The Millwood Farmers' Market and the church I pastor are included in a New York Times article today, Pastors in the Northwest Find Focus in 'Green.' My favorite part of the article is that it starts, "MILLWOOD, Wash. - " It's great to see the little city of Millwood in the national press. The blog get's a minor mention.
The article is about a variety of mainline churches that are engaging environmental issues. The implicit subtext of the article is shaped around the question of whether or not this interest in caring for creation leads to, or could potentially lead to, growth in mainline churches that have declined so rapidly in the last 50 years.
For my recent reflections on how I see the intersections of faith, church and issues of the environment go here. Here's the short version from that post.
And so my work with local food, our year longexperiment, tearing out the lawn, raising chickens, etc. is, at least in part, an experiment in re-weaving faith and soil, food and spirit, earthy reality and divine truth, backyard and baptismal font.
It also relates to my experience as a pastor. I'm thinking of a friend who no longer attends church because she says she experiences God in nature. I'm thinking of the growing crowds of people who say they are spiritual but not religious. I see this as more a rejection of the false divide of the "holy and the world" than it is a rejection of God. And in some ways the church has itself to blame for this exodus. The church signed a long-term endorsement deal with modernity that looked like the deal of the century for awhile but has taken a tragic turn where people feel like they have to choose between nature and sanctuary, spirituality and a community of faith. As a pastor I am experimenting with what it looks like to lead a church that rejects this false divide and witnesses to a holistic faith. So I do the normal stuff like preach and visit the hospital and write newsletter articles, but I also manage a farmers' market and help distribute food with Second Harvest and work to establish community gardens in West Valley, and write a blog about local food.
And let me be as clear as I can, my interest in food and consumption is not some bait and switch effort to slip Jesus into people's lives, as if local food were some carrot on a stick to lead people along into the holy. The whole point is that I am learning to pay attention to real carrots, preferably local and organic, and see them as in some way holy. If I am seeking to convert people here it is a conversion to a whole life where truth and holiness are wedded to earthiness. At least that's the ongoing conversion I'm seeking in my own life.