Presbyterians for Earth Care Focuses
on Down-to-Earth Advocacy and Action
by Ann Owen
In her keynote presentations at the Presbyterians for Earth Care conference recently, the Rev. Dr. Patricia K. Tull, author of Inhabiting Eden: Christians, the Bible, and the Ecological Crisis, shared her insights into how we can rethink scripture, humans, and creation; create social movements for change, and shift to a flourishing future. The biennial gathering, September 15-18 at the beautiful Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina, marked the 20-year anniversary of Presbyterians for Earth Care (PEC), formerly Presbyterians for Restoring Creation.
Special guest speaker Rev. Dr. J Herbert Nelson II, director of the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness, encouraged attendees to get off their â€œblessed assurances and do something significant for the Lord.â€ He said that we should work to connect the sanctuary, seminary and community to environmental and social justice through active engagement and advocacy.
The conference offered worship, educational workshops and wonderful speakers, all designed to empower advocates and motivate action. Participants were excited to learn about the new low-cost Restoring Creation Loans available from the PC(USA) Investment & Loan Program, which will enable congregations to become more energy efficient. Visit https://pilp.pcusa.org to learn more about the program and qualifying projects: solar panels, insulation, as well as high efficiency lighting, water heating, roofing systems and HVAC systems.
At each conference, PEC bestows two awards: the William Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented to the Reverend Rebecca Barnes for her faith-based work as an eco-justice educator, activist, author and organizer; and the Restoring Creation Award, which was given to Forest Lake Presbyterian Church (FLPC) in Columbia, South Carolina for outstanding environmental work.
The conference was held in conjunction with the Presbyterian Hunger Program PC(USA), which held concurrently their 2015 Summit for Earth Care Congregations and 2015 Hunger Action Enabler Training. Rebecca Barnes and Jessica Maudlin, associates for Environmental Ministries and Enough for Everyone, respectively, provided opportunities for ECC representatives and Hunger Action Enablers to learn, share and network.
Two optional pre-conference tours were offered to those wishing to explore some of the many natural attractions of the area: a nature trek at the North Carolina Arboretum; sustainability tour of the Biltmore House and Gardens; and a visit to the worldâ€™s largest climate data archive the NOAA National Center for Environmental Information in Asheville.