Mission 4:1 Earth

Mission41EarthThe United Church of Christ (UCC) is involving their church community locally and nationally, as well as reaching out across different religious communities, in order to successfully achieve Mission 4:1 Earth. Mission 4:1 Earth, which will occur for 50 days beginning  April 1, 2013, will involve three ways for people to be involved in environmental stewardship: 1) Planting 100,000 trees, 2) 1,000,000 hours of engaged Earth care, and 3) 100,000 advocacy letters for Earth care policies.  Participants will be able to track their progress on the UCC website, UCC.org. Reverend Ben Guess, Executive Minister of Local Church Ministries for the UCC, is striving to engage all 5100 congregations of the UCC to accomplish this mission. The UCC headquarters admit they have never conducted an event so large and for this long, but does expect that the religious community will step-up and achieve this mission.

Church members and others have already expressed interest in getting involved in Mission 4:1 Earth via email and phone calls. UCC recently partnered with the Arbor Day foundation to allow all members to send a gift of a tree anywhere in the world to fulfill their tree planting initiative. This environmentally-focused mission stemmed from the UCC conferences, which consists of various congregations coming together to discuss resolutions and policies that align with the UCC’s mission. Currently, UCC’s four main initiatives include food security, literacy improvements, building community relations, and environmental justice.

Mission 4:1 Earth is considered a continuing resolution from a prior UCC event, Mission 1, which was instigated by Reverend Guess. Mission 1 was the first time all the local schools and churches collaborated to raise money to reduce food insecurity in Africa. Mission 1, much like Mission 4:1 Earth, allowed members to write advocacy letters to representatives and created a platform for different churches to collaborate to accomplish one, 11-day mission. This type of community engagement set the stage for Mission 4:1 Earth, which will involve 50 days and many more ways to engage and participate. According to Reverend Guess, the real challenge for Mission 4:1 Earth will be to “ignite the flame” for other congregations that are less involved to create an atmosphere conducive to environmental justice issues.

According to Anthony Moujaes, United Church News Coordinator, Mission 4:1 Earth expects great success by their approach and ability to engage all people. Community actions, like biking to work, turning off all lights when you leave, and other obtainable goals, will all count as hours that contribute to environmental care. Each week during mass, the members will fill out a sheet with their documented hours of service towards the mission.

In all, UCC’s mission brings to life ways in which all people can get involved to promote environmental stewardship and justice. The timeliness of the event, 50 days directly following Easter Sunday, may also increase members’ awareness and motivation to participate. The intended outcome of the mission is to create noticeable change in church communities to become environmental justice leaders.

For more information: http://www.ucc.org/earth/

Contributed by Jackie Nester, OSU student

Sacred Earth

firstCongUCC_Columbus_3Environmental stewardship at The First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, located in Columbus, first got started when global warming was just beginning to be taken seriously.  “On April 17, 2007, at the monthly meeting of the Missions Commission, a sub-committee of eight members was formed to engage the congregation in environmental stewardship of the earth,” says Dawn George, the lead committee member. The committee decided to name itself Sacred Earth. The first project of the committee was to raise awareness about ways each person can conserve the earth’s resources. The next action was to begin selling Fair Trade Products through the United Church of Christ Coffee Project.

Sacred Earth has had a big impact on the congregation by raising money for improvements to the 75-year old building, such as replacing electrical ballasts. The work of this committee has been received well from the people in this faith community. Sacred Earth members continue to educate about ways to be involved in environmental issues.

A significant success of Sacred Earth, with the help of the minister, is ensuring that the environmental message is spoken about more publicly. Also, the improvements in the building have helped to reduce their carbon footprint. Recently, Sacred Earth was “…offered trees through the Arbor Day Foundation; worked with our minister in offering Pet Blessings; provided gift baskets during the holidays with coffees, teas, chocolates; and more.” Sacred Earth has held dinners and movie nights around an environmental issue, encouraging discussion and building awareness. Also, recycling is increasing throughout the church.

Beginning on April 1st and lasting through Pentecost, The First Congregational UCC will be a part of the United Church of Christ event called Mission 4:1 Earth. There will be multiple educational workshops about different environmental issues, as well as other information about animal rights, gardening, food shortage/hunger and an over-all summary with lots of handouts. Sacred Earth will be involved in encouraging members to clean a neighborhood, to plant trees, and to write legislators regarding environmental issues.

See here for more information about Mission 4:1 Earth.

Sacred Earth at The First Congregational UCC has led the way in environmental stewardship. As a member of Sacred Earth, Patricia Patterson, says, “Members of Sacred Earth know that every little bit helps.”

The First Congregational Church
United Church of Christ
444 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215-3885
Patricia Paterson: First Congregational Church planning team and member of Sacred Earth
Dawn George: Lead Sacred Earth member

This Congregational Highlight is contributed by Jessica Signoracci, OSU student


24/6 Good Reading for Lent

By Greg Hitzhusen, Ph.D., M.Div.

Slow-Down1Perhaps serendipitously, Matthew Sleeth’s book “24/6” arrived in the mail a day after I received a warning from a police officer for speeding.  If my run-in with the law hinted that I needed to “slow down,” then Sleeth’s latest book certainly drove home the point. A blessed punctuation.

For years, I’ve taught my students about the liabilities of sleep deprivation, pointing out that college students are the most sleep deprived people in America, and sharing how improving my sleep habits had dramatically improved my academic performance in college and helped me discover some of my best abilities.  24/6 elaborates a similar wisdom, but with deep roots in a communal and relational Christian vision that eschews self-help simply to achieve self-mastery — rather, Dr. Sleeth’s prescription of 24/6 beckons us to physical and spiritual wholeness.

One part sabbath reflection, and one part life and health guide, Sleeth diagnoses our cultural ailment and illuminates its importance through revealing stories from his work as a doctor.  A God-centered prescription that is good for body and soul, 24/6 is also a challenge to the non-stop cultural patterns that drive us. If Lent is partly a time of giving up things that otherwise occupy our devotions, so that we can be more open to and receiving of God, then reading 24/6 makes an ideal Lenten discipline.

For more information about 24/6 and how to order, click here.

Dr. Hitzhusen is the OhIPL Board Chair and is a Lecturer in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University where his work and research center on the intersection of faith and the environment and developing partnerships between scientific and religious communities.

Do you know other Lenten resources that focus on sustainability and creation care to recommend to others? Thanks for sharing!


Your Faith…God’s Earth…Our Responsibility

Sara Ward, OhIPL Director

This past year, I have spent many mornings on this porch, reflecting on my connection to creation.  As a 2012 Fellow in the Green Faith Fellowship formation program, I have been encouraged to do this, to connect my faith with my call to care for this lovely place we call home, God’s Earth.  It has been a transformational journey for me, mind, body and soul.

Remembering, it’s an act of recalling to mind.  Re-connecting to parts of me stored in my memory banks and it is more than something only stored in my mind.  These memories are also found in other parts of my body, through my senses and in my heart. I began to re-member my first sense of God’s presence in my life and I realized it was when I was held in our magnificent natural world.  Being with, connected to, a part of the natural world made it a safe place for me as early as I can remember.

Growing up in Mansfield, Ohio in the 60’s was great.  I think back now to the freedom that I had to roam the community between my home, the pool, and a place called Black’s Woods not far from our church.  Now when I think about it, it was a remarkable time of my life.  I must have had a guardian angel following me everywhere I went, both keeping me protected and gently revealing God’s beautiful creation all around me.

Richland County is known for its rolling hills, Malabar Farm, Kingwood Center and Mohican State Park.  These are all places I spent time growing up with my family.  What a way to experience the changing of the seasons.  The backdrop of autumn leaves and snow sparkled winters, sledding and skiing down rolling hills and the springtime daffodils that lined our driveway are etched in my memory.  My earliest memories in my sand box and our back yard connected me with nature.  Mom’s flower gardens which surrounded the house and the lazy summer nights catching fireflies in my back yard can be recalled at a moments’ notice by a sound, a smell, a feeling or a thought.

Our family would travel to Michigan in the summers to spend a couple of weeks with our cousins at their cottage on Lake Huron.  I can remember the clean smell of tall sappy Michigan pines on our walks to the country store for a bag of candy, and the smell of the hot sandy beach with the water lapping back and forth on the shore, bringing in treasures of Petoskey stones and shells from the deeper waters of the Great Lakes.  My Grandfather “Baba” and I would walk up and down the shore hunched over, eyes to the ground collecting Petoskey stones.  They were special finds, he would pick one up, eye it up close, then he would spit on it and rub it with his big ‘old thumb, give me a big grin and hand it over.

Growing up, I was surrounded by nature and people with a great appreciation for it.  I think it just “sank in” for me.  As a young adult, life got more complicated, busier with work and relationships, family and new expectations.  The more time got away from me, the more I realized how much I missed the time I spent in nature.  I began to realize that I had lost hold of one of my closest connections to God.  For me, nature had become a place of connecting to peace and wonder, of hope and possibility and it was past time to reconnect, re-member it to my life.  When our son Luke was old enough we began to take family vacations out west in the Rockies, skiing, hiking, camping, Arizona rafting along 220 miles of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, trips to the coasts, the Redwoods, Crater Lake in OR and a cruise through Alaska, and the Hawaiian Islands.  The beauty of these treasures stays in my heart and mind without question.

I’ll never forget one trip that I took right after retirement in October 2007 to Santa Fe NM.  My husband and I drove up into the mountains to a clearing high above the city lights one clear cool night.  We got out of our car and it was pitch black around us.  As we became acclimated to the surroundings I began to feel a sense of connection to the cosmos.  I stretched my head up into the night sky and felt the stars coming to rest around my shoulders almost as if to engulf me.  WOW! What an incredible sense of connection to the universe!

We traveled in 2009 to British Columbia and I was struck by how incredibly breathable the air was, and how clear the water.  It was palpable and made me sad for how we had come to accept and not notice the air and water pollution in Ohio and the Midwest.  I contemplate just how diminished nature has become by our acts of hubris.  I wonder how much more can she take, how much longer can she  renew and revive and I begin to realize that in the end she is so much greater than we are, so much wiser, so much stronger.  I suspect that in one form or another, she will evolve; it’s us that may not be so fortunate.

Life in Ohio is nothing like the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Coast, the Redwood Forest and the Grand Canyon, and yet in so many ways, the peace of the rolling hills of Richland County, and the graceful farmland which surrounds our urban centers are all places of connection for me.  My own backyard has become a sanctuary where I commune with the birds and butterflies, squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks.  Last summer, when I was pensively watering my garden a hummingbird came to visit and perched on my watering wand.  She played and danced for me in the water and just took my breath away.  Just that simple connection filled my heart with such joy and amazement; I was reminded of the mystery of the simple pleasures that if we are not careful, we can so easily miss each day.

On one such day, I was invited to commune with nature as I ate my lunch in a courtyard near the retreat center that I was attending.  A plane flew overhead disrupting the serenity, followed a little later by a graceful, circling Hawk.  I was inspired to write:

  1. Mother (Earth) –         
    You surround me, change me, and engulf me with your beauty.
    You amaze me, heal me, and create in me.
    Your joy is without end, you nestle with yourself, your children,
    the one standing alone,
    the community standing together, nurturing all.
    The hawk soars above, we try to mimic, to replicate, and yet it is only within our hearts that we can truly begin to understand, deeper yet within our souls, the balance you have created, the energy you give, the truth which you are, ever complete, ever changing,
    ever expanding.
    And so it is with me, as I wonder in you, with you, becoming lost,
    and in doing so being found.
    Lovingly, your grateful daughter

I invite YOU to share your reflection on how you began to connect your faith with care for God’s creation. We will post your reflection here on our “Your Faith…God’s Earth…Our Responsibility” blog. Send your thoughts to [email protected]

Climate and Agricultural Ethics: Winds and Seeds of Change

UU_WayneCounty_BlogPostThe Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Wayne County  hosted a forum on the ethics of Earth stewardship, entitled Climate and Agricultural Ethics: Winds and Seeds of Change. This unique community lecture featured Calvin DeWitt, an ecologist and author, and David Kline, a local Amish farmer and author. Inspiring a discussion of how to be environmental stewards in the spirit of one’s faithful calling, both presenters spoke of the responsibility of caring for the earth—“as the earth serves us, we must return with service of our own”.  When asked if he has seen changes on his farm due to climate change, David Kline noted, “I am an observer of things, and I can say things are different”.  Both challenged the audience to “do what you can where you are—make the changes in your own setting; be faithful, not successful.”

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Wayne County (UUFWC) has clearly taken on this challenge. As the first Gold Certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) house of worship in the United States, members live out the UU Seventh Principle to respect the interdependent web of all existence. Their environmental stewardship was apparent in 2006 when their new building received the LEED Gold certification, accepted as the benchmark for buildings that are environmental friendly and healthy.  As their UUFWC’s website says:

“Most of us are aware of the enormous environmental challenges our world faces today. Global climate change, resource depletion, pollution, and species extinction are just a few of the concerns that trouble us, both as individuals and as Unitarian Universalist congregations.”

Members Karen Skubik, Anne Wilson, and Tom Gross, who were active in the decision-making process to pursue the LEED Certification, credit the collaborative spirit between the architectural design firm, the LEED consultant, and the congregational members. “This was a congenial project, and that makes all the difference,” says Tom Gross.  Anne Wilson notes, “We were close to LEED certification without really trying. We decided to go the last little bit because it is important to be environmentally sustaining and responsible.”

Their building expresses the interdependent web of all existence through respect for people, for place, and for the future:

Respect for People:

  • The lower windows and every other high window are operable, allow for cross ventilation and minimizing the need for heat/AC during transitional times of the year.
  • All paints finishes, carpeting and cabinet plywood used were low VOC (volatile organic compounds) emission products.
  • A Green Housekeeping Program and Recycling Program are used
  • No smoking is permitted in or near the facility
  • Designed to make use of the sun for passive solar heat gain and ambient lighting throughout the space
  • All spaces have views to the outside.
  • A shower stall and bike rake facilitates encourages riding bikes to services and events
  • Fixtures for outside lighting are “Night Sky”, with no light spillage past the property lines.

Respect for Place:

  • Use of a Structural Integrated Panel System for insulation properties and ease of construction.
  • A 1,500 gallon cistern (buried) is part of a system that catches rainwater, filters it, and then uses it to flush toilets and irrigate plants.
  • Plantings are planned to be drought resistant.
  • Parking made up of white concrete rather than asphalt

Respect for the Future:

  • During construction, all construction waste was taken and sorted, with 87% recycled.
  • Materials used in construction contained 7% recycled content.
  • High efficiency compact fluorescent and fluorescent tubes provide the majority of the interior lighting.
  • All rooms are equipped with multiple lamp settings to optimize efficiency.
  • The Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning system is 32.4% more efficient than a typical system. No ozone depleting refrigerants are used in the system.
  • Electric power is purchased through a wind power purchasing program. The program creates demand for alternative energy and encourages further development of additional capacity.

The Fellowship continues to explore ways they can reflect the web of interconnection. An alternative energy committee is exploring methods of integrating renewable energy sources.  Volunteers pick up trash in an Adopt-A-Highway program; ink cartridges are collected for reuse; cell phones and accessories are collected. Other projects being discussed for the future include:

  • A Green (planted) Roof
  • Incorporation of a Prairie restoration project
  • Congregational recycling and composting project
  • Solar and wind power generation on site
  • Floor coverings made from low hazard materials.

Clearly, this congregation is following the challenge to “do what you can do in your setting.” Their concern and care for the environment and living that value provides an important foundation for their children and the future of their community.

As The Rev. Elaine Strawn reflects:

“Our commitment to our values has given the church a more public face. “It has brought more people to us. Many are interested in aligning themselves with a community that values the environment.”

If your congregation is interested in exploring ways your house of worship can be more energy efficient, conserve energy, or use renewable energy, contact Ohio Interfaith Power and Light’s Energy Technical Consultant, Craig Foster at  [email protected]

Ministry and Mining in Appalachia

Shanay Johnson, OhIPL Seminary Student Chair

Midway through Trinity Lutheran Seminary’s one week immersion course, Ministry and Mining in Appalachia, our professor Dr. Mary Hughes took me and my colleagues to the home of dedicated farmer and earth care activist Larry Gibson to learn about the effects of strip-mining—better known as mountaintop removal. The trek up Kayford Mountain was no easy feat (although I might add it paled in comparison to journey down) as we drove our twelve person van at top speeds of 35mph up a steep and winding path. After twenty or so minutes of driving on a paved road, we completed the last 20 minute leg of the journey on a dirt road at a steady 15mph, all the while decorating the van with the dust kicked up on us by the two vehicles in front of us.

Despite these diversions, it was hard to ignore the immense beauty of the surrounding landscape; the richly green forest, the twisting rivers, and the towering hills. Breathtaking as it was, it was no wonder Mr. Gibson called this mountain his beloved home.

Once we reached the top, stretched our legs, and dusted off the van, we joined another group of visitors (the dirt sprayers in front of us) and waited for Larry to arrive. Soon enough, a white SUV hauling a lawn mower pulled in. Watching the SUV slowly back into its parking spot I noticed the rear window was almost completely covered in bumper stickers that read, “I Love Mountains,” “Energy Revolution Now,” “Topless Mountains Are Obscene,” and “Save Kayford Mountain.” I think the driver might have been trying to communicate something…

Before we left our housing accommodations at the Blessed John XXIII Pastoral Center, Dr. Hughes had given us a brief yet unmistakable description of the man we were soon to meet. It was therefore immediately evident when he exited his well ornamented protest vehicle that this was person we had been waiting for. No more than 5ft tall, Larry Gibson was clothed in a straw hat, jean overalls, plaid shirt, well-worn sneakers, and small black sunglasses. Speaking with a dialect true to his region he was quite possibly the quintessential Appalachian Mountain Man.

While his stature was less than intimidating, his passion for Kayford Mountain shone brightly as he told us the ongoing “David and Goliath” battle that has made him famous in West Virginia and throughout the world.

Kayford Mountain has been in Mr. Gibson’s family since the late 1700s and holds nearly 300 of his deceased relatives in its cemetery. A born and bred farmer, Gibson’s connection to the land is more profound than a suburbanite like me could begin to understand. Gibson’s life is totally dependent on what the land can provide him; produce to sell and make money, food to eat, water to drink, work to keep him busy, trees to give shade, plants to give beauty, air to sustain life, and even animals for company and friendship. As if reading a scene straight from a storybook, Larry spoke with a gentle nostalgia about a curious yet Romantic  childhood friendship that blossomed between him, a three-legged fox, and a hawk.

He also described with growing frustration how he must now purchase water and have it delivered to him in 10 gallon jugs because his own well water has been poisoned by the Coal Industry. Because of Coal, his soil is polluted, making the consumption of his produce a potential hazard to himself and his customers. It is no surprise then that his farming business has suffered a tremendous blow from Coal. Coal is also responsible for making his air quality one of the poorest in the nation.

Unfortunately, Larry’s story is not unique. Strip-mining has a widespread negative impact on the surrounding population and has cost families their very livelihood. For this reason, it is not hard to see why the controversy of mountaintop removal incites families to vie for its extinction. And as far as the battle is concerned, Larry Gibson is on the front lines.

At this point, Larry led us across a trail that opened to a clearing overlooking the strip-mining site that is the source of Kayford Mountain’s destruction. As we walked, it was clear that the ground beneath us was extremely rich in coal deposits for it was impossible to take more than five steps without tripping on little black diamonds. The tip of a very expensive iceberg, it is these “diamonds” the coal companies are after.

Mr. Gibson explained that with the coal so close to the surface, it is easier and less costly for industry to get at the coal from the top down. But in order to do this, the workers must first clear the mountain of trees, plants, topsoil, and any animals inhabiting the environment by way of explosives. Next, trucks use enormous shovels to dig into the soil and haul it away or push it into a nearby valley. Finally, draglines dig into the rock to expose the coal so that it can be dug out and transported to a processing plant. This entire process is accomplished with no more than nine workers, boosting corporate profits tremendously.

As we looked out at what was left of Kayford Mountain, we saw nothing more than a vast expanse of rocky, dusty, grey desert. Once the lowest point of the mountain range, Larry showed us how his property now looks down from above onto an empty wasteland. My heart broke to see the vitality and beauty of the Appalachian Mountains reduced to a dead zone. I could only imagine the sorrow Mr. Gibson felt as he watched the land he grew up knowing, loving, and depending on gradually lose its life to strip-mining.

It is no surprise that Industry has been looking to purchase Larry Gibson’s coal-rich land. However, much to their increasing chagrin, Larry refuses to sell his property and support corporate greed. For this act of courageous and persistent protest, Larry has become famous among activists and infamous to the West Virginia Coal Association. Unfortunately, the price he has paid for his decision has garnered serious consequences. Faced with death threats, gun shots, vandalism, and hate crimes, Mr. Gibson and his family must constantly be on guard for acts of violence aimed to pressure him into selling his land.

Larry’s act of defiance has managed to gain national media attention, adding many valuable supporters to his worthy cause. However, while Mr. Gibson has been able to raise awareness and support for Kayford Mountain, there is still more work to be done. Mountaintop removal is not an isolated dilemma and has devastated regions of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Not everyone who has been affected by this dangerous practice has amassed the same support as Mr. Gibson and it is up to all of us to continue to work for a healthy earth and a just society.

Shanay Johnson is a graduate student at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, currently working towards a dual Masters degree in Church Music and Theological Studies. Shanay is the OhIPL Board Chair for Seminary Students and will be working with OhIPL to further our outreach to seminary students throughout Ohio.



Let’s go, Matt, Let’s go!

Reflection by Dr. Greg Hitzhusen, M.Div., OhIPL Board Chair

My wife showed me an amazing video last night that was posted on Facebook; many comments have followed from families in our neighborhood, because the video shows a spontaneous act of collective kindness and spirit that happened during the Colonial Hills Elementary School field day races.  The Today Show picked up the story, and apparently now it is popping up all over cyber space, from Runner’s World to “most watched” video sites.

My son Eli is enjoying his last day of the first grade at Colonial HIlls today, and he recently dedicated his “published book” assignment to his gym teacher, Mr. Blaine, who is an important part of why this video exists.  Among Colonial Hills parents, Mr. Blaine is affectionately described as “old school” – with a heart for kids’ growth and development, and an expectation of responsibility and discipline that leaves many of us wondering how he can get our kids to behave so well.

The video shows the 400-yd dash, and follows one student, Matt, who has spastic cerebral palsy, as he labors through the two lap race, far behind all the other competitors.  But then an amazing thing happens, as first Mr. Blaine begins to walk beside Matt for the duration of the race, and then, well, you can see it for yourself:

I don’t know anyone who can watch this without being moved.  This week I’m wrapping up my “Religion and Environmental Values in America” course at Ohio State, and just was discussing with my students yesterday the great prospects for humanity that are possible when we live our best lives – when we let our light shine – when we are attuned to others instead of being selfishly preoccupied.  If the kind of spontaneous acts of encouragement and unity like Matt’s friends and schoolmates show here are possible, then perhaps we are capable of meeting any of the list of challenges that currently challenge our culture – unemployment, childhood obesity, war and violence, the health of our planet and its peoples and all life.

On the other hand, some of those challenges may carry a distinct disadvantage.  We may be biologically hard wired to root for the underdog, and even if we often doubt it, at our core, humans seem tuned to want to help the struggling (are justice and fairness woven into our hearts?).  If we see someone struggling, giving it all they’ve got, we feel inspired to cheer, to help, and to drop what we are doing to join the effort to bring success.  But if we see our climate changing, slowly, over long periods of time, evidenced by graphs and charts that reveal great risks looming in a projected future, the same surge of action, unity, and spirit tends not to follow.

As recent Templeton Prize winner Francisco Ayala notes, in the era of advanced human civilizations, it would appear that biological evolution cannot act quickly enough – “conservationist genes” or “peace genes” will not multiply within human populations fast enough to change our collective behavior toward more sustainable economies, industries, and individual behaviors (unless perhaps widespread environmental catastrophe hits, and the only survivors are those who cared for the planet, or the time comes, as the book of Revelation states, for “destroying those who destroy the earth”? (Rev 11:18)).

Rather, following Ayala, it is cultural evolution that now provides greater agency to provide flourishing and fitness and enhanced survival – culturally, we must find the will and the vision and the hope to change our patterns of living away from what is destructive and unsustainable, and toward that which is life-enhancing, healing, redeeming, wise, and able to provide sustainably for our flourishing (and not just the flourishing of the very wealthy).  Put another way, we must choose life, not death – and for this to mean anything, “choose” must assume that we then act accordingly.  And that is hard to do when our everyday actions, especially as Americans, are so disproportionately consumptive and polluting but in ways that we can’t easily see and feel.

And so I challenge my students, and I challenge my fellow parents, husbands, children, and friends: if we are going to come together to succeed in our unlikely endeavors, to meet the challenges we face in handing down as good a world to our children as what we received from our parents, then we will need to find the inner courage, strength, and will to stand for the things we know are right. To actually live the way we believe we should. To deal with climate change and long-term questions of environmental sustainability, we will not likely suddenly see some single effort, or piece of legislation, or public works project whose struggle to the finish line will suddenly inspire us to stand up and rush together to some end point.  As we know, it will take many solutions, on many fronts, collectively creating and forging a better way.  As poet Wendell Berry says:

 “The real work of planet saving will be small, humble, and humbling, and (insofar as it involves love) pleasing and rewarding. Its jobs will be too many to count, too many to report, too many to be publicly noticed or rewarded, too small to make anyone rich or famous.”

For those wondering what role religion plays in this, I believe the implications are clear. Religions in America have too often shrunk from their prophetic, liberating, redeeming and virtue-multiplying role within the culture.  It will take our best science and best policy and best will in shifting our culture into better and healthier ways, but like most important moments of social change in America, those factors will not rise to the challenge without the inspiration, convictions, faith, hope, and cultural transformation that our religious communities bring.

And in case we are tempted to shrink from the challenge and the moment because we sense that this effort may be perennial – that the “finish line” may always lie a bit beyond us, from generation to generation, as one challenge or crisis replaces the next — then let’s let Matt’s determination inspire ours, and remember that we are not alone — “Let’s go!” says our coach and our friends.  It may just be that the good fruits of our good efforts will make the journey all the more a blessing.


Industrial Carbon Pollution-New EPA Safeguards

Now’s the time…we have the opportunity to take a stand to clean up industrial carbon pollution which fuels climate change. As a person of faith, join the effort to let the EPA know you support the New Industrial Carbon Pollution Standards.

 “Interfaith Power and Light applauds the EPA’s landmark action to limit industrial carbon pollution from new power plants. This is an important step toward safeguarding the health of our communities, our climate, and our children’s future.” –The Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, President and Founder of Interfaith Power and Light

There are currently no national limits on the industrial carbon pollution coming from sources like power plants. The EPA is working to safeguard our health by reducing this carbon pollution and lessening the impact of climate change. Fossil fuel burning power plants currently emit more than two billion tons of carbon pollution and other toxic pollutants into the air each year.

The EPA’s new standards to put limits on industrial carbon pollution from new power plants show us that the 40-year old Clean Air Act is still an invaluable tool to carry out our call to be stewards of God’s Creation and to serve the least among us.

Take Action!

Interfaith Power and Light has set up an easy on-line way to submit your support for these pollution safeguards. Please send in your comment of support to the EPA today! Comments need to be submitted by June 25, 2012.

[Click here]

Together with our allies in the environmental and public health communities, we are collecting an unprecedented two million comments, like yours, to ensure the new standards take effect as soon as possible. Let us leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that people of faith stand on the side of God’s Creation, human health, and climate safety.

Want to do more?

Gather signatures from members of your congregation. Click here for Carbon-Rule-Sign-On

Earthkeeping Summit: March 31, 2012 in Columbus

OhIPL, the OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources, the OSU Extension Climate Change Outreach Team, OSU Energy Services and Sustainability, and Green Energy Ohio are co-sponsoring an Earthkeeping Summit on Saturday, March 31, at OSU’s LEED certified 4-H Center. Dr. Jason Box, Nancy Sleeth, and Bill Spratley will keynote; several outstanding workshops will be offered to equip participants for Earthkeeping work. Click here for information flyer, and click here to register online!