Creation care

by Sandy Hasenauer

This post is related to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals on climate concerns.

Photo Oct 17, 9 29 18 AMI’ve had the good fortune to be able to spend a fair amount of time in my backyard this summer. I’ve been very intentional about wandering out there with my dogs immediately following work as many afternoons as possible. (This is a benefit to working from home–I don’t have to fight any more traffic than the jam created by two dogs trying to go downstairs from my office at the same time as I do.) By doing so, I’ve been able to renew my appreciation in God’s creation.

This appreciation was emphasized for me when I traveled to Boston to be with my DMin classmates for our summer intensive. One of my classmates, a Lutheran pastor, has chosen as her DMin project discovering ways for churches to express their sense of joy and connection with God’s creation. She has a lifetime of engagement in creation care issues, including working for international not-for-profits and a faith-based organization that encourages “green churches.” Her enthusiasm gets me more enthusiastic–her knowledge and experience is invaluable to me.

The science can be confusing, and when politics gets involved it’s hard to know which way is up. But there’s no questioning the fact that God gave us creation, and God has called us to be stewards of that creation, and our health and well-being as God’s servants is inextricably tied with the health and well-being of that creation.

The United Nations may not put a spiritual spin on it, but it has also recognized the critical role that a healthy creation plays in a healthy community. In addition to Goal 13, “Climate Action,” several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are related to that same theme: Goal 6 is “Clean Water and Sanitation,” Goal 7 is “Affordable and Clean Energy,” Goal 11 is “Sustainable Cities and Communities,” Goal 12 is “Responsible Consumption and Production,” Goal 13 is “Life Below Water,” and Goal 15 is “Life on Land.” Out of 17 total SDGs, seven directly reference creation care, although using other terminology. Additionally, other SDGs have tie-ins to climate, such as Goal #2 (ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture).

Did you know that studies have linked climate change to rising violence? An increase in temperature is closely related to increase in rates of acts of violence, including domestic violence and rape. This link again shows how inextricably tied together humanity and creation are.

The National Council of Churches has a website specifically for creation care/creation justice. At www.creationjustice.org you will find news, information, advocacy ideas, and resources for Christian education and worship. They also produce annual resources for Earth Day Sunday, environmental health resources, and other great materials. Check out their “Healthy Spa Workshop” for a great event idea!

My dogs are sitting at my office doorway reminding me that it’s time to finish work and head out to the backyard where tennis balls await. We’ll all be enjoying God’s creation together for awhile this afternoon again, it seems. I hope you’ll join me–touch some leaves, smell some flowers, throw a few tennis balls to your own furry companions. God has given us this beautiful world–we honor God by enjoying it and caring for it well.

headshot higherresRev. Sandra Hasenauer is the associate executive director of American Baptist Women’s Ministries.

 

 

 

 

 

For more SDGs_poster_new1information about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, visit www.sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs. For more ideas about how you can address these goals in your ministry, click here.

Advertisements

What does it cost to eat healthy (or to live)?

By Rev. Lisa Harris-Lee

SDGs_poster_new1This post is related to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals #1-3, “No Poverty,” “Zero Hunger,” and “Good Health and Well-Being.” 

In the United States hunger, poverty, malnutrition and food deserts are linked together.  What appears contradictory in our nation is that hunger, poverty and food deserts are also linked to obesity – a contributing factor for many chronic and life-threatening illnesses experienced by both the young and elderly.

Also inconsistent is how the level of poverty and wealth varies in the world.  There are people in the world living somehow on $1.25 a day.  In the United States, that same $1.25 a day would be equal to about $32.54.  To a person living on $1.25, that $32.54 is barely conceivable as a possible daily income.  But for the person living in the United States, that $32.54 means they have to make hard choices about food, shelter, clothing, transportation, hygiene, safety, education and health care – choices that interfere significantly with their mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.  A single adult living on an annual salary of $11,880 or as a family of four living on $24,300 in the United States requires a lot of sacrifice and causes great distress.

As the United Nation has set goals to eradicate poverty and eliminate hunger, there is recognition that filling one’s stomach does not eliminate the problem of hunger if the food is detrimental to health, and being employed does not eradicate poverty if the income for the work is insufficient. To truly end hunger there must be equal access to nutritious options and sustainable agriculture. To truly end poverty there must be better access to basic housing, health and education services and economic resources that are constructive, not predatory.

Food deserts are communities that lack access to nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables because they lack grocery stores or the residents lack the resources to afford or get to the healthy food options. These deserts exist throughout the United States but, thankfully, there are food pantries, churches, and community centers that serve as oases for residents in these communities by intentionally providing good options for unprocessed, fresh, natural food.

In March, 2o16, Edna Martin Christian Center in Indianapolis, IN, hosted Congressman André Carson of Indiana’s 7th District as he introduced Food Desert Bill HR 4833.  He was motivated to introduce this bill because within one year five grocery stores closed in the low-income Indianapolis communities he serves and the loss was significant for those residents.

IMG00423201207111302Edna Martin Christian Center (EMCC), an American Baptist Home Mission Societies Neighborhood Action Program Christian Center, was chosen because they are located in one of those food desert communities. But they were also chosen because they are a community center that provides healthy food options every week to the community residents.  Tysha Sellers, the executive director of EMCC, is grateful for the healthy food EMCC can provide to residents but she is also advocating for grocery stores in the community because, as she says, “Edna Martin Center and food pantries are not a sufficient substitutes for the grocery needs of the community.”

The Food Desert Act through the Department of Agriculture would create new avenues to fund for-profit, non-profit, and municipally-owned grocery stores in underserved communities. It would also encourage the employment of residents of those communities. To learn more about this bill, visit  https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/4833.

There are beneficial and profitable solutions to hunger and poverty in our world. Most of those solutions revolve around an ethic of abundance rather than scarcity (well articulated by Walter Brueggemann and John W. Kinney) and an ethic that values the dignity and well-being of others. God has endowed us with the creativity to resolve hunger and poverty. May God heighten our collective conscience (or consciousness) to work together to do it.

Harris-Lee-Lisa-IMG_1777-X2-FOR-WEBRev. Lisa Harris-Lee is the national coordinator of Justice for Children Initiative and Christian Centers Liaison with American Baptist Home Mission Societies, ABC USA.

For more information on the Sustainable Development Goals, visit www.sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs. For more ideas about how you can address these goals in your ministry, click here.