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Caring for Creation

also visit Presbyterians for Earth Care

For our earlier posts on Ecojustice (2001 - 2007) >>

Reflections on Martin Luther King Day

Liberation Theology for Earth    [1-17-11]

The Rev. Peter S. Sawtell, Executive Director of Eco-Justice Ministries, celebrates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by reminding us of some of the major characteristics of liberation theology, and tracing their relevance for a modern theology for liberation of the creation.

The four basic affirmations of liberation theology, he says, are:

bullet The experience of the community is the starting point for theological reflection.
bullet Liberation theology takes seriously the presence of powerful institutions.
bullet Liberation theology demands action and involvement. "The emphasis is on orthopraxis rather than orthodoxy."
bullet Hope sustains and enlivens the struggle for liberation.

For his full essay >>
Congregations caring for creation

New program provides suggestions for earth care, certifies PC(USA) congregations that take action    [9-17-10]

From Bethany Furkin, Presbyterian News Service:

According to the EPA's Energy Star for Congregations program, if America's more than 370,000 houses of worship cut their energy use by 10 percent, they would prevent more than 1.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

And now the more than 10,000 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations can take additional steps to do their part, with the help of a new program from Environmental Ministries.

Earth Care Congregations is a program that encourages churches to care for God's earth and celebrates those that have committed to this mission. The program takes a holistic approach to earth care, incorporating worship, education, facilities and outreach.     More >>

The Word and the World: Psalm 8 and the Gulf Oil Spill

by the Rev. Bruce Gillette, dated Saturday, May 29, 2010

[posted here 6-3-10]

“Effective preaching, teaching, and personal witness require disciplined study of both the Bible and the contemporary world.” --from The Confession of 1967 of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Many people in our churches have been watching the news stories of the oil spill and praying about it.

Saturday’s AP News has the headline, A nation mesmerized: Can BP plug the Gulf gusher? in response to the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Even President Obama’s young daughter is asking when the disaster will end.

Obama And the Oil Spill” was a recent column by the Pulitzer-Prize winning writer Thomas Friedman with this comment, “…the gulf oil spill is not Obama's Katrina. It's his 9/11 -- and it is disappointing to see him making the same mistake George W. Bush made with his 9/11. Sept. 11, 2001, was one of those rare seismic events that create the possibility to energize the country to do something really important and lasting that is too hard to do in normal times.” What may be true for the President can also be true for our churches, that we fail to encourage people of faith to make a difference for God’s creation at this teachable moment.

The Psalm in May 30th’s lectionary that will be read in many of our churches is Psalm 8 with its words praising God for an awe-inspiring creation, including the sixth verse, “You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet.”

A new hymn, “O God, the Great, Wide Seas are Yours,” uses the image of creation care from Psalm 8:6 in each of its verses set to the well-known tune of what is often called the Navy Hymn, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”

The idea of humanity’s “dominion” over creation first shows up in Genesis 1:28. Here are some reflections about it from the recent article, “A Journey Towards a Green Church ,” in Call to Worship: Liturgy, Music, Preaching and the Arts (the quarterly journal is published by the Office of Theology and Worship of the PCUSA), 42.4 Environment and Worship issue (May 2009):

“It is always good to look at a variety of biblical translations when preparing to preach or teach. The first chapter of Genesis provides a key text (1:28) by which one can look at the rest of Bible:

“God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." New International Version

28God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” New Revised Standard Version

These translations (“subdue,” “rule over” and “have dominion”) have created problems. Lynn White wrote an influential article, "The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis" (Science 155 (1967): pages 1203-7), arguing that Genesis 1:28 says creation is “explicitly for man’s benefit and rule: no item in the physical creation had any purpose save to serve man’s purposes” (p. 1205). White believes that the verse is an underlying cause of our present environmental problems. While some good scholars have countered White’s position, one wonders if we might have had the same problems if people had pondered the better wording (“take charge” and “be responsible for”) used by Eugene Peterson in his The Message for the same verse:

“God blessed them: "Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
   Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
      for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth."

In addition to looking at various biblical translations, it is helpful for a preacher or teacher to use the helpful resources in good study Bibles. Terence Fretheim of Luther Seminary in St. Paul makes a helpful comment in the Genesis 1:28 footnote of the new Discipleship Study Bible, a study Bible that seeks to help people “called to discipleship in the world” (Westminster/John Knox Press, 2008, p.xii):

1:28 Subdue…have dominion-God shares power with the human, choosing not to be the only one who has creative and ruling capacities. Having dominion is understood in terms of caregiving, not exploitation; it has its roots in the ideal conception of royal dominion (see Ps. 72:8-14, Ezek. 24:1-4) and focuses on the animals. The command to “subdue” relates to the earth, particularly the difficult task of cultivation. While the verb may have a coercive aspect in interhuman relationships (Num. 32:22, 29) no enemies are in view here. More generally, these verbs assume ongoing development in the created order, rather than a finished product. So God’s world is not a static state of affairs” (p.5).

Barbara Brown Taylor has a wonderful sermon, The Dominion of Love,” in The Green Bible that reminds us that biblical interpretation includes reading biblical texts in their literary context. She comments on her resulting discovery that human beings are not the only creatures made at the sixth day of the creation story:

“I cannot tell you how many times I read the first chapter of Genesis before I noticed something new on day six. For years and years I thought that humans had day six all to ourselves— you know, the pinnacle of the story—God’s last, best word in the utterance of creation. With all lesser creatures out of the way, the sixth day finally arrived… Then I noticed for the first time that day six does not start there. Day six starts two verses earlier, with the creation of land animals—cattle, to be exact. The text does not mention any other animals by name except cattle— twice, in fact, along with unspecified creeping things and wild animals… Still, this new information is a real come down—a reminder that while God may have made human beings for special purpose, we were not made of any more special stuff than the rest of creation. We were made on the same day as cows and creeping things and wild animals of every kind. God gave us dominion, it is true, but God did not pronounce us better than anything else that God had made.”

Psalms for Preaching and Worship: A Lectionary Commentary edited by Roger E. Van Horn and Brent A. Shawn (Eerdmans, 2009) includes this insight by Rolf Jacobson: “Psalm 8 pictures all of humanity as the kings and queens of creation, bestowed with a special divinely given gifts, which we are to use for the care and keeping of creation” (p. 66). 

A more recent article looking at the Gulf disaster in the larger environmental context is an excellent one by Bill McKibben in Christian Century titled “It's about the carbon: What's worse than the gulf oil leak? The major new studies released on May 19th by some top scientists in the USA from our National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council see the strong evidence on Climate Change underscores the need for action. Long after the oil spill in the Gulf has been stopped, we are facing a greater environmental challenge that needs to be spoken about in our pulpits, church classrooms and inspire creative action in the world by faithful Christians.

Grace and Peace,

Bruce Gillette
Co-Pastor, Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware


A hymn for a time of disaster in the sea

This hymn-prayer was written by the Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, in response to the ongoing oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig that started on April 20th.

O God, the Great, Wide Seas are Yours
MELITA (“Eternal Father, Strong to Save”)

O God, the great, wide seas are yours!
You carved the oceans’ rugged floors.
You set the waters in their place
And made all sea life by your grace.
You also made humanity
To care for earth and sky and sea.

Forgive us when we disobey
And fail to care for what you’ve made.
Consuming more than what we should,
We harm the waters you call good.
Forgive us when we fail to be
Good stewards of your wondrous sea.

We pray for those who seek to care
For troubled waters everywhere—
For those who work to stop the spill
Of all that would destroy and kill,
For those who work with loving hands
To tend your marshes, shores and sands.

God, may we hear your call anew
To care for all these gifts from you.
May we protect the sea and shore
By using less, conserving more,
And humbly learning how to live
As stewards of this world you give.

Biblical references: Genesis 1-2:4
Tune: John B. Dykes, in Hymns Ancient and Modern, 1861.
Text: Copyright © 2010 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.

Hymn Background: The hymn-prayer was written in response to the ongoing oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig that started on April 20th. Churches are also using other creation hymns by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, including her popular “The Earth is the Lord’s.” The first five hymns in her Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor (Upper Room Books, 2010) have creation themes. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is co-author of “A Journey to a Green Church.” A complete list of her 160 hymns can be found at:

Greater Context: How We Wrecked the Ocean” is an online April 2010 TED Talk by Jeremy Jackson, the Ritter Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, on how the oceans are overfished, overheated, polluted and getting worse.


National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Working Group reports from Copenhagen     [12-12-09]

Tyler Edgar, Associate Director of the Eco-Justice Program of the NCC, John Hill with the United Methodist Church, Mary Minette of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Bill Somplatsky-Jarman of the Presbyterian Church (USA) are all attending the climate negotiations. Tyler Edgar is sending daily updates on the Eco-Justice blog. Click here to follow along, and know the call of justice for God's Creation and God's people is being heard during the negotiations in Copenhagen.

A sample from December 11:

Live from Copenhagen: Ecumenical Weekend Begins

It’s Friday morning here in Copenhagen and the first week of negotiations is coming to a close while the global ecumenical community is gearing up for a weekend of prayer, action and climate justice events.

First a wrap up of where the negotiations are headed. After an intense 5 days of conversation and discussion, the big development here in Copenhagen is the role that developing countries are playing in the negotiations. Many of the small island nations and the least developed countries are uniting to demand a concrete second agreement that will be complementary to the Kyoto Protocol. This would allow countries such as the US to engage in the new agreement while maintaining the structure created under the Kyoto Protocol.

He concludes:

I hope that you will the time to express the importance of these climate negotiations in your own community – you don’t have to organize a march or release 2000 lanterns, but you can tell your friends about what's happening here, say a prayer at your church this Sunday for the negotiations happening in Copenhagen or write a letter to the editor on what faith communities around the world are doing to address climate change and the need for climate justice.

Whatever you do, please do something!

God’s Creation needs your help and US leaders must know that the faith community is committed to seeking climate justice.

Two calls for action in Copenhagen

Demand climate justice     [12-9-09]

The Pesticide Action Network is calling for “climate justice” in Copenhagen

Urge U.S. negotiator Jonathan Pershing to renounce backroom deals. The path to climate stabilization must be transparent and equitable for all nations.

PAN is on the ground here in Copenhagen with one objective – climate justice. The concept is simple enough: We should not make other people clean up our mess. And, nobody should use the political will and sense of urgency around climate change as an opportunity to fortify their positions of power and wealth.

ACT NOW»  Tell the U.S. negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, that the road to climate stabilization must be a fair one if it is going to work for all the people on the planet.

Industrialized nations (especially the U.S.) are historically responsible for over 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions, despite composing only 20% of the world's population. Meanwhile, the developing world -- most of humanity -- is on the front lines of climate change, paying our climate debt by enduring the harshest storms and most severe droughts. The Kyoto protocol recognizes this fact of "historical responsibility" by talking about "common but differentiated responsibilities."

According to a negotiating text leaked today, the U.S. is working behind closed doors with the U.K. and Denmark to reverse these key provisions of the Kyoto framework by: 1) stripping recognition of the industrialized world's disproportionate historical responsibility for warming the earth; and 2) handing most control to rich nations while making the World Bank, rather than the more democratic UN, the arbiter of global cuts. This deal is being called the "Danish Text," and developing countries are understandably incensed by it.

Take Action!»  Tell the U.S. delegation that playing politics at this critical hour is unacceptable. Secret agreements between the world's most powerful players is unfair and undermines trust at a moment when we haven't the time to spend years rebuilding it. We will deliver your signatures with partners here in Copenhagen.

To tackle climate change, we need leadership with the vision and fortitude for climate justice. Clearly, we won't get that from this delegation unless we demand it.

Or if you prefer a more symbolic action -- Help build an ark!

Press for action against climate change   [12-9-09]

The group Faithful America, with others, is building a giant ark on the National Mall in Washington, “to remind our leaders exactly what’s at stake” in the UN Copenhagen climate talks.

Their call for action continues:

The Copenhagen talks are our best chance at getting a real climate deal, and it's not a moment too soon. People in developing countries are already experiencing drought, disease and even death because of climate change. But, bureaucratic foot-dragging is endangering the climate talks.

We're participating in a global grassroots effort to remind our leaders what's at stake. Today, teams of volunteers are starting to build the Ark. Saturday, in front of the completed Ark, clergy will join other leaders to speak about the moral imperative to address climate change and its disproportionate impact on those living in poverty. It's shaping up to be an incredible witness (after all, a giant Ark is pretty hard to ignore), so we wanted to make sure all our Faithful America members could participate.

Sign the petition calling for a real climate deal, and we'll bring your message with us to the Ark!

We'll post your comments on the Ark's giant message wall. Media and leaders passing by the Ark will see our notes and know that people of faith from across the country demand action on climate change.

After the Copenhagen talks close, we will be in touch with you with more ways you can help increase the pressure on the Senate to pass strong climate change legislation.

Thanks for all you do,

Beth Dahlman
Online Organizer, Faithful America

PS: If you're in the DC area, we'd love to see you in person this Saturday at 4 PM! (More details here.) If you are outside of the DC area, click here to see if there is a December 12 climate vigil near you!

50 Ways to Save the Earth   [7-21-09]

A new book by Rebecca Barnes-Davies, Witherspoon member and former coordinator of Presbyterians for Restoring Creation, shows how individuals and churches can make a difference in fighting global warming.


The book, 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference, is available through Cokesbury . It outlines 50 ways individuals and churches can help fight global warming and participate in a part of Christian discipleship, making a connection between stewardship of the earth and faith. The book consists of seven chapters on topics related to global climate change: water, energy, transportation, food and agriculture, people, other species, and wilderness and land planning. Each chapter begins with a statement on how the content relates to global warming, followed by seven action items.

For more information, and/or to order, click the Buy from Amazon button.

PC(USA) speaks on energy policy and climate change    [6-26-09]

Our Presbyterian General Assembly’s recent study, The Power to Change: U.S. Energy Policy and Global Warming, has been published and is also online.  The church report is timely reading with today’s news that Obama pushes for passage of global warming legislation.

Thanks to the Rev. Bruce Gillette, Co-Pastor, Limestone Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, Delaware

PC(USA) energy policy playing well in Washington

PDA: 'Green construction' in disaster areas hampered by lack of clarity    [6-5-09]

Presbyterian News Service reports that the Obama administration's emphasis on "green jobs" and "green construction" tracks well with a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) energy policy statement approved by last summer's 218th General Assembly, one of the denomination's top disaster relief officials told the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) here recently.

But a lack of clarity over what newly emerging "green" standards entail makes it hard for agencies such as Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to promote the environmentally sound rebuilding practices, said the Rev. John Robinson, PDA's associate for U.S. disaster response.

"We're somewhat encouraged by the new administration and its green jobs initiative," Robinson told the committee on May 15. "But when disasters happen, we're not clear as a culture what the expectations of individuals and governments are for responding."

There is a growing concern in the U.S. that green construction happens, Robinson said, "but the standards and technologies are so new that there's no consensus on what green construction is."

The rest of the story >>

Enough for Everyone offers resources for Green Living, and suggestions for action on climate change legislation   [4-25-09]

Melanie Hardison, staff person for the Enough for Everyone program of the PC(USA), sends this update:

Hundreds of Presbyterian churches and families around the country have changed their light bulbs, started carpooling to church and are buying more local foods -- actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and leave a smaller footprint on God's Creation. Each individual, church and local community has a contribution to make in the effort to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Green Living

Consider deepening your involvement and celebrating every day as Earth Day. Check out our Green Living materials as a place to get started.

bulletEngage with family, friends, your Sunday school class or other small group to share ideas, discuss and pray together. 
bulletForm a discussion group with interested members of your congregation or community. 
bullet Post your own ideas and practices online -- and help expand our materials.
bulletJoin the organization Alternatives for Simple Living. They provide excellent recommendations for educational materials on simple, joyful and green living.

Climate Legislation

Washington OfficeOver the next month, the House of Representatives will consider legislation that addresses the United States' disproportionate contribution to global climate change emissions. Celebrate the glorious gift of God's Creation and our responsibility to care for it by contacting your members of Congress through the Presbyterian Washington Office. The sample letter provided is based on PC(USA) policy. In an ecumenical effort through Church World Service, you can also encourage the President to support a national climate response and to engage in international climate negotiations in good faith.

Upcoming opportunities for engagement on green living and climate change include:
bullet Embracing God's Call to Be Green (the Presbyterians for Restoring Creation biennial conference) at Montreat, July 7-11
bullet Climate of Fear, Climate of Hope at Ghost Ranch, July 27-August 2.


Melanie Hardison
Enough for Everyone
(888) 728-7228 x5626

Enough for Everyone is a partnership ministry of the following General Assembly Council agencies:

bullet Presbyterian Hunger Program
bullet Presbyterian Peacemaking Program
bullet Self-Development of People
bullet Women's Ministries
bullet Presbyterian Women
What sort of spirituality might be shaped by an ecological consciousness?

Peter Sawtell of Eco-Justice Ministries offers some answers to this question in his most recent Eco-Justice Notes.

"I feel closer to God when I'm out in nature than when I'm in church."

I imagine that every pastor has heard those words on more than one occasion. Sometimes they are voiced by a loyal member explaining why she skipped a Sunday morning. Other times, they are a defiant assertion from somebody who never, ever comes to sit in a pew.

For lots and lots of people, there is a distinctive sense of spiritual connectedness that happens away from church, away from cities, and away from mass media. There is a rich and vivid ecological spirituality that can come through most clearly when people are intentionally focused on, and present in, the other-than-human parts of nature.

How do those experiences of nature help people feel close to God? Let me stimulate your thinking with a far-from-exhaustive list of spiritual experiences.

    * There is the emotional and spiritual reaction of awe, of encountering something vast and powerful, which sets our personal and societal selves into a humbling context. Seeing the stars spread out overhead when away from the haze of city lights, the ocean stretching off into infinite distance, and mountains shaped by eons of geologic forces -- these put our lives and accomplishments into perspective.

    * Taking the time to "get out into nature" provides an extraordinarily rare taste of real Sabbath. "Getting away" without an agenda offers a deep quality of rest and relaxation. We can only be still, and know God" when we escape from the calendar and computer, the babble of TV and telephone, text messages and Ipod tunes.

    * I have heard from many people about the spiritual delight of encountering life in an "other" – a deer grazing, a whale spouting, an eagle soaring, a flock of songbirds, a colony of ants. Those creatures are free and alive, engaged in their own ways of being which have little or nothing to do with us. Observing those animals on their own terms offers a realization of their inherent beauty and worth. We experience "the integrity of creation" where the natural world is disconnected from human use.

    * Our spirituality is nurtured as we become aware of ecological relationships. Things do not exist in isolation. Creatures exist within habitats. They are woven into predator and prey relationships, and symbiotic interactions of support within herds and across species. Ecology makes us aware of our connectedness and interdependence.

    * Time in nature makes us aware of seasons and the cycles of life. Birth, growth and death are embedded in the fabric of the world. Patterns of rainfall and sunlight are discerned as gifts instead of commodities.

    * Time alone in the natural world can provide a more intense sense of self, unfiltered and unprotected by the stuff of culture. A clarity about our real needs comes to the backpacker who must carry all the supplies for a trip. A few days in nature can trim away concerns about style and status, and get us back to the necessities.

These are just a few of the ways that time in nature might strengthen people in a faithful spirituality. These are just a hint of the many ways that time focused on the creation can draw us into awareness and relationship with God.

The rest of his essay >>

Doing the Recovery Right: joining concern for environment and justice   

Robert Pollin writes in The Nation:

For most of the past generation, the aims of environmental sustainability and social justice were seen as equally worthy, yet painfully and unavoidably in conflict. Tree huggers and spotted owls were pitted against loggers and hard hats. Fighting global warming was held to inevitably worsen global poverty and vice versa. Indeed, the competing demands of the environmental and social justice agendas were frequently cited as a classic example of how public policy choices were fraught with trade-offs and unintended consequences – how you could end up doing harm while seeking only to do good.

Over the past couple of years, there has been a dramatic reversal of thinking: the idea has emerged that protecting the environment – in particular, defeating global warming – can also be an effective engine of economic growth, job creation and even poverty reduction.    The full article >>

A Time to Take Action:
Senate to consider climate change bill

From Witness in Washington Weekly, published by the Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), June 2, 2008

The Senate returns from the Memorial Day recess scheduled to take up the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, S. 2191. As described in the Witness in Washington Weekly on May 19, 2008, this bill is far from the perfect solution to global climate change, but it is a huge step in the right direction, and a chance to get Senators on record on a vital issue.

For details, talking points, and more >>

What Are You Doing For Earth Day?     [4-16-08]

The Eco-Justice Program of the National Council of Churches wants to help you in celebrating Earth Day! If you, your community, or your church is sponsoring or attending an Earth Day event, send an email to and let them know. If you are looking for a place in your community to attend an event, Click here to view an interactive map and find one near you!

Click here to download the NCC's 2008 Earth Day resource, "The Poverty of Global Climate Change", and get your church involved!

Thanks to the Witness in Washington Weekly, published by the Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), April 14, 2008

Save the Date!

Mindful Living:
Healthy People, Healthy Churches, Healthy Planet

October 9-11, 2008


The National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program will host its biennial conference Oct. 9-11, 2008, in Alexandria, MN, at Lake Geneva Christian Center. The focus for the conference will be environmental health.

Join this ecumenical gathering of denominational staff, clergy, seminarians, lay leaders, church educators, eco-justice coordinators, and Christians to educate yourself on the unfolding world of toxics found in everyday items in our homes, our churches, and even our bodies.

Click here to visit the conference website.
For more information, contact Chloe Schwabe .

Washington Office staff is participating in planning this conference.

From the Witness in Washington Weekly, published by the Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)  If you would like to receive this information directly, click here >>

Faith community holds rally in support of climate change legislation

Event reflects growing concern by religious groups over global warming     [4-3-08]

Presbyterian News Service reports on an interfaith group that included Presbyterians, which gathered outside the Memphis, TN, office of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) last week in support of Congress’ work to draft effective climate change legislation.

The Climate Change Rally on March 27 was among more than a dozen gatherings held across the country by the National Council of Churches (NCC) that signaled the faith community’s growing concern around the issue of global warming and its desire for action.

Those attending the events urged their elected officials to take stronger action to cut harmful greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Hundreds of congregations and communities across the country have already taken steps to lower their greenhouse gas emissions.

The news report >>

Millions of Jobs of a Different Collar

A New York Times article explores the possibility that care for the creation can be a powerful creator of jobs. (And the Times is not the only one looking at this.)

The article begins:

Everyone knows what blue-collar and white-collar jobs are, but now a job of another hue — green — has entered the lexicon.

Presidential candidates talk about the promise of “green collar” jobs — an economy with millions of workers installing solar panels, weatherizing homes, brewing biofuels, building hybrid cars and erecting giant wind turbines. Labor unions view these new jobs as replacements for positions lost to overseas manufacturing and outsourcing. Urban groups view training in green jobs as a route out of poverty. And environmentalists say they are crucial to combating climate change.

No doubt that the number of green-collar jobs is growing, as homeowners, business and industry shift toward conservation and renewable energy. And the numbers are expected to increase greatly in the next few decades, because state governments have mandated that even more energy come from alternative sources.

But some skeptics argue that the phrase “green jobs” is little more than a trendy term for politicians and others to bandy about. Some say they are not sure that these jobs will have the staying power to help solve the problems of the nation’s job market, and others note that green jobs often pay less than the old manufacturing jobs they are replacing.

The full article >>               More on caring for the creation >>

Earth Day is Around the Corner!

The 207th General Assembly (1995) directed staff to “Advocate environmental justice concerns through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office on behalf of the poor and people of color; and that the Washington Office assist congregations and individuals in their advocacy efforts.”

As the impacts of global climate change become clearer to us, through scientific understanding and anecdotal evidence, it is clear that the world’s poorest communities will bear the heaviest burden of climate catastrophe. Although global climate change affects all human populations across the globe, it hits those living in poverty the hardest because they depend on the surrounding physical environment to supply their needs and have limited ability to cope with climate variability and extremes.

Both in the United States and in countries around the globe, climate change will first and most heavily impact those living in poverty, through higher energy prices, water scarcity, drought, crop failure, increased disease, and flooding.

As stewards of God’s good earth, we are called to care for the environment and all the creatures that depend on it to survive. Celebrate this year’s Earth Day, April 22, in a worship service that lifts up the goodness and bounty of God’s creation, and our responsibility toward it. The National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program is marking Earth Day Sunday (the Sunday closest to Earth Day) by recognizing the interconnectedness of poverty and climate change and offering a resource for worship, adult study, and youth activities.

A worship planning resource for Earth Day Sunday is now available - to obtain a copy visit, or contact the Eco-Justice Program office at or 202-481-6943.

From the WITNESS IN WASHINGTON WEEKLY, produced by the Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Environmental Justice For All      [3-10-08]

As stories about global warming, sustainable energy, and climate change make headlines, the fact that some neighborhoods, particularly low-income and minority communities, are disproportionately toxic and poorly regulated has, until recently, been all but ignored.

A new breed of activists and social scientists are starting to capitalize on the moment. In principle they have much in common with the environmental justice movement, which came of age in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when grassroots groups across the country began protesting the presence of landfills and other environmentally hazardous facilities in predominantly poor and minority neighborhoods.

In practice, though, the new leadership is taking a broader-based, more inclusive approach. Instead of fighting a proposed refinery here or an expanded freeway there, all along trying to establish that systematic racism is at work in corporate America, today's environmental justice movement is focusing on proactive responses to the social ills and economic roadblocks that if removed would clear the way to a greener planet.

The new movement assumes that society as a whole benefits by guaranteeing safe jobs, both blue-collar and white-collar, that pay a living wage. That universal health care would both decrease disease and increase awareness about the quality of everyone's air and water. That better public education and easier access to job training, especially in industries that are emerging to address the global energy crisis, could reduce crime, boost self-esteem, and lead to a homegrown economic boon.

The author of this Utne article is Leyla Kokmen, who is the program coordinator for the Health Journalism M.A. in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. She has been a staff reporter at daily and weekly papers across the United States, including the Twin Cities' City Pages, The Seattle Times, and The Denver Post, where she contributed to that newspaper's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Columbine High School massacre.

Read this in Utne Reader ... or on

Some Southern Baptist leaders call for action on climate change    [3-10-08]

From an AP report: In a major shift, a group of Southern Baptist leaders said their denomination has been "too timid" on environmental issues and has a biblical duty to stop global warming.

The declaration, signed by the president of the Southern Baptist Convention among others and released Monday, shows a growing urgency about climate change even within groups that once dismissed claims of an overheating planet as a liberal ruse. The conservative denomination has 16.3 million members and is the largest Protestant group in the U.S.

The full report >>                 The full statement, with its preamble >>

Ecojustice and environmental postings from 2001 through 2007
 are archived on a separate page.


Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.


John Shuck’s new "Religion for Life" website

Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck, a Presbyterian minister currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.

Click here for his blog posts.

Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.


Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


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