Thursday, April 30, 2015

Did You Remember to Renew?

Dear Friends of Earth Care,

With your support, Presbyterians for Earthcare will remain committed to Caring for God's earth and its people in 2015. We will continue to honor and worship God by working within the PC(USA), our communities, our country, and around the world seeking justice for the oppressed peoples and ecosystems of the earth.

Are you a Presbyterians for Earth Care member or do you want to become a part of the flourishing faith and environment connection? PEC membership renewals are due every year on Earth Day, April 22. If you aren't yet a member, you can join now. First year memberships start at $25.

In 2014, PEC members along with the PEC Steering Committee accomplished the following:
  • Maintained an active earth care presence at the 2014 General Assembly.
  • Worked with Fossil Free PC(USA) to bring a fossil fuels divestment overture before the General Assembly of the PC(USA).
  • Advocated for 3 more environmental overtures before the GA.
  • Worked to support indigenous fishing rights in the Pacific NW and to stop the development of the largest coal exporting terminal in the US.
  • Marched in the Peoples Climate March in New York City.
  • Supported a regional PEC conference in Alaska focused on climate change.
  • Maintained contact with our members via regional representatives.

And there is more to come! 2015 will see continuing work in environmental education, advocacy, and spirituality. Highlights will include:  
  • Down-to-Earth Advocacy and Action, PEC's 2015 national conference, September 15-18 at Montreat Conference Center, Montreat, NC.
  • A visioning retreat for young adults, led by Eco-Stewards leaders, to be held in Montana in June.
  • Support for Fossil Free PC(USA) on another divestment overture.
  • Help with writing a Fossil Free PC(USA) curriculum on fossil fuel divestment for churches.
  • Advocacy for clean water (Fracking, Clean Water Bill, etc.).
  • Countless other educational events and actions to protect the earth.

Thank you for your prayers and works on behalf of the earth and its peoples.  Thank you for your support of PEC. 

Yours in Christ,

Diane Waddell, Moderator

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Springing into Spring with a Fresh Update

Strength and Hope
by Diane Waddell

Dear Friends seeking Earth-Justice,

Blessed be! Springtime, Resurrection and Renewal are upon us, with the opportunity for hope and for strengthening our reserve for Eco-Earth-Caring!

In that vein, Presbyterians for Earth Care has been gathering hope and assembling resources for another opportunity for renewal and strengthening: “Down-to-Earth Advocacy and Action” at the beautiful Montreat Conference Center, September 15 - 18, 2015. Please do put us on your calendar!

We begin with a selection of fascinating choices for September 15: pre-conference tours near Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains (with a reminder to arrive on September 14 for overnight accommodations).

We welcome the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Patricia K. Tull, author of Inhabiting Eden, who will keynote for us, beginning with biblical and scientific groundings, moving forward in creating social movements for change, and then empower us as we shift to a flourishing future!

We are equally thrilled to announce that the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Director of the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness, will join us to challenge us in areas of prophetic ministry and public witness, as we carry the banner of Eco-Justice.

We are honored to host Earth Care Congregations as they gather with Rebecca Barnes for their Earth Summit. We heartily welcome Hunger Action Enablers (a part of the Presbyteran Hunger Program). And you will want to keep an eye out for bright orange -- the Fossil Free PCUSA folk, as they gather momentum for General Assembly in 2016 and beyond!

Come for refreshment in worship, joy in celebrating our 20 years of Earth Caring as Presbyterians for Restoring Creation/Presbyterians for Earth Care, fellowship with others who have deep passion for eco-justice, and workshops on many current and provocative environmental, economic and social justice issues of our times.

May you be blessed, and continue to bless the Creation every season of the year through Hope, Renewal and Resurrection. Amen.

Diane Waddell

PEC Moderator

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Reflection for Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday Reflection
by Abby Mohaupt

11 Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. 13 The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” 14 As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus.
15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.                                                                                                    John 20:11-18

Everything has been in darkness,
covered over in dirt and refuse:
these thrown away flower stems and coffee grounds
            all used up and broken.
These fruit rinds and slimy leaves,
These egg shells and half-eaten remains of meals,
            tossed out of our home and into the world.
The heat has been building in the stillness of our garden,
            witnessed only by the bird that has nested in the tree,
            and the snails who are carrying their lives on their backs,
                        and the cat who lurks on the fence.
Foodstuff gives way to the dirt, as my fingers crumble the death in the pile,
            turning the tomato leaves into the molding strawberries I forgot to eat,
            mixing the scraps of yesterday with the leftovers from last month.
                        The smell lingers under my nails long after I’ve scrubbed the dirt from my skin.
There is an ache in my heart and arms as I reach into the pile, measuring the heat against my own body.
            These memories of meals and moments stick in my brain,
             and the weight of the decay resists the turning.
                        There is so much to mourn in this movement:
Childhood trips to our family compost pile, a sacred place in our family to which in winter we cut a path and our late beloved dog wore down to mud and matted grass.
Carrying eighty pounds of compost from its winter home on our Chicago back porch to the garden to surround the urban corn rows, letting the juice splash at our feet and legs as the wind changed from biting to loving.
Elbow-deep measuring with my grandmother, inhaling the tomato plants as my knees pressed into the ground, to be imprinted by mulch, another vestige of dying earth around me.
Beautiful, sacred moments, long lost to the turning of the earth around the hot, glowing sun.
I cannot get them back, I can only trust them to the God who is making something new in the darkness, calling forth life from all that has been strewn from our kitchens and lives:
bone upon bone, breath upon breath, heartbeat upon heartbeat.
Sweet, sacred earth. Somehow, you are made new—God always finding a way to make life out of the death that we so quickly accept as the end of the peel, stem, grounds of our being.
These artifacts of our waste gestate and re-incarnate, resurrecting into what they have always been—from stardust to stardust, ashes to ashes, topsoil to topsoil.
We mistake this miracle as just a process of earth, instead of seeing it the building of a just world, where death turns into life, again and again.
            Instead of seeing God making a new way:
                        Claiming life.
                        Naming life.
                        Giving life.
My palms are grimy as they scoop out the hot, dark earth that has been waiting for the light to be invited in.
Stardust into topsoil, the earth fills the empty waiting vessel, making space to welcome the fledging plant in its midst, making space in this death-into-life soil for more life, making space for miracles to birth more miracles.
            It is a new day. Christ is risen.

Contributor: Abby Mohaupt works at Puente de la Costa Sur in Pescadero, CA, where she divides her time between coordinating volunteers, meeting with faith communities, and nurturing learning in children. Abby holds a M.Div. and a Th.M. in eco-feminist theology from McCormick Theological Seminary. She is the At-Large Representative for the PEC Steering Committee.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday Reflection

A Reflection for Good Friday
by Ashley Goff

In 2012, the world generated 2.6 trillion pounds of garbage with over half of that amount going into landfills around the planet.

Those landfills are home to 1% of the global population. Children and their families who are the poorest of the poor live on the outskirts of landfills. Many use these landfills as a place of work—trading garbage for cash or consuming salvageable waste in order to survive. What was food for the dogs and flies becomes food for a family.

   La Chureca is the largest garbage dump in Central America, located on the edge of Managua. One thousand people live and work on the “City of Trash” every day. There is even an elementary school located on the dump with six classrooms.
   More than 2,000 families live on the Bantar Gebang landfill that lies outside Jakarta, Indonesia.   
   Thousands of families call the Tultitlan garbage dump in Mexico City home while spending 12 hours a day, in scorching hot sun, looking for recyclable materials to sell and make less than a dollar a day.
   The Veolia landfill 100 miles south of Atlanta, Georgia, known to locals as “Trash Mountain,” received toxic coal ash from a massive spill that occurred in December 2008 at a Kingston, TN power plant. Taylor County, where Veolia landfill is located, is 41% African-American and more than 24% of its residents live in poverty.  

In the time of Jesus, Gehenna was the landfill located just south of Jerusalem. This was the city dump of Jesus’ time. When Jesus would speak of hell, it is thought he was speaking of Gehenna which was filled with the household trash, Empire’s leftovers, and bodies of the dead. With no sanitation or plumbing systems in Jerusalem, people would toss their urine and feces into the streets. Imagine this: the streets of Jerusalem steaming with human shit and pee as Jesus was taken to the Imperial cross of execution. The Roman Empire closed in on Jesus and his followers, and Jesus’ final footsteps on the planet were pressing upon the garbage ridden streets of Jerusalem.

As a small child in La Chureca landfill picks through garbage, as birds and dogs and flies hover over the “what is left,” there, too, is Jesus’ body, naked, broken resting upon the planet’s garbage. It is with the poorest of the poor, the poor who make a home and eat dinner in garbage dumps, where Jesus rests his body each and every day, pushing us to see garbage as sacred.

It’s all sacred. All of it. The plastic water bottles. The rotting meat. The Styrofoam. Ripped Clothing. Banana peels. Broken bicycles. Flies. Rats. Dogs. The poop of the rats and dogs. Seagulls. Children of the garbage dumps. Their school. Every bit of the “what’s left” is sacred and holy.

There is no division of the sacred and the profane. In fact there is no profane. On this Good Friday, we sit at the foot of the cross, an Imperial cross that might have been possibly littered with trash and human feces from Gehenna and Jerusalem, a cross soaked with blood and dripping flesh. Without mercy, Jesus was nailed to a cross with those viewed as human garbage hanging next to him. It is in the nailing that Jesus nails us to each other.

From my garbage in Arlington, VA, to the sanitation workers of Arlington County who pick it up, to the garbage ridden waters of the Anacostia River which borders Washington D.C., to the the poor living near the Veolia landfill to the families of Bantar Gebang; to Gehenna and the human waste of Jerusalem, the nails on the cross today pierce together what is seen and treated as the waste of the planet.

Ecofeminism stretches us to embrace it all as sacred, to see how each and every bit of what’s treated as garbage, the human and the material, are nailed together.

On this Good Friday, we sit and wait. Together. Nailed together as the planet continues to be pierced, broken, torn, and rendered. As your hands and arms stretch out today to toss away a piece of garbage, as your hands and arms extend to pick-up garbage, we remember the ones who live, eat, live, learn and are family on a garbage dump. Today we remember Jesus and his outstretched arms, executed in a city that looked and smelled and was a garbage dump. 

Prayer: Holy One. Holy One of garbage and landfills. We are nailed together. Garbage and all. May we never, ever forget it.
Contributor: Ashley Goff is Minister for Spiritual Formation at Church of the Pilgrims (PCUSA) and ordained in the United Church of Christ. Ashley graduated from Union Theological Seminary in NYC where she fell in love with the art of liturgy.  She lives with deep gratitude for several communities which have formed her along the way: Denison University, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, the Open Door Community, and Rikers Island NYC Jail. Ashley also finds life in Springsteen music, beekeeping, urban farming, vinyasa yoga, and her three kids, loveable spouse and their furry black lab.  Ashley blogs at