On September 15th of 1982, more than 125 people gathered at Coley Springs Baptist Church in Warren County, North Carolina. They had gathered to march and physically prevent dump trucks from delivering the first shipments of toxic waste to a newly created landfill. Ultimately, the efforts of that day would spark a six week civil disobedience campaign that would awaken the conscience of a nation and kick-start the Environmental Justice Movement.
Among the leaders of the protest was the Rev. Leon White. At the time, White served as a regional field director for the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice. Along with local organizer Dollie Burwell and others, he was arrested on the first day of demonstrations. Ultimately, more than 520 would be arrested over the course of the six weeks.
More than one classic cartoon character has been portrayed as being so beset by misfortune that he is followed by a perpetual rain cloud above his head everywhere he goes. For those concerned about environmental justice, this past year could have easily induced the feeling that our nation has a perpetual cloud hanging over its head—a toxic cloud to be precise. In a recent interview, Bill McKibben observed how the Trump administration has wasted no time in “dismantling 30 years’ worth of environmental regulation.” (Read more.)
A number of years ago as a divinity school student I found myself attending a rally for the activist and author Mumia Abu-Jamal who at the time was on death row. Among the speakers that day was a former political prisoner who imparted a lesson derived from hard experience. With an emphatic passion, he advised, “Don’t fight to fight. Fight to win.” Since that day, I have thought about that comment a number of times. In the ministry of pursuing social change, one can easily get swept away in the strongly felt impulses of the moment while failing to take a step back to consider the best strategic path forward if the goal is to make a tangible difference in the lives of those suffering. (Read more.)
There’s a story that I heard a while back that just so resonates with me that I have used it during sermon messages, presentations & reflections from Honduras to Michigan.
The story is of a Rabbinic argument taking place in the Middle Ages during which a group of Rabbis were trying to discern the deep-deep truth behind what seems to most of us modern progressive protestants to be simply a presumed biblical fact. Their argument focused on the familiar verse of Exodus 3:2 “There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.” The question that the Rabbis debated very vigorously for an extended period was simply this: “Why was it necessary for the bush to burn but not be consumed?” (Read more.)
As part of an ongoing series of articles on best practices for Creation Justice Churches, Elizabeth Griego shares about an Earth Care Festival organized by First Congregational Church of Sonoma, UCC.
Envisioning an Earth Care Festival
Ten years ago, our church adopted an Earth Care Covenant with the goals of reducing our impact on the environment and helping to repair the damage that has been done to God’s Earth. Since then, our Earth Care Committee has assumed a leadership role throughout the California Sonoma Valley in the work of advocacy, education, and preservation of the environment. One highlight of the past two years has been an Earth Care Festival organized to engage local partners and to highlight contributions being made to climate, ecology, and earth justice. We intentionally planned the Festival for the Saturday closest to the national observance of Earth Day, April 22. (Read more.)
On a daily basis, I interact with one of the most effected populations in the Cleveland area when it comes to climate. In fact, members of this population literally keep me up at night on a regular basis. I am talking about children, of course, and for me, that is a two-year-old named Kylie and a six-year-old named Danalyn. One of the great justice issues of our time is the injustice that is being done to an entire generation, to the children who are in the process of inheriting the world in which we live. My daughters are fairly fortunate. They are not among those suffering from asthma or other pollution related illnesses, but like everyone from their generation, they will have to experience a world that is notably less hospitable than the one in which I grew up. The extent to which that world is going to be more or less hospitable is up to us, and what we do today.
Each month our Earth Care Committee at First Congregational Church of Sonoma, UCC, organizes and leads a nature walk.
At The Keep & Till church in Carroll County, Maryland, we are committed to being a community of learning. We keep our ears are tuned to anything that may impact our place and people. That's why we started "Headwaters: A Rural and Agrarian Ministry Conference." We wanted to bring emerging voices to our place to strengthen and encourage our congregation, the existing churches in our "ecosystem," and the dreamers and prophets who envision a new kind of church. At the recent Headwaters conference, we experienced an estuary of discipleship, commensality, theology, and practical ministry for healthy, productive, and sustainable rural churches empowered to speak prophetically to a world threatened by community erosion, climate change, and food insecurity. We would like to share a few ideas that were presented at Headwaters and are shaping our thinking about agrarian communities of faith.
The following is an excerpt from "Resistance Guide: How to Sustain the Movement to Win" by Paul Engler and Sophie Lasoff in Collaboration with Momentum.
Social movements work by getting enough people engaged, involved and activated in a variety of methods of protest, including public actions, actions directed at decision-makers and electoral work.
This raises an obvious question: How many is enough?
Reflection on the October 29th Lectionary Reading—Matthew 22:34-46