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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Monarch way station reflects Texas church’s commitment to caring for creation

Webster Presbyterian Church recertified as Earth Care Congregation

April 26, 2018

Webster Presbyterian Church, just a few miles southeast of Houston on NASA Parkway, has been called “the astronauts’ church.” Just a stone’s throw from the Johnson Space Center, the church has become the preferred house of worship for astronauts, engineers and other employees at the center.

But the church has also become known for its strong commitment to earth care. Recently, Webster was recertified as an Earth Care Congregation, much to the pride of the church’s committee co-chairs, Anya Ezhevskaya and Debbie Masden.

“We have some Master Gardeners and naturalists, folks who are really passionate about the environment, stewardship and monarch butterflies,” said Ezhevskaya. “The monarch is becoming an endangered species. Its migration from the north to Mexico used to include stops in Texas. There were miles and miles of grassland and flowers, but over the past 100 years, most of it has disappeared, either by brush overgrowth or commercial development.”

It didn’t take long for the church’s Earth Care Team and other interested members to organize a butterfly garden. Ezhevskaya says one church member has become quite the champion for the project and helped set up a monarch way station, complete with the right plants.

“The butterflies have no place to rest as they are migrating, and that is a huge threat to them. So people are starting monarch way stations, small or large gardens that have the right combination of flowers to support the butterflies who miraculously find out about them and rest there,” she said. “They travel from spot to spot and make their way down to Mexico.” In addition to resting spots, the way stations provide nourishment for the migrating butterflies and food sources for the young that will hatch from the eggs they lay.

One of the rain barrels used to water gardens at Webster Presbyterian Church. Photo provided by the church.

The church has also installed rain barrels to provide the necessary water for the gardens. The team continues to find other innovative ways to make a difference with the earth around them.

“We are planting the plants that encourage butterflies to visit, especially milkweeds and other brightly colored plants,” said Masden. “We continue to offer training for those interested in pursuing these types of projects, but our interest goes beyond our garden.”

Members have taken water conservation courses with the Galveston Bay Foundation and have learned the ins and outs of setting up their own system. The Earth Care Team estimates that one rain barrel can save more than 1,000 gallons of fresh water a year if properly installed.

The church also hosts a monthly Sharing Table, which includes flowers and produce. Everything is free. The team is also coordinating art activities for the church’s planned trip to Peru later this year.

Masden says they hope to “awaken more interest” among Texans without putting off those who feel strongly about oil and gas.

“The oil and gas industry is how many people make a living here. It’s their culture,” she said. “We try to educate people, but you have to break the news gently. When they see what we’re doing and how many are involved, it generates more interest.”

Masden says the recertification as an Earth Care Congregation was affirmation of the team, which is attracting new members of all ages.

Jessica Maudlin, the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s associate for sustainable living and earth care concerns, says the Earth Care Congregation (ECC) certification is one way the Hunger Program strives to be faithful to General Assembly policy.

“The ‘Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice’ policy recognizes that restoring creation is not a short-term concern to be handled in a few years, but a continuing task to which the nation and world must give attention and commitment,” she said. “Webster Presbyterian is one example of congregations that are choosing to take seriously their witness in this way. The work of Webster Presbyterian Church and the other 206 recently certified ECC churches is indeed inspiring.”

Rick Jones, Mission Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  Earth Care Congregation

Let us join in prayer for:

Webster Presbyterian Church Staff

Keith Uffman, pastor
Helen DeLeon, associate pastor
Glenn Foster, director of music and fine arts
Geri Foster, associate director of music and fine arts
Judy Ford, organist
Julie Stonebarger, director of family ministry
Liz Guyer, secretary
Pat Forke, bookkeeper  

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Laura Lee, PW
Chris Lega, PMA

Let us pray:

Lord, grant us the wisdom to care for the earth. Help us to act now for the good of future generations and all your creatures. Help us to become instruments of a new creation, founded on the covenant of your love. Amen.

Daily Readings

Morning Psalms 47; 147:12-20
First Reading Exodus 34:1-17
Second Reading 1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
Gospel Reading Matthew 5:21-26
Evening Psalms 68; 113