On Wednesday, December 9th, a webinar-The EPA in 2021: Prioritizing Moral Accountability was co-hosted by the Rev. Dr. Brooks Berndt of the United Church of Christ Environmental Justice Ministry and the Rev. Michael Malcom of Alabama Interfaith Power & Light and the People’s Justice Council .
The webinar discussed how the last four years have brought about the dismantlement of potentially 104 environmental rules. The EPA’s stated mission is to protect human health and the environment and this webinar includes a team of panelists who answer the questions:
What needs to happen to repair and advance this mission?
What do faith communities need to know to hold the EPA morally accountable?
We have two webinar recordings now available-Solar Options for Congregations and Engaging Active Hope book study:
Solar Options for Congregations: Joy Baxter did a virtual presentation about solar options for congregations for the Main Line PA IPL chapter, and it is now available to all of you! Get the recording.
Engaging Active Hope Book Study: In June, Alison Cornish held a webinar for folks interested in preparing to lead an Engaging Active Hope book study, either virtually or (eventually) in person. The recordings and materials are available here.
Grab a friend or collaborator from your congregation and join us on Thursday, November 14th from 7:00-8:15 PM for a free webinar that will help you learn about siting and planting native trees on your land. Trees reduce mowing, act as windbreaks, provide shade and habitat, and provide a sense of time we simply don’t get from calendars or watches — and they are amazing carbon capture machines. Brenda Sieglitz and BJ Small will join us from 10 Million Trees to share their wisdom, and let you in on some opportunities to apply for trees. People and congregations in Lancaster, York, Adams, Franklin, and Cumberland counties, and areas in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed may have some additional opportunities. Registration is free but required.
We close with this excerpt or a prayer from Rabbi Arthur Waskow, and hope you will click through to read the whole prayer, carrying it with you as you move through your days.
We are the generation that stands between the fires: Behind us the flame and smoke that rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima; From the burning forests of the Amazon, From the hottest years of human history that bring upon us Melted ice fields, Flooded cities, Scorching droughts. Before us the nightmare of a Flood of Fire, The heat and smoke that could consume all Earth. It is our task to make from fire not an all-consuming blaze But the light in which we see each other fully. All of us different, All of us bearing One Spark. — an excerpt from Between the Fires: A Kavvanah for Lighting Candles of Commitment, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow; Read in full here.
Our traditions refer to trees as rooted-and-reaching symbols, as wise teachers, or as important and respected resources. We have so much to learn from them. In this post you will find several tree resources. We’d like to do an additional post around our secular arbor day, so please share your favorite tree poems or stories (even if you’re sure we must have them!)
We begin with a poem we shared as the meditation at the end or our Sustained Advocacy call near Tu B’Shvat 2019, and continue with hands-on work PA IPL groups are leading, and two learning and worship resources.
I go among trees and sit still. All my stirring becomes quiet around me like circles on water. My tasks lie in their places where I left them, asleep like cattle. Then what is afraid of me comes and lives a while in my sight. What it fears in me leaves me, and the fear of me leaves it. It sings, and I hear its song. Then what I am afraid of comes. I live for a while in its sight. What I fear in it leaves it, and the fear of it leaves me. It sings, and I hear its song. After days of labor, mute in my consternations, I hear my song at last, and I sing it. As we sing, the day turns, the trees move. —Wendell Berry
Tu B’Shvat is a minor Jewish holy day that, in Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s words, “celebrates the bare beginnings pf the reawakening of trees in mid-winter, and was seen by the 16th-century Kabbalists as the rebirth of that Tree of Life that has its roots in Heaven and its fruit in the existence and creativity of us — the whole of life.”
The festival itself and its amazing Seder come at the full moon on the 15th day of the Jewish lunar “moonth” of Shvat, this year from Sunday evening January 20 through sundown Monday January 21. That means it falls this year on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday.
Consider registering for the Shalom Center’s Tu B’Shvat webinar (webinar on January 9, 2019; Tu B’Shvat begins the evening of January 20, and is January 21this year — there are also webinars preparing for earth-climate-justice rooted Passover celebrations as part of their Sacred Seasons for Sacred Earth series. The webinars include tools for holding your own celebration.
Martin Luther King’s birthday (and birthday-as-observed) are always close to Tu B’Shvat on the calendar, but in 2019, they fall together. While we focus on the struggle for civil rights for people of all races in our celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King and his work, in fact, the larger trajectory of his work was justice. In 2014, Rabbi Daniel Swartz, then a board member of PA IPL, wrote this piece about the connections between the two holidays.
The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade left Pennsylvania when she took a job teaching at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky, but we remember her well, and are pleased to share this 8-week devotional connecting trees and faith “Healthy Trees, Healthy People, Healthy Faith”
Each spring and fall, the Germantown Tree Tenders plant and tend urban trees in publicly-available space from sidewalks to houses of worship. They do so in community, and often include opportunities to offer blessings and dedications (and sometimes chances for shared food together)
In Central Pennsylvania, under the energetic leadership of Greg Williams, groups of community members, the 3rd Way Collective from Penn State, congregants, and Central PA IPL regulars have been joining for work parties to clear space for native trees and tender plants to thrive, adding diversity and resilience to our forest systems. Much of this work has been removing invasive plants and staking out the beginnings of the native seedlings, but the have also done successful bareroot tree plantings, live staking (along the Juniata River), (over 600 trees in 2018!), as well as native wildflower meadow plantings. Over time, inspired by a Joanna Macy practice called Honoring our Adversaries, they have challenged themselves to recognize and honor the tenacious and exuberant qualities of the very invasives they are working so hard to hold back so the diverse native plants can thrive.
We’ll close with this browsing link on tree writings over at Baha’i Teachings.