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Ministry for Social Justice and the Earth— Jerry Wagnon

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

Back in the late 1980’s, I spent my New Year’s holiday at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Peering down from the rim over hundreds of snow-topped hoodoos, stone columns which often tower over a hundred feet and are the main draw of the park, a spectacular sight beaconed in the distance. It was an area of unprotected public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management called Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Finally, in 1996, the area gained protection as a national monument by President Clinton. Ryan Zinke, the Interior Secretary under President Trump, however, recently announced that Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument would be significantly reduced in size.

While we tend to hear more about climate change in the news, there currently is a full-pronged assault on conservation, water quality, air particulate regulations and almost any other environmental laws, as a grab for public lands and waters for fossil fuel extraction and mining runs rampant.

With much of our focus on issues of social justice, and frankly not having a “champion” on the committee for environmental issues, we tend to gloss over our commitment in the Ministry for Social Justice and the Earth to the “Earth” part of our name. Yet we live in a time in which the gains of the environmental movement are under attack unlike any time in the last fifty years. And often social justice intersects with racial and economic justice, as those most touched by environmental problems are more often poor and minority communities.

To start to remedy this, perhaps we can look for ways to be a greener congregation. As we move into the design and building stage of our new home, we will have an opportunity to build with a strong emphasis on materials and energy. We can also examine what we can do to see that climate and environmental justice action does not overlook those most affected.

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