Today in the Mission Yearbook

Presbyterian youth director testifies before congressional environmental subcommittee


Dangers of per fluorinated chemicals highlighted in testimony

November 10, 2018

Emily Donovan testifying before the Congressional House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment. (Screen capture)

For Emily Donovan, youth director at Little Chapel on the Boardwalk in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina and co-founder of Clean Cape Fear, the fight to protect and nurture children goes far beyond the walls of the church. She recently testified before the Congressional House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment on the dangers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as a result of local pollution.

Her written testimony, titled “Per fluorinated Chemicals in the Environment: An Update on the Response to Contamination and Challenges Presented,” raises awareness of the persistence and toxicity of these chemicals that do not degrade.

“Science is now sophisticated enough to test for these chemicals, and enough health studies have been done to show PFAS are linked to serious health problems in humans and wildlife,” said Donovan. “Over the last decade, public utilities all across the country are finding their groundwater and municipal waters have high concentrations of these toxic chemicals.”

Saying PFAS “live forever in our environment, resurfacing and recycling themselves through our bodies, our food chain and our ecosystems,” Donovan points to water table contamination attributed to Chemours/DuPont plants’ pollution of nearby water sources.

But Donovan’s testimony wasn’t merely conceptual — she focused her remarks on how PFAS-related exposure has affected four families suffering from rare and bizarre cancers or benign tumors in her community, including her husband, who had a brain tumor six years ago.

Two other families attend Little Chapel on the Boardwalk and have children in Donovan’s youth program. The fourth family is that of Donovan’s best friend; the mother, grandmother and grandfather all have rare cancers.

“I did not have to search far to find significant health problems in our area,” she said.

“God’s greatest creation is this beautiful and breathtaking world we call home,” she said. “We are called as Christians to care for all that God creates — including the environment. If lifting my voice can inspire other congregations across the county to do the same, then we can begin to see real change regarding how we regulate and approach these toxic chemicals.”

Gregg Brekke for Presbyterian News Service

Today’s Focus:  Environmental Issues

Let us join in prayer for: 

Little Chapel on the Boardwalk Staff

Pat Rabun, Pastor
Delores Dyer, Office Administrator
David Heinzman, Director of Music and Organist
Angela McConnell, Director of Preschool & Director of Children
Emily Donovan, Director of Youth
Susan Osteen, Director of Adult Ministries
Joan Denney, Accountant
Dan Holt, Custodian
Gary Kohunsky, Webmaster

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Debbie Cassady, ILP
Molly Casteel, OGA

Let us pray:

Loving God, thank you for the gift of your creation. Show us how to be faithful stewards of that gift as we seek to follow our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Readings

Morning Psalms 104; 149
First Reading Zephaniah 3:14-20
Second Reading Revelation 18:1-14
Gospel Reading Luke 14:1-11
Evening Psalms 138; 98