Written by Connie Larkman
The United Church of Christ's Mission 4/1 Earth initiative is offering a number of opportunities for congregations looking to make an impact globally as we live out our faith as one church, for the sake of planet Earth, by partnering with several organizations in tree planting projects around the world.
In anticipation of the project launch Easter Monday, April 1, executives in UCC's Wider Church Ministries have forged partnerships to accept donations to plant trees in China, Ghana, Nicaragua, India and East Palestine and Jerusalem. In addition, three more groups that UCC churches are already working with in Peru, Kenya and Haiti will plant trees as part of the Mission 4/1 Earth project.
"As we work collectively to plant more than 100,000 trees as part of this earth care initiative, it is critical to support the efforts of reforestation around the world," said Derek Duncan, program associate for global advocacy and education. "These tree projects are life-sustaining efforts of our global partners. Each one is a response of the church to address vital challenges facing the communities they serve—not only ecological challenges, but also challenges dealing with human rights, social inclusion, and hunger and poverty. By planting a tree, we join them in planting seeds that will not only strengthen the environment, but also grow stronger, more healthy communities."
Groups interested in planting trees globally can access a list of opportunities from the Purchase and Plant Trees page on the Mission 4/1 Earth website, where a brief description of each of the global tree planting opportunities can be found. The cost for planting trees through these global partners varies, but the minimum donation accepted for planting trees on your behalf is $20.
Here are the different projects from which to choose:
•Multi-storied Tree Farm Project, Zhoukou, China
The Multi-storied Tree Farm Project educates seminary students and villagers in multi-storied forestry and raises funds for desperately needed pastoral training in an area of rural China with a high rate of HIV/AIDS infection and a rapidly expanding Christian population. Cost per tree: $20.
• Keep Hope Alive! Olive Tree Planting Campaign, East Jerusalem & Palestine
The Keep Hope Alive! Olive Tree Planting Campaign is an effort led by the East Jerusalem YMCA and the YWCA of Palestine to replant 50,000 uprooted olive trees. Replanting olive trees restores lost income to villagers living under occupation and encourages Palestinians to "keep hope alive" and to work constructively toward peace-building. Cost per tree: $20.
• Interfaith Tree Planting Project of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and Alliance for Religion and Conservation, Ghana
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana began a cooperative project in 2006 with the Alliance of Religions and Conservation to highlight land degradation and the encroachment of the Sahara in the northern regions. Climate variability has worsened these conditions, which contributes to seasonal migration, food insecurity, and widespread poverty. Representatives of diverse religious groups learn methods of tree planting and growing on dry lands and nursery development and management skills. The Forestry Department in Tamale, Northern Ghana supports religious organizations in planting seedlings during the main rainy season. The project has a goal of 30,000 trees this year. Cost per tree: $20.
• Fruit Tree Planting and Environmental Education Project, Christian Mission Church of Nicaragua
The Fruit Tree Planting project of the Christian Mission Church of Nicaragua teaches environmental stewardship, promotes reforestation, and improves food security for church and community members by providing seeds to small farmers and families to grow orange and mango trees as a source of income. Cost per tree: $5.
• Village tree-planting in Kenya
The Green Belt Movement (GBM) was founded by Kenyan Professor Wangari Maathai in 1977 to respond to the needs of rural women. The women in the village of Kaiguchu, who depend for their living on the income from tree planting, look to tree planting as an essential means of support for children orphaned by AIDS for whom they are guardians. Guilford Community UCC and the Kaiguchu GBM Youth Group have worked together since 2006 to support these women and children. All trees are planted by orphans and their guardians and go to prevent erosion and provide income, firewood and shelter. Cost per tree: $1.
• APECA in Peru
APECA's mission to address conservation of global resources of the Amazon Rainforest is the thrust of their development and implementation of Reforestation Nurseries and Plantings. Community elected, Conservation Leaders are trained and qualified mentors within their own communities. These leaders train Youth Foresters of the village, who are rewarded with saplings to create their own personal nurseries. Mature trees will be available from these plantings when Youth Foresters reach adulthood. The trees they plant and nurture will provide their family with building materials, cooking fuel and lumber to sustain their own stable position as responsible caretakers of the Amazon Rainforest.Cost per tree: $1.
• LAMBI Fund of Haiti
To lessen the devastating effects of deforestation, the LAMBI Fund of Haiti is planting one million trees, raising awareness about the root causes of deforestation, and educating communities throughout rural Haiti about ways to address these problems. Cost per tree: $22.
• CASA Disaster Risk Reduction Tree Planting Project, Chennai, India
Since the 2004 tsunami, the Church's Auxiliary for Social Action has rebuilt homes and planted trees as a way to bring communities and fishing villages throughout Southern India back to life. The trees help renew the land and the people, and help prevent reduce erosion in the event of future storms. Cost per tree: $20.
"A beautiful creed from the United Church of Canada begins with this simple affirmation, 'We are not alone; we live in God's world.'It is my prayer that, across the whole United Church of Christ and among our many global partners, Mission 4/1 Earth will be a 50-day Eastertide meditation on that awesome reality and responsibility," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, Executive Minister for Local Church Ministries.
Planting trees in the United States is possible through a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, bypurchasing Give-A-Tree cards, which note that trees will be planted by the U.S. Forest service in a national forest. Participants in Mission 4/1 Earth can also buy trees through the Arbor Day Foundation that will be sent to them for planting.
The United Church of Christ has been working for environmental justice for almost 30 years, and hopes Mission 4/1 Earth provides an opportunity for a shared mission campaign to live out our faith — in unity, as one church — for the sake of our fragile planet.
Get a preview of Mission 4/1 Earth: 50 Great Days.
Visit ucc.org/earth for more information or join the movement on Facebook.