Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Preview from the Fall 2012 PEC Update!

Download the entire Fall 2012 PEC Update here.

Dear Partners in Earth-caring,
God is good.  
God has gifted us with this sacred Earth, with which we may choose to work in partnership toward healing the planet. Thanks to all of you who work toward this positive ethic of sustainability, including those in this General Assembly (GA) story.

My home presbytery is Heartland, which is urban, suburban, and rural/agricultural.  I have come to greatly appreciate its prairie as well as those who tend it.  The nearby Tallgrass Prairie in Northern Kansas Presbytery is striking. And continuing westward is a very ‘down to earth’ place entitled The Land Institute, near Salina, Kansas, a non-profit research, educational, and policy organization dedicated to sustainable agriculture.  It researches Natural Systems Agriculture, which is a mimic of nature’s ecosystems.Their mission statement begins with, “When people, land, and community are as one, all three members prosper…”

With appreciation for this ethic, Heartland Presbytery’s earth care team (Earthkeepers) wrote an overture which was brought to GA by Heartland Presbytery. As an Overture Advocate, I signed in with the Committee on Social Justice Issues to speak.  As per committee procedure, a commissioner moved that the Overture be discussed.  That commissioner was the Rev. Seth Svary, who spoke fluently in favor of it (both in committee and on the GA floor). Another commissioner noted that he had just spoken with a farming friend who said he had used the system (of perennial grain hybridization) that the Land Institute researches and felt it was invaluable. 
Rev. Seth Svary (right) with Diane at the PEC booth at General Assembly.
Seth came by the PEC GA booth later in the week.  He is pastor of the United Presbyterian Church of Sterling, Kansas, whose family has been in farming in central Kansas for five generations and has been recognized for their work in conservation efforts.  They have a diversified operation including rotational crops of wheat, corn, soybeans, milo, and sunflowers with pasture which helps sustain cattle, sheep, and goats.  Also, one of Seth’s brothers, Josh, was Secretary of Agriculture for Kansas from 2009 – 2011 and currently is a Senior Advisor to the Environmental Protection Agency in Kansas. (See the GA article).  This was all truly amazing.  God is good.

I am grateful for the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, which added “recommendation” to the Overture.  The addition makes it more usable for environmental justice advocacy by the PCUSA, particularly the Office of Public Witness, “to orient their advocacy and programs concerning agriculture and food supply in accordance with the following principles and goals: renewability, sustainability, resilience, minimized carbon emissions, participatory research and decision-making, revitalized rural communities, strong local food economies, security of food supply, ethical treatment of animals, and fair and dignified treatment of persons working throughout the food chain.” The overture did pass and will be a tool for continuing support of eco-justice in our denomination.

God is good.  All the time.  Blessed be.
Diane Waddell, Moderator, 
Presbyterians for  Earth Care

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