Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 has finally started and we're excited to see what the new year brings as we continue to work toward sustainability at Our Savior's Lutheran Church. As our Creation Care Team develops plans and strategies for the new year we wanted to share with you this message of hope from Matthew Sleeth, Executive Director of Blessed Earth, an educational nonprofit organization that inspires and equips Christians to become better stewards of the earth:

Faith, Hope, and Love in the Year Ahead.
New Year's Greetings from the Executive Director of Blessed Earth

Dear Blessed Earth friends and family, As we journey into a new year, I wanted to offer a word of encouragement. The world seems to be suffering hardship in every way -- creation groans, people are drowning in debt, and civil unrest abounds. It is easy to be depressed by the news we hear and wonder what difference, if any, we can make.

At times like these, we need to be reminded that we are called and equipped not only to keep going -- to "not tire of doing good" -- but to keep doing good with a spirit of hope. We long to inhabit the joy and loving-kindness our Christian faith generates and sustains.

In the wider world of environmentalism, there is a high level of pessimism and even outright negativity. But when Christians talk about "going green," they bring something unique to the discussion: hope. Not just hope for a better future in heaven, but hope for today through the power of God's Holy Spirit at work in His Church.

As believers in Christ, we are in the life business-life today, life tomorrow, and life for the year ahead. Combine faith, hope, and love, and things get done. Change happens (Matthew Sleeth, January 2012 Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 1).

Learn more about Blessed Earth and their work in creation care at www.blessedearth.org.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Living Earth June 2011 Reflection

From the ELCA e-Advocacy Network's June issue of the Living Earth e-newsletter

"Fracking" Poses Challenges for Communities and our Energy Future
By Mary Minette
ELCA Director for Environmental Education and Advocacy

Due to concerns about air pollution and climate change, many view natural gas as a much cleaner source of electricity than dirtier fossil fuels like coal and oil. Some coal-fired power plants are already switching over to natural gas, and this trend is expected to continue. However, easily available sources of natural gas are dwindling, and many of the largest remaining untapped natural gas reserves are in hard-to-reach underground shale formations. A technique called hydraulic fracturing injects water mixed with sand and chemical fluids into wells drilled deep in the shale in order to force natural gas from the rock.

If you live in states like Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Texas, you've probably already heard of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" as it's often called. Each of those states sits on top of shale formations that contain significant reserves of natural gas. Drilling and fracking are happening at an accelerated rate as demand for natural gas continues to grow.

But in many communities with shale formations that show potential to produce natural gas, some are questioning the spread of fracking. They claim the demand for cleaner natural gas is making their communities dirty.

And they may be right: a recent study linked inadequate safety measures in the drilling process to groundwater pollution from methane. In addition, the fracking process uses large amounts of water (between one and nine million gallons per well) and the storage, disposal and recycling of the waste water, which can contain hazardous chemicals, may also threaten surface water supplies. Some states, including Texas, Wyoming and Arkansas, are now requiring that companies disclose the chemicals they are injecting into fracked wells. Other states, including Pennsylvania, do not have disclosure requirements, posing a risk to those who live nearby and to those who respond to emergencies when wells explode or accidental releases occur.

So what's the solution?

Our country needs energy. Natural gas is far cleaner than coal or oil, and shale formations potentially contain a substantial supply of gas that could give us the time we need to develop new, cleaner sources of energy such as wind and solar. Drilling and fracking are bringing revenue to rural landowners and jobs to struggling rural communities.

But the natural gas boom also comes with risks. In addition to the potential to pollute ground and surface water supplies, communities dealing with fracking see other risks and problems. They worry about the impact the "boom and bust" of drilling a non-renewable resource will have on the long-term health of their local economy. They see neighbors in conflict over fracking contracts and who got a better deal, or over whether to allow fracking in the first place. They are concerned about the strain that gas development and population growth is putting on community resources such as schools and social services and roads. And they worry about what comes next after the drilling is done, the wells are played out, the jobs and the money are gone and their communities are left to clean up their land and water.

Some questions to ponder
If we follow the advice of Paul in his letter to the Philippians and consider the interests of others before we consider our own, how do we answer the questions raised by fracking?

Does clean air outweigh clean water?

Are the energy needs of our country more important than the long-term health of rural communities in another state such as Pennsylvania?

Do we really have to choose between these things or can we find a way to make fracking safer for our communities and for the environment?

A prayer for the journey
Loving and compassionate Creator, you sent us your only Son to teach us to love our neighbors and to consider their needs. Help us to find our way through complexity to care for our neighbors and our world. Amen.

Join the ECLA e-Advocacy Networks mailing list by clicking here and selecting to subscribe to the Evnvironmetal Reflections: Living Earth: A Reflection Series on Our Relationship With God's Creation at the bottom of the page.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Garbage vs. Compost

Who says composting doesn't make a difference? If you were able to join us for our Earth Sunday picnic, you may have noticed that the all the plates and cups we used were 100% compostable! That's right - compostable. The plates are 100% biodegradable sugarcane and the cups are 100% biodegradable corn plastic and they can both be stuck in your backyard composter or sent to a commercial compost facility.

Just take a look at how much waste Our Savior's avoided by composting for this meal! And in case you're not sure, the compost is in the BIGGER bag :)

Compostable dishware was donated for our event by Carrie Brusven, your Local Green Irene Eco Consultant

Earth Sunday was a Success!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who helped make Earth Sunday a fantastic success!

Our guest speaker, Cheryl Biller from Presbyterians for Earth Care, gave us a wonderful message which helped make our worship services very special and the creation care-centered liturgy from the National Council of Churches for Eco-Justice were a great touch!

If you missed our services on Sunday, click here to check out the Earth Sunday video, created by Scott Brusven. The video features several members and friends from Our Savior's faith community, as well as a few folks from the wider Fargo-Moorhead Community, who tell us a little about what they do in their homes and in their lives to be more green and why it's important to them, especially as Christians. It really helps to underscore our Earth Week theme: Eco-Justice as Community. All the little things we do individually work together to make a big difference. We are one body of Christ and when all the parts of the body work together to take care of the more vulnerable parts - amazing things can (and do!) happen.

It was great to see everyone in church on Sunday - enjoying the bit God's creation we brought to the front of the sanctuary, being inspired and challenged by our speaker, learning about eco-justice during our education hour and having fun at the picnic lunch. Lust like the issue of eco-justice itself - it was the participation and enthusiasm of the faith community that made this event a success!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cleanup Week?

This week is "Cleanup Week" in Fargo - Moorhead. As you drive the streets of the two cities this week you might start to feel like to took a wrong turn and ended up in the city landfill itself. WDAY reported earlier this week that this year's "cleanup" is taking in approximately 40% more garbage than any other year. 40%!

Next week, Our Savior's faith community will experience a week that starkly contrasts the week the Fargo-Moorhead community is experiencing today. Next week is our Earth Week. Next week, Our Savior's faith community celebrates the planet, the resources given to us gifts, the responsibility we all have of "tending the garden" and the amazing Creator who put it all in place.

We hope Earth Week will leave you feeling encouraged and re-energized in your efforts to be stewards of creation and that you experience the many workshops, study groups, worship services and celebrations with joy!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Earth Week Video

This year's Earth Week theme is "Eco Justice as Community." To help illustrate how all the individual actions work together to make a big difference, we're making an Earth Week video and we want to hear from you! Let us know if you would be willing to participate in a very short video interview to say what you do in your home to help care for God's creation!

Spring 2011 Email List Challenge

Help us bolster our email list and save some natural and financial resources at the same time!

Sign up to receive church mailings via email and your name will be entered into a drawing. The winner will be annoucned on Rally Sunday! So far, we have 110 people already saving the church money and the earth's natural resources by subscribing to our email list. Help us reach our membership goal of 200 subscribers by September 1, 2011. 200 emailed monthly newsletters alone saves 16,000 pieces of paper and over $400 in printing and postage costs per year!

Click here to email the church office and add your email to our list now, or sign up in the Welcome Center. When we all work together - we make a big difference!