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.
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
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
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.
Our very existence is interdependent on the entire Natural Environment;
we are from the earth, everything we experience and everything we imagine,
including how we perceive God, is totally rooted in our ‘Earth Relationship.’4
The whole of peoples’ evolution of spiritual practice comes entirely from
this Earth Relationship.
From the beginning of human time and until the dawn of the Industrial Age,
our God centered understanding is to be in alignment with the whole Natural
Environment scheme - or be gone.
Essentially all of the foundational events, literature, and thinking, that
direct our Christian spiritual practice, and all other spiritual practice,
have been known in this Natural Environment aspect by all peoples.
That is, before the Industrial Revolution began to separate us from our
Earth and God.
In the mid 20th century the majority of the ‘Western World’ and virtually
all of the rest of the Creator’s peoples were still strongly attached,
thru our historic agrarian and hunter/gatherer societies, to the Natural
Environment mode of thinking. In the last 50 years that awareness
has virtually disappeared – globally!
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
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
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
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,
4 Earth Relationship, humans in relationship
with the Earth in the state of a ’Natural Environment’.
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
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This page last updated 03-10-06.