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Posted: June 19, 2009 12:30 a.m.

Caring for creation

First Presbyterian Church, Earth Covenant Ministry tackle the tough questions

Brittany Thomas/

Does God intend to redeem the whole creation or just humans? What role do humans play in the created order? These thought-provoking questions were asked to a group of 40 participants from local churches and civic groups who gathered at the First Presbyterian Church in Covington Wednesday evening. Sponsored by FPC and Earth Covenant Ministry, the four-week series of presentations focus on our Christian calling to care for God's great gift of creation.


Earth Covenant Ministry is a partnership among congregations of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta and other faith-based organizations and individuals responding to the biblical and denominational call to renew a right relationship with God's earth.


ECM researched creative ways to deepen their educational outreach to congregations. Steering committee member, Dr. Stanley P. Saunders suggested a four part series curriculum.


On June 10, Dr. Bill Brown, Professor of Old Testament Literature and Theology at Columbia Theological Seminary, presented the first in the series: Earth's Story in the Old Testament.


Dr. Alan Jenkins, Director of ECM did a quick review by reminding this week's group that God made a covenant with Noah, his descendants and the earth. "I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you" Genesis 9:9-10 (NIV).


"We want to participate with all congregations to provide resources and help congregations start up caring for creation teams so they can find more creative ways of responding to God's call to care for God's creation within our worshiping communities," said Jenkins.


This week, Dr. Stanley P. Saunders, Associate Professor of New Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary presented "Earth's Story in the New Testament." A professor for 18 years at Columbia Theological Seminary, Saunders received his doctorate from Princeton and his bachelor's from San Jose Bible College. He has served as a pastor in Tennessee and is currently with Disciples of Christ Church.


"Some of us from Columbia Seminary are involved with ECM to help Presbyterian churches, and we hope eventually other congregations as well, to begin thinking biblically and theologically about the world," said Saunders. "It's easier to do it from the Old Testament side, because you have the creation stories and Psalms 148 that talks about all creation giving praise to God. As worship creatures, our calling is to give voice and to bring the rest of creation to give praise to God as we also give praise to God."


Saunders continued by saying that in the foundational claim of the early Christians, there is no realm of creation that is beyond the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Christianity is, at its heart, not just about the redemption of humans, but it is about the redemption of the whole creation of which human kind plays a part.


On June 24, Dr. Dabney W. Dixon, professor of Chemistry, Georgia State University will present "The House of Prayer for All People: Scientific Perspectives and God's Creation." The last session will be held on July 1 with the Rev. Alan Jenkins who will present "A Sanctuary for All Creation: Practical Steps to Green Congregational Life."


Once each month, ECM sends out an e-newsletter replete with upcoming events, eco-theology reflections, and actions congregations are taking to care for God's creation. To subscribe, visit www.earthcovenantministry.org or you are invited to write with questions, concerns or share something new your congregation is doing.


Guests enjoyed sampling an array of organically grown vegetables and flowers brought by Hilda Byrd, owner of Whippoorwill Hollow Farms in Walnut Grove. Nine and one-half acres of the 74 acre farm is certified organic. Her table was filled with blueberries; a mixture of summer squash with the most popular, zephyr - a buttery mild squash, old fashioned crookneck, funky starburst and flying saucer shaped patty pan squash; colorful greens of kale, swiss chard, oak leaf lettuce and an heirloom piece called bronze arrow, dandelion and arugula; garlic; shallots; nasturtium - an edible flower with a peppery taste; and everyone's favorite - the sun gold tomato referred to as M&M's because it is so sweet.


For information about Earth Covenant Ministry, call 404-270-9784, or contactajenkins@earthcovenantministry.org. Call Dan Walden, FPC, 770-786-7321 or visit www.fpccov.org; Contact Whippoorwill Hollow Farms at http://www.whippoorwillhollowfarm.com or 678-625-3272.

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