Church and Society
Link to our committee minutes -- click here
The Sabbath Effect
One of the best ways to honor and protect God's precious creation is to relax and enjoy it, in the tradition of Thoreau, who found his spirituality in nature—“My profession is to always be on the alert to find God in Nature, to know his lurking-places, to attend to all oratorios, the operas of nature.” Revel in the magnificence of our mountains. Closely consider the skillful navigation of a dragonfly. Marvel at our smallness and seeming insignificance in the complex web of life.
If we were indeed cast out of the Garden of Eden for not listening, what we most need to do now is be still and listen.
When we rest we actually give the earth a rest as well. Our constant busyness takes its toll. NASA scientists have detected a “weekend effect.” They can tell from space where in the world sabbath is being observed, because air pollution rates go down in observable ways. Nitrous oxides, byproducts of fossil-fuel combustion, go down on Friday in Islamic countries; down on Saturday in Israel; and down on Sunday in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. The less people drive, and the less industry produces, the cleaner the air. Every gallon of gas used generates about twenty pounds of CO2. If you choose not to drive one day a week for a year, that could save over half a ton of CO2. Multiply that by the number of people in our congregation!
In 1986, the United Nations Environmental Programme initiated the Environmental Sabbath as a time for people of faith to renew their relationship with the forces of creation, by combining a knowledge of the earth sciences with spiritual values in order to transform our relationship with Earth from one of destruction to one of redemption and rejuvenation.
Amazing, isn't it—how long we've been aware of environmental concerns, and yet we've been so slow to do anything dramatic policy-wise to improve. In a study of the American public published in American values in American Culture(1995), Willet Kemptar and his researchers found a significant disconnect between participants' environmental values and any changes they made toward sustainable lifestyles and environmental protection actions. Apparently it is difficult for many to leave behind our Puritanical underpinnings, i.e., “Idle hands are the devils workshop.” Stopping long enough to think about how well our actions match our values is a worthy respite in and of itself. As Wendell Berry, the well-known environmentalist, put it in his article, “Start Small and Close To Home,” “The right thing to do today, as always, is to stop, or start stopping, our habit of wasting and poisoning the good and beautiful things of the world, which once were called 'divine gifts' and now are called 'natural resources'.” Natural resources that we feel we are entitled to use until they are gone.
Church & Society Committee
Our Church & Society People
As Christians we know, “whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:21b) As Methodists, we can look back on the ministry of John Wesley and see that England was changed by how Wesley and his followers demonstrated God’s love. Many social ills and injustices of the time were addressed as Christians lived out their faith in service to others. Today the church continues to put faith into practice as we reach out to serve others in our community and beyond. One tool within the Methodist Church to help us stay aware of societal needs and to provide a voice of advocacy is the Board of Church and Society.
The General Board of Church and Society works with our Desert Southwest Conference Church and Society Committee and local church committees such as we have in our congregation. The focus is found in Micah 6:8: ”What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God?” Church and Society seeks to prayerfully examine issues of peace and justice within our society. Education and discussion about these issues lead to planning and actions. The actions include acts of mercy such as feeding those who are hungry but also actions to change systems and society to be more just.
Examples of our recent activities include:
- An educational presentation on childhood hunger was given on a Wednesday evening and again briefly in our weekend services. Letters were written and sent to our congressmen advocating for continued programs to address childhood hunger. Advocating for systemic change is one way we seek justice.
- The third weekend in April services emphasized our responsibilities as stewards of God’s creation. Lists of further reading material and action steps were shared.
- Through the Equal Exchange Program, coffee and chocolate are sold after services. Growers are given an equitable share of the proceeds to support their families and to promote sustainable agriculture. This promotes justice in the treat-ment of growers. (We sell the products at our cost so as to increase sales for the growers.)
There are many other issues to be examined, such as immigration, how we welcome all into Christian fellowship, human trafficking and our prison systems. These and other topics are on the General Board of Church and Society’s webpage and the Desert Southwest Conference web page. Both can be accessed via links from the Church and Society page of our PUMC website at Prescottumc.com.
The Church and Society Committee is actively working together with other groups within our congregation and the local faith community. If you wish to learn more about this group, please see the church website for a list of participants who can be con-tacted. If you feel strongly about addressing an issue of injustice within our society, perhaps this is an avenue for you to join others within our church and denomination to make a difference.
Here are some of the people who support the work of this committee:
Randy Holt, Chair
We always welcome new people who support what we're doing. If you want to become a member of Church & Society, we meet the first Tuesday of every month in Douglas Hall from about 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.
Here are some links and websites for Church and Society that you might like to view: