Shield of the Episcopal Church of the United States Environmental Stewardship Commission
Shield of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota
Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Resolution

The following is offered for your information and comment.  On this and similar pages the Environmental Stewardship Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota intends to offer thoughts and ideas on how any congregation or individual with a congregation can implement portions of the Resolution.

From "A Resolution on The Spirituality of Food Production"
passed at the 144th Annual Convention (October 26-27, 2001)

"WHEREAS we believe that we are all responsible to promote justice in our own lives, in our Communities, and the world; we do this for the sake of our neighbors, future generations and all of God's Creation; and that we are called to treat everyone with justice – even our enemies; that we have a special responsibility to those over whom we have an economic, political or social relationship;"

Thoughts on social justice and food production:

The Spirituality of Potluck and Eating Together
by Jill Peterman


Give use grateful hearts, our Father, for all thy mercies, and make us mindful of the needs of others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

It is mentioned that food is one of the first occasions I attended St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Duluth.   It is true.  Food and church have always been tied together in my heart and mind.  Some time has passed since that first Lenten potluck in 1990.  For some reason there seem to be fewer potlucks.  The dishes and silverware at church are not used as much as they once were.  Potlucks, at one time, were well established and generally followed the liturgical calendar.  In the past decade or so, it seems there is some less regularity and other activities such as book study are held.  But there is something so basic about our need for food, and our need to eat it together at church.  Every time we gather, the fellowship and gifts of nourishment and strength are beyond description, and even realization.

The space of the parish hall or undercroft also changes with a meal.  This may change when the priest says the blessing, or maybe after we go through the line and sit down.  We are all fed.  We bring ourselves to these meals.  We come together in community.  We bring our finest hot dishes or casseroles, or whatever we can manage at the time.  One time, about 10 years ago, I remember being in a big hurry to get to a potluck, and needed a panic idea.  I thought I was being so original with cloverleaf rolls and butter.  Are we any less grateful for our food because it comes from supermarkets or the deli?

This is what author Wendell Berry says about eating.  “…In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are being fed from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.”

Other Food - Church Kitchens

Bless, O Lord, thy gifts to our use and us to thy service; for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Numerous luncheons at church now almost seem like the end of an era, like the disappearance of the dinosaurs.  Less frequent are the occasions where ladies would have nice Christmas or other bazaar lunches.  My involvement with church meals mainly meant preparations for others.  I grew up attending St. James Episcopal on the Canadian border.  An annual event was a bazaar luncheon every fall for members and the community.  St. James members worked hard and diligently to make it a nice annual event.  It attracted many of the town.  I did not learn until later what a real ministry of hospitality it was, to others and to me.

A hierarchical system appeared to be in place for all servitude.  As a smaller child, you were given cream and sugar to pass, when one was older, you could serve the plates that were filled in the kitchen by the adults, or pour coffee.  When you were even older (say high school or college) you could cut the dessert bars and arrange them on the trays.  In the kitchen it was no different, speed and agility were required to fill plates and manage the food supplies.  Dishwashing was done in the back of the kitchen by mysterious people, some drying dishes with towels while sitting down.  I discovered the reason for this when my mother, past retirement age and a veteran of many meals, was casually drying dishes with some of her St. Agatha’s Guild members.  Sprightly, she at once looked up and around and stated “Why, I thought this job was for the older girls!!”  Mrs. Boult replied in her normal dry manner “Helen, we are the older girls!”

Yet the tradition of lunches was still strong at St. Paul’s when I arrived in 1990.  I plunged into these occasions without fear, almost.  Lunch for 100 was no problem; I believe my early years at St. James gave me the confidence to try such a thing.  In those days, it was fun to have a logistical challenge.  I was usually paired with a very experienced older woman who knew her way around the kitchen, and what menu would work.  I contributed energy for shopping, preparation with the team, and standing up for hours.  So much giving and fellowship was present in the kitchen.  Time and space transformed.  I remember once when I was worried when the strata came out of the oven and did not look right.  A woman I had just met looked at me and said, “It will be all right.”  All I had was given to that moment; as she graciously shared her faith and experience.  I was given so much.

2 Corinthians 9:10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will
supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

Eating Together-Church Camp Food

Oh, the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun, the rain and the apple seed, the Lord is good to me, Amen,… Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.

The bells rang and we all line up at the dining hall door.  Lining up in all kinds of weather, hot sun, rain, cold.  Lining up in all conditions, tired, sunburned, homesick, and happy.  As councilors or staff, keeping some order in the lines was important.  Most important was the entrance to the dining hall and smelling all of the wonderful food prepared for us, and were about to taste.  The cooks that were there year after year had prepared for all of us, big and small persons.  Eating at those long tables in cabin groups, we may have experienced what is said in Acts 14:17..for he did good and gave you from the heavens rain and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.

May we reflect on our own lives were food and spirituality are linked; “…for we are being fed from mystery.”  What food choices can I make daily to help me be more connected with God?

Copyright Statement

Jill Peterman is an active member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Duluth, MN.  She originally wrote these thoughts in 2004 and they appeared in the April 2004 issue of Soundings, the newspaper of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota.  Jill and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to Jill Peterman or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.

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