Blessings to you this Easter season! This month's edition of EARTH features the Kirk Community Garden, an advocacy piece on the important of demonstration, our EARTH-Keeper article, and a link to our Lenten reflections.
Just a reminder, we're always looking for new and additional voices to add to our monthly collection of reflection and action. Please do let us know if you want to join us. We would love to feature your reflections!
Vickie Machado, EARTH Committee member
Presbyterians for Earth Care
The Kirk Community Garden â€“ A Leap of FaithRich Woynicz
Rich shares his experience at the garden at the Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church in Cary, North Carolina.
In the fall of 2011 I was approached by a Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church member who asked, â€œHow can we support the Kirkâ€™s Earthcare Mission? What about building a community garden at the Kirk?â€
In the Spring of 2012 the Kirk Community Garden was born from an Eagle Scout project to build 6 raised beds. Since then our missions have been to:
grow a community garden to increase hunger awareness
better connect to our community neighbors
allow bonds to deepen through work in small groups
offer a great educational opportunity in sustainable, organic gardening
The garden was a success day one. We focused on making the garden functional and beautiful. The beauty of the garden draws people in, and being close to the street, we attract numerous neighbors walking by. A grant from the Town of Cary gave us financial backing to expand. We quickly grew from 6 to 12 to 18 beds, and then added rain barrels, compost bins, and vertical structures â€“ 4800 square feet of garden and edible landscaping.
But we also grew in outreach. Through community talks, visiting groups such as home schooled and University students, we reached out beyond ourselves. Today we are proud that on any workday, more than 2/3 of the gardeners are from outside the Kirk.
Since the garden workdays were Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, most food banks were not open. By contacting the director at the Apex food pantry, we were granted access to their building for off hours donations. This summer, the Kirk started a local food pantry and â€œBackpack Buddiesâ€ program. The garden now also donates its produce to these programs. Through our 500 pounds of food donated annually, we give some local residents more nutritious, organically grown food which they might not otherwise have.
But we have further to go. The part of town where the Kirk is located is aging and will eventually become a downtown church. The neighborhood has more low income residents, many Hispanic. We need to be able to reach out to these groups to pull them into the garden and to grow more of what they eat.
As a final, but sad note, the Kirk Garden may have to shut down as a planned, new building would require a water retention pond where the garden is today. We are hoping to relocate it to a partner church up the street or donate the beds and materials to other needy community gardens. We hope to rebuild in mid 2017 so that the Garden can be reborn in a new location on the Kirk property, smaller and with a changed mission, but still bringing beauty and outreach opportunities.
Rich Woynicz has been gardening since he was 5 years old and has more than 25 years of gardening in "tough-to-grow anything" North Carolina. An engineer by training (and his day job), he loves to "get way from technology" by getting his hands in the dirt in the evenings and on the weekends. He was certified as an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in Wake County, NC - July 2015 through which he shares his knowledge of community gardens with others.
Advocacy: Speaking out for the earth Jahnn Swanker-Gibson
I am interested in the problem of Global Warming and have been writing letters to the editor of 8 different papers, and sending letters to all my congressmen both State and Federal, plus the President and Governor, monthly. Weekly, I take a sign and demonstrate downtown on a busy corner for an hour. Sometimes, I am joined by friends, other times, I am alone. I have been doing this for 4 months now, since I returned from the Presbyterian Conference on Earth Care in Montreat, NC.
Our earth's atmosphere is very finely tuned to support the life which inhabits it. If we change the chemical composition of the atmosphere, as we are presently doing, our atmosphere will no longer support life as we know it, which includes humankind. Our First Nations People believe that we are responsible for 7 generations beyond ourselves. I wonder if we will make it to three. I am very worried for our children and grandchildren, not to mention 7 generations into the future.
I encourage people in communities all across the country to demonstrate for one hour a week on a busy street corner. I have 2 signs I like "MOTHERS AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING OR IS IT GLOBAL WARMING AGAINST MOTHERS", and "EXXON LIED GLOBAL WARMING IS HERE."
Jahnn Swanker-Gibson graduated with a BA in Psychology from Plattsburgh State U., then returned to school later in life to get her Associates Degree in Nursing from Adirondack Community College. Currently retired, her last position was as a psychiatric nurse. She is very interested in climate change/global warming and is inspired by what Earl Johnson said, "If we don't do something about global warming, all our other issues are moot."
Spring arrives at Camp Hanover in Virginia. Photo by Colleen Earp
March EARTH-Keeper: Children of the Church of Reconciliation
by Sue Regier
Each month in EARTH, we're featuring individuals who inspire us to care for creation. This month, we hear from PEC's treasurer.
During the time with the children in a worship service in September 2015 I learned the children of my church were using their offering of quarters in childrenâ€™s church to raise money to buy beehives through Heifer International. With the children gathered around her, Allison showed the congregation the peace pipe they are using to collect the quarters. She explained the vital role bees play in the environment and food production and how having bees helps a family and community sustainably improve their lives. These little creatures are vital to food production around the world and are suffering from climate change.
On the peace pipe the amount of quarters needed for a hive of bees is marked with a bee sticker. Every Sunday morning at childrenâ€™s church the children share their celebrations and concerns, pray together and place their quarters in the peace pipe. So far this school year the children are close to having enough quarters to buy two beehives to help two families and communities through Heifer International. I am so proud of the young children of my church and their care for Godâ€™s creation.
If you'd like to contribute, please see the contact information below.
Children of the Church of Reconciliation (PCUSA)
c/o Allison Davison (childrenâ€™s church facilitator)
110 North Elliot Road
Chapel Hill NC 27514 email@example.com 919.929.2127
Do You Know an Award-Worthy Eco-justice Advocate?
PEC now gives three awards each year to individuals and groups whose work for the environment is particularly praise-worthy and creative. Individuals are eligible for the William Gibson Eco-Justice Award or the Emerging Earth Care Leader Award (for 18-30 year olds). Congregations, governing bodies, ecumenical agencies, and Presbyterian-related entities may be nominated for the Restoring Creation Award. The criteria for each of the awards as well as previous award winners can be found here. PEC members may fill out a nomination form here. (If you are not a member, you can join online. Winners will receive free registration to the next Presbyterians for Earth Care Conference, held in odd-numbered years. The nomination deadline is March 31.
Join us during Lent Sue Smith
At the PEC conference in September 2015, The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Director of the Office of Public Witness, preached, "Presbyterians cannot solve the worldâ€™s environmental issues alone. It will take a unified effort from the privileged, those living in poverty, people of different races and cultures." To that end, we have invited a diversity of voices to provide devotions for this yearâ€™s Lenten Devotional.
Our inspiration comes from Isaiah 58: 6-9, Is not this the fast that I chooseâ€¦ God promised the Israelites a new thing on their return from exile. Yet on their arrival, they built a system that included injustice, oppression, and hunger. This was not the fast that God chose. Today, climate change and environmental degradation lead to issues of injustice, oppression, and hunger. This is not the fast that God chooses.
Reflections are planned for Ash Wednesday, each Sunday in Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. We hope that you find these reflections helpful and hopeful in this Lenten time of journeying to the cross.