PCUSA General Assemblies have time and again urged us to seek environmental justice, particularly for those in low-income communities. One of the most critical environmental justice issues in our country right now is to stand for justice for the people and environment of Appalachia, by standing against mountaintop removal coal mining.
Today, gathering as friends of miners and mountains, an interfaith contingent of faith communities rallied in Frankfort, KY to declare (on this Valentine’s Day), “I love mountains!” I represented PCUSA and was joined by the pastor and members of First Presbyterian Church, Elizabethtown, KY (one of our PCUSA Earth Care Congregations).
On the bus ride to Frankfort, we talked about clean water systems in Guatemala and community-organized grain banks in Cameroon. Whether in KY, in the regional southeastern United States, or places around the world, we have an opportunity—and a call— to stand with vulnerable communities. This afternoon, we gave Valentines to the Governor to encourage him to love the mountains, and we gave Valentines to mountain heroes to say thank you for speaking truth to power. (These notes of love match the one I signed last Sunday, when my congregation participated in the Interfaith Power and Light national “preach-in on global warming;” we sent Valentine postcards to President Obama encouraging him to love the earth and fight climate change.)
On this day after Ash Wednesday, I think of the dust from which we were made by a loving Creator God—dust that connects us to the dirt beneath our feet, the rock that makes up mountains. How can we not love all that God has made? How can we not care for it? I think also of the dust that has filled miners’ lungs or covered children’s water sources, dust that settles on everything after the large booming explosions of mountaintop removal. How can we sit by as mining communities beg for their right to clean air and water and healthy life for their children, to be free of the dust troubled by human greed and industry? Remembering our mortality, embracing our humble position before God, may we use our voices, bodies, hearts and minds to live into our call to live and keep the earth (Gen 2:15).