Eco-Palms: Creativity and Caring for Creation in Trying Times

By Jessica Maudlin Phelps

The Presbyterian Hunger Program strives to walk with people in moving toward sustainable personal life choices that restore and protect all of God’s children and Creation. We believe that “God’s Economy” is one of abundance for all, but in order to live within this kind of economy, our relationship to those resources must reflect God’s love for Creation. One way that we can share with others throughout the world is through our daily economic choices.

As we enter into Lent, some of the choices that congregations must make, as hard as it is to believe after all that has happened, come in the planning for Palm Sunday.

In 2020, the harvesting community expressed deep gratitude for the 1,030 Presbyterian congregations that chose to keep their orders in place despite so many things looking different, including how we worship together. And for the Presbyterian Hunger Program, it was so inspiring to see that from utter chaos came an abundance of creativity.

South-Broadland Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Missouri, was able to deliver palms to members in time for use in an online processional.

Grove Presbyterian Church in Danville, Pennsylvania, used their palms for decorating the outside of the building, erecting a 14-foot cross with palms strewn on the ground in front of it.

Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis used their palms for the greater community, filling large pots outside of their building that were mostly empty by day’s end.

As everyone came together in these new ways to protect the health of our communities, we also protected forests, local jobs and sustainable livelihoods in the harvesting communities. Community members in the Maya Biosphere Reserve sort, package and sell the palms themselves — not via middlemen — so more of the money paid for the palms stays with the people who worked the hardest to provide them. Through the Eco-Palms project, 25% of the cost of each frond is going directly back to the communities that harvest them.

Rosa Moreno, a member of the Cooperative Carmelita, has been doing quality control for palm selection since 2007. She shares that her work with Eco-Palms has allowed her to contribute financially to the care of her home and children and that she isn’t alone in that. “Everyone, from the harvesters to the transporters to the quality control selectors to the folks who package the palms for shipping, benefits in this way. We particularly thank the churches that annually make a special order. These orders provide a bonus to the communities that contribute to both education and health funds and strengthens the (emergency) fund set aside for the harvesters. Thank you on behalf of the board of directors and the Carmelita Cooperative … for your gesture of kindness in supporting the work of the Palm workers within the Maya Biosphere Reserve.”

The Presbyterian Hunger Program believes in the empowering work of Eco-Palms, perhaps now more than ever. Even though many of us aren’t gathering in a traditional sense, there is still a place for them in your virtual worship, so we hope that you will consider ordering in 2021. Even if you place a smaller order than usual for this Palm Sunday, your orders are still having a big impact. Learn more about the Eco-Palm project here.

Working together, we do make a difference!

The work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program is possible thanks to your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.

Join us in prayer

Gracious God, we thank you that you are God of the calmed seas and God of the tempest. We thank you that even in trying times we have the capacity to make choices that honor all of your Creation and faithfully serve and preserve our Earthly home.

Jessica Maudlin Phelps is Associate for Sustainable Living and Earth Care Concerns, Presbyterian Hunger Program.


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