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)

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota believes that consumers have a right to know the source and content of their food stuffs; and that the farming and processing practices used are healthy and sustainable for all of creation and the Diocese is committed to making this a reality;"

Thoughts on sources and content of food stuffs:

The Earth, People and The Creator
by Bert Whitcombe

  Our  ‘Natural Environment’1 is indivisible from us, from our Religious practice; we are one, we come from the same place.
  We hear, day by day, about environmental challenge and crisis.
  "Environment: That which environs or surrounds; surrounding conditions, influences, or forces, by which living forms are influenced and modified in their growth and development”.2
  A current environmental crises is ‘what do we do with our garbage.’ Here I am talking about a larger aspect of environment, a time when neither garbage disposal nor exotic toxic waste were even in the environment, the environment is where we live - our ‘Earth Home’.3
  Boldly, I assert that the Natural Environment and religion are inseparable!

  Where does food comes from, the grocery store, no: it grows from the Earth and only in hospitable environments, Are God’s people to solve problems by force: no, by working together, in community, resolving issues through Friendship and Understanding and Love.  These and so many other lessons, taught by our spiritual forefathers are totally interdependent on this Natural Environment Earth Relationship.
  If you would please, imagine how it may have been 2000 years ago, on a hill overlooking a lake and listening to a very wonderful person talking with you.
  What is on your feet, on what are you sitting, what personal effects and food might you have with you, where did these things come from?  Who is sitting next to you, how long have you known them?
  What is the person saying?
  On your feet, they are bare or have durable rough sandals made by someone you know personally, quite possibly you knew the animal whose skin is the sandal material.  Your feet are rough and rugged, adapted to the Earth.
  You are sitting on the ground, a robe or loin cloth of rough fabric or an animal skin between you and the Earth, you know who made the garment, you probably know exactly where the fiber or skin came from.
  If you are a mother with children you will have a piece of cloth or two, well used, to diaper and clean up your child, a snack or two for older children, thin hard bread, dried cheese or fish, wrapped in a skin. As a tradesperson you may have a tool or so with you, a sharp-edged rock, a knife of bronze, a heavy piece of wood, a hank of rope you made from your donkey’s mane.  You know where these things came from.
  Next to you is a family member, and next to her is a family member and behind him is a family member. You have known them for your whole life!
  The person is telling you how to see the kingdom of God in the seeds you plant, in the birds you see in the sky, in the children that you and all your neighbors cherish. He is describing how to reach out to your sister and brother and how to welcome the stranger.  He is talking with you about a new way, a way of Love, about how we can live in peace!
  It is in this Natural Environment that Jesus is telling us God’s wisdom.

  Am I crying for the old days, do I suppose that we will give up modern life?  Not at all!
It is a great gift we have received, medicine, technical communication, transportation, and on and on. It is not the fault of the Industrial Revolution or the Information Age, it is our forgetting where we are from, and it is our forgetting God!
  Please, accept the challenge of this proclamation:  The business of the People of God, the business of the Church, is to get right with God’s Creation, to respect this abundant life that we have been so blessed with, to see how God’s creation sustains us, to re-member our selves to our Earth Home – NOW!

1  Natural Environment, the Eco-system that has evolved on Earth, that is disappearing through human intervention since the advent of the industrial age, and sustains all of Gods creation on earth.

2  Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

3  Earth Home, our relationship with Earth is whole, all aspects of our person, save that we call soul, are from Gaea, Mother Earth.

4  Earth Relationship, humans in relationship with the Earth in the state of a ’Natural Environment’.

Copyright statement

Bert Whitcombe is an active member of St. James' Episcopal Church, Fergus Falls, MN. He originally wrote these thoughts in 2003 and they appeared in the October 2003 issue of Soundings, the newspaper of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota.  Bert and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to Bert Whitcombe 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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