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New S.A.G.E. Ministry is About “Saving Us”

San Francisco Peaks

Arizona’s highest point is Humphreys Peak at 12,633 feet, one of the San Francisco Peaks hovering over Flagstaff.

Named after St. Francis, the Peaks are also sacred to 13 indigenous tribes in the region, including the Navajo (who call it Doko’oo’sliid or “Shining on Top”) and the Hopi (who call it Nuvatukaovi). These peaks are one of the “sacred places where the earth brushes up against the unseen world,” in the words of Yavapai-Apache chairman Vincent Randall.

The San Francisco Peaks are just one of many sacred places Dayspring’s environmental ministry seeks to honor and protect as, “together we responsibly care for God’s sacred creation by working for environmental health and justice.”

Recognizing that all creation is one, our mission includes all the people and life inhabiting our beautiful earth. As climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe explained in her recent book, restoring the natural balance of God’s creation is nothing less than “Saving Us.”

Dayspring’s Spiritual Activists Greening the Earth, or S.A.G.E., invite everyone in the congregation to participate in our mission and goals. This work is intrinsically linked to other Dayspring mission work in areas such as social justice, the giving garden, and youth ministry projects that serve people around the country and the world – often those most impacted by environmental changes.

Indeed, St. Francis shows us how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, and our commitment to society and interior peace.

The S.A.G.E. team looks forward to working with everyone at Dayspring as we work on goals in five focus areas: Worship and Liturgy, Education, Buildings and Grounds, Community Engagement, and Faithful Advocacy. Please email Maureen for more information.

“We understand that God is calling each of us to respond and that as a denomination, we cannot hope to transform the world until we change our way of being in it.”

From the United Methodist Church 2016 Book of Resolutions, #1035,
“Climate Change and the Church’s Response”:

Giving Thanks for God’s Gift of Water

This summer we’re seeing more news coverage about the availability of clean water and its importance to our survival and our future.

Living in the desert, we experience the direct connection between water and life. Earlier this year, we were blessed by a “super-bloom,” thanks to higher-than-average rainfall last winter and spring. In other years we’ve seen the devastating effects of drought on our forests, lakes and rivers.

There are many ways to show our thanks for God’s sacred gift of water and to preserve it for future generations. The Arizona Department of Water Resources provides a variety of Water Conservation Tips for Arizona Residents.

The S.A.G.E. team (Spiritual Activists Greening the Earth) encourages Dayspring members to pledge at least two new actions or habits this year to protect God’s sacred creation. Here are a few examples to consider; you can find the full list at this link.

  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or washing your hands (until you’re ready to rinse).
  • Install water-saving showerheads or flow restrictors. Keep showers under five minutes.
  • Wash produce in the sink or a pan partially filled with water, instead of running water from the tap. Then use the wash water to water plants.
  • Minimize turf/grass areas. Plant low-water use and drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees.
  • Water plants only when necessary. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering.
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways, sidewalks, streets and parking areas.

Let’s Put Plastic Consumption on a Diet!

In 2019, Rudy and I visited several South Pacific Islands where plastic bottles and bags have been banned or greatly reduced. With limited land, surrounded by beautiful beaches and reefs, the effects of plastic garbage are all too visible to island residents. They are living with the consequences of plastic pollution.

Since the invention of synthetic plastic in 1907, it has been used for an incredible number of products in modern life. Yet the properties that make plastic so useful and durable come with a huge environmental cost.

Plastic contributes to the carbon footprint in multiple ways: from oil extraction, during the manufacturing process, and when it breaks down. Plastic dominates ocean garbage and fills up landfills, where sunlight and heat cause it to release methane and ethylene as it breaks down. Recycled or not, once produced, plastic will be around forever, breaking into smaller and smaller particles and getting into our food chain.

Unfortunately, plastic production is on the rise according to the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). Even as we work to reduce the use of fossil fuels for transportation and heating, CIEL estimates that plastics will account for 20% of oil consumption by 2050.

If that’s not enough, our human bodies absorb toxic chemicals that leach out of plastic. Exposure to them is related to tumors, birth defects, compromised immunity, disturbance of the endocrine system and other disorders. Plastic waste breaks down into smaller and smaller particles that can be ingested by marine animals and other wildlife.

The S.A.G.E. team (Spiritual Activists Greening the Earth) encourages Dayspring members to start with two new actions or habits this year to show our love for God’s people and all creation. Here are ideas for reducing our use of plastic.

  • Use a reusable water bottle instead of one of the 200 billion disposable plastic bottles used each year.
  • Pack a “no-waste” lunch. Use reusable containers instead of disposables.
  • When dining out, bring reusable containers for leftovers. Bonus: this prevents food waste.
  • Substitute reusable containers or wax paper for plastic bags & wrap. Some vegetables even last longer when stored this way.
  • Develop the habit of bringing reusable bags to the store. Keep them in the car. You can also buy reusable, washable produce bags.
  • For more ideas, read NRDC’s article on 10 Ways to Reduce Plastic Pollution.

Maureen Rojas

Co-Leader, Dayspring S.A.G.E. Team