Growing In Faith

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...

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History made with the first USDA recognized urban farm in Richmond, VA

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...

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Planting 20 Million Trees to Reconcile Humanity and Nature

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...

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Aftermath of Hurricane Laura

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 withhis church served as an...

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A Surprising Calling to Bring Food Justice: Tosha Phonix

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...

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Central Baptist Church of St. Louis Grows It!

- 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...

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A Red Circle Promotes Community in North St. Louis County

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 desertsno 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...

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Baby Wingate: The City of Fort Lauderdale vs. Walter Hinton

(Mickey Hinton walks past a sign warning against contaminated soil in his neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale. Hinton claims toxic waste from a nearby incinerator site gave he and his wife chronic health issues and gave their daughters cancer. (Carline Jean / South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Environmental justice is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” The term was coined in the 1980s. A decade later, the Wingate municipal incinerator in Broward County, FL was added to the EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List. The site was eventually cleaned up, but the citizens in the community were still concerned about the aftermath. When the air quality was tested, it was deemed suitable for living standards. When there was an investigation...

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St. Louis Pastor Works to Enlighten and Bring More Youth Into the Environmental Movement

By Chelsea Blackmon

While researching methods to reduce the cost of electricity for his church, Rev. Rodrick Burton (pastor of New Northside Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, MO) stumbled upon the concept of environmental sustainability. He started by purchasing solar panels for his church, then it was a snowball effect for him. The more he learned, the more he wanted to apply this knowledge to benefit his own community. 

The goals that he has for St. Louis are simple: bring other congregations in, educate young people on the topic as it relates to their own communities, and eventually have a regional conference surrounding all things environmentally conscious.  

Rev. Burton hopes for a future where young people will lead  environmental sustainability efforts. He recognizes that the demographic is concerned about the topic, but he also wishes to show them what they can do in their own communities. According to Rev. Burton, one way to spark interest would be...

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Co-Pastors in St. Louis Lead Environmental Practices By Example

By Chelsea Blackmon

Married pastors Rev. Clinton Stancil and Rev. Christine Stancil are deeply invested in the betterment of their community, starting with Wayman AME Church in St. Louis, MO. The Stancils’ long-term goal is to represent a productive, well-rounded community and they have been strategic in offering solutions to numerous issues facing their congregants and neighbors.

Rev. Clinton Stancil is no stranger to working at the forefront of social justice issues. His voice was frequently heard demanding for justice for Michael Brown in the wake of his murder by a white police officer. This experience is particularly relevant in today’s racially charged climate. 

Environmental racism is another issue impacting the Black community, including in St. Louis. The facts are undeniable, climate and pollution impacts people of color and low income families more than anyone else. There continues to be a need for sustainable...

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