Thursday, December 31, 2020

We need each other

We Need Each Other
Staying connected with each other during the social distancing imposed by COVID-19 has been a challenge. Church members are not gathering in person for worship, committees are meeting by ZOOM, and children are learning at home. Yet during this time, Presbyterians for Earth Care has been here for you, communicating every other week with our e-newsletter and Devotionals for Lent and Advent. PEC needs you, too, to support us with your participation, comments, suggestions, and financial commitment. It is not too late to make a tax-deductible donation for 2020 if you make your contribution today.
PEC lives out its mission every day through connecting, equipping and inspiring you to act to protect the very Creation that we depend on for our breath, our water, our food, our safety and its beauty and solace that keep us alive and thriving. This is how we do it:
Connecting members through a grassroots network of people seeking to keep the sacred at the center of earth care, advocacy and action both inside and outside the walls of the church.

Equipping members with resources, ideas and information for a shared journey toward a healthier planet by growing and sharing theological understandings and perspectives on eco-justice issues.

Inspiring members through stories of individuals and groups who have responded to the sacred call to care for the earth—stories told person to person at events, and by newsletter, email, social media and devotions.

As a non-profit organization, Presbyterians for Earth Care depends on individual donations from people like you who are concerned about the future of our common home. Please make a tax-deductible donation to finish 2020 today and help PEC build a brighter future in 2021.

For God's creation,

Jane Laping, PEC Coordinator

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Thursday, December 17, 2020

Devotional for Christmas Day

                                                          Christmas Day

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. 

Isaiah 55:10-11  

Advent is the season of expectant waiting. As the snow and the rain in Isaiah offer rejuvenation in times of planting and harvesting, we seek constancy both in the turning of the seasons and in good work–even in the production of our “daily bread.” In the southern Appalachian Mountains, not so far from where I live, autumnal pilgrimages are marked by the desire of many to experience the sight and sounds of flowing water in crystalline mountain streams and the aesthetic explosion of the turning of the colors of the leaves of the trees. So it is that in our waiting, we look beyond ourselves for a constancy that offers sustenance in the face of unease and uncertainty.

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

Devotional for Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

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.
Isaiah 55:10-11  

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

Devotional for Fourth Sunday of Advent

 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

Give a Christmas Gift from PEC

                                        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

Devotional for Third Sunday of Advent

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.

This is the difference between police brutality and environmental justice: police brutality shows a horrifyingly acute, filmable instance of a police officer kneeling on a man’s neck as he says, “I can’t breathe.” Environmental justice shows the economic and environmental decisions of a whole city invisibly kneeling on the necks of communities of color over the course of decades, creating a whole generation that can barely eke out “I can’t breathe.”

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

Devotional for Second Sunday of Advent

 Second Week of Advent

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

Photo of goats by Matt Davis