There’s hope of spring in the air and with that comes garden planning and dreams of fresh, local produce at our weekly farmer’s market here in Hillsdale. I find it exciting to know that I can get fruit, vegetables and meat from people right in my community who have a desire to provide the healthiest options for my well-being while I am helping to support my friends with my purchases. It’s a win-win situation, for sure! I bet you’re now wondering where this might be going for the Church. Well, I won’t keep you in suspense…
At last summer’s General Convention, we passed Resolution C049: Support Producers of Locally Grown Food which reads:
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church request the staff of faith communities, dioceses, camp and conference centers and other Episcopal institutions to consider allocating a defined percentage of their total annual food expenditure to food locally grown or freshly processed, using resources such as or similar to the Diocese of Delaware’s 2017 convention resolution, Support Producers of Locally Grown Food; and be it further
Resolved, That this 79th General Convention urge Episcopal Church institutions, schools and faith communities, as they provide, prepare and serve meals and distribute food at events and ministries, to make every effort to use locally grown and processed foods.
Since this resolution refers to a resolution passed at the Diocese of Delaware’s Convention in 2017, I hunted up that resolution to see if it offered any help. Here’s what our brothers and sisters in Delaware adopted:
RESOLVED, That the 233rd Annual Convention of the Diocese of Delaware requests the Bishop and Council to explore the feasibility of allocating a defined percentage of its total annual food expenditure for Camp Arrowhead, Memorial House, and diocesan events, to food grown on the Delmarva Peninsula or freshly processed food for meals at Camp Arrowhead, Memorial House, etc. directly through its food service contractors, and be it further
RESOLVED, That this 233rd Annual Convention of the Diocese of Delaware urge diocesan institutions, schools and parishes, as they provide, prepare and serve meals and distribute food at events and ministries, to make every effort to use locally grown and processed foods, and be it further
RESOLVED, That the 233rd Convention encourages further discussion among all parishes and the Trustees of the Episcopal Church of the Diocese of Delaware to plan and implement what can be referred to as the Go(o)d Food Challenge, a potential model for the Diocese.
Now I know that the rationale is not a part of the official wording of the resolution but I was pleased to find it for this resolution so we might have an idea of what their intentions were:
The Diocese of Delaware recognizes that improving the economic well-being and vitality of its family farming communities within the State of Delaware could, in part, be driven by increasing the purchasing, serving and promotion of local food, grown in the Delmarva region: Delaware, and the Eastern Shores of Maryland and Virginia.
The Diocese has the opportunity to play a leadership role in strengthening these communities and food sector by promoting and sharing God’s creation and life-sustaining bounty for all Delawareans through supporting these local farmers, food entrepreneurs; regional initiatives promoting healthy eating and reducing hunger. [This includes the opportunity to…]
Support local food farmers who use sustainable agricultural practices to rebuild regional soil health, thereby becoming better stewards of creation.
Support The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by reducing carbon emissions via shortening the diocese’s food service supply chain.
Affirm the church’s values, connection and commitment to the spiritual and physical well-being of its entire parish community.
Affirm the belief that God’s creation is for all, especially those who are least likely to have access to it.
Affirm the interdependent relationship between rural and urban, upstate and down state, farmer and eater, communities.
Celebrate our local farmers as stewards of creation.
Establish a new model which extends the national church’s commitment to its agricultural/food, relief and development ministries.
Build on the Episcopal Church’s reputation as an innovator through faith.
Steven W. Jones, of the Diocese of Delaware explained the opportunity this resolution provides for their diocese in his article on their website, “A Graceful Opportunity: Transforming Creation Care in Delaware.” He writes:
At the heart of creation care is love — love for the life below and above our feet. Creation care means loving ourselves, families, neighbors, nation, world, and God. Being intentional stewards of God’s gifts honors him and ensures our well-being. As a church, our engagement in parish life involves responding to needs like Code Purple or Sunday breakfast missions, which are creation care actions grounded in love. Rarely do we have the opportunity to effect a systems change at the diocesan level aligned with our values. Yet such a new opportunity exists. The Episcopal Church in Delaware has taken the lead to help improve creation while strengthening community by being the first diocese known to support local producers when purchasing food.
Following a program called Seasons of Creation at the Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew in Wilmington, Jones described the key points:
- Boosting local food business activity with employment, income, and state and local tax revenue over the poultry sector.
- Using sustainable practices to reduce carbon emissions and water pollution significantly.
- Identifying needs and making room for more local food production.
Jones concludes his article:
Supporting our local food producers is the Episcopal Church in Delaware’s opportunity to joyfully and intentionally proclaim the Good News that we are linked to a garden where God’s food can still nurture. Through intentional procurement we can tend this garden indirectly by supporting those who willingly work with the soil and ultimately supply our community with the healthiest food possible. This is sustainable creation care in action.
With this resolution from General Convention, we have the same opportunity to support sustainable creation care. We can do this by considering where our food comes from at our congregational and diocesan functions, the food we share with families in need in our communities, the food served at the Emrich Center and the food we put on our own tables. While this is good for all of us today, it is also a way of showing love to the generations coming after us who will inherit the world we leave behind. I’d like to believe that I’ve done everything I can to leave a healthy planet for my great grandchildren. Won’t you join me?
Let us pray –
God of grace and love, we bring you our prayers, our commitment, our gifts to you this day. Let us who have a keen dedication and awareness of your creation and all that it brings to the human family, have courage and conviction that we are able to contribute to the sustainability of the Earth. You who are our Provident God, let your Providence lead the way in our Health and Services. Pour out your blessing upon us today. May each of our actions reveal our awareness that we are partners with You in the creation and sustainability of this earth that you have given to us to appreciate and enjoy. We ask this in the name of your Son. Amen
~ The Rev Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council