LUCC Creation Justice Covenant

Covenant Affirming

Lakewood United Church of Christ as

 A Creation Justice Church

The congregation of LUCC believes that all beings in the Sacred Web of life are ecologically interconnected and interdependent, and that we should care for and live in balance with the rest of Creation.  We acknowledge that the abuses of Creation inevitably cause environmental and human exploitation and suffering.  We realize that race, class, and global inequality cause some to suffer more than others.

We affirm that Creation Justice is a core commitment of the Christian faith and that our mission is to “work for God’s peace and justice throughout creation” (LUCC Mission Statement).  Our goal is not only to cherish creation, the land, and the earth itself, but also to restore living in balance with all of Creation and the Sacred. 

To work toward healing and conservation of the environment for a better quality of life for all Creation, with an urgent sense of calling Lakewood United Church of Christ covenants to:

  • Communicate through our actions and ministry to all who encounter our congregation that we cherish the restoration and renewal of creation
  • Educate ourselves and others on critical issues related to healing and preserving the environment and the impact on all Creation

 

  • Support public policies, regulations, laws, and funding that benefit the environment and protect vulnerable communities
  • Participate through advocacy and action in initiatives to address local and global threats to our environment including partnering with environmental justice allies in the wider community
  • Reduce climate change by decreasing our use of fossil fuels and lowering our carbon footprint
  • Encourage individuals in the congregation and beyond to implement this covenant in their personal lives

We will apply this covenant to all aspects of the life of the church, including the buildings and grounds.   We commit to doing an annual review of our progress in fulfilling this covenant.   

Therefore Be It Resolved That

Lakewood United Church of Christ declares itself to be a Creation Justice Church and continues to commit to working “for peace and justice throughout creation”.

November 11, 2018

Creation Justice 2019 Annual Review

LUCC Creation Justice

2019 Annual Review

February 23. 2020

After two years of assessment, discussion, and change, planned and actual, LUCC applied for and was granted on February 12, 2019 the Creation Justice Church status by the Environmental Ministries Program of the United Church of Christ national office.  Our Covenant Statement (attached) provides general philosophy, goals, and direction for our environmental justice work and requires that we review our progress annually.  Thus this report is offered to the congregation as a summary of steps taken in 2019 to live up to and extend our creation justice commitment and the list of 2020 Initiatives to guide our work this coming year.

2019 Initiatives:

  • Green Practices in Fellowship Hall
    • Recycling container
    • Voluntary ban on single use plastics
  • Environmental themed sermons and music – Rev. Wells and Music Director Hilton Jones
  • UCC State Conference in Orlando, FL– Presentation on Creation Justice Church process to help other churches move forward
  • Advocacy and support for petitions
    • Citizens Climate Lobby – Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act
  • Facility and Grounds
    • EV Charging Station installed and soon to be available
    • Solar Panel installers interviewed for future purchase decision
    • Permaculture Group in process of designing sustainable landscaping and grounds
    • LED lighting installed in chancel

2020 Initiatives:

  • Activate EV charging station and advertise location for community use
  • Complete solar panel estimate process – choose installer and continue research for funding
  • Represent LUCC Creation Justice work at local events – Earthfest St. Pete, April 4, 2020 at Williams Park, etc.
  • Review Permaculture Design when available and make decisions about grounds
  • Adult Day Care – Green practices agreement
  • Extend Green Practices agreement to other renters
  • Continue to expand LED lighting in church

Summary

Although the Creation Justice Task Force provides guidance and energy for setting and working toward our goals for environmentally sustainable living and justice for all, only as a genuinely committed congregation can we hope to live up to our highest ideals.  All of us must work together toward fulfilling our covenant to work for “for peace and justice throughout creation”. 

Weekly Update 2/19

This Sunday: This Sunday is the last Sunday of the Epiphany season, the celebration of the coming of the light of the world. The service will be a celebration of light! See Matthew 5:13-16.


Congregational meeting: There will be a congregational meeting following worship on Sunday February 23 to take action on the budget for 2020 and to receive the annual review from the Creation Justice Task Force.


Church School: There will be church school following worship this Sunday.


Ash Wednesday Service: There will be a beautiful outdoor service on Wednesday, February 26th from 7-8pm around a fire next to the lake at Chip and Dana Coper’s home. It is a service of reflection on the season of Lent as a time of repentance and renewal. The service will include communion and the imposition of ashes. Bring an outdoor chair if you can. And a stick. If transportation is needed, please contact the church office by phone (727.867.7961) or email.


Education Ministry Team: There will be meeting Friday the 21st at the church at 9:30 am.


Creation Justice Task Force: There will be a meeting Friday the 21st at 12:30pm at the church.


Donation Needed:  Wally LeBlanc is in need of a functional vacuum cleaner, new or used is fine, if anyone is able to donate, please bring it to Lakewood United Church of Christ.


Environmental Film Festival at Eckerd: Join us for a discussion of any films you view at the Eckerd College Environmental Film Festival to be held from February 21 – 29, 2020 in the Miller auditorium on campus. Some of these films may also be available on NetFlix if you can’t make the festival showing. We will meet on Thursday March 5th at 6:00pm in the church library to discuss the Environmental Films, our reactions, and possible next steps toward creating a more sustainable life on this planet!   A Review Sheet for the films will be made available before the festival for those who might want to make a few notes ahead of time regarding their reactions and thoughts about the films.  RSVP to Claire Stiles (stilesca@eckerd.edu) if you plan to attend this discussion on March 5th.
The Schedule for these FREE FILMS is as follows:

Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, 7 p.m. Ága, directed by Milko Lazarov (Yakut with English subtitles, 96m, 2018)

In this meditative and revelatory film, elderly indigenous Nanook and his wife attempt to live day by day on the frozen tundra in harmony with a world increasingly thrown out of balance.

Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, 7 p.m. Sea of Shadows, directed by Richard Ladkani (English, 2019, 105m)

Through an investigation of the plight of the vaquita, the most endangered cetacean in the world (of which only fifteen are known to still survive), this documentary illuminates the dual role of technology (nets, drones, moving images) to help as well as hinder efforts to save the species from exploitation by organized crime.

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, 7 p.m. Honeyland, directed by Tamara Kotevska & Ljubomir Stefanov (Macedonian, Turkish, and Bosnian with English subtitles, 2019, 87m)

Kotevska and Stefanov’s observational documentary about a Turkish beekeeper in Macedonia unfolds like a fictional portrait of a lifestyle on the wane. When a young family moves into this small hive-like community, they disturb the local ecosystem as much as local tradition.
Winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and nominated for Best International Feature Film and Best Documentary Feature at the 92nd Academy Awards.

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, 7 p.m. The Green Lie, directed by Werner Boote (German with English subtitles, 2018, 97m)

In this participant documentary, filmmaker Werner Boote goes on the road with a green advocate to investigate the little “green lies” that we tell ourselves about sustainable consumerism.

Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, 7 p.m. The River and the Wall, directed by Ben Masters (English, 2019, 109m)

Worlds collide when two filmmakers, one river guide, one conservationist, and one field ornithologist travel the length of the US-Mexico border to consider the ecological effects of building a border wall. Immersive and engaging, this documentary explores the environmental side of a popular political issue.

Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, 7 p.m. Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, directed by Jennifer Baichwal, Nick de Pencier, & Edward Burtynsky (English, 2018, 87m)

Research has confirmed that we have now entered the Anthropocene, a new epoch in which human activities create change in the environment on a scale greater than all other natural processes combined. This wide-ranging documentary explores the reality of this new era from around the world, from intimate changes to massive transformations.


Before I Die. . .  The installation on the chalk boards remains available in the sanctuary.  You are welcome to add to the responses finishing the sentence, Before I die, I am going to. . .   You are also encouraged to look at the boards and see the responses of others. This is the last Sunday for Before I Die…


Labyrinth Available: There is a straw labyrinth on the church grounds adjacent to the memorial garden. All are welcome to walk the labyrinth at any time. There is information about the labyrinth in a mailbox near the installation. The labyrinth is provided for your encouragement, support, and inspiration on your spiritual journey.


New Office Hours: The Church Office will be open Monday – Thursday mornings from 9:30 until noon. The office will no longer be open on Friday mornings. Thank you!


Operation Attack: Operation Attack is very much in need of clothes for men, boys, and girls as well as diapers and peanut butter and canned fruit. Donations may be placed in the shopping cart in the entryway to the sanctuary. Volunteer dates are March 9, April 13, and May 11. They also need people to help on the first three Tuesdays of the month from 9:30-noon.

Operation Attack is an ecumenical effort serving families with children located at Lakeview Presbyterian Church, 1310 22nd. Ave. S., St. Petersburg. LUCC was a founding member of Operation Attack in the 1960’s!


Hearing Augmentation: Devices are available from the usher in the sanctuary during worship.


February Birthdays: Jim Andrews 2/6, Sarah Lewis 2/14, Jeff Wells 2/15, Joyce Lee 2/28, Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: Malcom Wells, Wilbur Reid, Martha Lamar, Tony Rogers, Dana Cosper, Sherry Santana, Jen Degroot, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Maggie Brizendine, and Ann Rogers.


Recent Posts:


Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the church office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.



Weekly Update 2/13

This Sunday: The service will be a celebration of Love.  That is the heart of life and of the Christian faith.  Come celebrate LOVE!


Ash Wednesday Service:There will be a beautiful outdoor service onWednesday, February 26th from 7-8pm around a fire next to the lake at Chip and Dana Coper’s home. It is a service of reflection on the season of Lent as a time of repentance and renewal. The service will include communion and the imposition of ashes. Bring an outdoor chair if you can. And a stick. If transportation is needed, please contact the church office by phone (727.867.7961) or email.


Church School: The Theme for Church School this morning is Non Conformity. The gathering will be led by Patti Cooksey.


Westminster Suncoast Lunch: All those connected with the church who are residents of Westminster communities are invited to lunch on the third Wednesday of the month, Wed. Feb. 19 at 11:30 a.m. in the main dining room at Westminster Suncoast.  


Donation Needed:  Wally LeBlanc is in need of Full Size Fitted Sheets, new or used is fine, if anyone is able to donate, please bring them to Lakewood United Church of Christ.


One City Chorus: Concert Sunday February 16th at 4:00 PM at the Palladium Theater 253 5th Ave North. One City Chorus, St. Pete’s 120-voice community chorus with special guests “The Alumni Singers.” Tickets $25/$20 in advance. Tickets available through Jeff Wells, one of the singers.


Environmental Film Festival at Eckerd: Join us for a discussion of any films you view at the Eckerd College Environmental Film Festival to be held from February 21 – 29, 2020 in the Miller auditorium on campus. Some of these films may also be available on NetFlix if you can’t make the festival showing. We will meet on Thursday March 5th at 6:00pm in the church library to discuss the Environmental Films, our reactions, and possible next steps toward creating a more sustainable life on this planet!   A Review Sheet for the films will be made available before the festival for those who might want to make a few notes ahead of time regarding their reactions and thoughts about the films.  RSVP to Claire Stiles (stilesca@eckerd.edu) if you plan to attend this discussion on March 5th.
The Schedule for these FREE FILMS is as follows:

Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, 7 p.m. Ága, directed by Milko Lazarov (Yakut with English subtitles, 96m, 2018)

In this meditative and revelatory film, elderly indigenous Nanook and his wife attempt to live day by day on the frozen tundra in harmony with a world increasingly thrown out of balance.

Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, 7 p.m. Sea of Shadows, directed by Richard Ladkani (English, 2019, 105m)

Through an investigation of the plight of the vaquita, the most endangered cetacean in the world (of which only fifteen are known to still survive), this documentary illuminates the dual role of technology (nets, drones, moving images) to help as well as hinder efforts to save the species from exploitation by organized crime.

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, 7 p.m. Honeyland, directed by Tamara Kotevska & Ljubomir Stefanov (Macedonian, Turkish, and Bosnian with English subtitles, 2019, 87m)

Kotevska and Stefanov’s observational documentary about a Turkish beekeeper in Macedonia unfolds like a fictional portrait of a lifestyle on the wane. When a young family moves into this small hive-like community, they disturb the local ecosystem as much as local tradition.
Winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and nominated for Best International Feature Film and Best Documentary Feature at the 92nd Academy Awards.

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, 7 p.m. The Green Lie, directed by Werner Boote (German with English subtitles, 2018, 97m)

In this participant documentary, filmmaker Werner Boote goes on the road with a green advocate to investigate the little “green lies” that we tell ourselves about sustainable consumerism.

Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, 7 p.m. The River and the Wall, directed by Ben Masters (English, 2019, 109m)

Worlds collide when two filmmakers, one river guide, one conservationist, and one field ornithologist travel the length of the US-Mexico border to consider the ecological effects of building a border wall. Immersive and engaging, this documentary explores the environmental side of a popular political issue.

Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, 7 p.m. Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, directed by Jennifer Baichwal, Nick de Pencier, & Edward Burtynsky (English, 2018, 87m)

Research has confirmed that we have now entered the Anthropocene, a new epoch in which human activities create change in the environment on a scale greater than all other natural processes combined. This wide-ranging documentary explores the reality of this new era from around the world, from intimate changes to massive transformations.


Before I Die. . .  The installation on the chalk boards remains available in the sanctuary.  You are welcome to add to the responses finishing the sentence, Before I die, I am going to. . .   You are also encouraged to look at the boards and see the responses of others.


Labyrinth Available: There is a straw labyrinth on the church grounds adjacent to the memorial garden. All are welcome to walk the labyrinth at any time. There is information about the labyrinth in a mailbox near the installation. The labyrinth is provided for your encouragement, support, and inspiration on your spiritual journey.


Congregational meeting: There will be a congregational meeting following worship on Sunday February 23 to take action on the budget for 2020 and to receive the annual review from the Creation Justice Task Force.


New Office Hours: The Church Office will be open Monday – Thursday mornings from 9:30 until noon. The office will no longer be open on Friday mornings. Thank you!


Operation Attack: Operation Attack is very much in need of clothes for men, boys, and girls as well as diapers and peanut butter and canned fruit. Donations may be placed in the shopping cart in the entryway to the sanctuary. Volunteer dates are March 9, April 13, and May 11. They also need people to help on the first three Tuesdays of the month from 9:30-noon.

Operation Attack is an ecumenical effort serving families with children located at Lakeview Presbyterian Church, 1310 22nd. Ave. S., St. Petersburg. LUCC was a founding member of Operation Attack in the 1960’s!


Hearing Augmentation: Devices are available from the usher in the sanctuary during worship.


February Birthdays: Jim Andrews 2/6, Sarah Lewis 2/14, Jeff Wells 2/15, Joyce Lee 2/28, Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: Wilbur Reid, Martha Lamar, Tony Rogers, Dana Cosper, Sherry Santana, Jen Degroot, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Maggie Brizendine, and Ann Rogers.


Recent Posts:


Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the church office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.



Sermon 2/9 Knotted Together

Scripture Lessons: Matthew 5:38-48 and Psalm 23
Sermon: Knotted Together
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

Has your stomach ever been in knots? This can be how we describe a situation of
great stress or anxiety or fear. My stomach was in knots before the job interview
or the exam.

In his wonderful book, Peace Is Every Step, Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh
talks about a Buddhist term which implies the image of knots. If someone is
unkind to us and we don’t understand the reason and take the words to heart, we
may become angry or irritated, it is as if a knot is tied within us. We may become
knotted up with anger, hurt, or resentment. He says, “The absence of clear
understanding is the basis for every knot.”

Well, however we may understand the knotting process, I think we can see that
things are pretty knotted up in our world today. Hurtful things are said and done.
There is a lack of understanding and compassion. People get knotted up inside.
Anger, anxiety, stress, and hostility mount. There is lashing out and retribution.
The knots become tighter and more tangled.

We see this happen in personal relationships. There is a lack of understanding.
Pain and hurt are inflicted. Harm is done. The knots are pulled tight.

We see the knotting process in families. Conflicts erupt. Hurtful things are said.
Divisions are created.

This knotting goes on in communities as people who experience life differently
become engaged in conflict.

And we certainly see the knots that are growing and forming an ugly tangle on the
national level in our country. People who are angry, hurt, and afraid lash out. The
lack of desire for understanding, the lack of compassion, the lack of honesty, the

lack of unity which is not the same as uniformity, these forces and more are
creating massive knots in our common life.

In this knotted, charged atmosphere, we listened again to the words of Jesus, yes,
these words were very likely actually spoken by the first century Palestinian Jew:
“Love your enemies.” And these words were not spoken in a setting that was all
peace, love, dove. It wasn’t instruction given to people who were living in a time
of unity and bliss. No. These words were spoken in a context that was highly
charged, divided, and volatile. The Jews and their homeland had been overtaken
by the Roman Empire and Rome was in charge. Jesus and his people were a
subjugated people. Being taken advantage of. Their lives of less value. They
were not treated with dignity and respect. The Romans were definitely the
enemies of the Jews. So this dictate, Love your enemies, was addressed to people
who were negatively impacted by their enemies on a daily basis.

And Jesus, himself, had enemies: Those who were protecting their power and
status. They were intent of getting rid of Jesus and his movement. They had him
killed. They were enemies. And we have the tradition of Jesus from the cross
forgiving those responsible for his death. Doing what he had instructed others to
do: Loving his enemies.

So this teaching, Love your enemies, it was real. It was not some spiritualized
succor. It was not offered in a setting of harmony and unity. No. Jesus spoke
these words in the midst of conflict, struggle, and hostility. There was no
minimizing of the power and influence of evil. With his literal life at stake and the
lives of his people, Jesus declares, Love your enemy. It is one of the core
teachings of Jesus and one of the most distinctive tenets of Christianity.

In a conversation with a clergy colleague this week, there was discussion about our
role in these difficult times. The colleague related a story about a situation in their
congregation. The pastor has been encouraging the church to be welcoming of all
people. The pastor then got a letter from a church member explaining that they
were against the church being inclusive of everyone. The pastor responded saying that love of God and love of neighbor were the foundation of Christianity. The
parishioner disagreed strongly telling the pastor that Christianity was based on love
of God and God alone. Not love of neighbor or anyone else. Just love of God.
And that’s how the church needed to be.

While the parishioner may feel that way that view is not consistent with the
teachings of Jesus or the New Testament. Christianity is about love of a God that
is present in every human being and so love of God includes love of neighbor, and
as we were reminded this morning, even love of enemy. This is fundamental to the
Christian religion. Without love of neighbor and love of enemy, you no longer
have Christianity.

In thinking about love of enemy, Clarence Jordan, who wrote the Cotton Patch
version of the gospels, a colloquial, Southern, black rendering of the texts, sees
love of enemy as the culmination of a progression in human development. He says
that first there is unlimited retaliation. Hit back with no restrictions. Then there is
limited retaliation. An eye for an eye. Something commensurate with the offense.
The next step is limited love. Good will and mercy offered to a limited circle. To
your clan, tribe, kin. And finally, there is unlimited love as we see it in God and in
the ministry of Jesus. Love that is extended to all. Universal in scope. Seeking
the highest good of everyone. [Clarence Jordan, Sermon on the Mount, pp. 63-66]

This unlimited love is the love that Jesus teaches. This is the love that can help to
untie the many knots that are tying us up, binding us, and holding us back. Love of
enemy acknowledges that we have enemies. That there are those who do harm,
those who hate, those who hurt, those who cause pain. There are enemies. We are
all capable of incredible harm, violence, and evil. And sometimes we are doing
harm to ourselves; we are our own enemy. The enemy is within us and we are
harming ourselves. To heal, to become whole, we must seek the highest good of
ourselves, as well as those we like the least, those who harm us, those who are
perpetrating violence. That is what love is. Seeking the well-being, the highest
good, the best, for ourselves and all others. We find our healing and wholeness by loving; expressing the image of God within us, the God of universal love even to
those we name as enemy.

In the first winter after World War 2, a Jewish rabbi donated money to German
relief, saying, “I believe with all my heart that we should rise above hatreds and
prejudices and succor all people who are afflicted and heavy-laden.” [Roger L.
Shinn, The Sermon on the Mount, p. 46] This rabbi was not only helping the
Germans who had mass murdered his people, he was helping himself. He was
tending to his own humanity; he was drawing forth his capacity for love and
mercy. He was expressing the image of God within him and acknowledging that
image within every human being.

Love your enemy. It is difficult. Is it practical? As a strategy for social change?
Maybe. For the civil rights movement, loving your enemy was morally right and
tactically effective. But then use of force wasn’t really an option because the
government had so much more fire power. So love of enemy can be practical.

But what it really does is help us to uncover our deepest humanity, the image of
God within us. It transforms us. It heals us. It nurtures our wholeness and highest
good. It helps us to become our best selves.

I want you to take a moment to think about someone you may consider an enemy.
Maybe it is someone who has caused you pain in some way. Maybe it is someone
with beliefs and values that you find abhorrent. Maybe it is someone who you
vehemently disagree with. Maybe it is someone whose choices have caused harm
to someone you care about. Just take a moment to think of someone you might
consider an enemy. Visualize the person. Now, I invite you to pray for that person
every day for a month. Pray for their wellbeing. Their highest good. Pray for
them to experience peace and wholeness. Maybe put the name on a piece of paper
and tape it to the bathroom mirror or put it on the refrigerator or as the wallpaper
on your phone. Try to commit to praying for that enemy at least once a day for a
month. See what happens. See how you feel. See if it has any effect.

We started out talking about the image of knots. When we don’t understand the
pain of others, their behavior and words can cause us pain. Tie us in knots. When
we don’t understand ourselves and our vulnerabilities and insecurities, we can find
ourselves tied in knots. When we seek understanding, we can have compassion on
others and ourselves and then the knots loosen. This can happen when we love our
enemies.

But this is difficult. Philosopher Bertrand Russell, who was not a Christian, had
this to say about the Christian ideal of love of enemies: “There is nothing to be
said against [the Christian principle] except that it is too difficult for most of us to
practice sincerely.” [Shinn, p. 45] If we are honest, we can appreciate the truth in
Russell’s observation. The instruction from Jesus to love our enemies is a high and
holy calling. We may think of a Martin Luther King or a Nelson Mandela. Rare
cases. But what about the rest of us?

Here we turn to another image involving knots:
“Who is closer to God,” the seeker asked, “the saint or the sinner?”
“Why, the sinner, of course,” the elder said.
“But how can that be?” the seeker asked.
“Because,” the elder said, “every time a person sins they break the cord that
binds them to God. But every time God forgives them, the cords is knotted again.
“And so, thanks to the mercy of God, the cord gets shorter and the sinner
closer to God.” [Joan Chittister, 25 Windows into the Soul: Praying with the
Psalms, p. 18]

We need not be afraid of our failures. We can learn that to retaliate against an
enemy is to harm ourselves. It comes from anger within, and a lack of
understanding and honest self examination. We can accept our truth and forgive
ourselves and our enemies bringing us closer to God, the God within us and the
God within others. Bound together in love. Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in
this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church
of Christ.