All of the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s certified Earth Care Congregations commit themselves to a four-part pledge to take specific steps in four areas; worship, outreach, education and facilities. Additionally, that pledge affirms that the earth and all creation are God’s. The pledge acknowledges that God calls us to be careful, humble stewards of this earth, and to protect and restore it for its own sake, and for the future use and enjoyment of the human family. We know that caring for the earth means caring for all God’s people, and that we cannot find environmental justice without social justice. It is often the case that ECCs are active advocates for many justice issues. Patty Dickerson from Central Presbyterian Church in Waxahachie, TX shares this story of their park being “shelter” for an LGBTQ group seeking a meeting place.
A member came up to me one day walking out of church asking about a place he could hold a LBGTQ meeting. The first one ever in our town. I told him since he’s a member here, he could use our Fellowship Park and playground. He was uncertain but I assured him I would help. While planning the event, we prayed for 10 people to come since it was their first ever in-person meeting.
We counted 109. 109 families, couples, kids and about 6 Central members. Food showed up in abundance, enough to feed everyone! After their greeting and business, I welcomed them on behalf of CPC, assured them of their being safe here and offered tours of our historic building.
The next day was Sunday. 7 people from the LBGTQ event came to worship with us and we have had guests from that group every Sunday since! Praise be to God for the opportunity to share our piece of God’s creation with our neighbors!
In committing to the Earth Care pledge the congregation agrees that the “well-being of all people on a thriving earth” is a central concern of the Church. In being active in creating outside spaces that serve purposes beyond traditional beautification of grounds, churches can become vital parts of their communities in more ways than one. This story is an example of one way congregations are embodying PC(USA) policy both on environmental justice and on inclusivity of sexual orientation and gender differences.
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