The ‘greening’ of Gloria Dei
Touch the earth lightly
Use the earth gently
Nourish the life
of the world in our care …
ó Lyrics by Shirley Erena Murray
By Kathy Chaffin
“I’m a localvore,” proclaimed the Rev. Bill Batterman at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church’s Bible school on “Caring for Creation.”
On that particular night, all 50 people gathered in the fellowship hall were localvores ó that is, people committed to eating locally-grown food to save on transportation costs and support area farmers.
“Some of this stuff has never been in a plastic bag,” Batterman said of the colorful spread of fruits and vegetables. “It’s going straight into your mouths from wherever …”
Church members prepared the offerings, which include steamed squash, cucumbers and onions, green beans, tomatoes, cabbage, salad, blackberries, plums, figs, cantaloupe and watermelon.
A meal of locally-grown vegetables was among the highlights of the night’s Bible school class ó the second of five Wednesday night programs scheduled from July 9 through Aug. 6. Joining Gloria Dei in the Bible school were members from St. Matthews/San Mateo Episcopal, also located on Statesville Boulevard, and Good Shepherd Episcopal in Cooleemee.
Judging by the expressions and comments of participants, young and old, the locally-grown food was quite satisfying. Afterward, they carry their glass plates and silverware to the kitchen to be washed.
Batterman said Gloria Dei members purposefully avoided paper plates and plasticware for the dinner to discourage waste. The featured hymns ó “Touch the Earth Lightly” and “All Things Bright and Beautiful” ó also echoed the theme of caring for creation.
Gloria Dei’s congregation had voted to become a “green church” even before Batterman attended the recent “Faith, Spirituality and Environmental Stewardship” conference at Catawba College. Member Ellen Kesler had talked about changes the church could make after ordering information on “The Greening Church” and attending a pre-conference meeting with Dr. John Wear, director of Catawba’s Center for the Environment.
“She’s the one that really got us started,” Batterman said.
After attending the May 29-31 conference, at which speakers from across the nation urged people of faith to respond to the climate change crisis, Batterman took up the cause, proposing the Caring for Creation study to his church’s Christian Education Committee.
The guest speaker for the night’s study was Dee Dee Macaulay of Woodleaf, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with Animal Rehabilitators of the Carolinas. Accompanying her were a baby mockingbird and a squirrel she rescued and is nursing back to health.
Wildlife rehabilitators undergo training to become licensed, she said, and are encouraged to participate in ongoing educational programs offered by wildlife officials, veterinarians and national and international wildlife rehabilitation organizations.
As Macaulay spoke of her love for animals, the baby mockingbird began to try to attract her attention. “He’s saying, ‘Feed me,’ ” she said. “He hears my voice … ‘Hey there, feed me.’ ”
Macaulay warned against trying to help the following animals at high risk for rabies: raccoons, bats, skunks, fox and coyotes. North Carolina laws prohibit people from possessing or keeping any of these animals in captivity, she said, because of the danger of rabies.
“Once you know you have it,” she said, “it’s too late. There’s nothing they can do for you.”
Anyone who sees any of these animals acting sick or posing a threat to domestic animals or humans should call Rowan County Animal Control. If you get no response, she recommends calling the Rowan County Health Department.
Macaulay allowed children and adults at the Bible school to ask questions and/or talk about their own encounters with wild animals. Afterward, she accompanied the children and their teachers outside for some quality time with the squirrel while Batterman had the adults to break into small groups for discussions.
Members of each group drew cards designed to stir memories of time spent in nature. One woman talked about milking cows, for example, while another recalled how she felt during a severe storm in Mexico.
Batterman recorded some of the people’s reactions to nature, including “a sense of awe, a peaceful feeling, being at one with the world, insignificance, wonder and fear.”
After about 30 minutes, the children came back inside carrying stuffed animals wearing Band-Aids. Their assignment, one of the teachers said, was to follow Macaulay’s example and care for the wounded animals.
Other Wednesday night topics have included greening, during which Batterman discussed, for example, Jonah, “the original tree hugger.”
Bible school participants have also discussed ways to reduce energy usage and the need for more environmentally-friendly legislation. People who build houses with solar panels, for example, get tax breaks, Batterman said, while those who construct homes on a passive solar use model get none.
One of the Bible school events was a skit put on by the children for adults on the importance of recycling. The children ó portraying different types of bags ó highlighted the importance, for example, of taking reusable canvas bags when shopping.
Batterman said he also distributed information on voluntarily reducing power and light usage by 10 percent. The church is leading by example, he said, by installing a more efficient air conditioning system.
The topic for this Wednesday, the last night of the study, is peace.