at the Resource Center where I work are farmworkers. Our lives together are marked by immigration and the movement of the seasons and the work day on the farms. Our work together reminds me that a just food system (that honors the needs of workers and the earth and all people who eat) is part of eco-justice.

This month we've been preparing for Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), a tradition thousands of years old that's influenced by indigenous Mexican and Catholic rituals. We've labored over sugar skulls and papel picado and memorial stones for a labyrinth walk. Last night we gathered at our community's last farmers market of the season to give thanks for the lives of those we've loved and to give thanks for another successful season of planting, cultivating, and harvesting.

Many of the people who joined in the observance are far from their homes, migrants who have come to Pescadero to work on the land so that their families in their homelands can have a better life. They braved traumatic crossings to make it here. They toil under the sun in literally back-breaking work. They grieve for the places and customs and people they know.

It's the end of this season that reminds me of how we are called to care for creation in all seasons. The end of the harvest season reminds me that winter is coming.

Winter is not fun. Another Midwestern friend who lives in the Bay Area and I have been talking about how we still have all our good winter clothes with us because we cannot bear giving them away--sturdy boots, thick coat, warm hat and gloves. Winter is harsh and hard  and it means that things end.

This morning, I walked on the beach, listening to the waves and watching the birds. In the distance, there was a mound on the sand, and as I got closer I recognized it as the corpse of a seal. Crows were picking at it, and I stopped to take in the life of this creature.

The waves lapped against its body, ready to reclaim it when the tide was right. 

Its life is over, yet it's sustenance for the crows and for other parts of creation.

It's the end of this season, the death of what we know, but death always means life, no matter where we are. 

Dia de los Muertos celebrates life and acknowledges that the dead and those we love are always with us. The change in season reminds us to honor and celebrate the time of life we are in and the place on this planet we get to call home.

with hope,
Abby Mohaupt, Vice Moderator
Presbyterians for Earth Care

Thursday, October 15, 2015

PEC Celebrates 20 Years


The Beginning of the First 20 Years

by Nancy Corson Carter

PEC observed its 20th Anniversary with a special evening of worship, recognition, and reception on September 17 at Montreat Conference Center. To commemorate the “Inheriting a Sacred Trust for the Future” celebration, Nancy Corson Carter wrote this short history of the organization. 

In 1990, the 202nd General Assembly approved the policy report RESTORING CREATION FOR ECOLOGY AND JUSTICE. Part of its great success was due to the grassroots authenticity of its writing.

The charge of the document was to recognize and accept restoring creation “as a central concern of the church, to be incorporated into its life and mission at every level.” In1994, when about 40 persons gathered at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville for an “Environmental Consultation,” a major result was the envisioning of “an environmental justice fellowship, an outside group, to impact the PCUSA.” A group of persons, soon to become the founders of PRC, felt themselves called to extend support of the dynamic 1990 mission initiative. 

Cathy Yost and Bill Gibson
An Interim Steering Committee formed, composed of David Hall, Fond Du Lac, WI; Bill Gibson, Ithaca, NY; John Jackson, Maitland, FL; Bill Knox, Boone, NC; Dick Madden, Spokane, WA; Leslie Reindl, St. Paul, MN; Wayne Ruddock, Baldwin, MD; Cathy Yost, Kirkwood, MO; John Thomas, South Holland, IL; and Rose Carol Taul, Chicago, IL.

New Membership Secretary, Bill Knox, sent out a call for support:  “We invite Presbyterians who hear the cry of creation, human and nonhuman, as God’s call for stewards for an endangered planet. Join us in this fellowship to restore creation, as we seek to be faithful to Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.” By the 1995 General Assembly in Cincinnati Ohio, a Steering Committee had prepared bylaws and organized the first of regular General Assembly luncheons, with Dr. John Fife as speaker.

So Presbyterians for Restoring Creation (PRC) was born, an organization that has matured over its two decades as a member-based, grassroots, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization operating alongside the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and also in ecumenical circles.

In 2009, the group reclaimed its purpose on its website, “Honoring this great heritage, the leaders and members have responded to the growing national awareness of global climate change with a renewed vision, a new name and a timely mission. Presbyterians for Earth Care (PEC) has stepped up its capacity to connect and equip the environmental movement in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) through a new website, database, and social networking sites.”

Nancy Corson Carter, Ph.D., is a publishing poet and writer, facilitates an Earth Care Congregation in Chapel Hill NC, and is active in the Shalem Society for Contemplative Leadership. She is Professor Emerita (of Humanities) at Eckerd College, and was Moderator of PRC from 1999-2005.