by Rev. Dr. Tyson-Lord Gray
Earlier this year Hulu released the original series Little Fires Everywhere. This drama follows the lives of two women, Elena Richardson played by Reese Witherspoon and Mia Warren played by Kerry Washington. Throughout the series, the women find themselves entangled in numerous challenges that culminate with Elena’s house being set on fire. When the fire department arrives, they note that they can tell the fire was set intentionally because there were “little fires everywhere”.
As an environmentalist, the timeliness of this comment could not have been more obvious. Even now, as I write this California is experiencing unprecedented due to increased global warming and climate change. Although numerous counties and communities are affected, studies have shown that poor air quality does not affect everyone equally. African American children and those living in unhealthy, high-poverty neighborhoods often disproportionately suffer from asthma,...
By Rebecca Shipman
Garnita James, a retired school counselor and teacher, says her sister was the first person to introduce environmental consciousness into her life. “Every time I was at her house and I would throw something away she would say “Uh-uh, that’s recyclable,” she recalls. Her sister pressed the fact that we are responsible for the earth our children and grandchildren will inherit. When her school started recycling, she knew she needed to make the change at home.
Later, after attending one of Dr. Ambrose Carroll’s Green The Church workshops, she brought the movement to her church, Ward Chapel AME Church in St. Louis, Missouri, where Reverend Kevin Jacques Sr. MSW, MA., LCSW is the Pastor. In addition to recycling, Mrs. James, an avid gardener, also introduced the idea of a community garden on the land behind the church.
After applying for and receiving part of the first Growing Green Solutions Seed Funding for St. Louis communities impacted...
by Andrea Breaux ([email protected] )
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. [Proverbs 3:5-6]
New Creation Church, led by Pastor Lynne Herron, serves as a beacon of hope to the West Arden-Arcade district in Sacramento.
Recently, a study designated the West Arden-Arcade district as an environmentally vulnerable community, (Vulnerable populations are groups and communities at a higher risk for poor health as a result of the barriers they experience to social, economic, political and environmental resources, as well as limitations due to illness or disability.) Statistically, its African American residents have the highest rates of heart disease, COPD, diabetes, and hypertension. It is a food desert; there are too many solid waste pipes;; and it is one of the highest-traffic areas, with the worst air pollution.
Seeing the lack of opportunity and its...
By Rebecca Shipman
In June of 2019, Rev. Gary Russell, pastor of Greater Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, was contemplating scripture during devotions when he came to Mark 6:37, in which the people looked to Jesus to feed the hungry, “But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat’”. Jesus looked to the people to give what they had to offer. Pastor Russell recognized that he and his congregation had the resources and they needed to serve their community.
In July of 2019, the last grocery store in Northeast Oklahoma closed. The store closure caused a nine square-mile food desert, which included Greater Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church and the community it serves. With the Lord’s word resonating in his head, Pastor Russell knew what needed to be done: “You give them something to eat”.
The Greater Mt. Pilgrim congregation sprang into action to help serve their community. That very summer, parishioners started a community...
By Rebecca Shipman
Rev. Dr. Morris Henderson and his congregation made history with the first USDA- recognized urban farm in Richmond, VA. Dr. Henderson found environmental activism through his strong belief that everyone has a right to food and his commitment to getting food to those who need it. In Dr. Henderson’s words, while his main focus was food and agriculture, “you can’t have agriculture without a healthy environment”. This understanding led him to the environmental justice movement.
Now retired, Dr. Henderson served as minister of music and then as senior pastor of 31st Street Baptist Church, in Richmond, VA for over 20 years. Dr. Henderson started the program “Seeds for P.E.A.C.E. (Promoting Education, Arts, Culture, and Environment)”. The organization includes many different socially-oriented programs, most notably their community gardens.
In 2008, following Dr. Henderson’s appointment as the senior minister, and in the midst of...
Planting 20 Million Trees to Reconcile Humanity and Nature
By Chelsea Blackmon
Nana Yaw Osei-Darkwa—known as Nana—seeks to provide solutions to the challenges around him. In 2008, Nana began a peace-project that would advocate for non-violence in Ghana and other nearby countries, including Tanzania. Ten years later, satisfied with his progress for human-to-human peace, Nana shifted his goal of peace between humans to peace between humans and nature. He points to the book of Genesis, in which humans are given the responsibility to take care of the earth. His Green Republic Project seeks to restore the relationship between humans and nature.
The Green Republic Project is youth-led, according to Nana. He believes that young people are “key agents” in the reconciliation process because they understand the “urgent need to purchase the future with the present”. High school and college students alike are involved with the project. Their goal...
By Chelsea Blackmon
Hurricane Laura, a Category 4, was the strongest hurricane to hit Louisiana since 1856. The city of Lake Charles, LA is recovering from its worst storm yet. The maximum sustained winds were 150 MPH, just 5 MPH shy of a Category 5 hurricane. Water has flooded out entire neighborhoods. Over 300,000 residents are still without power and dependent on generators over a week after the storm hits. It’s estimated that some residents won’t have power for several weeks.
Pastors Rev. Dr. John R. Adolph of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Beaumont, TX, and Rev. Dr. Theron Jackson, of Morningstar Baptist Church in Shreveport, LA have taken it upon themselves to be involved in the relief efforts to get Lake Charles into a stable condition.
Dr. Adolph is no stranger to hurricanes. Hurricane Laura is the seventh hurricane this Louisiana native has weathered. Hurricane Katrina was the first storm he’d ever dealt with—his church served as an...
By Chelsea Blackmon
Tosha Phonix became an advocate by accident. Today, she works for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment in St. Louis, serving as the Food Justice Organizer for the Food and Farm Team and managing the Food Equity Advisory Board (FEAB), an engaged group of community champions from communities most impacted by food insecurity, who advocate on behalf of their peers to help promote a thriving, local food system. When she was 12, however, her goal was to simply find a career in culinary arts.
Several factors in her life led Phonix to become interested in food justice. When she was younger, she worked at a restaurant that grew its own produce; she was fascinated by the fact that the restaurant had “cut out the middleman”. She later joined the Nation of Islam and related deeply to its emphasis on self-reliance and sustainability. Lastly, she decided to introduce her then one-year-old son to food that was free of chemicals. Once she started working at a...
- Andrea Breaux, Healthy Healing Eats
The Earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein.
On Earth Day 2011, Arthur and Nancy Culbert broke ground on The Central West End Farm. They were on a mission to eliminate hunger within the area by growing, harvesting, and delivering vegetables and fruits to clients at local food pantries. The founding of their farm planted the seed for the development of Central Baptist Church to grow a food garden that would meet people’s needs in the 19th Ward and beyond. A vacant lot three blocks from Central was purchased and plans ensued for its cultivation. This project would enable this deeply-rooted church with its nearly 175 years of service to continue to meet God’s burden by ministering to the nutritional needs of its community.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to...
By Andrea Breaux, Healthy Healing Eats
Many African American residents of North St. Louis County, Missouri live in low-income households and neighborhoods that are food deserts—no restaurants, grocery stores, or gardens. Development in this district has lagged for decades. When Erica Williams, a fighter for social justice causes, and an expert in economic development for vulnerable communities, became aware of what was happening, she started A Red Circle, a collaborative, community benefit organization “to stimulate the investment needed to revitalize North County.”
While studying for a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration she read a paper that focused on pastors’ valuable influence on their congregations. “If a pastor gets behind eating healthy and exercising, that helps the congregation do the same,” she explains. Inspired by this, she sought and received the support of the 24:1 Clergy Coalition, led by Pastor E.G. Shields, who...