Thursday, December 31, 2020
Thursday, December 17, 2020
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
In Guatemala, where I do much of my work, a Maya friend begins prayers by invoking our “Creator and Former,” a rendition that reminds us that we are called into being and shaped only in relationship with others and with the creation itself. We are not self-made, and the Maya articulate a cosmovision in which balance, harmony, and equilibrium are crucial components of our being in community with other humans and our being in the cosmos. As well, we are shaped by the past, not only in the presence of those ancestors and siblings we carry in our memory but also in the knowledge that the words of the Creator will not return empty in the lives of the faithful. The snow and the rain fall, often in unequal portions in these days of human-induced climate change. Yet we find constancy in the possibility of an expectant return from exile and the renewal of lifeways that may yet enable us to transcend enmity between peoples and the estrangement between our species and the creation from which our shared being cannot be separated.
What if Christmas, then, represents a sign of constancy on the horizon? What the liberationists refer to as an “in-breaking”? A new reality emerges out of our expectant waiting, our longing in THIS year punctuated by so much loss, anxiety, and fear. The Creator speaks a Word, and with that presence in our midst, we read the signs of our times and remember the promise of the tree of life that stands beside the river of life and whose leaves are for the healing of the nations (Revelations 22.2). Instead of normalcy, we look for renewal and restoration, a hope that watered by snow and rain and our own commitments will break forth in the redemption our times.
God of life, you call us into being as our Creator; you redeem us in your words spoken throughout history and in your eternal Word that speaks to us through the generations; you sustain us with the constancy of your presence in the face of all that threatens. Teach us so to live that in our living, like the snow and the rain, we might water the earth with steadfastness and loving kindness.
Matt Samson is an associate professor of anthropology and chair of Latin American Studies at Davidson College. A graduate of Austin Presbyterian Seminary and the University at Albany, his research and teaching are centered on religious change, ethnic identity, and human-environment relations in the Americas. Matt enjoys introducing students to ethnographic approaches, and currently serves on a PCUSA study team on Central America under the auspices of the Advisory Council on Social Witness Policy.
Water photo by David Kepley
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
As of today, there are over 45 million confirmed Coronavirus cases globally. This virus has wreaked havoc on us, our economies and exposed many injustices. In addition, the virus is once again spiking as we wrestle with visioning a new path forward. This is a chaotic time. In times like these, words of encouragement and affirmation are needed to build our faith.
This text paints for us the beauty of God’s ecology. By showing us nature’s participation in God’s ecology we see that there is a system at work that is designed to be regenerative. Our society today is designed to be extractive with our natural resources and our relationships. We believe that we are lords over creation instead of participants of it. This text also challenges us to vision a path forward that is regenerative and operates with the ecology.
When I read Isaiah 55:10-11 juxtaposed to Christmas Eve, I am filled with anticipation because it is an announcement that God is participating in my care. God participated in my care through the birth of Jesus the Christ. Christ participates in our care through salvation. God participates in my care through nature and community. Our role in ecology is to maintain God’s ecology by participating in caring for creation also.
Alabama IPL is operating in the new path and inviting others on the journey. Beloved Community Church is the local church that I attend and serve in Birmingham, AL. The church is located in downtown Birmingham on a small lot. There is not a great deal of open space and a great deal of traffic. On this lot, we carved out and maintain a bird sanctuary that Alabama Interfaith Power and Light sponsors. In the middle of the chaos and lack, we carved out space for regenerative relationships in God’s ecology.
God’s created we maintain.
God Our Creator,
We anticipate the newness that you are bringing forward. We commit our energy to caring for creation.
We thank you for renewing our hope.
The Reverend Michael Malcom is the Founder and Executive Director of The People’s Justice Council and Alabama Interfaith Power and Light, and is a licensed and ordained United Church of Christ Minister. He currently serves as the International Liaison for the US Climate Action Network. He considers himself an impassioned environmental justice advocate, and sees environmental justice as the moral obligation to love your neighbor.
Leaf photo by David Kepley
Fourth Week of Advent
I live in an apartment that’s been under construction for over a year. Nearly every day, men in hard hats with loud tools work directly outside my windows. Pre-pandemic, this was fine, but now that I work from home, my hours are filled with sights and sounds of a project that has no end. It’s a taxing situation that feels impossible to escape, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried.
My wife and I ventured out a few times. We felt rain on our arms as we stood with masks and made friends with hermit crabs in Pelham Bay. We watched birds swoop from treetop to treetop as we worked our way through Harriman State Park. For a few moments, we were reminded that there’s life outside our apartment, outside the loud or frustrating elements of our lives. We just had to be willing to try and find them.
These weren’t my first times out. That honor goes to one Sunday when, after finishing worship, I saw a Black Lives Matter protest passing by my window. I grabbed my mask and joined, collar and all. Before that, I saw no reason to escape my constraints of construction. In that moment, however, I felt God’s calling, reminding me that there’s life outside my apartment, and that I can be responsible for making it better as long as I was willing to try.
This Advent season, as our lives continue to be restricted, let us remember that there’s life outside of our constraints. There’s beauty and quiet and rage and righteousness. Like the earth, the rain and snow of God’s word falls on us, nurturing and calling us to life outside of ourselves even if we’re never able to leave our homes. So, in this season, what are YOU willing to try?
God of growth, we know that you water every single one of us with your nourishing word. During this time of waiting, help us to listen and observe what you are creating inside of us. Give us courage to look beyond ourselves and find the places we can try to make change, find peace, and take care of your world. May we connect with each other and the earth as you connect with us.
Rev. Ashley DeTar Birt is a pastor ordained in the PC(USA), and obtained her M. Div from Union Theological Seminary. In addition to serving as Co-Moderator for More Light’s Board of Directors, Ashley has served as the Pastoral Fellow for Youth and Families at Rutgers Presbyterian Church in New York, NY. Her interests include the intersections of racial justice, children and youth, interfaith communication, LGBTQIA+ issues (particularly the B), and Christianity.
Flower photo by David Kepley
Monday, December 14, 2020
Help to Grow PEC for the next 25 years
PEC had a milestone birthday this year - 25 years young! We celebrated on ZOOM by looking back over our first quarter century with a hundred online guests. During that time, we advocated for God’s good creation by connecting, equipping and inspiring Presbyterians through 11 in-person conferences with 5 optional local experiential excursions, at 16 General Assemblies and PEC Luncheons, and by presenting 50 awards to individuals and organizations. Your support made all this possible, and now we ask for your contributions while we head into our next 25 years.
As we look forward, we will continue to advocate for our common home with overtures, our popular Advent and Lent Devotionals and in churches through our new Presbytery Earth Care Program and Guide for Starting a Church Earth Care Team.
|Volunteering in the garden at Stony Point Conference 2019|
This time in history is full of challenges, for PEC and for all of us. Yet opportunities also abound during the pandemic, including the blessing of working virtually with our first ever intern, Jonathan Lee from Yale Divinity School. Looking ahead to 2021, PEC will be holding a hybrid or fully virtual biennial conference in addition to our regular schedule of communications and advocacy.
So, with gratitude and hope, we ask you to consider supporting PEC with a financial gift as we prepare for our next chapter, starting in 2021.
This Christmas, in addition to your own donation, consider making a gift to PEC in honor of a loved one. PEC is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization and all donations are tax-deductible.
Thank you for all you do to help people of faith recognize the earth care challenges we face. Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, your involvement. Let’s hope that in 2021 we will be able to see one another “face to face” at our biennial conference!
Rev. Dennis Testerman, Moderator
PS – If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to write to us or one of our six regional representatives to the Steering Committee.
Friday, December 11, 2020
Third Week of Advent
I am the pastor of New City Church (@ grownewcity), a United Methodist Church just a short walk away from where the racist murder of George Floyd occurred in South Minneapolis. What the news didn’t cover, though, was that this is a neighborhood historically saddled with highway pollution, industrial factory smog, and the exhaust of diesel engine trucks that drive through all day and night. Decades ago, families in the neighborhood—many of which are Somali, African American, or Latinx—started noticing that their children were developing asthma, and that the seniors in the community were suffering health impacts of dirty air.
But I believe in a God who wants people to breathe, a God of breath. When God breathes life into us, it is a blessing for flourishing. God speaks a word, and with those syllables we rise. When Isaiah 55:11 says:
“so is my [that is, God’s] word that comes from my mouth; it does not return to me empty. Instead, it does what I want, and accomplishes what I intend”
It means that God doesn’t speak in vain. God doesn’t say “choose life” (Deut 30:19) just for us to construct societies that stifle the poor; Jesus didn’t say “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” only for us to create structures of racism that try to steal—one way or another—the breath of people of color. God’s word is powerful, and when God’s word moves through us, we become powerful. And I do believe that once we can live into this truth, day after day and community after community, we will welcome in a world where everyone can purely and simply...breathe.
As we slowly breathe in, we remember that you restore and heal us.
As we slowly breathe out, we remember that we can pray a blessing upon the world.
While we still have breath in our lungs, God, show us how to live more humbly, advocate more fiercely, heal more tenderly, and love more broadly.
All this we pray in Jesus name, Amen
Rev. Tyler Sit (@TylerSit) is the pastor and church planter of New City Church, a multiethnic community in South Minneapolis. He is the author of the upcoming book tentatively titled, Staying Awake: the Gospel for Changemakers (early 2021). New City has been fea- tured in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Minnesota Public Radio, and more. When he’s not working, Tyler likes to dig into his Chinese heritage and go for hikes with his boyfriend.
Fog photo by David Kepley
Friday, December 4, 2020
Sometimes we go through the motions. Sometimes we go through the rituals. Sometimes— thankfully—we get jerked from our rhythms sparked by the very irony of what we are saying.
Sharing the Isaiah 55:12 benediction to the Mendocino Presbyterian Church congregation amidst the Mendocino Complex Fire in 2018—the largest in California history—I knew our congregation had to respond with action to the intense wildfires devastating our communities. We couldn’t just say the words of the prophet; we had to live into them working for a better world where the “trees of the field shall clap their hands” rather than allowing dense dry fuels to alit because of changing weather patterns and micro-climates.
Sometimes God calls us to make a difference.
In response to our vulnerability in California to wildfire, my community created the “Holy Goats: Your Fire Protection Angels”. Our herd of 30 goats reduces fire propellants, providing a critical tool in enhancing forest health and decreasing threat to lives. The Holy Goats chomp down coyote brush, grasses and even gorse—a thorny invasive brought over to Mendocino by Presbyterian pastors in the 1880’s that has now taken over the landscape creating a overbearing monoculture. Let us all live into the words of the prophet finding our own unique ways to make a difference. Let’s not just say the words of the prophet. Let’s live into them!
Lord Creator, we ask Thee to support us all the day long.
Create in us loving hearts to care for Your creation, adoring the world and all therein. Bless us with the Spirit of Jesus to bless others.
Pastor Matt Davis serves the Mendocino Presbyterian Church located 3.5 hours north of San Francisco on Highway 1.
Holy Goats: Your Fire Prevention Angels can be contacted at email@example.com
Photo of goats by Matt Davis
Saturday, November 28, 2020
First Week of Advent
The classic Christmastide hymn, “Silent Night,” reads: “All is calm. All is bright.”
Yet we are not entering into this Advent season in a time of peace as “Silent Night” proposes. There are no silent or calm nights, and no promise of an end to our waiting.
Instead of bringing peace, this year’s Advent waiting brings anxiety. We are waiting for God’s arrival on Earth in the form of Jesus Christ, yet we also believe in a Triune God who is actively working in and among us. If God is with us in the anxiety, God is with us in the Advent.
In the book of Isaiah, God promises that God’s word will never return to heaven void. Yes, we are waiting, but I like to think of this as an active waiting. Isaiah 55 says that not even a drop of water from the heavens is wasted - each drop serves God’s purpose. As God’s children, we have our whole life cycle to plant seeds and to be cultivated as a seed in God’s Creation.
This Advent, you might find yourself being cultivated, even pruned, or planting seeds. It can be frustrating to plant seeds and never see the fruits of your labor. But we are promised that we never plant seeds in vain. God’s plan will always outlive us, so our accomplishments through God’s power should outlive us as well.
In a sense, we are waiting more than usual, yet we are not idle. Just like in God’s Creation, hope comes from knowing that God is using this anxious time to work in us;
we are changing and growing.
Whether you are in a season of pruning, flourishing, or dormancy –
God is using you in this season and you “shall accomplish that which is God’s purpose and succeed in the things for which God sent” you (Isa 55:11).
What season are you in? How can you find ways God’s word is alive through you?
Creator God, though our nights are no longer silent and your creation is in anxious distress, we know that you are with us in the waiting. Thank you for using us in your plan. Show us your love in every season. Show us what seeds to plant in this waiting. Teach us to be your disciples while we are active in our waiting. Be with us until we meet your Son again and rest in His embrace. In your name we pray,
Carter Grant is a second year Masters of Divinity student at Princeton Theological Seminary and a candidate for ordination through the Presbyterian Church (USA). She is from St. Augustine, Florida and comes to seminary by way of Columbia, South Carolina. Carter feels extraordinarily lucky to be supported by a church and denomina- tion that are walking alongside her in discerning her call, and she feels God’s presence in her life in Princeton.
Flower photo by David Kepley
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Introducing PEC's 2020 Advent Devotional
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Advent comes at a time when night’s darkness grows deeper and longer as the Earth leans farther away from the sun’s light. However, there is a point near the end of December when all of this starts to change, when darkness begins to recede and light comes again. Astronomically, we understand this to be the Winter Solstice, the longest night in the Northern Hemisphere after which the Earth begins to tilt back towards the sun and the days begin to grow longer.
But life doesn’t work so simply. After all, this is not the first Advent-Christmas or Winter Solstice we have lived through. And as much as people might hope 2021 will be better, there is no guarantee that the problems we are facing now will magically disappear once the calendars flip over. Just because the light is here does not mean our problems vanish. No, the light just helps us see what needs to be done so that justice, mercy, and love can flow like flooded rivers (Micah 6:8). After all, Jesus Christ did not change the arc of history by simply being born. The power of Jesus lay in what he did, in his actions, in his ministry amongst the people.
And so, I turn to this year’s Advent scripture: Isaiah 55:10-11. Just as the rain does not return to the heavens until it has also watered the earth, neither can we simply hear God’s word and ignore what it tells us to do. 2020 was not just a year of natural disaster, pandemic and hardship; it was a year when so many voices cried out, pleading to the heavens and to anyone else who could hear, that enough is enough. We have heard so many cries. We ourselves have cried.
Just as Jesus, the Word incarnate, came and did that which God the Creator sent him to do, so too must we hear the words that so many have cried out over the past several months and do what they ask. As instruments of God’s justice and mercy in this world, how can we sit idly hearing these cries for help from our siblings and not rise up to meet them? Will we let the word of God and God’s people rain down and water the fields in our heart or will we let our land remain dry and fallow? For only when God’s word accomplishes and succeeds for that which God purposes will the mountains and hills burst into song and will we be able to go out in joy (Isaiah 55:12).
The writings in this devotional are just a small sample of the different voices that are crying out at this time. As you make your way through and finish the devotional, I invite you to not only let the words sink into your hearts, but to try and find the voices and stories not represented in this collection and listen to what they have to say.
To the glory of God, Amen.
Jonathan Lee is a second year Masters of Divinity student at Yale Divinity School. Born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, Jonathan’s faith and love for God’s Creation were simultaneously cultivated during a time in the Maine woods. In addition to considering a career in ordained ministry, Jonathan is interested in environmental and Asian American theologies. He is currently serving as Presbyterians for Earth Care’s Programming and Learning Fellow.
Waterfall photo by David Kepley
Sunday, November 15, 2020
GREEN Ways to Celebrate Advent & Christmas, Save Energy, and Care for Creation in 2020
1.Holiday gifting and gathering is complicated by Covid-19 this year. Best information about how to safely celebrate: www.cdc.gov COVID-19: Holiday Celebrations/CDC
2. Look for fair-trade and/or locally made goods. Choose organic, natural materials, and avoid plastics. Help cut down the TONS of extra holiday garbage by recycling, reusing or doing without gift wrap (or wrap with scarf, a towel, fabric). In general, consider simplifying stuff and clearing clutter all the ways you can.
3. Give the gift of time: call, send cards, invite a “facetime” or ZOOM with homebound members of your church or far-flung family members & friends. Simplify gift giving (one idea: drawing names and deciding on a limit to spend; re-gifting is fine, just be thoughtful about original giver; festive wine? bottles are recyclable)
4. Give a charitable gift like Heifer International: provide honeybees to water buffalo, in your giftee's name: see catalog and ordering info at www.heifer.org/
5. Support local and national/world eco-justice organizations like Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 350.org, Presbyterians for Earth Care (PEC), and especially for young people—Our Children’s Trust.
6. For holiday meals, cook seasonal foods raised locally, i.e., farmers’ markets, CSAs: popcorn, fruit & nuts, all of which can be composted or used for bird seed afterward.
7. Decorating a tree for birds is a good holiday activity, and diverse edible bird foods attract different birds: Your food helps them survive over the winter.
8. Annual Christmas Day Bird Count - Take your binoculars, a field guide to local birds, a small pad or journal for each participant and walk a course through your neighborhood, local park or countryside. Try to identify and count every bird you see and note each in your journal. At the end of the hike, list species seen and number of birds per species. There’s always surprises, and the activity highlights the presence and value of our feathered friends.
9. As you decorate your home, replace some of your incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs; invest in a timer for outdoor displays. LED (light emitting diode) holiday lights use up to 95% less than larger, traditional holiday bulbs & last up to 100,000 hours indoors. Over a 30-day period, lighting 500 traditional holidays lights costs $18.00 while the same number of LED lights costs $0.19.
10. Walk outdoors and enjoy the change of seasons
11. Practice a random act of kindness at least once a week
12. Make home-baked bread, decorated cookies, etc. with friends or family.
BOOKS & WRITING
13. A great link for creation-caring books for children: “Children’s Lit Love”—a former 3rd grade teacher, now mother of 2 shares book recommendations & literacy tips https://childrenslitlove.com/2020/04/09/earth-day-books-to-read-year-round/
OR Google up: “Holiday 2020 books for adults & children about Earth care”
OR All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, & Solutions for the Climate Crisis (2020):
visionary essays & poems by 50 women leaders in the climate movement.
14. Send Christmas cards to your Senators and Representatives and urge their pro-environment vote on bills in the New Year & write to President-elect Biden too!
15. Gather a small group to read the Bible and pray together during Advent, think about ways you connect Advent to energy use and caring for creation.
Submitted by Church of Reconciliation Earth Care Committee, coordinated by Nancy Corson Carter
Friday, November 13, 2020
Starting and Sustaining an Earth Care Team at Your Church
Do you want your church to be better at caring for God's creation? PEC has been listening to your needs and prepared a Guide to Starting a Church Earth Care Team. Whether you are interested in starting an earth care team for your church or re-energizing an existing team, this guide is for you. Starting an earth care team at your church is just the beginning. Keeping it going is the real challenge. The Guide has five goals to help you start an Earth Care Team and sustain it at your church:
- Form a Congregational Earth Care Team. This is actually not as big as it sounds. It is a pre-meeting step - before your first Earth Care Team meeting - for a few people to decide on what the team’s purpose should be and to recruit others.
- Meet as a Congregational Earth Care Team. In your first meeting, describe your purpose, develop a mission statement, set a goal(s), and decide on a name to help you communicate with others and recruit them to join your team.
- Schedule Activities and Events. When deciding on an activity or event, be sure to identify and delegate tasks so that one person isn’t responsible for doing everything. Not only does this lessen the load but it involves members so there is more support for what you are doing.
- Evaluate your efforts. Periodically review your successes and challenges to identify your strengths and weaknesses and make plans to do better.
- Publicize your accomplishments. Use church, presbytery and local communication channels to report on what your team has done so others will understand what your team does and may be motivated to join.
Each of the goals comes with at least six suggested activities to help earth care teams come up with their own ideas. Most of them can easily be done virtually during a pandemic. Also included in the guide is a short list of resources that provide additional information.
Go to the PEC Church Earth Care Teams webpage to download the Guide. You can also view the video of PEC’s Greening Your Church webinar and PowerPoint presentation. Two churches, one large and one small, that presented on the webinar provided handouts that are available on the Church Earth Care Teams webpage. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Introducing PEC's First Intern
Hello! My name is Jonathan Lee and I am Presbyterians for Earth Care’s Programming and Learning Fellow, i.e. the intern, for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. I’ve been at in this position for the past several months now (some of you might have met me in the monthly PECT calls), and it’s about time for me to introduce myself to the larger PEC community.
A little bit of background about myself first: I was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, I graduated from Davidson College with a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in Religion, and I am currently in the 2nd year of my Masters of Divinity degree at Yale Divinity School. I enjoy cooking for myself, reading up on comic books, and have recently begun enjoying the world of vinyl music thanks to a recently inherited LP collection.
I always had a particular curiosity for how I could apply environmental activism and sustainability into my faith and church community. My education and realization of the importance of environmental issues had grown concurrently with the maturation of my faith as I learned more about God’s wonderful Creation during a semester-long high school program along the Maine coast. This originally manifested as a passion for environmental sustainability, which I carried into my time at Davidson as a student worker for the campus’ sustainability office and campus farm. I then devoted my senior year capstone to researching how local Christian congregations were responding to environmental issues. This project introduced me to the PCUSA Earth Care Congregations program and connected me with current PEC moderator, Dennis Testerman. Dennis and I kept in touch over the years when this past summer I reached out asking if he would be interested in having a virtual intern for the fall and spring season. He replied with a yes, and so with the blessing of my seminary I started to work for and get to know the PEC community.
I am so excited for this opportunity to learn while working with Presbyterians for Earth Care. I am still actively hoping for a career related to environmentalism in some fashion post-Yale Divinity, and so I see this as an opportunity to learn more about what environmental advocacy within the church world would be like. This opportunity is also a chance for me to learn more about the PCUSA’s inner machinations. As an Inquirer for ordination in the PCUSA church, I believe this is a great chance for me get a better sense for how the denomination as a whole operates and how I might one day be able to continue my environmental advocacy through the denomination.
Though brief, I hope all of this has given a fuller picture of who I am and what I hope to do during my time with PEC. I’m looking forward to learning more while with PEC and interacting with all of you beyond this written format.
Thursday, October 1, 2020
PEC Honors Three Award Winners at 25th Anniversary Celebration
Presbyterians for Earth Care (PEC) celebrated 25 years of connecting, equipping and inspiring Presbyterians to make caring for creation a central concern of the church on September 29. At the virtual celebration, PEC recognized two deserving individuals and one organization for their exceptional environmental achievements. The William Gibson Eco-Justice Award was presented to the Rev. Dr. Neddy Astudillo, a GreenFaith Director for Latin America and Florida. Michelle Peedin received the Emerging Earth Care Leader Award for a young adult, and Second Presbyterian Church of Little Rock received the Restoring Creation Award for an organization.
Rev. Dr. Neddy Astudillo, William Gibson Eco-Justice Award
Dr. Astudillo is a Venezuelan American, eco-theologian and Presbyterian pastor, who coordinates GreenFaith’s outreach to Latin American and the US Latino faith communities. She has taught eco-theology courses at seminaries in Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia and the US, been published in “Working Preacher and Earth and Word: Classic Sermons on Saving the Planet” and is co-author of “God’s Earth is Sacred: Essays on Eco-Justice.” In 2017, she coordinated GreenFaith’s Convergence in Rio de Janeiro with Latin American multi-faith partners. She continues to lead and teach people of faith from around the world at COP meetings and has been a fierce advocate of decolonizing eco-theology so that people from all over the world can participate in our shared work to love the earth. Dr. Astudillo has done all of this work from a place of faith and love, inviting people of faith to love the earth with their whole selves.
Michelle Peedin, Emerging Earth Care Leader Award
Michelle Peedin is a leader in advocacy on behalf of farmworkers and climate change and in her efforts to organize and involve youth. Michelle is NC Council of Churches Program Coordinator for Partners in Health and Wholeness and co-director of Youth Leaders Initiative, a group of high school youth committed to climate justice within their communities and congregations. She is the President of the Board of LILA Latinx LGBTQ+ Initiative. Michelle also serves as an advisor to the United Church of Chapel Hill, NC youth group and volunteers with Student Action for Farmworkers. Michelle has worked educating congregations about the science of climate change, social justice issues related to climate change, the benefits of renewable energy and solar power, and the importance of sustainable food movements.
Second Presbyterian Church of Little Rock, Arkansas, Restoring Creation Award
Second Presbyterian is a founding Earth Care Congregation of the PC(USA) and has developed one of the most comprehensive church creation care programs in the country. The Environmental Stewardship Committee and volunteer sustainability coordinator oversee extensive programming on a variety of environmental topics including climate change, sustainable living, ethical eating, recycling, waste and water conservation issues. In addition, Second Presbyterian has installed solar panels and EV charging stations, maintains a church-wide composting/recycling program, hosts a weekly farmer's market in the church parking lot, and holds collection events for a Habitat for Humanity resale store among other initiatives.
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Presbyterians for Earth Care Celebrates 25 Years
September 29, 1:00 PM Eastern
"There is always an element of sadness in celebration. We cannot celebrate without alluding to it, because there are people on this earth of ours who are not celebrating, who are despairing, anguished, starving and mourning. That is why all celebration, which is like a great "Alleluia" and song of thanksgiving, should end with a moment of silence in which we remember before God all those who cannot celebrate." --Jean Vanier, "Community and Growth"
Presbyterians for Earth Care is 25 years old this year! Have you noticed our new logo? Will there be a celebration? We’re glad you asked. The answer is, “Yes!”
As we embarked on a new year back in January, we were dreaming of celebrating this milestone anniversary at the 224th PC (USA) General Assembly in Baltimore during our annual luncheon and awards presentation. Then came the global pandemic. Followed by a national reckoning that ensued as we were simultaneously forced to face the truth about another disease—structural and systemic racism.
Presbyterians for Earth Care was born for a time such as this. And we are stronger because of YOU! You don’t need to look any further than the recipients of our annual awards this year. The William Gibson Eco-Justice Lifetime Achievement Award bears the name of a leader who was involved with the organization we now know as Presbyterians for Earth Care from its beginning in 1995. As someone who served with Bill on the taskforce that created the seminal policy statement on “Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice” adopted by the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1990, I can attest to the fact that Bill would be proud of the individual receiving the award this year. We will also present the Emerging Earth Care Leader Award and the Restoring Creation Award to a deserving individual and a group, respectively.
Come, you who are young. Come, you who are young at heart. Come, all you who are concerned about the future of our nation as Election Day approaches. Come, you who are experiencing environmental grief as a changing climate fuels forest fires, destroying lives and property in the American West and in the Amazon region of Brazil.
RSVP and join our virtual celebration during this Season of Creation on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 1 pm ET. Rev. Rebecca Barnes, Coordinator of the Presbyterian Hunger Program, former Presbyterians for Earth Care coordinator and author of “50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference” will be our guest speaker.
Come and celebrate the abundance of Creation! Come and celebrate love! Come and celebrate hope!
--Dennis Testerman, Moderator
Presbyterians for Earth Care
Friday, September 11, 2020
I Can’t Breathe
If I had to sum up this year of 2020 among the first words that come to mind are: “I can’t breathe”. We have seen and heard too many people utter these words.
I can’t breathe. In May, a Black man from Minneapolis, George Floyd, uttered those words as he was restrained by a police team, with the air literally pressed out of him: I can’t breathe.
The result was a wave of protests on a massive scale – some violent, most not…that have continued to surge with each new shooting of a Black human being – most by local police. And once more Anglo, White, Euro Americans have been confronted by American’s embedded racism.
I can’t breathe. Words uttered by thousands of people this year being placed on a ventilator, trying to provide enough time for the body to do its healing. Think back to January, February and March and the COVID-19 virus that exploded into a global pandemic. Early on, the daily news told stories of those who caught it, avoided, it, survived it, and died from it. Through the summer and fall we’ve watched the virus recede only to surge again, as we wait for a successful vaccine. To date globally (October 13, 2020) over 38.1 million people have contracted the virus and 1,000,000+ have succumbed to it.
I can’t breathe. Words spoken by employers and employees alike as businesses were shut down in response to the stay at home, lock the borders, quarantine orders. The economic recession has crushed workers’ bank accounts and dreams, especially those who are part of our small business community. They have gone underwater, or nearly so. And millions more of us have sunk below the poverty level. Help – I’m drowning. I can’t…
I can’t breathe, Planet Earth has been telling us this for decades. And then, in a bit of irony, Earth has been breathing a bit easier this year. The stay at home orders have forced a different lifestyle in which we have been driving less, flying less, using less carbon-based oil and…putting less carbon dioxide into our very thin (62 miles) atmosphere. But with our rush to re-open beaches and businesses, to reward ourselves with unmasked, mass gathering parties, to return to our former “normal”, it won’t last. Earth’s temperatures keep rising (July was the hottest month ever recorded), and with that we all will have an increasingly difficult time breathing and Earth will keep groaning.
Rising temperatures have consequences, and not simply about the air we breathe. As Earth’s climate becomes increasingly unstable, both animals and humans will face more and more heat waves, droughts, fires, floods, hurricanes, rising seas, economic crises and frankly, even more pandemics when thousand-year old frozen bacteria will be released as polar ice continues to melt. We’re trapped between responding to today’s crises and anticipating tomorrow’s.
Well, the God of Creation has some things to say to us.
Recognize that the impact of this year has affected us unevenly. The poor, people of color, the marginalized, the sick, the elderly and the young whom we are supposed to protect have suffered the most. Some have lost their lives.
Recognize that thinking globally while living locally offers a healing power. There’s a call to use the resources closest to us first, to be satisfied with enough.
Recognize that Earth is less and less able to absorb the consequences of our excessive, greedy, and short-sighted lifestyles. Quit treating Planet Earth as our hospitality suite and become Earth’s partners for a sustainable future.
Remember that Life on this planet is not simply about breathing, but about connecting with others. God expects us to respect, learn from, treat fairly all of Life here, to confront our prejudices against other people and other forms of Life…and to change our ways. The best of this Life focuses primarily on the common good.
Finally, for those of us who are more fortunate, more secure and have suffered less…there are two God-given charges. First, we with more are called to share more with those who have suffered more. …with more of our time, energy, ingenuity, financial resources …to ease the pain and offer hope. Second, we with more are called to imagine and build a future that is fairer, more just, and better prepared to face the pain that comes with continued rising temperatures. Educating, Teaching, Planning Ahead. Holding Elected Leaders Accountable for their Actions and their Inaction.
What a gift we could give each other if, as we approach the end of this year, we all were making this kind of turning. The result? More and more of us breathing easy.
Dave Wasserman, Rev. Dr., HR
Living in Taos, New Mexico
Copyright 2020, David H Wasserman