“The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants …” (Isaiah 24:4-5)
A time-tested rule in the field of environmental education indicates that as people become more aware of the natural world and learn about what makes for a healthy or a stressed ecosystem, then they progress to deeper levels of understanding and critical thinking about issues, and finally to taking responsible actions toward conserving, sustaining and restoring Earth systems. So it is at Montreat Presbyterian Church. Shortly after the Earth Ministry Team was established, a workday to help landscape and generally “spruce-up” a local creekside park engaged 15 members of the congregation. The Men’s Bible Study was a co-sponsor, with arrangements made by the Montreat Conference Center. The congregation has a strong ethic and appreciation for the beauty of the landscape where they live and worship.
At a potluck supper in 2011 the program was a celebration of the initial award of Earth Care Congregation status to the church. A factual, fast-paced and fun presentation on recycling caught the imagination of attendees, who included elected officials and other friends from the local area who had been invited. A highlight of the evening was the inaugural appearance of our very own “Garbage Fairy,” who led the audience in a do’s and don’ts activity about what kind of “disposable” household items really can be recycled through the local county waste management program. Subsequently, elder Janie Moore reprised her role at a meeting of the Mission and Outreach Committee where travelers to Haiti reported on their gathering and bringing back to the United States a large collection of used plastic bottles for recycling, at the end of a week’s mission trip.
In the Montreat community, the Earth Ministry Team is an invited member of the Landcare Committee of the Town of Montreat, and thus works with other organizations to fulfill Landcare objectives for conservation of land and water resources. As part of the church’s involvement with the Children & Friends Enrichment Center in Black Mountain, we provided nature books to their library (see photo).
In the wider region, we are active in the Creation Care Alliance of WNC, such as in community prayer vigils at Earth Day and in clergy breakfast seminars on environment. A member of our team serves on the Peace and Justice Committee of the Presbytery of WNC.
PCUSA Environmental Ministries — There are numerous resources for events such as Earth Day and projects related to eco-justice, as well as guidelines for becoming an Earth Care Congregation. See http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/environment/.
Montreat Landcare — Landcare is a conservation movement that brings local communities, private corporations and government agencies together to support hands-on action to promote sustainable land and water management. With help from the Land-of-Sky Regional Council, the Montreat Landcare Team formed in January 2007, the first such group in North Carolina. The team has brainstormed a list of about 20 projects ranging from erosion control to environmental education to electric vehicles to a website with a scientific database of projects. See http://www.montreatlandcare.org/.
The Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina—Formerly known as the WNC Green Congregations Network, this continues as a network of clergy, lay leaders, and people of faith bringing practical and hopeful solutions to our congregations by engaging hearts and minds through education, service, inspiration and advocacy. It has identified Food & Faith and Climate Justice as primary focus areas. See their website.
Rainbow Recycling — A grassroots community organization whose mission is to promote awareness and participation in recycling in Black Mountain and the surrounding area. It seeks to foster awareness and understanding of the reasons for and benefits of recycling for the local and broader community, the environment, and the ultimate well being of our planet. See http://www.rainbowrecycling.org/.
North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light — An ecumenical organization that is part of a national network. “Through developing understanding we explore the scientific, spiritual, and social dimensions of the ecological crisis. Through reflection we nurture reverence and wonder toward the Creation and our interconnected Earth community. Through action we apply these understandings and reflections in the conduct of our lives, as individuals, families and congregations. Through advocacy we work for public policy that supports the health of the Earth’s ecosystems and that serves justice and respect for all life.” See http://www.ncipl.org/content/home/.