Saturday, February 9, 2019

Eco-Palms

Eco-Palms for Palm Sunday

“Everybody thought it was really great the way that Eco-Palms benefited everyone all around.”
—Carla Schmidt, wife of Rev. Dr. Sergio Schmidt, former pastor, Cristo Salvador Latino Ministry, 
Presbytery of Charlotte

Pastor Schmidt (l) and 
Guatemalan Eco-Palms Representative Juan Trujillo

Against the backdrop of Palm Sunday 2019 is an ongoing national debate about immigration across the southern border of the United States, including an outcry against the detention of children who were separated from their parents upon their arrival in the United States from Central America. These immigrants include asylum seekers who are fleeing violence and fear death if they are forced to return to Guatemala and other Central American countries. 
This fear is real for too many indigenous people in a region that is the heart of the former Mayan Empire. During a 2018 visit to promote Eco-palms in North Carolina churches, Rainforest Alliance representative Juan Trujillo told how a colleague was assassinated as they sat next to each other in a meeting in their home country of Guatemala. Environmental activists are putting their lives on the line in Guatemala. 
Eco-Palms are harvested in the globally-significant Maya Biosphere Reserve, which includes official concession areas where forest products can be sustainably harvested, providing livelihoods that support indigenous communities. These forest “concessions” are the result of local struggles for land rights.
Twenty-five percent of the cost of each Eco-Palm goes back to harvesting communities in Guatemala, providing jobs, education, health care and improved nutrition. Women have assumed valuable leadership roles associated with Eco-Palm processing.  Join over 1,000 PCUSA congregations who ordered Eco-Palms in 2018 and order yours now until March 22 at www.pcusa.org/ecopalms or by calling 651-487-7189. With your support, this could be the year that over 1 million Eco-Palms are waved on Palm Sunday!

-- Presbyterians for Earth Care Moderator Dennis Testerman, hosted visits to North Carolina by an Eco-Palms delegation from Guatemala in 2018, 11 years after he, former PEC Steering Committee member Barbara Hipple and former Presbyterian Hunger Program staffer Melanie Hardison travelled to Guatemala to visit communities sustainably harvesting Eco-Palms. PEC has played a key role in the Presbyterian Church USA promotion and marketing of Eco-Palms.