Many of our SOC congregations have undertaken all sorts of successful Creation care initiatives, from offering space for community gardens to establishing solar arrays to implementing robust composting and recycling programs. Congregational Church of Pinehurst has taken a different approach -- what they refer to as their "Back 7 Project" -- which has allowed their congregation and the community to engage directly with Creation as sacred ground -- a holy gift from the Creator.
Pinehurst UCC launched the Back 7 Project around Earth Day 2010, The church has about 11.5 acres -- 3 to 4 of those compromising the church lawn and parking lots. The rest was dense woodland, and the church wanted to preserve and enhance the woodland acreage. Partnering up with the Pinehurst Conservation Department and Sandhills Weed Management, with some input from the Walthour Moss Foundation, the project was launched! Folks began by tackling a large section of invasive vines and plants, including a large stand of bamboo, that was ensnaring the woodland. After eliminating the "invaders," they established a long walking path around the perimeter of the back seven acres, marking it with eye-level colored reflectors and hanging bluebird houses along the front of the woodland. Then they created two bench areas along the path -- for people to rest, to read, to watch some of the resident deer -- or simply to enjoy God's Creation.
As Roger Nekton, the architect of the Back 7 Project, says: "it takes a dream -- and care to maintain it." The church will continue to maintain the walking trail and hope that, as they increase the number of children at Pinehurst UCC, to offer numerous opportunities for conservation projects that the trail provides.
What dreams do you have for your own church property, and how might you enhance your own understanding of it as sacred ground?
The CJN/SOC Featured in the National UCC's Three Great Loves
(Love of Creation video campaign)
Please take a look at this three-minute video produced by Blessed Tomorrow/EcoAmerica in support of the UCC's Love of Creation campaign -- you'll not only hear a powerful and uplifting message, you'll also see a number of very familiar faces from the CJN/SOC team!
CJN NEWSLETTER HIGHLIGHTS
On March 14-16, over 2,000 folks from 40 countries gathered in Atlanta, GA, for the Climate Reality conference. Led by former vice president Al Gore and the Rev. William Barber -- who spoke of the need to fuse advocacy for climate action with social justice initiatives focusing upon racism and poverty -- we explored effective means to interpret and do something about the climate crisis. One of the highlights was a rousing interfaith gathering on Thursday evening at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the home church of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- to celebrate God's Creation and God's people as we work together on this crucial issue. Along with the Creation Justice Network, the national UCC was represented by Rev. Michael Malcolm of the UCC's Council for Climate Justice. I look forward to incorporating all the "good stuff" from the time in Atlanta in our CJN planning for the upcoming year and beyond. Stay tuned!
On Saturday, February 23rd, approximately 50 people gathered at Melfield UCC in Haw River, despite the cold and the rain, to attend Food and Our Faith, a collaborative presentation of the SOC's Creation Justice Network and Partners in Health and Wholeness/NC Council of Churches. We opened with prayer from Pastor Dannie Williams of Melfield UCC, followed by a blessing from Rev. Eddie Weathers representing ENCA and the SOC as a whole. Rev. Richard Joyner, our keynote speaker and director of the Conetoe Family Life Project, spoke to the intersections of food and faith, love of the earth, the importance of community and relationship, and the wounds of racial and economic injustice that have afflicted black communities as they've sought ways to embrace the land, create food resources and positive health outcomes in rural areas, and finding hope and a way forward through their love of God and of each other
Following his remarks, Rev. LaShauna Austria conducted a panel discussion among seven people who are doing remarkable work across our state in the realms of food, health and environmental justice. From the SOC, they included Rev. Sarah Horton-Campbell of Common Life Church and Farm; Jason Lindsay of Rev. Dele's Soil & Souls; Tim Binkley from Parkway UCC in Winston-Salem; and Polly Tinnen, the director of Melfield's food program which feeds approximately 300 community members each month.
Afterward we gathered for a celebratory feast, which included everything from Ghanian red chili to pineapple casserole to sushi rice! We were all deeply blessed by our time together, in God's presence, and left renewed in our faith, and the work of justice.
For more information on the Creation Justice Network and its work, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Partners in Health and Wholeness, and ways in which your group can create a health and wholeness ministry with the assistance of annual $1000 mini-grants, please visit: https://www.ncchurches.org/programs/phw/
Watch the latest video in a series with Bill McKibben, How We Talk About Climate Change. http://www.sandersinstitute.com/blog/how-we-talk-about-climate-change Climate change and global warming don’t convey the true danger of our situation. We are in a climate crisis!
LENTEN WATERSHED DISCIPLESHIP STUDY GUIDE: The CJN's wonderful new intern, Wake Forest Divinity School Student Sarah Ogletree, has developed an excellent Lenten study guide focused on Ched Myer's book, WATERSHED DISCIPLESHIP: REINHABITING BIOREGIONAL FAITH AND PRACTICE, which she is using to lead study at Parkway UCC. Please click below to find the guide.
Watch The Introduction to Sustaining Creation Series
Calendar of Events
Do you have good news to share in the ministry of Creation Justice? Please pass it on -- contact Rev. Karen Richardson Dunn at email@example.com.