In mid September of 2015, a unique cadre of 140 eco-justice activists from all across the USA assembled at the idyllic Montreat Conference Center, nestled in the bosom of the Black Mountains of western North Carolina. Here Mother Nature provided the ideal pastoral setting for the 20th anniversary celebration of a true green grass-roots organization comprised of environmentally passionate Presbyterians.
I had learned of their existence while researching the history of environmental advocacy in the PC (U.S.A.). Having read of their accomplishments, I now wanted to meet the people behind the print. The enticement of a mere three hour drive to the mountains to do so, along with the appeal of an anniversary celebration was irresistible. And so it was that with video camera in hand to document the conference for my fellow Creation Justice teammates back at Pittsboro Presbyterian Church (PPC), I took the leap and immersed myself in the world of Presbyterians for Earth Care (PEC).
Little did I realize upon embarking on this adventure what an impact it would have upon me personally and upon the future of Creation Justice ministry at PPC. Rubbing wings with like-minded and like-spirited ‘birds of a feather’ causes the entire flock to soar to new heights of ambition and commitment. The spirit of fellowship and service to a grand cause of creation restoration and justice shared among multi-talented and resourceful peers blows like a wind beneath the wings.
I was uplifted, inspired and informed through worship, workshops, speeches and personal conversation with the myriad of lay and clergy leaders driving the cause of creation justice forward in the face of the prevailing headwinds of inaction and disinformation.
I was enthused to hear Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II (now serving as Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), challenge us to get up off our “blessed assurances and do something significant for the Lord” by working to “connect the sanctuary, seminary and community to environmental and social justice through active engagement and advocacy.” We at the grass-roots level need to hear such challenging and affirming words from those at the top. Those words moved me to return home with a proposal for the congregation to become a PEC member.
I was thrilled to become acquainted with Rev. abby mohaupt and other leaders of Fossil Free PCUSA, a force committed to moving the denomination to totally divest its funds from fossil fuel related holdings. As a result, I would return home to have the Creation Justice team move to have Session advocate for the Salem Presbytery to concur with the 2016 divestment overture to the 222nd General Assembly. And as a result of that, I would serve as the Salem Presbytery’s Overture Advocate to the General Assembly in Portland, OR. There I would see the bright promise of overture victory craftily snuffed out in the final plenary session, while at the same time I grew in admiration for the courage, commitment, intellect and spirit demonstrated by Fossil Free PCUSA and PEC leadership throughout the Assembly.
I was enlightened by the workshop led by Jessica Maudlin that informed us about Earth Care Congregations (ECC) within the denomination, what it requires to become one and how to go about the process. With this information, our Creation Justice team would be in the position to one day recommend to Session that PPC seek to become a PC(U.S.A.) Earth Care Congregation. This would also lead to our team meeting with the Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill (one of the first Earth Care Congregations). Their Earth Care Committee was chaired by Nancy Corson Carter, a former Moderator of PEC from 1999 to 2005 (when it was still known as Presbyterians Restoring Creation).
In addition, the three day immersion in the world of PEC also added fuel to our Creation Justice team effort to present the congregation with a proposal to become the first church in Chatham County to install solar panels as a witness to our commitment to move society away from fossil fuels and into the new world of renewable energy. The proposal was accepted in the spring of 2016.
Without a doubt, that 20th anniversary celebration of PEC has proven to be a milestone in PPC’s journey of Creation Justice ministry. I’m sure there are countless similar stories from across the land that testify to the profound influence that PEC has had on individuals and institutions over the years. Now in it’s 27th year of grass-roots environmental advocacy and action, PEC remains atop the podium as the PC(U.S.A.) Earth Care Champion.
I encourage readers of this post to visit the PEC website at https://presbyearthcare.org/ to explore what this valuable organization has to offer. Become familiar with the current leadership by reading their bios. Find out what events are being offered, and register. Examine the cornucopia of resources to aid individuals and organizations along our earth care journey. Read the blog, and sign up for the e-newsletter. And if you are so inclined, give thanks for this Earth Care Champion through your donation and/or personal membership.
The Rev abby mohaupt and Rev Dr Patricia Tull at the PEC awards luncheon, 2016 General Assembly.
[A short review of the 2015 PEC conference using clips from my video can be found at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvUZwQbFMLU]