Monday, July 30, 2018

PEC Exhibits at General Assembly

PEC in the Exhibit Hall at General Assembly

The exhibit hall at General Assembly is a lively place with hundreds of exhibitors including PC(USA) agencies, General Assembly organizations and projects, seminaries, non-profit organizations, a book store, and the Global Marketplace that sells partners’ fair-trade items. 

The Presbyterians for Earth Care booth was an active place to learn about caring for God’s creation with several activities related to reducing and eliminating single use plastics and the impacts they have on marine life when they get into our oceans. Mark Eakin, PhD, gave a talk at the PEC booth about the impacts of climate change on coral reefs and the people who depend on them, and the negative effects of plastic pollution. Mark is Coordinator of NOAA Coral Reef Watch and scientific advisor to the Sundance winning film, Chasing Coral, on Netflix. 

We decorated our booth with disposable plastic containers attached to a cord and hung in the corners of the booth. We also displayed photos of marine animals and the enormous amounts of plastic trash they must sort through to find their food. The topic was so popular that we are sharing the following resources for you and your friends.
    The Last Plastic Straw campaign encourages restaurants to serve straws only upon request. We handed out small cards to give to servers who provide straws without asking. Download a sheet of cards to print and cut.
   Reading facts about plastic pollution can be alarming but also inspiring. 
    Use the plastic consumption calculator to determine how much plastic you use and make a plan to reduce it. 
    If you or someone you know regularly purchases water in plastic bottles, download and read our How to Overcome the Bottled Water Habit brochure

We asked visitors to write down what they could do to reduce or eliminate their single-use plastic consumption and got some useful answers: use shampoo bars and reuse travel toiletry containers, use paper wraps for sandwiches, switch to canvas bags and mesh produce bags, use refillable water bottles and reusable coffee mugs.

Visitors could also enter the PEC daily drawing to win a PEC t-shirt or a book by joining or renewing their PEC membership. We encouraged all to sign up to be on the PEC e-mail list and to consider buying and wearing a PEC t-shirt to help promote Presbyterians for Earth Care. PEC is a non-profit organization, separate from Environmental Ministries, but with similar goals to provide a faith-based collective voice seeking environmental wholeness with social justice. 

More resources about plastic pollution can be found in the Earth Day Network Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Toolkit

Monday, July 16, 2018

What happened at General Assembly?

PEC at the General Assembly

Presbyterians for Earth Care has a presence at every General Assembly. We have a booth in the exhibit hall, we hold a luncheon to honor our awardees, and we support overtures sent to the Assembly.

This year our luncheon featured the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Director of the Office of Public Witness. Jimmie shared the work of the Poor People’s Campaign and the intersection with environmental justice. He spoke briefly about his time in jail, as a result of his participation in the Poor People’s Campaign. He left plenty of time to interact with the attendees.

Our awardees were honored and given an opportunity to share about their work. The William Gibson Eco-Justice Award was presented to Pam McVety. Sarah E. Ogletree received the Emerging Earth Care Leader Award for a young adult, and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake received the Restoring Creation Award for an organization.

This year PEC supported three overtures: 
  • On Directing the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Foundation to Divest from Fossil Fuel and Actively Invest in Securities That Focus on Renewable Energy. This overture was widely reported on. Ultimately the Assembly decided not to divest, but to continue corporate engagement focused on particular companies. This was hugely disappointing.
  • On Responding to Environmental Racism. This overture calls on the church to listen to the people who are affected by environmental racism and to respond to environmental racism. This overture passed overwhelmingly. There is much work to be done in this area. The former co-moderators, Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston, admitted that while they had done much to educate the church on the issue of racism, there is much work left to be done. Environmental racism is one area that the church has not addressed. Reporting after the Assembly named racism as one of the top issues but neglected to mention this overture.
  • The Earth Is the Lord’s - Not Ours to Ruin: Priorities for a New Moral Era. This overture calls on the church to raise its prophetic voice on the issue of climate change. This overture borrowed heavily on a similar resolution by the United Church of Christ in response to the President announcing that the United States was pulling out of the Paris Agreement. It challenges preachers to preach and everyone to go to the Capitol and our state houses to advocate for God’s creation. This overture passed as part of the consent agenda.
 While the divestment outcome was disappointing, there are signs of hope in the passage of the other overtures. And for the first time there was a committee that dealt only with environmental issues.

Stay tuned for news about the Exhibit Hall.