Friday, May 29, 2020

COVID-19 Days
Rev. Dr. David Wasserman

One of my favorite hymns comes out of the Iona Community: The Canticle of the Turning (My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout). There's a driving beat to the tempo, calling forth passion and commitment.  "My heart shall sing of the day you bring, Let the fires of your justice burn. Wipe away all tears for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn." It is a hymn of hope and God's triumph.

I am a sailor (even though I no longer own a boat) and one of my strongest sailing memories is of the overnight sails, keeping watch, early in the wee hours of the morning, looking for the signs of the dawn -  dark skies, then greyish, then wisps of blue, red/orange where you can once again see the line between water and air, yellowing up into a new day.

These COVID-19 days are gloomy. So much confusion, worn out health care providers, death of strangers and loved ones alike. And now, a clear reminder of divisions between the healthy and the sick, those who trust and those who hoard, the arrogant and the wary, and the blame game rearing its ugly head. God's doing something in all this.

If you are on watch on the open waters just before the dawn, you listen because the only lights you see are the tiny red, green and white of another vessel. You listen to the slap of the water, the flap of the sail, and you wait.

These COVID-19 days are not just about coping with a changing world. This is like an Advent - watching, waiting, listening, being quiet, looking for the signs. God's doing something in all this. The world is about to turn. For the better. And maybe for Planet Earth, too.

Dave Wasserman (Rev. Dr.) currently serves on the PEC Steering Committee as the Southwest Regional Representative. Dave retired from active ministry in 2013 and has served as a county jail chaplain, associate pastor, new church development pastor, and a presbytery executive. Dave enjoys music, woodworking, photography and walking/hiking.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Corona virus doesn't close PEC

Presbyterians for Earth Care Is Open for You

During this uncertain time of the corona virus pandemic, many businesses have been forced to close. However, caring for God’s creation never ends. For that reason, Presbyterians for Earth Care is grateful that we can still serve God by equipping and inspiring you to be good stewards of all that God has given us.

As a national organization, PEC is structured in such a way that we will continue to connect, equip and inspire you to care about and for God’s creation in spite of closures, social distancing and restricted travel. PEC’s Steering Committee is composed of nine volunteers from six regions of the country who have been meeting monthly by ZOOM for more than two years. We also contract with a part-time coordinator who has always worked from home.

Normally, PEC would have a presence at General Assembly this June with a booth in the exhibit hall, advocates at committee meetings, and our Awards Luncheon. Unfortunately, the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly decided that they would only cover critical issues. Although GA will be held online, as of now, there will be no committee meetings, minimal overtures considered, and no place for advocacy. PEC will – at a minimum – have a virtual luncheon and present our annual awards, and you will be invited.

PEC will continue to inspire and equip you through bi-weekly e-newsletters, Lent and Advent Devotionals, our blog, Facebook and Twitter. Our Regional Representatives will also be in touch with you while all of us are feeling socially isolated. You can find your Regional Representative by looking at the map and matching your region to one of the Regional Reps.

Times of crisis are often when we feel closest and most connected to God. Be assured that God is with each one of us and will remain faithful to us, no matter the outcome of this difficult and often overwhelming pandemic. The Steering Committee prays for each one of you that you may find peace and consolation as all of us live through this new experience. 

Friday, May 1, 2020

Should social justice wait until 2022 GA?

GA Social Justice Issues Delayed to 2022
The earth is the LORDS and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
                                                         Psalm 24:1
How many earth care sermons have been preached on that text?
And yet…we need to hear it once more.
It has just been decided that the PC(USA) will be holding an abbreviated, online-only General Assembly this year due to COVID-19. This assembly will deal only with items deemed “critical,” i.e. the important institutional work of the church. Matters of social justice and prophetic ministry, including creation-care business like divesting from fossil fuels, will be referred to the next GA in 2022.   
The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) has been wrestling with the reality of COVID-19 and the impossibility of holding a full, in-person GA. We appreciate the tough task of having to come up with solutions for conducting the church’s business. We support COGA’s leadership. We realize that we cannot conduct business as usual, and so we must let some things go for now. The earth is the Lord’s, and all life rests in our creator’s hands.  In faith we move forward.  
At the same time, calling the prophetic ministry of the PCUSA on matters of social justice by implication non-critical pains us. In our opinion, deliberation and discernment on matters of substance that shape our daily lives and world, giving voice to grassroots perspectives in the church, and proclaiming the truth of the gospel as it is embodied in the key issues of our day, is as core to the gospel and the ministry of the church as anything else.  
Action and movement on the key issues of our day, for better and for ill, continue to move forward apace. Today, our discernment and decisions on issues like fossil-fuel divestment and creation care are as critical as they ever have been. The environment continues to suffer under the assault of deregulation, over-consumption, and creation care will surely be a key issue as we, communally, ponder how to restart the economy in the coming months. Pushing off reflection or action as a church to some date in the future has real-life consequences. At the same time,COVID-19 has raised the possibility of change in ways we haven’t seen for a long time.  The timely witness of the church is vital.
We cannot leave the world God has placed in our care in the hands of a political system that destroys it, an economic system that exploits it, and a society that continually subordinates the health and justice of the whole to the profit of the affluent, privileged few. The earth is the Lords.
We might not be able to meet as a denomination this June, but we can (and must!) continue to work for justice and peace for all creation. 
We encourage you to:
   Work on the mid-council, presbytery, and congregational levels for creation care. Support budgets, policies, and practices that value creation care. 
   Join or establish a presbytery earth care team (PEC will assist you!) to marshal our resources for the struggle or join other groups that are working for climate justice. 
   Participate on the PEC advocacy team as we work for divestment from fossil fuels in the church, advocate for common-sense, achievable solutions like carbon dividend legislation currently in Congress, and work for systemic change that places the health of creation and justice for all life at the top of our priority list. (contact Paul Heins
   Continue to lift up the sacredness of all life. 
   Let the wonderful, diverse web-of-life, and the breath of God’s life-giving Spirit sustain you in your work and discipleship.
These are anxious, uncertain times. In the context of pandemic, we remember that the earth is the Lord’s, who is our rock and refuge. 
We pray for creative thinking, courageous conversation, behavioral change, and polity and procedure that serve faithful ministry. The earth is the Lord’s–whose love we embody, and whose living Word we serve. 

Paul Heins
Advocacy Committee, Presbyterians for Earth Care