Friday, July 13, 2012

News from 2012 PC(USA) General Assembly

Greetings PEC friends Post General Assembly!!
Presbyterians for Earth Care had a visible presence at GA and the experience was excellent. We were represented at the booth and luncheon by our Executive Committee and we were thrilled to make contacts with dozens of Presbyterians who have a deep concern for doing Creation care. 

At our booth we were happy to share information about PEC, including our new policy priorities on Climate Change (see our website) and much more including sharing about Earth Care Congregations, Justice Unbound, and Tevyn East's new "Affording Hope" tour, and more. We also welcomed

There were two environmental related overtures which were sent via Heartland and Baltimore Presbyteries. Diane presented during open hearings and as an Overture advocate, and both of these passed through committee and GA. (More on those with a couple fascinating stories in the upcoming Update!)

Spending time at the PEC Booth - with Sue Smith, Diane Waddell, PEC luncheon speaker Rev. Dr. Randy Bush, and Jane Laping (left to right)
During the PEC luncheon, we highlighted our partnership with Environmental Ministries, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, and the Office of Public Witness, among others. We were blessed to meet in a beautiful space in the chapel of First Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, among fresh flowers and Tiffany windows.  We were grateful for the Rev. Dr. Randy Bush bringing us a charge for creation care..."to exist is to co-exist."

We also congratulate the winners of our annual awards, who were present to receive them. Tom Quigley, director of The Garden of Etna, a community garden, has done much in Pittsburgh to further environmental justice. He accepted the William Gibson Achievement Award. Earth Covenant Ministry in Atlanta, a partnership of 10 congregations in Atlanta working toward intentional stewardship, accepted the Restoring Creation Award. In addtion to our award winners, we are grateful to have had many other excellent nominees. You can read about their good work on our blog: Alaska Interfaith Power and Light, Glenshaw Presbyterian Church, Earth Care House Church of Trinity Presbyterian Church, and Lynn Cameron.

A special thanks to Rob Remsburg, previous PEC treasurer, who helped with our booth while serving as commissioner, Lauren Wright, an Eco-Steward and Young Adult Volunteer, as well as many others who helped with the booth and came by to visit!!! We greatly appreciate you all!!

Blessings and strength to all of us as we travel in our many ways post-General furthering our work in tending this beautiful Garden.

Caring for Creation together,
The Executive Committee
Diane Waddell (Moderator)
Jane Laping (Vice-Moderator)
Sue Smith (Treasurer)

P.S. PEC is highlighting two conferences in July: A conference on environmental stewardship will be presented by the Presbyterian Men of the Mid-Atlantic on July 20, 21 and 22 at Massanetta Camp and Conference Center in Harrisburg, VA. Please click here for more information. We also highlight the 2012 Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women, "River of Hope", being held in Orlando, FA July 18-22. Check the link here.  PEC sends our very best to all involved in both conferences.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

2012 William Gibson Lifetime Acheivement Award Nominee: Lynn Cameron

Nominee: Lynn Cameron
For: William Gibson Lifetime Acheivement Award
Nominated By: Earth Care House Church, Trinity Presbyterian Church

Lynn is presently pastoral leader of Earth Care House Church, the environmental arm of the home church, Trinity Presbyterian Church.

Lynn has shown Earth Care leadership in the following ways:
1. Took an overture to the 2002 GA in Columbus, Ohio asking PCUSA to accept as the Church’s position its desire to see grandfathered coal-power plants we need to research this and get the actual wording.
2. Led ECHC to its Fall Retreat at Lambert Cabin, a facility owned by PATC. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club has many members in our congregation. Lynn and her husband are “Caretakers” for a section of the trail and maintain it with non-gasoline powered tools. Church youth are led by Lynn to use old fashioned cross-cut saws to remove fallen trees from the trail. She shows them how to use spades to form trenches to deflect runoff water from the trail reducing harmful erosion.
3. Expended countless hours getting organizations of all stripes and flavors to become sponsors of Friends of Shenandoah Mountain.
4. Does not simply talk: she walks the walk. She and her husband bought a tract of forest land adjacent to the Shenandoah National Park because she had found in her research as a professional librarian that this tract contain a very unique “wet land” high up the mountain side. This wet land provides water for flora and fauna.
5. Love of God’s creatures manifested in their ownership of several llamas. Church youth from area congregations not all Presbyterian, have mingled with her llamas; she shows these young persons how to pretend that they, too, have breaths which llamas need to sample before establishing llama trust. It is amazing to see a second grade girl, hands behind her back, leaning forward while breathing, in an effort to establish trust on the part of the beast.
6. Long history in environmental work in the church. For example, she was a long time friend with Ernie Dickerman who is considered by many to be the father and founder of the Virginia Wilderness Society. With his help, our house church was able to bring Richard Cartwright Austin to Harrisonburg for a three-day workshop and seminar.
7. Worked tireless to bring Harrisonburg’s “Friendly City Food Coop” into existence. Although no official count has been taken it is a safe bet that every member of ECHC is a partner here. One of our church youth (a college student) is an employee of the Coop working her way through JMU.
8. One year ago in 2010, Lynn was the driving force behind Trinity Presbyterian Church’s earning its “Green Congregation” status. After the award arrived here, she and her husband continued finding additional items of interest.
9. Earth Care House Church, the environmental house church at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Harrisonburg, VA, scheduled a retreat near Shenandoah National Park. Lynn and Malcolm Cameron are members of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. This club became owners of a most unique cabin near Luray. We were permitted to hold our autumn retreat 2010 in this cabin. The mountain setting, the crisp autumn weather, and the cabin’s legacy gave an extra spirituality to our worship and retreat. This retreat would not have been possible absent Lynn’s contacts in this outdoor hiking organization. Our pastor’s husband who recently died of cancer was a past president of PATC.

Lynn has been working for ten years to obain wilderness status for 90,000 acres located in the George Washington National Forest. Friends of Shenandoah Mountain is a voluntary local coalition of businesses, individuals, faith groups, hunters, conservationists, hikers, mountain bikers, and others who have come together to protect these areas. "From the top of Reddish Knob one can behold the breathtaking beauty of Shenandoah Mountain. As stewards of god's good creation, we need to preserve this unique natural area for generations to come."-Ann Held, Pastor, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Harrisonburg.

2012 Restoring Creation Award Nominee: AK Interfaith Power and Light

 Each year, Presbyterians for Earth Care receives nominations for two awards: The William Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award for individuals and the Restoring Creation Award for congregations, governing bodies, ecumenical agencies, or Presbyterian-related entities. In 2012, we received so many excellent nominations and could only choose two awardees. All the nominations bore such good news about what God's people are doing to care for God's Creation, we'd like to share them all with you.

Nominee: Alaska Interfaith Power and Light
For: Restoring Creation Award
Nominated by: - Curtis Karns of the Presbytery of Yukon

Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) is a national affiliate of The Regeneration Project, a non-profit organization working to deepen the connection between ecology and faith. To date, TRP's national IPL network comprises 31 state affiliates, transcending socio-economics, cultures and denominations. As an increasing number of scientists, indigenous peoples and other leaders declared Alaska as ground zero for climate change, it became clear an IPL affiliate must be established in the Great Land. In 2006, Alaska Interfaith Power & Light became the 20th IPL state affiliate. Currently, out of the 250 conservation non-governmental organizations in the state, Alaska IPL is the only organization calling attention to our moral obligation to serve as stewards of creation and subsequent symptoms of the human family not living-up to this responsibility to the best of our ability, including human-induced climate change.

Although AKIPL has worked to engage faith communities in common sense practices like energy audits for buildings and changing light bulbs, Mary Walker's vision led to one particular project that needs to be especially recognized. Since May 2011, AKIPL has been holding a series of interdisciplinary public forums aimed both at raising public awareness regarding the moral imperative for dealing with human-caused climate change, and lobbying for governmental and and personal responses. These public forums are held under the title of One People, One Earth (, Participants include scientists (an ecologist, a biologist, a physicist and an oceanographer) from the University of Alaska, Alaska Native Elders from three Native American peoples (Tlingit, Aleut and Yupik), and four Alaskan faith leaders from Roman Catholic, Protestant [PCUSA], Islamic and Jewish). Though these participants embody important differences, they also speak passionately about the importance of this issue and their absolute unity in dealing with this as a world people. One interesting outworking of this has been a particular interest in the comments from the faith leaders. Their latest pubic forum was held in Juneau, where a separate public meeting was held just to spend more time talking with the faith leaders. It is hoped this public, interdisciplinary approach will continue to build momentum and add to the public will for the change necessary to mitigate the damage caused by a carbon fueled industrial age.

One People, One Earth continues to gain recognition. In the past two weeks, there has been conversation abut bringing this interdisciplinary panel to events outside of Alaska. it would be helpful for PEC to recognize this effort.

2012 Restoring Creation Award Nominee: Glenshaw Presbyterian Church

Each year, Presbyterians for Earth Care receives nominations for two awards: The William Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award for individuals and the Restoring Creation Award for congregations, governing bodies, ecumenical agencies, or Presbyterian-related entities. In 2012, we received so many excellent nominations and could only choose two awardees. All the nominations bore such good news about what God's people are doing to care for God's Creation, we'd like to share them all with you. 

Nominee: Glenshaw Presbyterian Church
For: Restoring Creation Award
Nominated by: Beth Egan of Glenshaw Presbyterian Church

Glenshaw Presbyterian Church's accomplishments include: Establishing the GPC Goes Green Program; Became a certified Earth Care Congregation in 2011; Member of Presbyterians For Earth Care; Earth care components in worship services; Planting trees for new members; Eco palms are used on Palm Sunday; Provide earth care disciplines and devotionals for members during advent and lent; Designed and planted an outdoor prayer garden; Offer earth care Sunday School classes for children, youth and adults including outdoor activities. Earth care pages are available on the church
web site; Monthly emails on earth care are sent out to members and information is provided on a bulletin board, through Sunday bulletins and in the church newsletter; Energy efficient windows and air conditioning was installed; All office and church school wastepaper is recycled as well as metal cans, plastic, glass, electronic equipment and ink cartridges; A large bin is available in the parking lot for community use for paper recycling; Have begun to reduce toxic cleaning products; Offer vegetarian choices at dinners; Limit use of paper products at dinners; Children participate in church sponsored camping trips; Establishing and being an ongoing sponsor of the Etna Community Garden; Collaborate with other community groups concerning earth care; Have shared information concerning earth care with other groups.

Glenshaw Presbyterian Church with the backing of their pastor, the Rev. Dr. Mike Hoyt, an advocate of environmental stewardship and their "Green Team" of volunteers have implemented numerous programs within the church and out in the community. They see their responsibility for the earth as an outgrowth of their relationship to God. Two major projects have been: transforming a former playground on the church grounds into a lush, beautiful prayer garden and helping to start the Etna Community Garden. Through the community garden fresh produce is donated to the local food pantry and it also gives residents of the community the opportunity to grow their own fresh produce.

Educating and involving members in environmental stewardship, including the children and youth of the church, is a high priority. It is their hope that other churches in the area will also work to become Earth Care Congregations and GPC members are willing to mentor others to reach that goal.

2012 Restoring Creation Award Nominee: Earth Care House Church of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Shenandoah Presbytery, Synod of the Mid-Atlantic, PC(USA)

Each year, Presbyterians for Earth Care receives nominations for two awards: The William Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award for individuals and the Restoring Creation Award for congregations, governing bodies, ecumenical agencies, or Presbyterian-related entities. In 2012, we received so many excellent nominations and could only choose two awardees. All the nominations bore such good news about what God's people are doing to care for God's Creation, we'd like to share them all with you. 

Nominee: Earth Care House Church of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Shenandoah Presbytery, Synod of the Mid-Atlantic, PC(USA)
For: 2012 Restoring Creation Award
Nominated by: Emily Riehl of First Presbyterian Church, Richmond

Each house church is approved and operates under the aegis of the Session. A covenant renewed each year stipulates that four marks of the church will be observed: mission, worship, nurture, and fellowship. The covenant also requires this particular hose church to engage in Care of Creation. To meet these requirements, Earth Care House Church has acted in several arenas.

Augmenting Youth Activities in the Wilderness:
• A member of ECHC received a grant from Virginia Wilderness to take children on field trips to Hone Quarry for a period of several weeks. The third and fourth grade students from Keister Elementary were recently highlighted in local Daily New Record Article. ECHC paid for the water testing kit.
• ECHC included youth on a recent hike to High Knob Tower.
• ECHC (then known as Restoring Creation House Church) led the congregational youth on a hike and worship on the west sloop of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Grottoes, Virginia. Carried Hymnals to high sloop near Sky Line Drive in the Shenandoah National Park. This land, which is on the Wetlands Registry, is owned by members of our group.
• ECHC donated to Massanetta Springs Camp and Conference Center several trees. These were planted under supervision by adult members.

Environmental Recognitions and Actions:

• Trinity Presbyterian Church was re-certified as a Green Congregation by PC(USA); originally certified on December 12, 2010 as one of two PC(USA) Churches in Virginia, with this status.
• Members of ECHC are working to provide garden fresh vegetables by planting a raised bed on the church property. These vegetables will be distributed to the clients of Trinity’s Kara House Church.
• Members of ECHC then RCHC traveled in a 15 passenger van to Charlotte, North Carolina to receive an award for our environmental efforts.
• Members of ECHC attended the General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio with the express purpose to carry a resolution to remove grandfathered power plants from the nation’s power plants. Lobbied and were successful in getting approval of this landmark legislation. This congressional act would require that scrubbers be placed on these coal fired power plants.
• Members of ECHC attended the General Assembly in Richmond, Virginia where we received an award from the Washington DC Office of PC(USA) for our environmental work.
• Members of ECHC joined PDR in a mission trip to rebuild private homes in Gulf Port, MS following the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Two such mission trips were completed; one of our members just returned from a mission trip to Aurora, NC.
• Members of ECHC assisted a college student in her attendance to the Lake George Conference by securing a scholarship; as a result she was able to enter graduate school to pursue environmental studies at Duke University. She is one of three of our young people that have chosen environmental studies.
• After the Lake George, NY Environmental Conference members of ECHC met “Biz” at the SNP to view land terrapins that had been electronically equipped for scientists to monitor their breeding and survival stats.
• Members of ECHC traveled to Richmond to inform Massy Coal Company that their actions at the Marsh Fork School in West Virginia were unacceptable and required correction. (A coal tipple was adjacent to the school). Recently, the coal industry has built a new school to replace the contaminated structure.
• In three consecutive planting seasons, members of ECHC traveled to the Volunteer Farm located on the Eastern slope of Shenandoah Mountain near St. Luke, Virginia to plant potatoes, onions and other seasonal vegetables to donate to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
• Led summer night studies or bible school based on the valuable information and inspiration gained by members of ECHC at the National Presbyterians for Earth Care held at Montreat Environmental Conference near Black Mountain, North Carolina.
• ECHC was an exhibitor at Green Innovations Tour 2012 held at Turner Pavilion, sponsored by Downtown Harrisonburg Renaissance.

• A member of ECHC applied and received grant from Shenandoah Bicycle Coalition to place a bike rack on Trinity’s lawn.
• A member of ECHC, who was a Stewardship Creation Enabler, received a $400 grant from PC(USA) for environmental work in Harrisonburg. He purchased 8 rain barrels and donated them to families with young children in our congregation.
• An anonymous donation of $1,000 was given to ECHC to bring author and sustainable farmer, Richard Cartwright Austin, for a Friday night and Saturday workshop held at Trinity.

• Members went to Lambert Cabin in the Shenandoah National Forest. The cabin is owned by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. Additional members joined for worship and a shared meal later during the retreat.
• Members went to Highland Conference Center, a Mennonite center on the edge of North Mountain in the George Washington National Forest.
• Members went to Kayford Mountain, WV, to view first hand mountain top removal spending an afternoon with Larry Gibson, a mountaineer whose family lived in the area. Residents have literally been driven from their Cabin Creek homes by continuous blasting. The tour was followed by an overnight retreat at Hawks Nest State Park.

• ECHC member organized a group of volunteers to tutor students at Keister Elementary School. Four of the 19 volunteers were members of ECHC . Worked with youth of Trinity for six weeks during Sunday School weatherizing the older part of our building. ECHC routinely assists Health Helpers House Church by furnishing food for the doctors and nurses who volunteer at the Harrisonburg Rockingham Free Clinic. Members of ECHC prepare and deliver food to the Free Clinic ECHC hosted with Cooks Creek Presbyterian Church one night of feeding the clients housed in the HARTS shelter. We prepared for approximately 50 clients. Harrisonburg and Rockingham Thermal Shelter operates in the larger churches in the downtown area. We served, ate with the clients, cleaned up the kitchen. Several members counseled those clients who wanted to verbalize how they came to be at the shelter and some of ECHC members stayed overnight.

ECHC continue their forward thinking and leadership in caring for God’s creation. Their very large group of 16, concentrate on environmental, peace, civic, social and eco-justice issues. They have co-sponsored Town Hall Meetings on air pollution. Outdated power plants in Virginia and other states appear to be harming the streams and forests in the Shenandoah Valley. Several members went to SNP to get signatures and present them to Congress in an effort to get scrubbers placed on these plants. ECHC is very interested in hydro-fracking that is beginning to be discussed in the northern area of Rockingham County. As part of their church audit, ECHC worked with the youth to weatherize the older section’s doors and windows. The General Presbyter of Shenandoah Presbytery appointed one of the ECHC members to serve on the Board of VICPP (Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy). Her work was focused on the environment, at risk children and youth and payday lending. Several members promote peace efforts through their affiliation with Veteran’s For Peace. In an attempt to keep the community and their congregation fully informed members of ECHC make presentations at churches, universities, Sunday school classes, summer night studies, wineries and other facilities. They refer to scripture and hymns that relate to God’s creation. They prepare and participate at the Church House on Earth Day Sunday and write articles of interest for Trinity’s monthly newsletter.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Presbyterians for Earth Care Present Annual Awards at 2012 General Assembly

PITTSBURGH, PA - Presbyterians for Earth Care will present their annual recognition awards at their Annual Meeting and Luncheon at General Assembly on July 5. The William Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Tom Quigley of Glenshaw Presbyterian Church and the Restoring Creation Award will go to Earth Covenant Ministry in Atlanta.  

Since 1997, Presbyterians for Earth Care (PEC) has given awards annually to recognize individuals and groups/institutions for their forward thinking and leadership in caring for God's creation.  Individuals receive the William Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award and congregations, governing bodies, ecumenical agencies, and Presbyterian-related entities receive Restoring Creation Awards for environmental work that is particularly praise-worthy and creative.

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Tom Quigley who is currently the Director/Coordinator of The Garden of Etna, a community vegetable garden which has been quite successful in its first year. When Tom became aware of several grants available to start community gardens in Pittsburgh, he became an enthusiastic supporter of starting a garden in Etna Borough. Working through contacts in the Etna Outreach Partnership, Tom made borough officials aware of these opportunities and spearheaded the effort with the borough manager. Tom was the obvious choice to coordinate the garden which is now planting summer crops.
Earth Covenant Ministry in Atlanta will receive this year’s Restoring Creation Award. Earth Covenant Ministry (ECM) is a partnership composed of ten congregations of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta who direct and implement its mission. ECM seeks to be a tangible resource for congregations of all shapes and sizes in their practice of creation care. Throughout its history, ECM has been a constant presence in its presbytery on the issue of creation care, sustainability and intentional stewardship and actively promotes Earth Care Certification throughout the Presbytery. ECM is also committed to equipping seminarians in the work of creation care by joining forces with Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA.  In 2011, ECM launched a new program "Mision Verde" to engage Latino Presbyterian youth in a week-long eco-adventure. ECM continues to strive to be a model for what is possible in other Presbyteries across the country.

Presbyterians for Earth Care (formerly Presbyterians for Restoring Creation) was founded in 1995 as a national, grassroots organization to support people of faith working towards “environmental wholeness with social justice." PEC helps the church to fulfill its current environmental policies, to create new policies and practices, and to energize and educate church members about eco-justice - the well-being of all humankind on a thriving earth.
In July 2011 a vibrant group of Latino youth, along with their five fearless leaders, spent the week exploring faith in God's good creation in Georgia as part of  Earth Covenant Ministry's MisiĆ³n Verde. While enjoying refreshing waters, they learned   about being good stewards of this precious resource in our midst and responding to the call of environmental   justice.  As one youth was overheard saying at the close of the excursion, "I came to learn about God and was not disappointed!"

Past Award Recipients
William Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award*

    1997 Dr. William E. Gibson
    1998 Richard Cartwright Austin
    1999 Terri Swearingen
    2000 Dr. Dieter Hessel
    2001 Rev. Bill Knox
    2002 Rev. Holmes Rolston III
    2003 Rev. John H. Jackson
    2004 Rev. Carol F. Johnston
    2005 Jenny Holmes
    2006 Dan and Elizabeth Turk
    2008 John Topping
    2009 Linda Gray Sonner
    2010 Robert Stivers and Kristina Peterson
    2011 Rev. William Somplatsky-Jarman

Restoring Creation Award

    1998 Trinity House Church, Harrisonburg, VA
    1999 Community of Servant Savior, Houston, TX
    2000 Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, San Diego, CA & St. Mark Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, CA
    2001 Synod of Living Waters: Living Waters for the World, TN
    2002 Central Florida Presbytery, FL & First Presbyterian Church, Kirkwood, MO
    2003 First United Presbyterian Church, Loveland, CO & Ferncliff Camp & Conference Center, AR & Eco-Justice Ministries, CO
    2004 Warren Wilson College, NC
    2005 Susquehanna Valley Presbytery, NY
    2006 Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley, AL
    2007 Foothill Presbyterian Church, CA
    2008 Village Presbyterian Church, KS
    2009 Montreat Conference Center, NC
    2010 North Como Presbyterian Church, Roseville, MN
    2011 Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Denver, CO

*William E. Gibson: Founding PEC member, author and eco-justice advocate, William Gibson was a true earth care pioneer.  He served in the U.S. Navy in WWII and earned a Bachelor's of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Doctorate in Christian Ethics from Union Theological Seminary New York. He was an ordained Presbyterian Minister. He was in campus ministry at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Rochester, RIT, and Cornell University. In 1974 he led in the founding of the Eco-Justice Project which was a part of the Center for Religion Ethics and Social Policy at Cornell. He was editor of the Egg: A Journal of Eco-Justice, for nine plus years. He wrote numerous articles and book chapters and was editor of the book Eco-Justice-The Unfinished Journey. He loved God and humankind his whole life by working for peace, justice, and the environment. He was a part of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s, spoke out against every war since WWII, was a leading member of the Presbyterian Eco-Justice Task Force, Presbyterians for Restoring Creation, and the Eco-Justice Working Group of the National Council of Churches, and served on the Loaves and Fishes Board and the Fair Wage Coalition in Ithaca, to name a few of his activities over the years.