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Winter 2020




  • Oct. 4th (the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology) marked the close of 2020's Season of Creation
  • Oct. 5th: Sustainable Kitchen's 1st Cookbook Club hosted by MCCN, featured Jaynie McCloskey
  • Oct. 11th: At Wild Church, prayers were offered up to the north, east, south and west for our states (VT/NH), nation, and world/creation as we head towards November elections
  • 2nd Sustainable Kitchen Cookbook Club featured Heather Wolfe sharing how she evolved in her journey around the intersection of food, faith, and sustainability. Heather also shared this message with Bethany Mennonite on Nov. 15th as part of their worship service responding to their prompt: "What cookbook would we write today? What do I value? What values are we living and reflecting to others?"
  • Nov. 8th: Wild Church had record setting attendance, maxing at 25... thanks to pleasant late fall weather and the real sense that another shut down was on the horizon. Indeed, the next week orders to not gather were issued by the state, suspending Wild Church for the time being. After a 5 month run, this final Wild Church of 2020 focused us on "be still and know that I am God."
  • Plastic bag donations achieve goal! Nancy Pejouhy has been collecting our plastic bags because her local school (White River Valley Middle School in Bethel) signed onto to a community recycling challenge sponsored by Trex. 500 pounds of plastic film or bags collected within 6 months= 1 Trek bench! Let's do it again- this time towards a bench for the town Bethel. Drop off clean plastic bags of all shapes/sizes at the church. Here is guidance on what to donate 
  • Final cookbook club meeting- a virtual "potluck" event with an invitation for all to share their edible stories of plant-based eating adventures over the the past month.
  • Church Garden Soil testing. Results are back from samples collected this fall! As part of Heather's UVM composting class, she submitted soil samples for analysis from our church gardens. Look for a separate email with complete details for those who are interested in a complete analysis. Bottom line. We have good amount of organic material, a nice balance of nutrients, and optimal pH for the different zones (blueberries require lower pH than the other gardens). A heavy metals test revealed lead (mild contamination level) in the blueberry bed. Not surprising given it is near the building which for many years had lead paint. Good news for us is that we only have 'slight' contamination and berry crops are listed as suitable to grow in contaminated soil as lead won't transfer into the fruit.
Other News:
  • Lynda has added refreshment to our creation care bulletin board. If you stop into the church, take a look at her creation from creation. The display was from an exhibit originally at DHMC titled Thoughts on Home.
  • Record setting 2020... a worrying trend 
    • Atlantic hurricane season: There were 30 named storms this season, so many that it went thru the whole alphabet and  the Greek letter storm naming system has to be used. It was the most active hurricane season on record and the fifth consecutive above average season from 2016 onward.
    • Western US fire season: 13 million acres burned, 14,000 structures destroyed and fire suppression costs reached the $3 billion mark.
    • Global temperatures: The planet recorded its hottest September ever and is on track for the warmest year on record, beating out 2016 (which had the help of El Nino to boost its numbers that year)
  • What is our response?
    • MCCN offers up a resource from the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions. Blueprints for Climate Action- creation care actions plans to empower congregations. We can take the quiz, keeping in mind the congregation, then get an action plan appropriate to where we are at. Scores range from 0-20. (Check out "Do Just One Thing" to participate in taking the quiz.)


  • The Great Conjunction of Jupiter & Saturn takes place on the winter solstice, Dec 21st, about one hour after sunset. Look to the southwest to view this "Christmas Star" which hasn't been seen in about 800 years! Check out NASA for more info.
  • Winter Reading: the companionship of books may be even more present during the pandemic. Put creation care reading on your list this season. Stop by the church at check-out the creation care section. The newest edition to TCMF's collection: Sustainable Kitchen by Jaynie McCloskey and Heather Wolfe (Herald Press, 2020). If you don't own it, check-it out freely here.
  • Winter Watch: Check out the trailer to My Octopus Teacher , a 2020 Netflix release which has gotten great reviews.
  • Stuff Swap: If you have items to give-away or are looking for something in particular, we can be resources for each other. Let Steve know your desired or donated item(s) and he will post in his weekly email in hopes to find a match!
  • Rewild Vermont A campaign to plant 100 thousand trees across Vermont by 2022. Check it out. Let's think about how we, as individual landowners and as a church, might contribute towards this goal. Our permaculture gardens are an excellent example of what the campaign hopes to do across Vermont. Making fruit trees, edible and medicinal plants available to communities.
There are more bacteria in a handful of soil then there are people on Earth.
Meet a Permaculture Garden essential Ingredient: Compost!
This is year 3 of composting onsite at church and we have finished compost to use on our gardens! The first application was in October: filling in around the new sign posts and covering up newly planted daffodil and garlic bulbs. What is compost? It is a mixture of organic decaying material. Decomposition happens naturally- nature's way of recycling, but when humans manage the process of decomposition to turn organic material into soil amendments we call it composting. Compost offers many benefits to soil, bringing nutrients, improving soil structure, reducing erosion, retaining water, balancing pH, resisting disease/pests, sequestering carbon, reducing landfill waste... Keep on composting. Yes, decomposition will slow significantly in winter, but keep adding to the pile and microorganisms will get back to work come warmer weather. Compost Questions? Ask Heather Wolfe (UVM Master Compost intern).
Quarterly Update

This Quarter
Generated: 3,260 kWh
Used: 1,123 kWh
Donated: 2,137 kWh
Estimated Value to BBC: $507
Estimated Value to TCMF: $212
Total Value for Quarter: $719

Grand Totals
Generated: 45,988 kWh
Used: 19,191 kWh (18,029 kWh from Solar, 1,162 kWh from the grid)
Donated: 27,959 kWh
Estimated Value to BBC: $6,763
Estimated Value to TCMF: $3,321
Total Value: $10,084
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT - Nancy & Russell Pejouhy

Q: What is something you love about creation?

A:  I love the unexpected and sometimes random blessings that are an integral part of God’s creation.  For example, we didn’t plant the sunflowers in the accompanying picture...the birds that we had fed all winter apparently scattered these seeds.  We had clumps of sunflowers sprouting all around the back yard and we spotted these before the lawn mower got them.  So we fed the birds, the birds sowed more seeds, the plants grew up to feed the birds and both the birds and the plants feed our souls. 

Q: What is something you do to care for creation?

A: We do what we can to help God’s creation.  Reduce, re-use, and recycle is my mantra. We limit the number of times we drive places...much easier to do in our COVID world.  Solar panels on our roof supply all the electricity we use and then some.  We financially contribute to organizations that protect the environment.
Save the Polar Bears!

Earth is warming because of human activity. What happens to ice when it gets warm? It melts. Polar bears need the Arctic ice to hunt for seals. We must make changes now to stop warming earth. What helps? Reduce (consume less stuff). Refuse (ask do i really need that? say no more often). Reuse (rather than buy new, support thrift stores or swap stuff with others. Be creative: an empty glass jar can make a nice vase or storage container). Recycle (if you can't repurpose it yourself, recycle it so it gets another life). Rot (compost- food scraps, shredded paper, 100% cotton clothes... return to nature what is nature's.). Also, speak up and remind grown-ups that choices they make matter a lot and that you want to save the polar bears! Read more: Climate change: Polar bears could be lost by 2100 (BBC report)

Take the Creation Care Quiz 

This 2 minute quiz will help you determine which Creation Care Action Plan will meet the needs of your congregation. Complete the quiz with your congregation in mind. Pass along the score you came up with to your creation care liaison (Heather Wolfe). She will compile results and has the Action Plans that correspond to the different scores.

The Thornbush and the Christmas Tree

As this unusual year--2020-- comes to a close and many of us have already decorated our Christmas trees and placed them in our homes, I am reminded of the significance of trees in scripture--and seeing trees as a symbol of healing. 

In the Bible, trees are the most mentioned living organisms aside from humans. They are mentioned in the first chapter of the Bible before humans are mentioned. And in the second chapter of Genesis, we find trees at the center of the Garden of Eden; specifically, a Tree of Life. Then, in the final chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22, we read about a Tree of Life near the throne of God, and it will bear each of its fruit each month and its leaves, it says, will be for the “healing of the nations”.

You might remember us reading “the Parable of the Trees” in September (found in Judges 9:8-15). It draws out the key theme of the Book of Judges. This is a book that can speak to our time, especially in the year 2020.

The trees in the parable are looking for a leader; they want to anoint a king. So they first go to the olive tree and invite the olive tree to be their king, but the olive tree declines. So does the fig tree; and so does the vine. Finally, they go to the thornbush, and the thornbush concedes, if you’d really like to, you can find refuge in my shade, otherwise, let fire come out of me and consume the cedars of Lebanon!

It’s a strange story, is it not? 

The book of Judges is about leadership; particularly a desire for good and honorable leadership. Yes, the book describes grotesque violence, and sexual abuse, and scenes of chaos; but it is making a point about the human condition. 

We find ourselves, in this present moment, as a civilization--craving good leadership. We see a pandemic, forest fires, hurricanes, tropical storms, violence in the streets, pillaging and rioting, racism, a cantankerous election year, and stories of sexual violence…I saw a meme circulating online this autumn that said: “2020 didn’t create the crisis that we face at present--we did”. These are all problems influenced and generated by human behavior. Every one of these is a facet of Creation, and concern for all of these examples or any one of them is Creation Care.  

But the theme that Judges brings home is that when all of us simply do what is right “in our own eyes” we create chaos. Which is to say: we are accountable to a higher moral order. So, we look for a leader who will guide us in harmony with this higher order.

I don’t presume to know what was going on in the mind of the writer of the Book of Judges when these words were written, but in the parable, we find no other tree is willing to lead. It is the thornbush who offers to be King.

Centuries after the book of Judges is written, one day there will be a leader; a man who gets himself killed while wearing a crown of thorns under the charge of behaving like he was a king; “The King of the Jews” (as he is called). He was perceived as a rival to the most powerful emperor of his day. This Christmas, the decorated trees in our homes are a symbol of the celebration of the birth of this leader. This leader brings light into our world in the darkness of December 2020. Although he will be hung on a tree to his death, the tree that he hangs from will, ironically, be for the healing of the nations. May we find his healing at Christmas and in the years ahead.


Wild Church Network

Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions

Mennonite Creation Care Network



Have ideas, stories, resources you'd like to share related to creation care?

Contact Heather Wolfe,
Taftsville Chapel's creation care liaison

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P.O. Box 44, Taftsville, VT 05073

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