Thursday, April 24, 2014

Earth Day Sunday: A Celebration and a Call to Action

With this week being Earth Week, many of our congregations across the country are celebrating Earth Day Sunday on April 27th.  If your church hasn't begun planning an Earth Day Sunday celebration, don't fret! Every day should be cause to celebrate Creation.  Here is how one Presbyterian church is being mindful of God's Earth.  Happy Earth Day!

Water, Holy Water: A reflection in honor of Earth
Written by Jerry Rees 

Water is the most abundant and fundamental element on Earth. Because of climate change and increasing population, there is a critical need for water conservation at home and safe clean water abroad. Internationally, the availability of safe clean water is becoming a major humanitarian and environmental problem with national security implications.

According to

  • 780 million people lack access to an improved water source; approximately one in nine people. That’s more than 2.5 times the United States population.
  • More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Nearly all deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world. This number is equivalent to the entire population of Los Angeles.
  • Unsafe water affects more people worldwide than AIDS and cancer combined.
  • Clean water means less disease, which means less money spent on medicine which means more money spent on education.
  • Only 14% of plastic water bottles are recycled in the US.
  • Some plastics in the ocean will not break down in the lifetimes of the grandchildren of the people who threw them away.
  • Each day over 200 million hours are used by women collecting water for their families.
  • Lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every four hours!

Blue is the new Green. It is time to acknowledge the growing scarcity of fresh clean water, to declare water as an intrinsic human right, and to communicate the need to preserve water for future generations of all living creatures--humankind and other kind. Changing water use patterns has become a matter of social and environmental justice!

During the past year, the Environmental Action Committee at Village Presbyterian Church (Prairie Village, KS) has been engaged in a World Wide Water Awareness campaign.  To raise our congregation’s consciousness and to stir their conscience, we have provided water-related information at various locations around the church.  Last fall, we presented 4 evening classes focusing on water.  This winter and spring, we offered 5 classes about water, including a Saturday morning seminar and a Sunday school class.

During Lent, we organized a Stop Using Bottled Water campaign. We placed signs at Drinking Fountains and at Lavatories around the church urging folks to Get off the Bottle and Start Drinking Tap Water. Since tap water is significantly less expensive than bottled water, we encouraged them to donate their savings to a worthy cause pertaining to water security, such as or One Great Hour of Sharing.

For Earth Day or Any Day, Creation Justice Ministries has provided a resource entitled Water, Holy Water.  This featured resource explores water as a gift from God that is being threatened by overuse and pollution. Included are information pieces, stories, scriptures, worship resources, sermon starters, and a bulletin insert.  I encourage you to read it and to use it!

“You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills, giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst. By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.” ~Psalm 104:10-13

Village Presbyterian Church - Prairie Village, KS

Jerry Rees is chair of the Environmental Action Committee at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, KS, which won the PEC Restoring Creation award in 2008.  Beyond the walls of his church, he is a former PEC Midwest Regional Rep and one of the founding Steering Committee members of Kansas IPL.  He is currently serving on the Board of the Sustainable Sanctuary Coalition of KC and is also active in Earthkeepers of Heartland Presbytery.  Under his leadership, Village Church is beginning its fourth year as an Earth Care Congregation.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

An Easter Reflection on the Power of Presbyterian Advocacy

Presbyterians for Earth Care Lenten Reflections 2014
Advocating for Environmental and Social Justice

Isaiah 58:1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! 


The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

Isaiah 58:1-12 - What a beautiful and inspiring passage - one that seems eerily written for us in our time and place. I was asked to reflect specifically on verse 11, and the six lines contain beautiful imagery of guidance, fulfillment, strength, life, energy, and eternity.  All that we yearn for.  Sign me up! 

    But wait, this is the promise at the end of the If/Then clauses of previous verses…  To reach the vision, I, as an individual, and we, as a community, must intentionally remove the yoke from among us, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil and we are to offer food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted.  

    When I read these words, I think of Yolanda who lives in La Oroyo, Peru and came down to Lima to meet with us about her children.  She told us there was a U.S. smelter in the town that was poisoning the air, the water, the people and the animals.  Indeed the town is one of the ugliest towns I have ever visited.   It could be the set for a sci-fi movie as the mountains look dead, the river leaves odd colors on its banks, and ash drifted down from the sky.  God’s creation was being destroyed.  The facts compelled Presbyterians from St. Louis, Columbus, and Washington, D.C. to connect the community to those in the U.S. who could do impartial health and environmental studies, journalists, and even testify before Peruvian Congress about the documented behavior of this company in Missouri.  Presbyterians hosted inter-faith prayer vigils and brought Peruvians to our own government officials.  It became an outpouring of support that has spanned over twelve years.  

Photo of Andes Mountains near La Oroyo, Peru

    And, yes, the company was closed down until it agreed to add scrubbers and other infrastructure it had promised to do years earlier.   And, yes, now the company is suing the Peruvian state for lost profits under a free trade agreement that values a company’s right to risk-free investment more than its responsibilities to a nation’s children and the land they live on, the waters they drink, and the air they breathe.

    I think of Yolanda because it wasn't until months later when I asked about her children that I realized that she was single and had no children.  Her children were all 11,000 kids who lived in La Oroya.  

Creator God,
May we love and care for all of earth as we do our own backyards and may we love and care for all children as we do our own.  Then, you, oh God, will guide us continually, satisfy our needs in parched places, make our bones strong and we shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters never fail.  In the name of our Creator’s son, Amen.

Ruth Farrell has the joy and privilege of coordinating the Presbyterian Hunger Program.  Prior to that she and her husband Hunter served as mission co-workers in economic and community development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Peru. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Reflection for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday from Southeastern Louisiana

Presbyterians for Earth Care Lenten Reflections 2014
Advocating for Environmental and Social Justice

Isaiah 58:1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! 


"if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday." Isaiah 58: 10

We in South Louisiana will come to the table this Maundy Thursday and to Good Friday’s deadliness. We will come as people on the edge of Exile. We will come as people who dwell in the dark shadows of a quickening disastrous future. We will come as residents of a sacrificial zone. We will come as a people who see God’s good life giving earth disappearing under our feet. We will come as people who see a cornucopia of good things to share and eat endangered. We will come as people who know every day the consequences of sin. We will come with a growing sense of urgency and foreboding. We will come as the fishers for a nation. We will come afraid to eat the bounty of our place. We will come as a people desperate for hope. We will come as poets and prophets, as fishers, dwellers-in-place, and providers of food. We will come because in the last analysis we have no other place to go. We will come to the table. We will come to face Good Friday. We will come full of fear and seeking hope. We come in darkness and gloom. We will come praying for light and noonday. WE WILL COME TO THE TABLE WHERE THE BREAD OF LIFE IS SHARED.

I See the
Strike the crucifying Nails
And I see the Ghost tree
remains of the once mighty
I see water
where Communities once thrived.
And the Ringing of the Nails
fills the Earth.

I See the
Strike the crucifying Nails
and I see the City
a Flood.
Death floating.
And the Ringing of the Nails
fills the Earth.

I See the
Strike the crucifying Nails
and I See the Brown Sludge
Cover the Earth
Stopping the Reflection
Of God’s Smile.
And the Ringing of the Nails
Covers the Sea.

I See the
Strike the crucifying Nails
I See
the Black Death
Covering the Birthplace,
the Nursery place,
the Resting place,
Of God’s Creatures
And the Places of God’s People.
And the Ringing of the Nails
fills the Earth.

The Hammer Stops.
The Nails are Driven.
The Ringing Ends in
Dead Silence.
And the Silence is Louder
Than All the Other Sounds.
It is the Sound of the Death of God.


From “Nails” by Richard Krajeski
Richard Krajeski has been a Presbyterian pastor for almost 50 years and an environmental advocate even longer. He has been involved with the Presbyterian environmental program from its beginning.  He is a Fellow in the Society for Applied Anthropology. He is a founding board member of the international Gender and Disaster Network and the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association. Dick is a founder and President of the board of directors of the Lowlander Center, Dick now spends his time working to develop the Wetlands Theological Education Project of the South Louisiana Presbytery and serving the people of south Louisiana with his wife the Rev. Dr. Kristina Peterson and the people of the First Presbyterian Church of Bayou Blue.  
Rev. Dr. Kristina Peterson currently facilitates The Lowlander Center, a nonprofit organization that helps create solutions through education, research, and advocacy, beginning at the community level, for Lowland people and places in the bayous of Louisiana.  She received the PEC William Gibson Environmental Award in 2010.

Friday, April 11, 2014

PEC Invitations of the Season

PEC Friends,

We are journeying toward Holy Week and true manifestation of the beauty of spring!  Easter, Earth Day…and GA are approaching.  PEC has invitational reminders:
  • We are happy to be gearing up for our presence at GA. We are supporting a number of important eco-justice overtures which will be sent to committee for review.  Please pray and work pro-actively with your presbytery commissioners to advocate for these important overtures.  They include the divestment from fossil fuels overture, as well as food sovereignty, sustainable development, factory farming, coal export/transport, and others. Please follow PC-BIZ for updates and general information!
  • If you are attending GA, plan to visit our booth and sign up for our luncheon where we will hear from the Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith as well as view a recorded video made by Bill McKibben of especially for the PC(USA) and PEC.  Both will address divestment from fossil fuels.  (Food will be local and it will be a plant-based, whole foods menu.)
  • Advocacy is SO important in our work and every year,  PEC members have the opportunity to honor those who seek eco-justice.  During our luncheon we will honor the winners of our annual awards – the William Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award for an individual and the Restoring Creation Award for a group, whose work for Creation has been praiseworthy and creative.  We encourage you to nominate award winners.  Follow this link and plan to complete your nomination, by May 1.
I also want to remind you about the importance of supporting the One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) Offering. Financial donations to OGHS fund almost the entire budget of the Presbyterian Hunger Program including Environmental Ministries that partners with us and has supported us in the past.  Currently, however, funding for OGHS is declining.   Please encourage your congregations to share generously...not only these next two Sundays, but to go on-line and donate at any time of the year.
May the blessings of the seasons of Lent, Easter, and Springtime be with you,

Diane Waddell
Moderator, Presbyterians for Earth Care

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Reflection for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

Presbyterians for Earth Care Lenten Reflections 2014
Advocating for Environmental and Social Justice

Isaiah 58:1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! 


“If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness …” Isaiah 58:10

I suspect most of us have come face to face with hunger.  Perhaps you’ve volunteered at a soup kitchen or seen someone standing at an intersection asking for a handout.  Maybe you have been in the checkout line at the grocery while someone purchased their next meal with food stamps.  Yes, we’ve seen hunger and addressed it.  We’ve supported food drives conducted by the church and sent checks to charities whose mission is hunger relief.

But Isaiah asks more of us when he tells us that in addition to offering food to the hungry we are to “satisfy the needs of the afflicted.”  That’s a huge undertaking.

Seldom does a day pass when I don’t receive a letter asking me to help the afflicted; the hungry, the sick, those suffering because of some natural disaster, the orphaned.  The list of those in need, like the letters written on their behalf, is endless and overwhelming.  It encourages paralysis or indifference.  How do I choose a worthy cause?  What difference could my offering possibly make?

Many of the reflections you have been reading have focused our attention on saints.  That’s a bit of a stretch when we think about ourselves, isn’t it?  Me, a saint!  Who are you kidding?

Yet scripture is filled with references to saints who are rather ordinary men and women who do what they can to bring us closer to the Kingdom of God.  I think about the boy with the five loaves and two fish.  He was just an ordinary kid who gave his lunch away and who, in doing so, became an instrument of God’s goodness.  God says all of us are quite capable of doing something equally significant.  Take the next step and see where it leads you.  Several dozen members of the church I serve will be participating in the SNAP Challenge, living for a week on the same amount of grocery expenditures ($4.47 per day) as do our sisters and brothers who are dependent on government assistance.  Are these folks saints?  I would suggest their commitment to experiencing the challenges of poverty so as to better understand those in need is a step in the direction of sainthood.  Theirs is an “atonement” … a “being with” moment that is like unto Christ.

Gracious God, you made me in your image.  Help me live up to that reality.  Give me opportunities to feed the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted so that your light – not mine – shall rise in the darkness.

Jay McKell is a husband, father, and grandfather.  He gardens in the spring, prays for rain in August, celebrates October and plays in winter’s snow.  His current ministry focuses on pastoral care with some attention paid to social justice issues.

A Palm Sunday Reflection on Creation

Presbyterians for Earth Care Lenten Reflections 2014
Advocating for Environmental and Social Justice

Isaiah 58:1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! 


Isaiah 58:8: Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

I have always loved the dawn. Growing up within a few minutes of the ocean in New Jersey was like having a constant and open invitation from God to experience the glory of the first bright light streaming across the horizon. I went often to enjoy the sunrise, regardless of time of year. I loved sitting in the quiet morning, watching the darkness transition to light, watching the myriad colors move across the sky, and finally, suddenly, watching the bright orange sun peek over the edge of the ocean.

This scripture makes me think of Matthew 5:14: "You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid." God created light, and created it beautiful. God also created humans, to be a light and shine as brightly and beautifully as the first streams of dawn at the beach. I know humans are a part of creation, formed reflecting God’s image, but I really enjoy when we are compared to other glorious aspects of creation. It really drives the point home for me that we are connected to earth and should be caring for it. It’s a good reminder to let my light, which is a reflection of God’s own light, shine forth, with God behind me in all I do.

Will you pray with me?
Loving God, help us to remember to shine Your light in this world, as new and beautiful as the first light of every morning. Amen.

Colleen Earp is currently serving as a Young Adult Volunteer in South Louisiana, focusing on wetlands conservation and advocacy. Her bias towards sunrises over sunsets comes from growing up on the east coast in New Jersey. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Become a PEC member today!

Dear Friend of Earth Care,

Earth Day is fast approaching and it’s a good time to consider joining Presbyterians for Earth Care if you are not already a member. With your support, PEC can continue to send informative email messages and coordinate educational and inspirational conferences and advocacy events that shape the practice of environmental stewardship among Presbyterians. First time memberships are just $25.

If you are a PEC member, now is the time to renew your membership.  As a member, you know that the added benefits of membership include:
  • Connection to a Regional Representative to help your earth care ministry and connect you with other members in your presbytery or synod.
  • Resources for a variety of ways to bring earth care into your life as well as your church.
  • Access to a network of Presbyterians who share an eco-justice ethic.
  • A vote and voice within PEC.

With the help of your new or renewed membership, you can also be certain that you will be represented from a Presbyterian perspective on the pressing environmental issues of today including fracking, mountain top removal coal mining, coal-fired power plants and the Keystone XL pipeline.

We are grateful for your support and remind you that PEC memberships are due on Earth Day, April 22. You may join or renew online. Please also consider honoring a friend or relative with a gift membership for just $25.

Yours in Christ,

The PEC Membership Committee:
Dana Eglinton
Jane Laping
Fred Milligan (Chair)
Katie Preston