• Share
  • Email
  • Embed
  • Like
  • Save
  • Private Content
Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, Healthy Communities
 

Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, Healthy Communities

on

  • 2,809 views

Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, Healthy Communities

Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, Healthy Communities

Statistics

Views

Total Views
2,809
Views on SlideShare
2,809
Embed Views
0

Actions

Likes
1
Downloads
12
Comments
0

0 Embeds 0

No embeds

Accessibility

Upload Details

Uploaded via as Adobe PDF

Usage Rights

CC Attribution-NonCommercial LicenseCC Attribution-NonCommercial License

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
Post Comment
Edit your comment

    Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, Healthy Communities   Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, Healthy Communities Document Transcript

    • An Adult Christian Education Curriculum for Churches in Massachusetts A project of the Strategy and Action Commission of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, in partnership with the National Council of Churches, funded in part by the John Merck Fund, the Ruth & Allen Moore Fund for Social Justice and Old South Church in Boston.Healthy Kids, HealthyChurches, HealthyCommunities Study Se ss i o n Gu i deA s people of faith, we believe that, indeed, there is a balm in Gilead and that the Creator, the Great Physician, cares for the health and well-being of all people. Like the speaker in the book of Jeremiah, we also won- der “why then has the health of my poor people not beenrestored?” So as Christians and as citizens of the Commonwealthof Massachusetts, we here seek to educate ourselves abouthealth hazards in our community, make healthy choices,and advocate for just public policies. The Massachusetts Council of Churches is pleasedto bring the Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, HealthyCommunities curriculum to the churches of the Com-monwealth. We hope and pray that these activitiesand study sessions will help Christians in theCommonwealth of Massachusetts live outa faithful witness of health and whole-ness, love of creation, and love ofneighbor as we strive for a more justworld in which to live and move andhave our being.Is there no balm in Gilead?Is there no physician there?Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?Jeremiah 8.22
    • An Adult Christian Education Curriculum for Churches in MassachusettsHealthy Kids, HealthyChurches, HealthyCommunities Study Session GuideMassachusetts Council of Churches14 Beacon Street, Suite 416Boston, MA 02139617-523-2771www.masscouncilofchurches.orgcouncil@masscouncilofchurches.orgCopyright 2008 Massachusetts Council of ChurchesAll rights reservedMs. Laura Everett, writerThe Rev. Lise Hildebrandt, editorStrategy and Action Commissioners 2005-2008, editors of the Healthy Churches Curriculumand “A Call to Protect Health and Community: A Christian Response to the Health Effects ofEnvironmental Racism”Dr. Paul Baxter, Chair Rev. Dr. Norman Faramelli Mrs. Emadel RamsayMs. Rachel Anderson Ms. Elizabeth Green Rev. Canon Edward RodmanMs. Nancy Banks Rev. Debora Jackson Rev. Dr. Tina SaxonSr. Tess Browne Rev. Jim McPhee Mr. Bob SchmalzDeana Chase Rev. Dr. Stephen Mott Rev. Kristin WhiteMs. Tina Clarke Rev. Dr. Rodney Petersen Rev. Cindy WilliamsThe Massachusetts Council of Churches is the state ecumenical body made up of 17 Orthodoxand Protestant member denominations, with more than 1700 congregations across the state.Formed in 1902, the Massachusetts Council of Churches has a long history of helping thechurches address social issues together. The Strategy and Action Commission is the socialresearch, education, and action arm of the Council. The Strategy and Action Commission iscomposed of representatives of MCC member denominations and directs work on the Council’spriority issues. 2
    • Table of ContentsWelcome 4Introduction to the Curriculum 6Leader’s Guide: Eight Study Sessions1. Creation, environmental pollution, and our health 92. Identifying environmental injustice through Hurricane Katrina 113. The Biblical witness on Creation and community 144. Applying our faith to environmental health and justice 155. Healthy kids: Protecting the most vulnerable in our homes 176. Healthy churches: Making our churches safer 197 Healthy communities: Mapping our communities and responding 208. Safer for all: Legislative advocacy for a healthier Massachusetts 22ONLINE AppendixThe most current resources are available at: www.masscouncilofchurches.org/healthychurchesHandouts for study sessionsResources for congregational participationWorship and liturgical resources 3
    • Welcome “As inheritors of God’s good earth, bound to all creationby our own place within the created cosmos, we affirm the interdependence of a healthy Creation and healthy people, knowing we cannot live without clean water, breathable air, nourishing food and safe homes. As people of faith, bound together by our common commitment to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we confess the whole human family is inextricably linked.” from “A Call to Protect Health and Community: A Christian Response to the Health Effects of Environmental Racism,” Strategy and Action Commission of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, 2006. 4
    • “ We confess the whole human family is inextricably linked...The purpose of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, HealthyCommunities Curriculum is to provide Christian congrega- ” manufacture PVC vinyl are exposed to toxins in plastics; children who chew on the plastic toys are exposed too. Yet,tions and parishes with an easy-to-use guide for beginning we are not left powerless or without hope. We can commita conversation in your community. The curriculum allows to educating ourselves and making decisions that protectpeople to draw on their own experiences, think theologi- ourselves and those vulnerable to toxics, wherever they are.cally about care for our health and the health of others, As Christians, we have particular resources to offer inbecome informed, and take action. We hope that this our efforts to make our homes, churches, and communitiesresource will be useful for your church as you learn together healthier. We are communities of faith—as organizations,how to make healthier decisions for your kids, your church, we have access to resources, networks, and support systems.and your community. As people of the Gospel, we hold onto hope and the belief When a can of vegetables for our family dinner is grown in God’s power of resurrection, even in the face of evil andin California, packaged in Ohio, and sold in Massachusetts, death. We know the power of prayer, and we have a longwe can recall that we are inextricably linked to other people tradition of prophetic witness and social action. We hope,and places. When pesticide is sprayed along the highway, we pray, we work for the healing of bodies, communities,and toxins are transferred to the worker who does the spray- and the Earth.ing, and released to the person washing the uniform, we The writers of the Healthy Churches curriculum andcan recall that we are inextricably linked. When we throw the theological piece that underscores it (A Call to Protectan old computer away in Massachusetts and the ‘e-waste’ is Health and Community: A Christian Response to the Healthdumped in Nigeria, we can recall that we are we are inex- Effects of Environmental Racism, see appendix) hope thattricably linked. this curriculum can begin a conversation in your church What we learn when we dig into the issues of environ- and empower your community to make healthier decisions.mental health and injustice is that we are all linked, but As you begin this curriculum, know that you are linkedsome communities bear the initial burden of toxic environ- with other Christians around the state and across the globalments sooner than others. Buses that spew exhaust when Church who are reflecting anew on what it means to beparked in an urban bus depot will still spew exhaust as they stewards of God’s Creation.make their way through the countryside. Workers whoBlessings on your journey to building up a healthier Church,The Strategy and Action Commission of the Massachusetts Council of ChurchesSeptember 1, 2008 5
    • Introduction to the CurriculumCourse Overview • A youth groupThe Healthy Churches Curriculum is intended as an eight- • A social concerns committeeweek adult Christian education course on protecting health • An ecumenical clergy groupand community wellbeing in Massachusetts. • An ecumenical gathering with other churches in your communityThe eight study sessions are in two parts: • A parenting groupI. Four sessions provide a framework for understanding • An outreach programenvironmental health and environmental justice from afaith perspective: About Each Session1. Creation, environmental pollution, and our health Each session begins and ends with prayer. Included in the2. Identifying environmental injustice through Hurricane guide for each session is a suggestion for a prayer, found in Katrina the Online Appendix. These prayers and liturgical resources3. The Biblical witness on Creation and community may also be incorporated into your church’s worship life, as4. Applying our faith to environmental health and justice appropriate. Each session has activities and discussion questions forII. Four sessions address the question: What can we do? the 1-1½ hour session, with a list of the items you will5. Healthy kids: Protecting the most vulnerable in our need. Photocopy-ready materials for each session can be homes found in the Online Appendix on the Massachusetts Coun-6. Healthy churches: Making our churches safer cil of Churches website, www.masscouncilofchurches.org/7. Healthy communities: Mapping our communities and healthychurches. At the beginning of each session in the responding section labelled “Tools,” you will find a list of handouts you8. Safer for all: Legislative advocacy for a healthier will need from the Online Appendix. Other materials, such Massachusetts as pens, paper, and markers may also be required. Suggestions for further exploration are included at theEach of the eight sessions can stand alone, be used as a two- end of each lesson and links are provided in the Appendix.part series (sessions 1-4 and 5-8), or be used successively. Often, there will be more topics to cover in a session thanAnother possibility is to follow each “understanding” lesson you have time for. You are welcome to pick and choose thewith an “action” lesson. For example 1, 5, 3, 6, 2, 7, 4, 8. parts of each session that will fit with your time constraintsThe full lessons will take between 1 and 1½ hours each, and the interests of your study group.but can be tailored to the time available. While the singlesessions can be used for an adult education class before or Working Ecumenicallyafter worship, two sessions can also be put together (with The curriculum was designed for use in many differenta break in between) for an evening study series extending Christian communities. Consider offering the curriculumover four weeks. in an ecumenical setting, inviting others from churches in Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, Healthy Communities is your town to join in. Churches can alternate sessions atappropriate for use in: different churches in town or meet at one central location• An adult Christian education class for the series with one or more churches sharing leadership.• A women’s or men’s fellowship Decide what works best for your community.• A retreat setting The curriculum utilizes statements and resources from• An Advent or Lenten study various denominations and churches to further our ecu-• An inter-generational setting with adults and high- menical understanding of our common Christian witness. school students 6
    • If you would like to find out more about what your church and other groups” that offers some helpful suggestions aboutand other churches have said and done on these issues, visit how to share what you are learning with others in yourthe National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs’ church. Working and praying through the eight sessionsAnthology of Policy Statements at www.nccecojustice.org/ will be a positive experience for the people who participateanthohome.htm. in the study sessions, but you can also ensure that others in your church are positively affected.For the Pastor or Christian Inviting key people who have experience with illnessEducation Director caused by toxics, who have environmental science or medical backgrounds, who have experienced environmental injus-Who should lead the course? tice, or who have worked in community organizing mayNo specific educational background is needed to lead a be especially fruitful. Allowing them to speak from theirsession. You may choose to have one leader over all eight experience during one of the sessions (and/or help recruitsessions, to rotate the task, or to invite persons with partic- participants) can be a powerful addition to the series.ular skills/interests to lead a particular session. Leadershipshared between two or three people lightens the load and What should leaders do for each session?ensures continuity, should time conflicts arise for a leader. • Read the entire lesson’s guide beforehand. PhotocopyLeaders can divide up tasks according to leadership gifts, prayers and handouts. Gather necessary supplies.such as materials preparations, discussion facilitation, and • Welcome participants and introduce the opening andprayer. Someone with interest in the issue will bring energy closing prayer.and background information to the course. • Facilitate the activities and conversation. • Monitor the time and ensure that all people have anFor The Course Leaders opportunity to participate. • Make sure that a session leader is scheduled for the nextHow should you begin? meeting.Prayer is always a good way to begin. Pray for the leaders, • Be aware of possible emotional and/or spiritual issuespray for the right time and space, pray for ways of reaching that will arise, and be prepared to provide support andpeople who will benefit from the course and add to it. Pray pastoral care.for God’s guidance during the course. • Pray for the success of the course and for those who are Decide on the number of sessions, the day and time of participating. The issues can be large, painful, and scary;the class, and which people the course is especially aimed staying grounded in our faith and our relationships toat. Church members? Parents? People in other churches? one another will be crucial in this journey together.The community as a whole? The “who” should also deter-mine the “when.” Resources Decide how you will publicize the event within the See Online Appendixchurch and outside, if this series is being used for outreach This curriculum draws on three main resources in additionto families in your community. The curriculum includes to the Bible:resources to help your church communicate this project 1. “A Call to Protect Health and Community: A Christianto the whole congregation. In the Online Appendix, you Response to the Health Effects of Environmentalwill find the Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, Healthy Com- Racism,” from the Strategy and Action Commission,munities Bulletin Insert which can be customized for your MA Council of Churches, from the Fall 2006 Intersect,church. Additionally, you will find communication resource in the Online Appendix.page from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s“ELCA Environmental Audit Guide for congregations, schools 7
    • 2. Resources from the Eco-Justice Programs of the are in the legislative process and what your group can do. National Council of Churches, including “Mindful For further information about what is going on in Mas- Living: Human Health, Pollution, and Toxics,” and sachusetts, visit the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow www. “Through the eye of the Hurricane: Rebuilding Just healthytomorrow.org. The Alliance for a Healthy Tomor- Communities.” These, and other great resources can be row is a Massachusetts coalition of citizens, scientists, health found at www.nccecojustice.org/resources.html. professionals, workers, people of faith, and educators seek- ing preventive action on toxic hazards.3. Fact sheets from the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow www.healthytomorrow.org/resources.html. Upon Conclusion After the class is finished, your experience can provide In addition, leaders are encouraged to explore and inte- valuable assistance to others as we work to modify the cur-grate their own church or denominational resources into riculum and share it with others. Download the Responsethe study sessions, including statements of environmental Form found in the Online Appendix and send it back topolicy (see www.nccecojustice.org/anthohome.htm), lit- the Massachusetts Council of Churches.urgy and worship resources, denominational confessions orcatechisms, and so on. Massachusetts Council of Churches 14 Beacon Street, Suite 416Staying up-to-date Boston, MA 02139While you are moving through the curriculum and after 617-523-2771you are finished, you may want to learn more about these www.masscouncilofchurches.orgissues. This will be especially important for the final council@masscouncilofchurches.orglesson on legislative advocacy. Please visit www.masscoun-cilofchurches.org/healthychurches to find out where we 8
    • Have someone read the following “A study by the British Medical Journal concluded that seventy-five percent of most cancers are caused by environ- mental and lifestyle factors. In fact, most Americans have between 400 to 800 chemicals stored in their bodies, typi- cally in fat cells. Health effects of toxic chemicals include cancer, asthma, birth defects, and autism. According to a 2002 report by the Environmental Protection Agency,Se ss i on 1 in the year 2000, over 7.1 billion pounds of 650 differ- ent industrial chemicals were released in the air and water; 266 of these are linked to birth defects.” “Mindful Living:Creation, environmental Human Health, Pollution, and Toxics,” from the Nationalpollution, and our health Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs, p. 3.Goal to understand and share our own experiences with Part 2: Environmental healthhealth and pollution in creation and our church community’s environment 25 minutesTools From the Online Appendix: article “Report Details The leader reads: “Environmental health is concernedToxins in Home”, the Boston Globe; “Scientists Sound the with exposure to and the health effects of toxic substances.Alarm for our Health” from the Alliance for a Healthy Tomor- Exposure questions are: Who was exposed? How did therow; “Mindful Living: Human Health, Pollution and Toxics” chemical or substance travel from its source into the bodyfrom the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs. of the exposed person (the exposure pathway)? How largeMake one copy for each participant. (Note: Copying on was the exposure? Was it once, several times, or on-going?both sides of each page conserves paper and trees.) Health effects may include no effects, a one-time illness, or Items: large paper, Bibles, markers, pens or pencils, pho- a chronic condition; some persons or populations may betocopied map of your city/town very vulnerable to effects, while others are less so. We will now look at exposure pathways in our own community.”Preparation Retrieve a map of your town at http://maps. “We will now take some time to think carefully aboutmassgis.state.ma.us/EJ/viewer.htm. On the left side of the our environment in this community.”screen, scroll down and click on your town. In the bottom Pass out photocopies of a map of your city or town.left corner, click on the printer icon to create a printable Invite participants to mark such locations as your church,map, (if your internet server has a pop-up blocker, hold schools, your home. After this is completed, invite partici-down the ‘Ctrl’ key when you click on the button “create pants to mark areas such as town dumps, manufacturingprint page”). Make enough photocopies for the group. plants, major highways and bus depots.Begin session with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 minutes Invite participants to respond to the following questionsPart 1: Talking about our Q  here are there dumps, manufacturing plants, major Wchurch’s health 10 minutes highways, bus depots? What are the pathways for toxins in the community?Invite participants to respond to the following Q  here are the farms, gardens, parks, waterways, or Wquestions green space? Is it well cared for? What contributes toQ  hich health problems most affect this church? This W health in this community? community? Q  ould you call this town a place that contributes to W During the response to this question, the leader can good health or a place that does harm to your health? write these health problems on large paper so that all Q  ave you ever lived somewhere that you felt was H can see the common areas of health concern. Health unhealthy? What did that feel like? problems can include physical, mental, spiritual issues. 9
    • If time permits, ask participants to also mark grocery Part 4: Environment orstores, bars, fast food restaurants, health care facilities, bike Creation? 20 minutespaths, etc. Additional questions: How easy is it for residents Invite a participant to read aloud Genesis 1:26-31 to con-to buy healthy food, to exercise, have access to health care? sider the relationship between God and Creation, God andTo move around without a car? Are there usable sidewalks human, human and Creation. Use the following questionsor bike paths? Does the town or city structure encourage or to generate conversationinhibit health? Q  hat does the Creation story say about the nature of W God? The origin of Earth and all living beings?Part 3: Expanding our Q  ccording to the story, what is the place of humans Aunderstanding: The indoor in the Creation? How do we understand our primaryenvironment 20 minutes relationships (to God, other people, and the rest of theLeader reads: “Sources of toxic contamination do not just created order)?come from things outside our homes and schools. The great Q  ow does God see Creation? How do we see God’s Hscientific progress of the past century has created tens of Creation? How have we treated it?thousands of synthetic chemicals with a wide range of uses Q  ow does being made in the image of God inform our Hin millions of products. These chemicals have made our role with respect to the rest of Creation?homes more comfortable and secure, eased our workloads, Q  hat difference would it make to treat the world we Wcontributed to our wealth, and made our lives more conve- live in as Creation, not just our environment?nient and fun. However, the use of these chemicals has alsohad an unintended and unexpected consequence; many of The discussion should center on the Judeo-Christianthem have turned out to be toxic to our health.” from ‘Sci- concept of Creation, which presupposes the Creator. Allentists Sound Alarm for Our Health, from the Alliance for a created things have a primary relationship with God theHealthy Tomorrow. Creator; humans have a special relationship as beloved Pass out copies, Report Details Toxins in Home, by Steven Creatures, but also as caretakers for and stewards of otherRosenberg, The Boston Globe, March 24, 2005. created beings.Give the group a few minutes to read the End with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 minutes.article. Ask the following questions Pray for those suffering from health problems of any kindQ Were you surprised by any of this information? in your church and community.Q  oes this information resonate with you and your D family? In what ways? For Further StudyQ  hat are the exposure pathway of these toxic W See the Online Appendix for additional handouts and chemicals into our bodies? Who is affected? Who is reading suggestions. most affected? (Don’t forget to mention those who are exposed during manufacture and those who may be using toxic chemicals during their work.)Q  hat is the likely effect of exposure to multiple W chemicals? 10
    • the video clip on YouTube.) Q  hat do you most remember about Hurricane W Katrina? Q Who was affected? Who was most severely affected? Pass out copies of resource “Through the Eye of the Hurri- cane: Rebuilding Just Communities” from the National Coun- cil of Churches Eco-Justice Programs. Invite someone to readSe ss i on 2 aloud the following section from page 2, last paragraph: “Vulnerable Land And People: Connections: The death, destruction, and environmental degradationIdentifying environmental in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf of Mexicoinjustice through Hurricane region brought to light the need for a renewed cov- enant of community. The wind and waters that bat-Katrina tered the Gulf States stripped away our collective blindness to the plight of the poor and marginalizedGoal to explore the connections between our health, the among us and awakened us anew to the challenges fac-environment and racism. ing environmental racism. We were reminded of our dependence on God’s Creation and recognized thatTools From the Online Appendix: “Through the Eye of the too often our lifestyle choices despoil the Earth andHurricane: Rebuilding Just Communities” from the National expose communities to greater natural harm and envi-Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs; “A Call to Protect ronmental threats.” (adapted from United MethodistHealth and Community: A Christian Response to the Health General Board of Church and Society statement)Effects of Environmental Racism.” Make one copy for eachparticipant, using both sides of the page. Part 2: Creating a working Items: large sheet of paper, markers. For pictures from definition for environmentalHurricane Katrina, visit www.HurricaneKatrina.com. A brief INJUSTICE 30 minutesvideo of the hurricane (search for “Hurricane Katrina,” 4 Have someone read aloud the following section (page 2,minutes, 4 seconds) can be viewed on www.YouTube.com. last paragraph) of “A Call to Protect Health and Community:Have a laptop and possibly a LCD projector on hand to A Christian Response to the Health Effects of Environmentalwatch it with your group. An outstanding National Geo- Racism,” Naming the Sins: Health Effects of Environmen-graphic Special Edition on Katrina is available at http://ngm. tal Racism:nationalgeographic.com/ngm/katrina/ or call 800 777 2800 “The term ‘environmental racism’ was coined in 1987,to order a copy. when the United Church of Christ Commission on Racial Justice issued “A Report on Race and Toxic WasteNote: If you can, invite someone from the church or com- in the United States,” in which they demonstrated thatmunity who has visited New Orleans since Katrina to be the racial makeup of an area was a determining fac-present and speak briefly about conditions there in Part 1. tor in choosing locations for toxic sites. Although the term was new, the problem was old. The convergenceBegin with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 minutes of the sins of racism and destruction of the environ- ment had been occurring for years before the report inPart 1: Remembering Hurricane many different forms.”Katrina 15 minutesTake a few moments of silence and ask the group to close The Leader reads: “Since that time, despite or becausetheir eyes and remember the images of Hurricane Katrina. of debate about whether ethnicity, poverty, or population(Have on hand some pictures from that time, especially if density is the determining factor in facility sitting and otherparticipants are young. Or use this opportunity to watch environmental issues, what has emerged is a broader picture 11
    • that understands environmental injustice as the inequitable mental injustice, can you think of other examples of timesdistribution of environmental hazards due to skin color, or places where environmental injustice occurred?”ethnicity, economic status, and/or immigration status, Continue to list examples on the large paper. To promptamong other things. Environmental injustice is not only conversation, the group leader can augment the conversa-fueled by overt discrimination, but by “white privilege” (or tion with some examples from A Call to Protect Health andwhite Anglo-Saxon Protestant privilege), special advantages Community: A Christian Response to the Health Effects ofgranted to white people, which can lead, for instance, to Environmental Racism, pg 1 or excerpted below:being able to move away from industrial areas into the sub- “The effect on our health of environmental racismurbs. The environmental justice movement is concerned can be seen across the United States and its territories.with giving all people a voice in environmental decisions, Urban toxic waste and industrial sites raise carcinogenand looking not only at how to dispose waste, but also how exposure rates for communities of color. Fifteen-mega-to reduce waste creation. ton hydrogen bomb testing in the Marshall Islands “Hear one definition of white privilege: ‘an invisible have been related to pervasive cancer and generationspackage of unearned assets that [a white person] can count of birth defects. The location of low-income housingon cashing in each day, but about which [that person] was in areas with poor air quality has led to increases in“meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invis- childhood asthma. Pesticide exposure in fields sickensible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, pass- migrant farm workers. Low-wage workers in unregu-ports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.’” lated workplaces often are subject to toxic environ- ments. Native Americans have been forced to move to“White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming To SeeCorrespondences through Work in Women’s Studies” (1988), by Peggy McIntosh, inhospi­ able and contaminated rural lands. Then US tIndependent School, Winter 1990. companies ship their toxic materials to other countries with less strict environmental regulations for process-Part A Environmental injustice and Hurricane ing. From the mountains to the prairies to the oceans,Katrina we are sick­ ning the land, polluting ourselves and our eLeader invites one person to be a scribe and then reads: neighbors.”“Let’s explore some of the ways ethnicity, poverty, or privi-lege combined with environmental issues to lead to envi- Part C Why does Environmental Injusticeronmental injustice during and after Hurricane Katrina.” occur? (new sheet of paper)On a large sheet of paper, ask the scribe to write down the Leader asks: “As we work to build a definition of envi-responses to these questions. ronmental injustice, can you think of reasons why environ- Leader asks: mental injustices occur?”Q  hat were the environmental problems that W To prompt ideas, the group leader can also offer examples contributed to or resulted from the devastation? from the text of A Call to Protect Health and Community:Q  What health concerns resulted from the hurricane? A Christian Response to the Health Effects of Environmental (contaminated soil, reduced medical capacity, mold) Racism, pg 2 or excerpted below:(begin a new piece of paper)Q  ow did environmental injustice manifest itself in H “Environmental racism [injustice]” covers a broad range of New Orleans? Who made the decisions? issues:Q  re there stories from the aftermath and clean-up A • Barriers to information and power that people of color that reveal environmental racism or injustice? [poverty, etc.] face when toxic chemicals are introduced (slow response, FEMA trailers with high levels of into the environment in their communities. formaldehyde, slow rebuilding in impoverished areas) • Biased location of toxic sites, manufacturing facili­ ies, t landfills, oil refineries, and chemical facilities.Part B Other examples of Environmental • Less competent cleanup and response from regula­ orytInjustice (new sheet of paper) agencies.Leader asks: “As we work to build a definition of environ- • Disregard for the beliefs about Creation from multiple 12
    • ethnic groups, such as those of Native Americans in the chances are 39 times higher that you live in one of the United States. 30 most environmentally hazardous communities in• Lack of leadership opportunity within the environ­ the state than if you lived in a predominantly white mental justice movement for people of color [and the community. This unfair health burden is compounded poor]. by barriers to healthcare and uneven responses from• Lack of economic opportunities that lead to jobs in regulatory agencies to communities of color that are environmentally dangerous and poorly regulated jobs trying to make their communities healthy.’” (migrant labor, sweat-shops, cleaning services) Q  ow have you witnessed or experienced H environmental racism or injustice in Massachusetts?Part 3: Bringing it Home 20 minutesThe leader can choose one or more of the following ways Option C Thinking about environmentalto bring environmental injustice closer to home—showing injustice and Scripturethe link with American consumption habits, the link with For the link with Christian faith, choose one of the fol-Massachusetts, and/or the Biblical link. lowing Scripture passages and have it read by one or more participants:Option A American Consumption • Discuss how Jesus identifies with those who areLeader invites someone to read “Lifestyle Choices Con- vulnerable and powerless and how this should shapenection” on page 4 of “Through the Eye of a Hurricane: Christian relationships with “the least of these,” not onlyRebuilding Just Communities” after a Katrina-type disaster, but in daily life. Matthew “Although Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were natural 25:31-45, the sheep and the goats, or James 2:1-9, the disasters, the lifestyle choices that we have made as preference for the poor. a United States population compounded the storms’ devastation. An industrial area along the Mississippi • The story is based on deep animosity between Jews River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, nick- and Samaritans of the time. Each group claimed to be named “Cancer Alley,” contains chemical plants that the true descendents of Abraham and to hold to the sustained damage from the storms. The plants were true faith; Jewish hearers of the story would not have located along the Mississippi to facilitate shipping, expected a Samaritan to have crossed the great divides but have now resulted in Louisiana, one of the most between groups to tend a hurt Jew. Discuss how Jesus impoverished areas of the country, becoming the most changed the definition of “neighbor” from qualities of polluted. The area, which contains hundreds of haz- the recipient to qualities of the giver of love. How does ardous waste sites from mines, factories, and chemical that change our relationships? If participants are familiar plants, houses the very industrial sites that produce with recovery work in the Gulf Coast, have them reflect many of our consumer goods such as vinyl siding, on who has given and received mercy in the efforts. plastics, and oil.” Luke 10:25-37, the Good Samaritan.Q How did/does American consumerism contribute to  environmental injustice in the Gulf Coast area? End with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 minutes Pray for environmental justice.Option B Linking environmental racism andour state For Further StudyLeader invites someone to read the following from “A See the Online Appendix for additional handouts and read-Call to Protect Health and Community: A Christian Response ing suggestions.to the Health Effects of Environmental Racism,” p.2: “But the health effects of environmental racism are not limited to the Gulf; they are present here in Massachusetts: ‘If you live in a community of color in Massachusetts, 13
    • four people. Assign each group one of the topic headings (Creation, Sabbath, Justice, etc.) and allow each group to choose one of the Scripture passages to study. Feel free to add or use other passages of Scripture as appropriate. Creation—G nesis 1-:26-2:4 or Genesis 2:4b-17 e God’s relationship to Creation Genesis 3 Humans fall, God responds Mark 4:35-41 Jesus stilling the stormS e ss i on 3 S bbath—E odus 20:8-11 God’s relationship to Creation a x L viticus 25:1-7, 18-22 Humans’ relationship e to the earthThe Biblical witness on Justice—Psalm 103, Psalm 107, Psalm 46, Psalm 43Creation and community M tthew 23:1-14, 23-25 The greatest is the a servant of othersGoal to discover what the Scriptures say about our relation- Luke 1:46-55 The Magnificatships to God, others, and Creation, and how they inform Luke 4:14-22 Spirit of the Lord on Jesusour decisions and actions on environmental justice issues. Luke 6:20-31 Sermon on the Plain Mark 10: 3-16 Children and JesusTools From the Online Appendix: “A Call to Protect James 2: 1-9 Treatment of the poorHealth and Community: A Christian Response to the Health Healing and Redemption—I aiah 65:17-25 New heavens sEffects of Environmental Racism.” Make one copy for each and a new Earthparticipant. M tthew 8:1-17 Jesus heals a leper a Items: Bibles, markers, pens, small sticky notes, ten large M tthew 9:9-13 Calling of Matthew a(5½ x 8 or larger) sticky notes or pieces of paper. R mans 8:18-27 Waiting for the redemption of o our bodiesPreparation Write out each of the ten “Guiding Norms Stewardship—M rk 6:30-44 Feeding of the Five Thousand afor Church and Society” from p. 6 and 7 on one of the large Matthew 25:14-30 The Talentssticky notes or papers in marker. Matthew 25:31-46 Sheep and Goats I  orinthians 6:12-20 Our bodies as Temples CBegin with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 minutes I  orinthians 12:12-27 The Church as the C body of ChristPart 1: Introduction 5 minutesLeader Reads: The theological document from the Mas- Bible Study Methodsachusetts Council of Churches, “A Call to Protect Health • Invite someone in the group to read the Scripture aloudand Community: A Christian Response to the Health Effects slowly.of Environmental Racism,” states: “In Deuteronomy, God • Let the small group silently meditate on the text for adeclares, ‘I call heaven and Earth to witness against you today minute.that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. • Allow the group to respond to the question: HowChoose life so that you and your descendants may live.’ (Deut does the text speak to the relationships between God,30:19). As people of faith, we are compelled to choose the Creation, and humans?ways of life, both for ourselves and out descendants.” • Have another person read the Scripture for a second “In our session today, we’ll look at various passages of time.Scriptures to come to a better understanding of the dynamic • Let the small group silently meditate on the text for arelationship between God and humans as we consider the Cre- minute.ation, health, and justice for all, especially the marginalized.” • Respond to the question: What is a modern example of what is being taught in this text?Part 2: Small Group Bible Study • Read the Scripture for a final time.35 minutes • Let the small group silently meditate on the text for aFor the Bible study, break up into small groups of two to minute. 14
    • • Respond to the questions: What are the characteristics everyone understands the concepts. Place the large (sticky) of Christian faith illustrated by your Bible passage? notes with the ten guiding norms around the tables or on What characteristics or traits (for example: gentleness the walls of the room, and invite participants to assign the or perseverance) are we being invited to adopt in our traits from their Bible passages (small sticky notes) to the relationships with God, others, and/or Creation? guiding norm which seems closest. If a trait does not seem• Have each small group write the characteristics down on to fit with one of the norms, put it in a new category. When the small sticky notes, one trait per note. all are done, invite discussion. Are there guiding norms that the Scripture didn’t seem to address? Did you come up withPart 3: Reconvening and other norms? Do you agree with these guides for decision-reflection on “Guiding Norms making?for Church and Society” 15 minutesInvite the groups to reconvene as one large group. Have End Session with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 minuteseach small group briefly report on its passage and the Pray for good stewardship of Creation.group’s discussion. Give participants “A Call to Protect Health and Com- For Further Studymunity.” Go around the room, with each person reading a See Online Appendix for additional handouts and readingparagraph from the section on “Guiding Norms for Church suggestions.and Society” from pp. 6-7 (through “Equality”). Make sure Preparation Retrieve a map of your town at http://maps. massgis.state.ma.us/EJ/viewer.htm. On the left side of the screen, scroll down and click on your town. In the bottom left corner, click on the printer icon to create a printable map, (if your internet server has a pop-up blocker, hold down the ‘Ctrl’ key when you click on the button “create print page”). Make enough photocopies for the group.S e ss i on 4 Begin with Prayer (see Appendix ) 5 minutes Part 1: Cooperative ActivityApplying our faith to 30 minutesEnvironmental Health Leader Reads: “In this lesson, we will consider how our faith impacts our decisions about our environment.and Justice “Do you think about where your waste goes? When you ‘throw something away,’ where is ‘away?’ Where does it go?Goal to see how Christian faith can be applied to finding If we are to take toxic products out of our homes, schools,a way to dispose of toxic products in the community, while work places, factories, and stores, where do they end up?taking into account practical issues and priorities. Who gets to decide? In this simulation, we are going to work together (in groups not larger than 5 people) to find aTools From the Online Appendix: “A Call to Protect Health waste dump site in the community.”and Community: A Christian Response to the Health Effects Divide the group up, and assign each participant a char-of Environmental Racism, from the Massachusetts Council of acter from “List of Characters for Role Play” and hand outChurches; “List of Characters for Role Play;” “Map of your copies of a map of your town.Community.” Make one copy for each participant. Leader reads: “Let me set the stage for you. You each Items: paper, pens have a role to play. Assume that people are trying to rid their homes and workplaces of toxic products, and previous landfills are now closed to your community’s toxic product 15
    • waste. Where will it go? Your task is to find a new site for Q  ow did your faith inform your conversation? Ha waste dump in your community. Each of you has been Q  hat other information or points of view did you Wgiven a role and priorities for the site; you may choose your need?age or ethnicity as you wish. As you begin negotiations, each Q  ny other insights? Aperson should start by making a case for a site according tohis or her own priorities, but your task is to work together Part 3: Reflection on theto come to agreement. Use your maps to make your case for Church’s role 20-30 minutesthe best location. You are to assume that everyone lives in Go around the room and have each person read the sectionthe community, and that you will be responsible for your of “A Call to Protect Health and Community” entitled “Mak-population’s share of toxic products that have been used ing the connection between Christian Faith and Environ-while serving medical, agricultural, and workplace needs, mental Racism,” beginning on page 5.even if these hospitals, farms, and industries are not located Leader says: “Let’s consider what power faith communi-in your community. ties have and what role they can take in promoting environ- “Consider how your faith might inform or change your mental justice.”perspective. How will you appeal to those of other faiths or Ask for a volunteer scribe, and attach a large piece of paperno religious beliefs? to the wall. Record the answers to the following question. “You may consider actions to reduce the creation or Leader asks: “What kind of power do Christians havedisposal of waste, and are encouraged to consider creative access to? What kinds of power do churches have, whensolutions that will benefit all (including job creation). addressing community needs?” Have the group list their “Pay attention to how you are making decisions: whose suggestions. Suggested responses:voice carries most weight in the town? What principles seem • Power of God to bring change, healing, new lifeto guide your decision most? How do you engage your faith • Power of a community who believes in resurrection,around this issue? What kind of power do you have? hope, reconciliation “Before you begin to locate this waste site, consider this • Prayer—prayer teams, prayer resources, etc. Prayer grounds,definition of environmental justice: enlightens, guides, connects Christians to God, others. “‘A condition of environmental justice exists when envi- • Ritual and liturgy—these strengthen community, giveronmental risks and hazards and investments and benefits meaning to joyful and sorrowful occasions, connectare equally distributed without direct or indirect discrimi- people to God. Weekly worship and sacraments arenation at all jurisdictional levels and when access to envi- especially important rituals.ronmental investments, benefits, and natural resources are • Preaching and prophetic witness—calling people toequally distributed; and when access to information, par- changed behaviors, relationshipsticipation in decision making, and access to justice in envi- • Christian education, education in the communityronment-related matters are enjoyed by all.’” Participants of • Member resources—education, finances, connections toCentral and Eastern European Workshop on Environmental othersJustice, (Budapest, December 2003) taken from “Through the • Connections to other churches; judicatory or church/Eye of the Storm,” p.4 denomination resources at a district, state, national level “You will have about 25 minutes to do this exercise. Start • Connections to secular local, state, and nationalby allowing each person 1-2 minutes to make his or her case organizations; members involved in theseabout what kinds of waste should be accepted and where to • Outreach avenueslocate the site in your town.” • Public policy advocacyPart 2: Reflection on the role End Session with Prayer (see Appendix ) 5 minutesplay 10-20 minutes Pray for the church and its power.Reflect as one group on the experience. Use as questions:Q  id you come to a decision as a group? What could D For Further Study: you agree on? What were your guiding principles? See Online Appendix for additional handouts and readingQ  hat was surprising? Difficult? W suggestions.Q  hat priorities seemed most to conflict with each W other? 16
    • shall be blessed by the Lord (Isaiah 65:23.) Zechariah has a vision of a restored Jerusalem where old men and women sit on their porches and the city is full of boys and girls playing safely in the streets (Zechariah 8:5.)… “Children are among God’s most precious—and most vulnerable—gifts. They are the hope of the future, but theirs is a future threatened by environmental pollution. People of faith are called to work together to help safeguardS e ss i on 5 children’s health and their future. We can work together to help make Zechariahs dream a reality, where children play safely in their homes and schools, on their playgrounds,Healthy kids: Protecting the most and even in our city streets.” From the National Council ofvulnerable in our homes Churches Eco-Justice Program, for Earth Day 2002 “Caring for God’s Creation: Making the World Safe for Children.”Goals to talk about why protecting all children’s healthis of particular concern to Christians, to educate ourselves Part 2: Why are children soabout toxic exposure and children, and to consider how we vulnerable to toxic chemicals?can keep our homes safe for all. 15 minutes Hand out the article from the Alliance for a Healthy Tomor-Tools: From the Online Appendix: “Our Most Precious, row, “Our Most Precious, Most at Risk” and have partici-Most at Risk” from the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow; cop- pants take turns reading out loud the introduction andies of “Mindful Living Human Health, Pollution, and Toxics,” “We’re Uniquely Vulnerable in Early Life.”from the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program. Have the group summarize, and one participant take notesMake one copy for each participant. By now using both sides of on the large paper, the reasons why young children may suf-each sheet of paper should be natural to you. fer more from toxic chemical exposure than older persons. Items: Large sheets of paper, small sheets of paper, pens Leader reads: “As the article states, children are moreor pencils, assorted children’s toys (some from the church’s affected by toxic chemicals and may be more exposed.Sunday school space, if available), plastic bottles, children’s Why is the health of children more sensitive to toxinssleepwear, children’s backpacks or lunchboxes, and/or per- than adults?”sonal care products that children might use (shampoo, Answers might include: Organs are still developing,lotion, toothpaste). chemicals may disrupt normal development; immaturePreparation Use a piece of tape to label each toy and bodies can’t repair toxin damage; early exposure may resultpersonal care product with a number. in disease many years later; children have smaller bodies and smaller doses may affect children more than adults.Video Option: Use the first 7.5 minutes of the “Contami- Leader reads: “How and in what situations might chil-nated without Consent” video in Part 2 instead of read- dren be more exposed to toxins than adults?”ing “Our Most Precious, Most at Risk.” The video can be Answers might include: Children have more years left toviewed online at: www.contaminatedwithoutconsent.org be exposed; exposure may start before or soon after birth;or contact the MCC for a DVD. children might have eating habits or other behaviors thatBegin with Prayer (Appendix) 5 minutes cause greater exposure (eating one kind of food, sleeping more, eating lead-contaminated paint chips)Part 1: Christians and care for Leader reads: “We are called to protect the most vul-children’s health 5 minutes nerable in our communities, including our children. ThisLeader reads: “The Biblical visions of a redeemed and starts in our homes; as parents, grandparents, aunts andrestored Creation often make special note of the security uncles, and friends of children, we are conscious of mak-and well-being of children. Isaiah foresees a time when even ing our homes child-proof. In addition to covering electri-the most vulnerable children, nursing babes and toddlers, cal outlets, keeping dangerous tools locked up, and puttingplay safely in the presence of the asp and the adder (Isaiah medicines where they can’t be reached, we need to toxic-11:8.) People will no longer labor in vain or bear children proof our homes. The next exercise will teach us how tofor calamity, but they and their descendants yet to come do that.” 17
    • Part 3: Sorting out the Good tion of the problem from the Alliance for a Healthy Tomor-from the Toxic 25 minutes row: ‘Wrinkle-free clothes, stain-resistant carpet, life-savingPlace the children’s toys and household items on the table. medical devices, bountiful plastic toys—there’s no doubtGive each person a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil. Allow synthetic chemicals have brought a wealth of convenience,the group to briefly look over the articles. comfort and fun to our lives. But what about the hidden When they have finished, pass out copies of the “Mind- impacts? With no government agency watching the store,ful Living” resource, and have them all turn to pages 6 and these modern comforts and conveniences have come at a7. Invite a different person to read each paragraph; include high price to our health. Governments around the worldparagraphs on Bisphenol-A, Lead, PFCs, Phthalates, and recognize the dangers of these products, and many otherPBDEs (and formaldehyde if you have wood products or countries have taken decisive action to protect their con-time permits). When you read about lead, be sure to add sumers. Regulations in the U.S., however, are either lax orthat some children’s toys and jewelry have been found to non-existent.’ That leads us to ask, as consumers and ascontain lead, which is often added to metals or to polyvi- Christians, what can we do?” “No One Minding the Store,”nyl chloride (PVC) plastic (see www.healthytoys.org/about. The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow.findings.php). You might want to mention that some cos-metics have been shown to contain lead or mercury as well Part 4: Christians as(see www.safecosmetics.org ). Consumers—How to Make our After the sections have been read, have participants num- Homes Safe for Children 15 minutesber their papers according to the numbers on the household Direct the class to turn to page 11 in “Mindful Living” anditems. As they again look over the items, have them write read the “Fourteen Personal Actions” out loud or silently.down whether they judge each article to be “toxic” or “non- Leader asks:toxic.” Encourage the group to work fairly quickly. Q  hat do you need in order to make healthy choices W When all are finished, compare answers. Encourage a as a consumer? (List on a large piece of paper.) Thesediscussion using such questions as: might include:Q  ho thinks that item #1 (2, 3, etc.) is toxic? Non- W • Accurate information about products toxic? Why? What toxic chemicals may it contain? •  ealthy, accessible, affordable alternatives to products H How do you know? containing toxic chemicals (Things to consider: Soft plastics often contain •  ocial support to change lifestyle. (What products can S phthalates (pronounced “thal-ates”) and may contain we do without? Who do we need support from?) lead. Personal care products that contain “fragrance” • Prayer and discernment usually contain phthalates. Children’s bedclothes, • Time and energy to invest in change especially those made of synthetics, are treated with Q  ow can this church support its members in changing H flame retardants. Hard plastic baby bottles, water products at home? How can the church encourage bottles, and sippy cups may contain Bisphenol-A.) gradual but sustained change (to keep people fromQ  ow confident are you about your answers? Why? H feeling overwhelmed?) If your group has immediate access to the world Q  ow can churches aid those with fewer resources and/ H wide web, you could check several of the toys at or higher risks to change consumption habits? www.healthytoys.org and compare their results to Q  hould personal consumption habits be the focus of S participants’ assessments. our efforts as Christians? Why or why not? Q  hat will happen to the toxic materials we discard in WLeader reads: “The truth is, it is often impossible to deter- an effort to clean up our homes?mine which everyday items are toxic and which are safer.Plastic toys dont come with labels fully disclosing the End Session with Prayer (Appendix) 5 Minutesmaterials used, the chemicals workers were exposed to in Pray for the children of the church and community.the manufacturing, or the toxic ‘off-gassing’ that will occurafter the toy is in your home. We should not need a degree For Further Studyin toxicology to purchase a toy for a child. The fact that it See Online Appendix for additional handouts and readingis so hard to tell the toxic items from the safer ones should suggestions.alert us to the depth of this problem. Listen to this descrip- 18
    • Part 2: Alternates to Toxics Discussion 15 minutes Invite both teams to reflect on what they just found. Ask: Q  id you find anything you could identify as toxic? D Q  id you find anything that was a ‘safer’ option? D Q  as there anything that you couldn’t identify as toxic W or safer? Q  ho would these products most affect? WS e ss i on 6 Q  ow could the church reduce or eliminate exposure? H Ask the Cleaning Chemicals Team:Healthy churches: Making Q  o you know the person or persons who use cleaning Dour churches safer products in this church? Q  ave you ever felt dizzy or nauseous from using HGoal to monitor our own churches for cleaning products cleaning chemicals?and plastics that could impact our health and that of others Q  hat might be done in this church to lessen the Wwho work, meet, and worship in our church. chemical exposure here?Tools From the Online Appendix: “Smart Plastics Guide,” Ask the Plastics Team:“Cleaning to Protect Your Health” fact sheet; “A Healthy Q  hat plastic or vinyl products were found and where ? WEnvironment Starts at Home: A Guide to reducing our use of Q  here they all numbered? Did you find more toxic or Whousehold hazardous products, (hard copies of this resource non-toxic plastics?can be requested from the Massachusetts Water Resource Q  as it easy or difficult to tell which items were toxic? WAuthority at (617) 242-6000). Make one copy for each Q  hat effect might they have on children? Who else Wparticipant. might be affected? Items: paper and pens Q  ow could the church reduce children’s or adults’ H exposure to these toxins?Begin with Prayer (see Appendix): 5 minutes Pass out copies of “A Healthy Environment Starts at Home:Part 1: Toxic Products A guide to reducing our use of household hazardous prod-Scavenger Hunt 35 minutes ucts” from the Massachusetts Water Resources AuthorityBreak the group up into two teams: the Cleaning Chemicals to everyone, the Smart Plastics Guide, and the “Cleaning toteam and the Plastics team. Each team has 30 minutes to Protect Your Health” fact sheet to those who have not yetscour the church and write down all the things they find. received it. Give the Cleaning Chemicals Team the “Cleaning to Pro-tect your Health” fact sheet. This team is looking for all clean- Part 3: Developing a Churching products. Write down the name of the product, where Policy on Toxics 20 minutesyou found it, and the names of potentially toxic chemicals Leader reads: “Let’s think about how our church couldin the products. Remember to check under sinks, in the develop a policy around the use and storage of toxic materi-janitor/sexton’s closet, or in the church basement or attic. als. Many churches and church judicatories have adopted Give the Plastics Team the Smart Plastics Guide. The Plas- a “Safe Church Policy” to ensure that children and vulner-tics Team is looking for things made of plastic, especially able persons are safe from abuse. Consider the ancient ideasoft plastics like vinyl. They should be sure to check rooms of church as sanctuary—that the church building and theused for children’s programs. Write down what rooms your church community are safe places that protect and nurturefind these items in, and the full name of the object or prod- people both physically and spiritually. A toxics policy canuct. If you can find it on the item, write down the number help promote a safe environment for all who work, meet, oron the recycling symbol. worship in the church building and can model a toxic-free After 30 minutes, have teams return to report on what sanctuary to the rest of the community.”they found. 19
    • “A policy is not necessarily a complex legal document, the policy (prayer, Bible study, preaching, etc.)?but is meant to guide behaviors of staff, board members, Q  hat issues or potential toxics should be covered Wand parishioners in the church, to help in decision-making, in the policy? (cleaning products, plastics, carpets,and to give continuity of actions as people and staff change. furniture, computers, building and repair supplies,It should be based on Christian understandings of the issue, pesticides, machine fuels, etc.)and reflect the mission and values of the parish and denom- Q  hat is the projected timeline for the policy? How Wination, if appropriate.” soon could it get written? Implemented? How could Invite a large group to break up into smaller groups of the new policy be publicized and celebrate?between three and eight people. Each group can eitheranswer one question or all four, depending on the time Invite the small groups to reconvene and share their rec-allotted. Allow each group to answer the questions, and ommendations with the large group. If there is interest intake notes. pursuing the policy, have one or several people agree to takeQ  ho would draft a toxic policy for the church? Who W responsibility for bringing the idea to the governing board should be included in the discussion? Who will make of the church. the final decision about the policy?Q  hat will form the theological and ethical basis for W End Session with Prayer (Appendix) (5 Minutes) the policy? What principles will guide decisions when Pray for the Church. priorities compete (economic realities, priorities of different groups within or using the church, etc.)? For Further Study What faith resources will be used when undertaking See Online Appendix for additional handouts and reading suggestions. Environmental Ranking of Communities of Color in Massa- chusetts;” “Environmental Health rankings of all MA towns;” “A Call to Protect Health and Community,” the Massachusetts Council of Churches”; A map of your town. Make one copy for each participant, using both sides of each page. Items: Colored pencils or markers.S e ss i on 7 Preparation if you have participants with diminished eyesight, you may want to enlarge the map of Massachusetts to 8.5 x 17, or 11 x 17.Healthy communities: Begin with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 minutesMapping our communities Part 1: Mapping Environmentaland responding Hazards and Communities Most at Risk 30 minutesGoals To assess our own community’s health and that ofother communities. To the see the correlation between a com- Mapping Environmental Hazardsmunity’s economic level, ethnic makeup, and toxicity. To situ- Give each person a map of Massachusetts and a marker. Theate our community in the context of the rest of the state. To leader calls out each of the twenty most environmentallyconsider actions to reduce toxic substances in the community. overburdened populations from the “Table 6D, Most Envi- ronmentally Overburdened Communities.”Tools From the Online Appendix: two copies of a map ofMassachusetts for each participant, “Table 6D: Most Environ- Mapping Low Income Communities andmentally Overburdened;” “Table 6E: Environmental Rankings Communities of Colorof Low-Income Communities in Massachusetts;” “Table 6F: Hand out new maps of Massachusetts. The leader calls 20
    • out the first twenty communities with the lowest income exposed. Thus children, poor communities and com-from “Table 6E: Environmental Rankings of Low-Income munities of color bear the initial brunt of toxic expo-Communities in Massachusetts.” Have participants color in sure that endangers all people.” from A Call to Protecteach of those communities. Next, instruct participants to Health and Community: A Christian Response to theswitch colors, and call out the twenty communities with Health Effects of Environmental Racism, Massachusettsthe highest minority population, “Table 6F: Environmen- Council of Churches Strategy and Action Commission.tal Rankings of Communities of Color in Massachusetts.” Ask Leader Asks: What do you think are some of the fac-participants to make a key on their map, labelling which tors that lead to the uneven distribution of environmentalcolor indicates low-income and which color indicates a high hazards?minority population. The leader asks the group to look at the two maps that Our Town Invite participants to return to their maps ofhave been colored, one with the most environmentally the most overburdened communities. Locating your town:overburdened populations, and one with the poorest com- Invite participants to color in their town on the map if theymunities and the largest communities of color. haven’t already. Hand out “Environmental Health Ranking Leader Ask: of All MA Towns.” your community on the list.Q  hat similarities and differences do you see between W Leader asks: the two? Q  ow does your community rank? Is this surprising to HQ  hat did you expect? What surprised you? W you? Q  ook for the other cities and towns around you. How LPass out copies of “A Call to Protect Health and Commu- do they rank? Why do you think your town ranksnity from the Massachusetts Council of Churches.” We will here?be looking at the section beginning on the right hand sideof page 1. Invite one person to read the following and for Part 2: What then can we do?others to follow along: Action in our community 30 minutes “While all people are vulnerable to an increasing num- Pass out a map of your town. Have people work in groups ber of toxins, certain groups of people are being sub- of three to five people. The task is to think about toxics in jected to greater exposure than others. Children and the community, who is most affected, and how the faith even fetuses in their mothers’ wombs are particularly community can address these concerns. vulnerable to toxic substances as their organs form Leader asks: and develop. From an early age and often from limited Q  hat places in the community are most likely to be W exposure, many toxins are building up in children’s exposed to air, water, or soil contamination? Who is developing bodies with the potential for unprecedented most likely to be affected? impact. For many poor neighborhoods and communi- Q  n which businesses, schools, industries, and services I ties of color, high levels of toxicity are unavoidable in are people most likely to be exposed to toxic chemicals neighborhoods near bus depots constantly blowing (especially indoor pollution)? What kinds? Which exhaust, apartments with lead paint, and incinerators populations are most vulnerable to the effects? sending particles of burnt plastic into the air. In Mas- Q  f your community is relatively pollution-free and/ I sachusetts, this means that communities with a median or has few industries or institutions, consider the household income of less than $30,000 average 19.2 community where most of your population works, hazardous waste sites per square mile while commu- shops, or receives services, and answer the above nities where the median household income is over questions. $50,000 average 4.6 hazardous waste sites per square Q  hat can your church do to serve and empower those W mile; similarly, communities where the population is most at risk in your community? Identify 1-2 ideas. 25% or more people of color average 297 hazardous S  hare the ideas with the group as a whole. Ask people to sites per town, in contrast to the average 39 hazardous continue to consider and pray about these ideas. sites per town of communities where less than 5% of the population is made up of people of color. It would Ideas for Community Action be good to point out that even when you justify for • Listening/witnessing/storytelling—allow those affected income, communities of color are disproportionately by toxic contamination and/or environmental injustice to 21
    • tell their stories and make connections to the faith story addressing the issue• Prayer—stay connected to the source of healing and • Building relationships—link with a church with empowerment and keep the community, groups, and a different environmental experience for mutual persons affected lifted up through prayer education, support, and prayer• Education—bring the issue to the attention of others • Institutional policy work—help institutions or neighborhood groups, businesses, schools, other government groups develop toxic use policies churches, community leaders, etc.• Organizing—bring together people who want to work End Session with Prayer (Appendix) 5 Minutes together to reduce production, use, or exposures of Pray for your community. toxics• Support—supply information, money, training, For Further Study emotional, institutional support to persons and groups See Online Appendix for additional handouts and reading suggestions. Part 1: Past involvement with the political process 15 minutes In small groups, have participants each respond to the fol- lowing questions by writing brief answers on a piece of paper. Allow time for small group discussion: Q  n what ways have you been politically involved? I Have you ever voted? Written a letter to the editor? Sent a letter to a legislator? Called an elected official?S e ss i on 8 Organized others? Protested? Q  hat has motivated you to get involved in an issue? W Q  hat kinds of barriers prevent you from getting WSafer for all: Legislative advocacy involved in an issue or acting on it as a citizen? as a Christian?for a healthier MassachusettsGoals to discuss why Christians should get involved in Part 2: Christian politicalpublic policy and to increase the church’s capacity to do responsibility 25 minutesso. To encourage legislators to vote in favor safer chemical Hand out copies of “Christian Political Responsibility” fromlegislation. the Massachusetts Council of Churches. Have someone read the introduction and the first four bullet points on page 1 ofTools From the Online Appendix: “Christian Political Respon- Christian Political Responsibility out loud in each small group.sibility, 1996 A Policy Statement” from the Massachusetts Council Invite the groups to respond to the following. Leader Ask:of Churches; “Legislation Proposes Safer Alternatives for Toxic Q  o you agree with this understanding of Christian DChemicals” from the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow; legis- political responsibility? What parts of this statementlators by town; list of legislative co-sponsors; “Guidelines for resonate with you? Why? What informs yourCongregation and Clergy on Political Action” from the United understanding?Church of Christ; “A Call to Protect Health and Community: Q  hat would you add or change? WA Christian Response to the Health Effects of EnvironmentalRacism” from the Massachusetts Council of Churches. Make Hand out the Guidelines for Congregation and Clergy onone copy for each participant. Political Action from the United Church of Christ. Invite Items: pens, paper, stamps, and envelopes. groups to discuss: Q  hat are churches allowed to do politically? Not WBegin with Prayer (see Appendix ) 5 minutes allowed to do? Q  hat are individuals representing churches allowed to W 22
    • do? Not allowed to do? Leader ask:Q  hat are all citizens allowed to do, regardless of faith W Q  re there things that you are excited about? Confused by? A orientation? Q  ook at the list of legislative co-sponsors--does your L representative support this legislation?Part 3: Christian political Q  fter these sessions on Christian responsibility and Aresponsibility and a healthier environmental justice, how as a Christian would youMassachusetts 20-30 minutes explain your support for the principles around thisLeader invite someone else to read from “A Call to Protect legislation?Health and Community: A Christian Response to the HealthEffects of Environmental Racism,” page 11 first full para- If participants feel supportive about the legislation,graph in the second column: take time to have them draft letters to their legisla- tors, and address envelopes. If participants do not know While we all want to protect the health of ourselves, who their State senator and State House members are, our children and our community, for many reasons, invite participants to go online after the session and visit some communities are less able to than others. A www.wheredoivotema.com. family may not have access to the information about Invite discussion about other ways participants could which plastic children’s toys contain phthalates, chem- support the legislation or influence legislators on the bill. icals linked to memory damage and prostate cancer. A These could include: recent immigrant may not have the choice between • Speaking with legislators or their aides on the phone or protecting her health and keeping her job cleaning a in person, especially in the district church with toxic cleaning products, even though her • Writing e-mails, postcards, or letters job affords her family some health care coverage. A • Writing a letter to the editor of the local paper father may not be able to afford moving to a neigh- • Getting others involved in writing, talking, emailing to borhood with less traffic and pollution, even though legislators or making a peaceful protest his son’s asthma seems to be getting worse. All people • Praying for legislators in our Commonwealth have the right to a healthy • Acting as a moral voice on the issue environment and neighborhood. from A Call to Pro- • If you know that your political representative is a person tect Health and Community: A Christian Response to of faith, appeal to their beliefs the Health Effects of Environmental Racism, Strategy and Action Commission of the Massachusetts Council of Next Steps Churches, 2006. The leader can invite participants to join the network of the Massachusetts Council of Churches either by collectingLeader reads: Legislation is one of the ways that all people in names and email addresses and sending them on to coun-the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can have equal access cil@masscouncilofchurches.org or by encouraging individ-to a healthier environment. From the lesson on Healthy uals to sign on to the network at the same address. NetworkChurches, we learned that it is hard to identify all of the members will receive action alerts about pending environ-toxins around us. As consumers, we know that we can’t mental health legislation in Massachusetts. The Nationalsimply buy our way out of the problem. From the lesson Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs (creators of theon Healthy Communities, we saw that some communities “Mindful Living” and “Though the Eye of the Hurricane”are more affected than others by environmental pollution. study guides) has a national network for legislative actionEnacting legislation to make us safer is a way to ensure that alerts and additional congregational resources. To sign up,all, and not just some, residents of the Commonwealth are visit www.nccecojustice.org.able to live in healthy homes, work in healthy buildings andsend their children to healthy schools.” End Session with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 Minutes Pass out copies of “Legislation Proposes Safer Alternatives Pray for elected leaders and those in positions of power.for Toxic Chemicals” (or other current legislative effortsaround toxic chemicals—check the Online Appendix). For Further StudyGive participants a few minutes to read over the handout. See Online Appendix for additional handouts and readingDiscuss the legislation together. suggestions. 23
    • Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, Healthy Communities:An Adult Christian Education Curriculum for Churches in Massachusetts Massachusetts Council of Churches 14 Beacon Street, Suite 416 Boston, MA 02139 617-523-2771 www.masscouncilofchurches.org council@masscouncilofchurches.org