Creation Care, Justice & Peacemaking at the Nexus of Needs By Steven Drew
Guilford Park Presbyterian in Greensboro, NC recently became a 2018 Earth Care Congregation! This important ministry has provided our church with yet another important way to show the love of Christ to those within our church community and those in need outside of our walls. A few years ago, Guilford Park’s Justice and Peacemaking Committee was formed to provide advocacy and action for our neighbors in need who have been marginalized in ways that are not so simple to solve. The Justice and Peacemaking Committee strives to learn and become actively engaged in areas of need that include Hunger, LGBTQ, Race, Immigration, Interfaith Peacemaking and Environmental Justice. Some might think that caring for the environment is sort of a secular thing, or perhaps a stand-alone mission, seemingly unrelated to the other areas of Justice and Peacemaking. We as a congregation know that work for environmental justice and stewardship does not exist in a silo. Environmental Justice overlaps, intertwines and compliments the other areas of Justice and Peacemaking. So it really came as no surprise that our Session and congregation would embrace the idea of becoming an Earth Care Congregation.
It is this intimate connection between the planet and the poor that keeps us hooked as people of faith. As Christians and stewards of the earth, we see a connection, or “Nexus”, between caring for the environment and caring for people. At the most basic level, simple frugal living frees up resources for others. Promoting energy conservation reduces need for fossil fuel, leading to reductions in air and ground water pollution, while offsetting the drivers of climate change. Our cumulative efforts matter and have impact. There are intersections where people of faith are needed. With regard to social injustice, many of our poorest neighbors live in close proximity to contaminated air, soil and water. Often the NIMBY principle, “Not in My Back Yard” works for the most organized and affluent voices in our communities. The softest and poorest of our neighbors’ voices lose out and they find “it”, pollution in their backyard. Guilford Park’s people of faith yet again have added their voices to advocate for environmental justice as an Earth Care Congregation.
Guilford Park’s Earth Care Congregation Certification Audit Team has been renamed Stewards of Creation and continues to work with the congregation, committees, the Session, other churches in the Presbytery and the community to bring this important ministry to higher levels of service to God’s creation and neighbors, exploring all opportunities at the Nexus of Needs. We give thanks that the PCUSA has provided leadership and guidance for congregations to honor God’s charge to “till and keep” the garden.
Steven Drew is a member of Guilford Park Presbyterian Church, Greensboro NC and serves on the Justice and Peacemaking Committee as Environmental Liaison and Chair of the Stewards of Creation team. He and his wife Carolyn have been members of Guilford Park for over 30 years. Steve is the Director of Water Resources for the City of Greensboro.