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Bringing Earth care to Hispanic-Latina churches


PC(USA) and grassroots organizations sow seeds for the future

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Representatives from various Hispanic-Latina churches were introduced to the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s Earth care programming this week as part of a series of educational talks called “New Year, Earth Renewed” or “Año nuevo, Tierra renovada.”

PHP’s Jessica Maudlin Phelps was the final speaker in the three-part series jointly sponsored by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A’s) Office of Hispanic Latina International Congregational Support and two environmental organizations, Red Latina and GreenFaith.

Watch the presentation by Maudlin Phelps here.

Maudlin Phelps, Associate for Sustainable Living and Earth Care Concerns, was “invited so leaders and faith communities would learn about the program and resources offered through our denomination,” said the Rev. Rosa B. Miranda, Associate for Hispanic Latino-a Intercultural Congregational Support in the Office of Racial Equity and Women’s Intercultural Ministries (REWIM).

The Rev. Rosa Miranda

Much of the presentation focused on PHP’s certification program for becoming an Earth Care Congregation.

“An Earth Care Congregation is simply a Presbyterian church that commits to an Earth Care Pledge and then is recognized through our certification program for their commitment to care for Creation and to also commune with Creation,” Maudlin Phelps said.

Such congregations make a pledge that “talks about our worship and how it will celebrate God’s grace and glory and Creation,” she explained further. Also, “it talks about how our education will help support each other as we keep and help to heal Creation. The Pledge talks about our commitment that our facilities will be managed and maintained with a respect for cherishing Creation. It also talks about how our outreach will encourage community involvement and public policy that protects and restores our Creation.”

In 2021, PHP certified 276 churches in 41 of the 50 U.S. states, and “we look forward to certifying even more churches in the coming years,” Maudlin Phelps said. “We also hope to expand beyond just the 50 states for this program.”

One of the reasons that PHP is interested in Earth care is because so many people around the world go hungry because their environments are contaminated or because resources are being extracted in a way that contributes to local poverty.

Jessica Maudlin Phelps

Earth care also has a biblical basis, and the PC(USA) “has a rich history of policies about caring for the Earth,” Maudlin Phelps said. “The Presbyterian General Assemblies have been speaking on issues of environmental protection and justice since the late ‘60s. Their witness ranges from everything from policy on drinking water safety to environmental racism to carbon pricing to energy policy.”

The audience peppered Maudlin Phelps with questions, asking about such things as how to turn a parking lot into green space and for examples of Hispanic-Latina churches doing Earth care.

“I was very happy to be invited to participate,” said Maudlin Phelps, who added that the series has been a good step toward better connection with these great congregations within the denomination and also in countries such as Chile and Perú.

“Red Latina is filling an important place in the life of the denomination right now,” she said. “I look forward to new opportunities to connect with Red Latina and REWIM on eco-justice issues.”

Miranda has invited congregations to submit proposals for funding to start Earth care ministries.

Catching up on the series:

You can watch the first two webinars, featuring the Rev. Dr. Neddy Astudillo and Gloria Lozada, respectively, here and here. Find Earth care resources here.

The Presbyterian Hunger Program is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice Ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing make its work possible.

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