Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Come vote for who YOU find inspiring!

It's that time of year again, and Earth Ministry is delighted to once again be hosting our inspiring Celebration of St. Francis event, featuring our Third Annual Creation Care Sermon Contest. This year, the event will be held on October 2nd from 4-6pm at Olympic View Community Church in Seattle, WA.

This event will feature creation care sermons by four contest finalists. Additionally, members of Earth Ministry's thirty-six Greening Congregations will be honored for their greening work. We encourage our Greening Congregations to send representatives from their church who will be asked to stand and be recognized for their accomplishments. The sermon contest will be followed by a heavy hors d'oeuvres reception.

Our finalists this year are:
Rev. Doug Bland, Tempe, AZ
Grappling Green

Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Northampton, MA
When a Leaf Needs to Speak

Minister Stephen Epps, Brooklyn, NY
Earth's Answer To A Curious Journey

Rev. John Helmiere, Seattle, WA
I Worship the Author of the Horrendous Space Kablooie

Congratulations also to our honorable mention, Bill Scarvie of Bainbridge Island, WA!

Attendees of the Celebration of St. Francis on October 2 will be able to vote for the best sermon. The sermon contest is a fundraiser to support the religious environmental work of Earth Ministry. Attendees on October 2 will vote by making a donation to Earth Ministry and indicating which sermon is their favorite. Two awards will be presented: The People’s Choice Award will go to the contestant with the highest number of votes as indicated on the donation ballot. The Franciscan Philanthropist Award will go to the contestant whose votes raise the most money in support of Earth Ministry’s work and mission.

Event admission is free, but we will ask you to help us select the winner by voting with your dollars - a donation that supports the work of Earth Ministry and is tax deductible.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Fullness of Joy

by Clare Brauer-Rieke

Each of us comes to a point in our lives - even multiple points in our lives - at which we begin to feel we are surviving more than thriving. After a particularly rough month, I've realized exactly this. Life, of course, is too short to focus so intently on surival above happiness; this led me to ask myself about ways to shift gears back into thriving.

It was then that I came across these words:

The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything. God is the ground, the substance, the teaching, the teacher, the purpose, and the reward for which every soul labors. Julian of Norwich, England (c. 1342-c. 1419)

God is the ground, the substance. God is the purpose. Why don't I experience this each day? It may have something to do with what I experience instead: traffic, the onslaught of both personal and work-related emails or phone calls, loud advertisements on the internet, TV, radio, billboards, financial stress, social commitments, etc. Where is the ground in my life, what is the substance? How do I unintentionally reassign my own purpose? "The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything." I don't leave myself time to behold anything, much less God, and the "everything" of my life crowds out the true everything that is.

So, I have given myself a challenge, in which I invite you to join me. In researching ways I could choose to slow my life down (which I suppose carries its own sense of irony), I've been intrigued by The Ten Principles of the Sabbath Manifesto:

1) Avoid technology.

2) Connect with loved ones.

3) Nurture your health.

4) Get outside.

5) Avoid commerce.

6) Light candles.

7) Drink wine.

8) Eat bread.

9) Find silence.

10) Give back.

As I read through the principles and consider them as a way of life, thriving doesn't sound so hard to come by. So, I printed them out and placed them where I will see them every day when I first wake up. In small ways, I hope to integrate them into my daily life; in addition, I will commit to a full Sabbath each week, sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday.

"The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything." Connect with loved ones. Get outside. Find silence. Give back. And maybe surviving will turn on its head and we can begin to thrive.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Phthalates, Formaldahyde and...Baby Bottles? Oh My.

By Dana Swanson

When someone mentions environmental contamination, some images that readily come to my mind are a hazy cloud of pesticides being sprayed behind a tractor, the stale odor of exhaust billowing behind a car and dark clots of oil floating in the Gulf of Mexico.

Initially, my thoughts are of outdoor pollutants, disrupting ecosystems and plant life. However, there are several sources of environmental contamination much closer than the Gulf coast. Within our homes, a substantial amount of the products we use on a daily basis are laden with toxic chemicals. The prolonged exposure to household chemicals—from bleach to phthalates in lotions— can be detrimental to one’s personal health, as well to the environment.

Proper labeling by the chemical industry helps consumers to make more informed decisions, choosing products that are better for themselves and the environment. Rather than be “consumers” whose main objective is to use without regard to consequence, what if we were to regard ourselves as stewards of the earth? Acting as stewards, perhaps we would be more likely to act with the earth in mind even while peruse the cleaning supplies aisle in the grocery store.

Unfortunately, the chemical industry is not always straight-forward about toxic chemicals, making it challenging to act as a steward. Recently, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families released a viral video mocking the lobbying efforts of the chemical industry. The video depicts household chemicals—led by a menacing, cigar smoking baby bottle—plotting to thwart Congress’ reform efforts. Although a bit wacky, the video is intended to expose the industry’s contradictions and encourage people to tell Congress to vote against toxic chemicals. You can watch the two minute video below.

Supporting legislation that keeps our homes green, as well as our forests, is one of the ways we can each serve as a steward of creation.

Additional resources about Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families efforts to pass federal policies that protect from toxic chemicals can be found at