The Climate Pollinator

Sharing Global Anabaptist Stories on Climate Change

Mar. 24: Cloth Diapers for Refugee Project


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


The spare bedroom at Peter Wigginton and Delicia Brava’s home in Quito, Ecuador, has been transformed into a shop for making cloth diapers. 

Delicia learned to sew reusable diapers when her eldest daughter, Aliya was born. Eight years later, she now makes them for refugee mothers.

Peter and Delicia are the Ecuador partnership coordinators for Mennonite Mission Network (MMN) in Quito, where they’ve lived for the last nine years. After their second daughter, Ariana, was born in 2017, someone at Quito Mennonite Church saw the cloth diapers Delicia used and suggested that Delicia make them for the refugees who are served by the church’s Refugee Project. 

Since 2002, Quito Mennonite Church, with the help of funding from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), has run a project to supply food and other resources for refugees arriving in the city from Colombia, Venezuela and elsewhere. Some of the refugees are mothers with babies. 

“The refugee project, they were giving out to a mom 15 disposable diapers,” Peter said. “That lasts 3 days.” 

Now mothers receive a kit with 12 reusable diapers, four waterproof covers, four cloth inserts, a bib and burp rags, all packaged in a bag made from a recycled T-shirt. They also receive a basin for washing the diapers. 

For mothers with limited resources, reusable diapers are a huge money-saver. They are also better for the environment. 

One baby can use up to 7,000 diapers before she is potty trained, one website estimates. That’s a lot of trash going into landfills, or filling streets and rivers. 

Delicia and Peter are conscious about how much waste they produce. “We try not to buy things wrapped in plastic,” Delicia said, “but it’s so hard.” 

In Ecuador, diapers, like many items, are often sold individually, each in its own plastic wrapper. Then there is the diaper itself: “You don’t even know what is inside, how many chemicals they put,” Delicia said. 

Since 2017, Delicia–with the help of church members, refugees, volunteers and her husband–has made around 600 diapers kits. 

With 36 snaps, the diapers are endlessly adjustable so “they grow with the baby,” Delicia said. And they are sturdy enough to be used by three or four babies.

When mothers visit the church to receive their diaper kits, they are taught how to use them, and about the environmental benefits of reusable diapers. 

Delicia said: “We tell them, ‘you are being part of taking care of the environment for our kids’.” 


Delicia Brava, with her daughter on the right, sews reusable cloth diapers for refugee mothers. Alba Silva, left, helps distribute the diapers through the Refugee Project at Quito Mennonite Church. Photo provided by Peter Wigginton.
Delicia Brava, with her daughter on the right, sews reusable cloth diapers for refugee mothers. Alba Silva, left, helps distribute the diapers through the Refugee Project at Quito Mennonite Church. Photo provided by Peter Wigginton.

About the Contributors

Sierra Ross Richer


Sierra Ross Richer is a journalist and recent graduate of Goshen College. After working on a trail crew in Colorado over the summer, she spent the last four months collecting stories for this project through interviews with Anabaptists around the world. “Climate change is complicated,” Sierra said, “and people are addressing it in a lot of different ways. I think this collection of many loosely related stories is a good way to represent how Anabaptists are responding.”

Leah Kauffman


 Leah Kauffman recently graduated from Goshen College where she studied graphic design and sustainability. She is currently preparing to attend graduate school with the goal of becoming a landscape architect. Leah said: “Environmental stewardship is a concept I associate with my Anabaptist background. Sharing our stories [through] art is a good way to reflect on and learn from our acts of stewardship.”

About The Climate Pollinator

Pollinators like bees fertilize plants by spreading pollen from flower to flower. The Climate Pollinator inspires action by sharing stories of climate change response efforts throughout the global Anabaptist community.

Each day during lent, we will share a story from an Anabaptist somewhere in the world who is experiencing and responding to climate change. This isn’t a comprehensive collection of all climate efforts by Anabaptists. These stories highlight the experiences and responses of diverse communities in the face of environmental challenges. They also include notes on the effectiveness of solutions from expert sources and resources for digging deeper into the issues discussed. 

Climate change is a global challenge that can seem daunting and unsolvable. Over the next six weeks, we invite you to let these grains of inspiration pollinate you and your community. Who knows what flowers might bloom!

This series will be available via email subscription, as well as being posted on this website. If interested, please sign up via the form below to receive the emails, or watch this website for daily updates.

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Recent Stories

Mar. 23: Back to More with Less


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


As senior, and now executive editor for Canadian Mennonite Magazine, Will Braun has had a front-row view of the issues important to Mennonites in Canada over the last decade. When it comes to climate change, he said, “Climate has been a big issue for so long, you see it come and go.” 

“There is conversation in churches, for sure,” Will said. “It sounds too critical, but there’s not much that catches my attention. We don’t need more lists, more compilations… we’re stuck.” 

Will lives on a small farm in Manitoba, Canada with his wife and two sons. The family grows much of its own food, raises sheep and chickens and tries to reduce its energy consumption by minimizing travel. 

“I don’t see any way to address climate change, or more generally over-consumption, other than by reducing what we use,” Will said. “We’re using up too much stuff.” 

How does he suggest people do that? 

“In the last ten years,” Will said. “I don’t know that I’ve heard an Anabaptist voice that said anything related to climate that was more profound than what Doris Janzen Longacre (said in the More With Less books)… I think we’d do well to go back to that.” 

The More With Less cookbook was originally written by Doris Janzen Longacre and published by Harold Press in 1976. It was created during the global food crisis of the 1970s, in response to a statement by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) encouraging Mennonites in Canada and the United States to decrease their food consumption by 10 percent.

“It may not be within our capacity to effect an answer (to the food crisis),” Doris wrote in the preface to the original edition. “But it is within our capacity to search for a faithful response.” 

The More With Less cookbook aimed to help households in North America reduce their consumption by providing a compilation of simple, nourishing recipes submitted by Mennonite service workers around the world. 

200,000 copies were sold in the first two years, with hundreds of thousands more since then. A few years after publishing the cookbook, Doris died of cancer. Her husband finished and published her almost-complete second book, Living More With Less, in 1980. 

The two More With Less books didn’t specifically address climate change, but Will believes the advice they offer is as pertinent today as it was 50 years ago. 

“Doris Janzen Longacre was a gift to the Mennonite people,” he said.  “I think it’s time to go back and revisit what she has to say in this moment.” 

Mar. 22: Hope in a God of Order


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


It’s 6pm in Uganda, and Okoth Simon Onyango is sitting under a banana tree in his home compound in Mukono. “It is still hot,” he said. “It’s too hot and you sweat.” 

March is traditionally the beginning of the rainy season in central Uganda, but this year, there has been no sign of a change in the weather. 

“We have lost the pattern of the climate,” said Simon, a bishop and the national coordinator for Mennonite Church Uganda. “We cannot tell when it’s going to rain, we cannot tell when the drought will end.” 

There are 40 Mennonite churches in Uganda, the majority located in rural subsistence-farming communities. 

“The greater part of the church, that is how they survive,” Simon said. With the weather patterns becoming less predictable, he said, “they’re just waiting upon the rains.”

Ugandans are used to having two rainy seasons a year, one lasting from March to May and the other from September to December. That’s all changing due to climate change. 

“When the drought is too much,” Simon said, “you’re not able to dig even a hole in the ground.” Farmers can no longer rely on traditional knowledge of when to plant their beans, corn, sweet potatoes and other crops.

“When people are surviving on subsistence and when the pattern changes, people are affected and of course (it is) the subject of discussion every other moment,” Simon said. Church members often have conversations about the changing climate, but Simon said they have yet to come up with solutions to the problem. 

As the natural patterns around him seem to unravel, Simon finds hope in the belief that God “is an orderly God.” 

“When God started the work of creation in the book of Genesis,” Simon said, “he separated the waters. There was chaos in the world, there was confusion everywhere, and then he ordered the environment to order.” 

The environment God created included plants, animals, fish, birds, people, water and stars all in their designated places. 

As climate change and environmental destruction and degradation disrupt natural systems and weather patterns, Simon said, “It’s like we are going back to the chaotic world that God did not like.”

God gave order to the environment in Genesis and protected it in the Garden of Eden. Simon believes the church needs to carry on that work of protection. 

“That’s what encourages me,” he said. “It’s like an anchor; I hold onto that.” 

Mar. 21: Church Land: A Hidden History


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


Members of Waterford Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana, USA, are baptized in a small pond behind the church that is home to beavers, fish and all kinds of insects. 

The Waterford Wetland, a 55-acre area of undeveloped land along the Elkhart River, is a source of pride for the congregation. 

Sunday School classes and small groups are invited to tromp through the forest to visit the river. And photographs of the insects, flowers and other critters that call the wetland home hang in the foyer as a reminder of the abundance of life it sustains. 

Recently, a new piece of artwork was added to the display: a portrait of three Potawatomi dancers. The photograph, by Potawatomi artist Sharon Hoogstraten, is a call for the congregation to dig deeper into the story of the land. 

A brief history of the land on the church’s website begins in the 1950s, when a previous owner dug a pond to raise fish. But what about before that? 

Like most of the United States, the land owned by Waterford Mennonite Church was taken from the indigenous people who lived on it (in this case the Pokagon band of the Potawatomi) through treaties and forced relocation in the 17 and 1800s. Mennonite settlers didn’t usually participate directly in the removal of indigenous peoples, but they often moved in soon after, setting up homesteads in places like Goshen within the first decade of them being vacated. 

“We’re living on Potawatomi land here and it was not taken in a just way from the people at all,” said Luke Gascho, a member of Waterford Mennonite Church who helped the church connect with The Coalition to Dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery. His question is: “So what does one do?”

The Coalition to Dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery is an organization that works with settler churches and institutions to uncover their history and work to restore relations with the land and the people it was stolen from. 

It’s important for people to realize, Luke said, that the Doctrine of Discovery isn’t just a thing of the past. It continues to drive the exploitation, pollution and degradation of land today and systematically puts indigenous and marginalized peoples in places most at risk for environmental hazards. 

Changing this doctrine is critical because it lies at the root of environmental destruction contributing to climate change. 

At Waterford, a group of over 20 members has formed to work on this issue. They have drafted a land acknowledgement statement, held Sunday School classes on the book, The Land is Not Empty by Sarah Augustine, the executive director of The Coalition to Dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery, participated in learning opportunities, like a bike tour of Potawatomi and Miami sites in the area, and started conversations about where the church’s money is invested and the prospect of land-return. 

There is no road map for dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery, Luke said. Physically bringing reminders of the land’s history into the church space in the form of Sharon Hoogstraten’s photograph is one step in the process of facing history and working to change it.


A photograph by Potawatomi artist Sharon Hoogstraten hangs in the foyer at Waterford Mennonite Church. The portrait features three Potawatomi dancers, Selphie, age 8, Lilly, age 6, and Mimike, age 10. Sharon, from Kalamazoo, Michigan, said in a statement for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center: “Preserving the faces, stories, and regalia of modern Potawatomi will contribute to a better understanding of their transformed place in the diverse life of America.” Photo by Sierra Ross Richer.
A photograph by Potawatomi artist Sharon Hoogstraten hangs in the foyer at Waterford Mennonite Church. The portrait features three Potawatomi dancers, Selphie, age 8, Lilly, age 6, and Mimike, age 10. Sharon, from Kalamazoo, Michigan, said in a statement for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center: “Preserving the faces, stories, and regalia of modern Potawatomi will contribute to a better understanding of their transformed place in the diverse life of America.” Photo by Sierra Ross Richer.
Waterford Mennonite Church stewards 55 acres of natural wetland habitat. Photo by Sierra Ross Richer.
Waterford Mennonite Church stewards 55 acres of natural wetland habitat. Photo by Sierra Ross Richer.

Mar. 20: Eco-theology for Javanese Christians


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


When human beings were created in Genesis, Danang Kristiawan said, “This was the first mission of the human… to both enjoy but also to protect and take care of creation.”

Danang is the pastor of the Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa (GITJ) congregation in Jepara, Indonesia, and a lecturer at the Wiyata Wacana Theological Seminary in Pati. He laments that in many Mennonite churches in Indonesia today, environmental issues are seen as unrelated to faith and church.

He explained how this separation came about in a video Danang produced for the Mennonite World Conference assembly in Indonesia last July.

“The traditional Javanese view understands that there is a connection between humans and nature,” he said in the video. “There are many local traditions or local wisdom that positively respect nature.”

But, Danang explained, when Dutch Mennonite missionaries arrived in Indonesia in the 19th century, they “were very critical of local cultural practices. As a result, the Christian community does not want to get involved with local rites and festivals for fear of syncretism.”

Danang is working with other Javanese church leaders to integrate the Javanese connection with nature into church theology.

On Peace Day in September 2021, Danang shared at a gathering of Javanese Mennonite churches. “I talked about respect for the indigenous people and to find different perspectives,” he said. He reminded listeners that in Javanese tradition, “humans are part of nature.”

Danang finds a basis for eco-theology in the Bible as well. Colossians chapter 1 verse 16 says that all things were created in Jesus. “He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together,” verse 17 adds.

“Christ embraced the creation in himself and he reconciled all things in himself,” Danang said. “We need to take care of creation because in creation you can find Christ also.”

To Danang, the theology in Colossians is familiar. “I think this is close to Javanese culture,” he said, “to the Javanese worldview, an Asian worldview.”

Having these conversations is a step in the right direction. But Danang said he still sees a lack of initiative when it comes to addressing environmental issues as a church. He has one solution that he discusses with his seminary students.

“I propose eco-discipline,” Danang said.

He explained that in the church, if someone does something wrong, they are asked to repent and sometimes receive discipline from the community. Why not expand that to wrongs committed against the natural world?

By driving cars and motorcycles, using air conditioning and creating plastic waste, Danang said, “We are participating in global warming. We should punish ourselves by putting money toward creation care.”

It’s important to remember, Danang said, that “discipline is not just individual, it’s together as a community. There is a responsibility to go and give advice and remind others so we can work together and be followers of Jesus.”

He wonders if Mennonites could begin holding each other accountable for harming the natural world.

Mar. 19: Unlikely Heroes: Cows, Trees and Grass


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


At Restoration Farm in South Bend, Indiana, USA, cows are building soil and sequestering carbon. 

Wait, cows? The notorious greenhouse gas machines? 

According to Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming published in 2017, livestock are responsible for about a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. This comes from the methane they emit, as well as deforestation for pasture land. But raised in a silvopasture system, cows become a powerful tool for mitigating climate change. 

John and Danile Martens, who live at Restoration farm along with two other families, began experimenting with raising cattle years ago. 

They spread hay seeds on barren farmland and introduced a small herd of cattle, which they moved around every day or so. 

The first year, there were a lot of weeds: ragweed, burdock, jimsonweed and pigweed. But, John said, “as the cattle grazed, soon we had grass and clover and red clover.” 

“They make their own pasture, the cattle do,” Danile said. “To me it’s like a magical system.” 

When managed using a rotational grazing method, cattle help to build soil by aerating the land with their hooves, providing fertilizer and managing grassland species by mowing back vegetation. 

Now the couple is going a step further: they’re adding trees to the mix. 

By combining cattle, grasses and trees to create a silvopasture system, Danile said, “We’re maximizing the carbon sequestration potential.” 

With an annual sequestration rate of 1.9 tons of carbon per acre, silvopasture is ranked as the 9th most effective solution for reversing global warming by Drawdown.

What makes it so effective? It’s the way the cattle, grasses and trees work together.

The trees provide added forage for the cattle, fertilize the soil with nutrients brought up from deep in the ground and create a moister, cooler microclimate by providing shade and blocking the wind. 

In contrast to conventional cattle grazing which degrades the land and uses up resources, Drawdown says that silviculture farmers “find themselves with healthier, more productive land over time.” 

The old orchard that John and Danile have turned into a savannah-like ecosystem, produces not only high quality beef, but possibly more important, new, healthy soil. 

“Soil is this living thing that we’ve been doing our best to kill in conventional agriculture,” John said. “With grazing, you can very rapidly restore that synergistic process.”


Cows graze in an overgrown orchard that John and Danile are converting to silvopasture. Photo contributed by John Martens.

Mar. 18: Creation Care in Quarantine


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


When the church services at the Iglesia Menonita de Teusaquillo in Bogotá, Colombia went online at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, so did the congregation’s creation care group.

Each week for over a year, they produced a short video on sustainability that was played during the Sunday church service.

The videos, lasting two to three minutes, touched on a range of environmental themes including consumption, waste, deforestation, water usage and recycling.

“It was what we did to keep the dynamic up while gathering virtually because we were all locked in our houses,” said Juliana Morillo, a member of the creation care group.

The group was formed a few years before the start of the pandemic, with a Sunday School book study on the book Salvation Means Creation Healed: The Ecology of Sin and Grace by Howard Snyder (published in 2011 and available in Spanish as well as English).

It took the group over a year to get through the book. “That was the foundation,” said Grace Morillo, Juliana’s sister and a founding member of the group.

Soon, the group began looking for ways to take action. “We were looking for how to move from our reading that we were doing on the fourth floor, in the last room of our church, to doing concrete actions,” said another member, Yomaida Cardona.

The group began sharing sustainability tips during Sunday services and holding workshops for congregants. When the pandemic hit, they switched to videos.

The videos the group produced can be found on the church’s YouTube channel.

One video presents issues around water, and encourages church members to turn off the tap when it’s not absolutely necessary, reuse water multiple times before sending it down the drain, and take shorter showers.Another one asked church members to think about the question, “what would Jesus buy.”

Creating the videos was hard work. “It took a lot of energy,” said Juliana. In order to produce the three-minute videos, the group often stayed up until midnight on Saturdays, filming and creating graphics.

After about a year, Juliana said, “Our energy ran out.” The church returned to meeting in person, and the creation care group looked for other ways to carry out its mission.

But, Yomaida believes the videos, along with the group’s other initiatives, have had an impact on the congregation.

“There are people in the church who, as a result of what the group has done, have made decisions about consumption… recycling, composting (and) growing plants,” she said. “I think this is an impact. We haven’t measured it, but we have generated changes in people’s habits.”

The videos had an impact in her own family as well: After spending time with her daughter in Bogota during the pandemic, Yomaida’s mother returned to the coast and joined a recycling group in her city.

“It’s beautiful to see how one can be contagious,” Yomaida said.

Mar. 17: Plastic Bags Need to Go


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


When Emmanuel Mahendra goes shopping in his home city of Kanker in Chhattisgarh, India, he makes sure not to forget reusable cotton shopping bags. Plastic bags were banned in his state a few months ago, and he has adjusted his habits.

“The first few months we were struggling because we weren’t used to it,” said Emmanuel, who works in the conference office for the Mennonite Church in India. He’d forget to take his own bags and would be charged extra for reusable ones. But he said, “after a few months, we got used to it.”

The ban on plastic bags in Chhattisgarh is part of a national program to reduce plastic waste in India. In July of last year, the government banned the production, import and distribution of 19 plastic items including plastic cups, straws and ice cream sticks.

Items like these become litter on the streets and accumulate in trash dumps where mismanagement leads to environmental contamination, health risks for those living and working nearby and the release of methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. (India is the second largest emitter of methane after the United States.)

The manufacturing of plastics also releases greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. India produces more than 268,000 US tons of disposable plastic every year, so reducing the demand is critical for mitigating climate change.

Emmanuel became more aware of the issues around trash during a year he spent in the United States.

A few years ago, Emmanuel lived in Goshen, Indiana as a participant in the International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP) run by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). He was struck by how much waste people produced.

“The grocery stores, they give lots of plastic bags,” he said.

And, “In the US, there’s a bunch of mail.” Mailboxes are stuffed with advertisements, like those sent out by universities. “They can send, like, emails!” Emmanuel said.

The difference between the US and India is that in the United States, most garbage is whisked away to landfills, where the problem is out of sight.

Back in India, some cities including Delhi and Mumbai, have recently developed programs to encourage people to clean up litter, Emmanuel said. At special recycling centers, you can turn in five empty water bottles in exchange for a full one.

“Most people drink here and then throw it,” Emmanuel said. The government’s goal is to provide incentives to change that habit.

Transitioning away from plastic products won’t happen overnight, Emmanuel said. “Sometimes you have to use plastic.” But his experience over the last few months gives him hope.

“Hardly can you find a (plastic) bag” in Chhattisgarh, he said. “They’re completely banned.”

Mar. 16: Food: The Rural-Urban Link


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


The winds were so strong in Freeman, South Dakota last spring that Roy Kaufman said, “Some days you could barely see a quarter mile because of the dust.”

The soil blown off of agricultural fields filled irrigation ditches so that some farmers had to use tractors to return it to the fields.

Eighty five percent of the state of South Dakota, located in the Great Plains region of the United States, is agricultural land. Most of those acres are used to grow commodity crops like corn and soybeans and are farmed using industrial farming methods.

A study referenced in Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reduce Global Warming published in 2017, estimates that in the last century, 50 percent of the planet’s soil carbon has been released into the atmosphere through tilling. Industrial farming practices also erode and compact the soil, deplete fertility, drain groundwater and pollute waterways.

With so much land in the United States being used for industrial agriculture, the potential for sequestering carbon and restoring environmental health through conservation agriculture, regenerative agriculture and farmland restoration (three climate change solutions ranked 16th, 11th and 23rd by Drawdown, respectively), is huge.

But, for farmers who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, the transition to more sustainable practices can appear a big, and risky undertaking.

What will it take for farmers to change their practices? Roy, a retired Mennonite pastor and agrarian historian from Freeman, has an idea.

Roy said that urban people often critique rural communities for being conservative, or slow to change. He wants urban Mennonites to understand that agrarian cultures only make changes when it’s clear that something will work.

“It worked to use bigger tractors, it worked to use pesticides,” Roy said. “Our heritage now is industrial agriculture.”

Roy has seen a growing divide between urban Mennonite churches, which are often more progressive, and more conservative rural communities. But, he said, if urban Mennonites want farmers to change their practices, they have to support them, not just point fingers.

In his community, Roy knows farmers who have stopped tilling their fields and started planting cover crops. Others are growing organic vegetables and raising chickens, goats and pigs on a small scale. These farmers sell produce to their neighbors, at farmers markets and through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, but doing their own marketing is inhibitively difficult.

Urban churches could provide the markets needed to give Mennonite farmers the confidence that transitioning to more sustainable practices will work.

By forming partnerships, rural and urban churches can both benefit. Urban Mennonites gain access to healthy, locally-grown vegetables and meat, and farming communities gain a secure market for their produce.

Instead of letting the differences between urban and rural communities become a dividing force, Roy sees an opportunity for working together to heal the environment.

“I think there’s a lot of potential in this area,” he said, “if the broader church would get the vision for this.”


The corn harvest on a large farm near Freeman, South Dakota. Beginning at the end of World War Two, farming in the Great Planes of the United States has become increasingly industrialized, with most farmland devoted to commodity crops like corn and soybeans. Photo contributed by Roy Kaufman.
The corn harvest on a large farm near Freeman, South Dakota. Beginning at the end of World War Two, farming in the Great Planes of the United States has become increasingly industrialized, with most farmland devoted to commodity crops like corn and soybeans. Photo contributed by Roy Kaufman.
Chickens on this Freeman farm forage on green grass and bugs in a movable pen. This alternative agricultural method allows the chickens to eat a healthy diet while fertilizing the soil with their droppings. Photo contributed by Roy Kaufman.
Chickens on this Freeman farm forage on green grass and bugs in a movable pen. This alternative agricultural method allows the chickens to eat a healthy diet while fertilizing the soil with their droppings. Photo contributed by Roy Kaufman.

Mar. 15: Gardening in a Drought


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


Like most Maasai people in Kenya, Joel Lankas grew up raising cattle, not growing plants. But at his new home in Kimuka, Kajiado, he grows both vegetables and trees. 

“The population (in Kenya) is growing every day,” Joel said. “Since there is no place to graze livestock and cities are (encroaching on) villages, people now are shifting to other alternatives, including myself.” 

A severe three-year drought, the last in a series of dry spells experienced in Kenya over the last few decades, has made cattle raising much harder. The lack of rain means the grasses cows need to eat don’t grow. In addition, human development on pasturelands means there’s less room for herds to roam. Instead, Joel and others are picking up farming. 

At his home, Joel has a garden with kale, spinach and onions. He waters his plants with water from a well. But many living in the communities around him don’t have that option. 

“Water is a really big challenge,” Joel said. Many of the people he works with in his role as field officer for Maasai Integrated Development Initiatives (MIDI), rely on seasonal rivers for their water. Because of the drought, many now have to buy water from trucks that sell it. 

“They don’t have an alternative to get water,” Joel said. 

With water so scarce, how do people grow food? MIDI teaches some water-conserving techniques in its self-help groups.  

One option is to plant a sack garden. This involves planting vegetables like kale in large feed sacks that can be placed in the shade near people’s houses. Because the water is contained in the bag, it isn’t lost as quickly. 

Another technique, called a sunken bed, uses mulch and grass mixed into the soil to retain water. “When you water it, you put grass on top so that the evaporation will be minimal,” Joel explained. 

In addition to giving lessons on growing vegetables, Joel encourages people to plant trees. 

“Trees will improve the soil fertility,” he said, “they will also conserve the soil, they prevent soil erosion, (and) they are wind breakers.” 

When Joel moved to Kimuka in 2018, he planted 30 trees in his compound, including a number of native tree species. 

“They are very big now,” Joel said. 

The grevillea trees he planted provide leaves he can feed to his livestock, and that’s only one of the benefits he’s reaping: 

“My home is cool, and we come from a really hot place,” Joel said. “(And) my home is beautiful, there is no dust when it is windy like now.” 


Joel Lankas (left) stands by a sack garden at his home along with his daughter Ester and friends Cris Meja and Douglas Khamala. Photo contributed by Joel Lankas.
Joel Lankas (left) stands by a sack garden at his home along with his daughter Ester and friends Cris Meja and Douglas Khamala. Photo contributed by Joel Lankas.
Daniel Partari stands in his corn field after finishing the harvest. Photo contributed by Joel Lankas.
Daniel Partari stands in his corn field after finishing the harvest. Photo contributed by Joel Lankas.

Mar. 14: The Dangers of Frugality


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


“Mennonites want a deal,” said Will Braun, the executive editor of Canadian Mennonite Magazine and a small-scale farmer in Manitoba, Canada. But, he asks, is cheap always the right choice? 

Mennonite thriftiness is rooted in the value of simplicity and a desire to use only what is necessary. But recently, Will believes, the virtue of frugality has been distorted. In a world where “almost everything you buy is dripping with exploitation in one way or another,” Will said, “I think we need to examine our hearts on the frugality, and we need to know when is the time to pay more.” 

Every choice a consumer makes is accompanied by ethical questions. Say you’re shopping for eggs. It might be tempting, or even necessary, to buy the cheapest option. But behind the low price tag are factory farms where hens are crammed so tightly they can’t move, workers are underpaid for their labor, farmers are trapped in systems of debt, and chemicals and pollutants are dumped into the environment. 

 ‘More with less,’ Will said, can quickly turn into, “If I can save a buck, I don’t care who’s being exploited or what’s being exploited or what externalities there are.” 

Before moving to his farm, Will bought eggs from friends who were small-scale farmers. “I remember holding this egg and thinking, ‘this is what I want to spend money on,’” Will said. “I wanted this money to go to Jeff and Teresa.” 

Food grown sustainably and justly is often more expensive than food produced through the exploitation of land and workers. Paying the higher prices isn’t always realistic, but Will urges Mennonites to think about the unforeseen costs of frugality. 

In his opinion, Will said, ‘Whatever I spent on this egg (from Jeff and Teresa), that was money well spent.’” 

Mar. 13: Hospitality to Birds and Bees


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


At Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship in Vermont, USA, money isn’t the only thing congregants tithe. They can also offer food scraps for the church’s compost pile.

“It’s a beautiful example of redemption,” said Heather Wolfe, the congregation’s creation care liaison. Once decomposed, the compost nourishes what Heather calls a “garden of Eden of permaculture,” on the church grounds. 

The congregation stewards about half an acre of land in Taftsville, a hamlet within the town of Woodstock. The church building is surrounded by berry patches, a tea garden, an edible food hedge and–the most recent addition– a peace garden planted last year with sunflowers and a crimson clover cover crop.

“We’re trying to make our outdoor space feel like a sanctuary,” Heather said. She wants to create a space where human and non-human neighbors feel welcome.  

This year, the children from the congregation completed the National Wildlife Federation checklist to make the property a certified wildlife habitat. As part of the process, they installed bird houses and pollinator gardens. 

The neighbors and wildlife are also welcome to share in the bounty of the gardens, including berries, fruit and herbs. 

“This is hospitality,” Heather said. “We’re trying to be hospitable to the bees and the birds, to the soil microbes, milkweed and monarchs, and to all God’s creatures.”

Heather describes making the church land a sanctuary for human and non-human beings as a way to heal broken relations with the land. 

Settler congregations in North America are beginning to talk about how to make reparations with the indigenous peoples who originally lived on the continent. “When we talk about restitution and reparations with human groups,” Heather said, “my mind goes to ‘what about non human species?’” 

Reparations with the natural world can’t be paid in money. More creative gifts are required. 

“A lot of work that we are doing on our church land is building soil, planting more natives, mowing less, and creating wildlife habitat… this feels like restoration and reparation and restitution offered for these non-human species that we’ve damaged and displaced,” Heather said.

“Every time I buy a plant and put it in the ground, that’s money that’s going back to that species.”


Mar. 12: Educating the Future’s Leaders


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


Planting trees is part of the curriculum for students at the Masehi school in Kudus, on the Indonesian island of Java. “The rate of forest destruction in Indonesia is a really big number,” said Moses Livingstone, chaplain at the school and the pastor of Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia in Kudus, the church that runs it. “We train (the students) how to plant trees, in our school and also in their homes.” 

Logging and deforestation for agriculture and mining are widespread in Central Java, as in most of the country of Indonesia. According to Greenpeace, Indonesia has lost over 70 percent of its intact forest in the last 50 years, over 74 million hectares (the Indonesian government puts the estimate closer to 50 percent). National deforestation rates have fallen in the last couple of years, but in the coastal city of Kudus, the effects are already severe. 

“Almost every river in our country starts in the mountainous areas which are rainforests,” Moses said. Now because of the deforestation, in the summer season, the water is less, and in the rainy season, the giant flood will come.” 

This past December and January, over 1,500 Kudus residents were displaced from their homes temporarily by flooding. Over 150 took shelter in a church near the affected area.

Moses believes the environmental issues are a result of national policies. “Deforestation happens massively because of the regulations of the government, especially the past government,” he said. “They give concessions to corporations to do… mining (for coal, nickel, gold, bauxite and oil), farming and palm oil plantations.” 

In addition, poverty leads rural communities to log the forests around them and clearcut land to grow cash crops like corn. 

The Mahesi school is the only Christian school in Kudus and serves 1,150 students from kindergarten through senior high. At Mahesi, Moses said, “We (know we) cannot easily affect the government, their regulations and such things, but we believe that if we build a new generation with a new mindset… we hope that in the near future, they will become the important people in our country to… affect the regulations of the government.”  

About 12 years ago, the regional Mennonite church put together a curriculum to teach church members and school students about creation care. 

“We have a responsibility to conserve God’s world,” Moses said. “We have to make it sustainable because God has created this world really good.”

“We believe this is a very big opportunity for us to equip (young people) with a Christian worldview, especially in environmental issues,” Moses said. 

The need for a new generation of political leaders is made clear by the city’s response to recent natural disasters like floods. 

Right now, the local government is doing little to mitigate flooding or help those who are impacted. “In some sense, we believe that the local government, they conserve the disasters,” Moses said, “because if the disaster hits this area, then the funds for the refugees (donated by relief organizations), they have opportunities to get some.” 

Mar. 11: Extreme Heat and LEDs


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


Earth today is 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than it was 150 years ago, NASA reports. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but where Emmanuel Mahendra lives in central India, the difference is enough to make one pause, literally. 

“A lot of things have changed, not just temperature but human behavior also,” said Emmanuel, who works in the office for the Indian Mennonite Church conference in Dhamtari, Chhattisgarh. He has noticed that when it’s hot, people are more irritable, more aggressive and less likely to go out, including to church. 

In Dhamtari, located in the tropical Chhattisgarh plain, temperatures during the summer months (March to May), reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit, sometimes 115. 

“Even in the church,” Emmanuel said, “people are not interested in coming in the summertime, (and) not because people don’t want to come.” 

The effects of heat on the human body are serious. High ambient temperatures put the body at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. As a person’s core temperature rises, internal organs can fail, the brain suffer damage and the heart can stop.

Last summer, at least 90 people in India and Pakistan died in a heat wave that raised average temperatures by eight to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The book The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells published in 2019, predicts that by 2050, 255,000 people will die each year from the effects of heat world wide. 

What are Mennonite churches in India doing to slow the warming of the climate? Not as much as Emmanuel would like. 

“I don’t see any churches responding to climate change actually,” he said. “We have to, but we don’t.” 

The way Emmanuel sees it, every human should be working to reduce their impact on the earth. “We need to do our responsibility, like using less electricity,” he said. 

Thanks to Emmanuel, those at the Mennonite Church in India conference office are doing just that, without knowing it. 

A few months ago, Emmanuel replaced the office’s compact fluorescent light bulbs with LEDs. 

“Nothing changed,” he said. “Even my boss doesn’t know that I changed it. (But) every single second, I save 20 watts.”

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming published in 2017 ranks residential LED lighting as the 33rd most effective solution for lowering greenhouse gas emissions. LEDs use 90 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs and 50 percent less than compact fluorescents. Used for 5 hours a day, they last for 27 years. 

Emmanuel didn’t just make the switch at the office; his home uses 100 percent LEDs as well. 

If you want people to take you seriously, he said, “You have to teach yourself first, and then teach other people.”


An LED light bulb Emmanuel installed in his home last year. Photo contributed by Emmanuel Mahendra.
An LED light bulb Emmanuel installed in his home last year. Photo contributed by Emmanuel Mahendra.

Mar. 10: Politics: An Avenue for Climate Action


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


When Mike Morrice was elected to represent Kitchener Centre, Ontario in the Canadian parliament in 2021, it was, in part, because of the help of Scott Albrecht, a member of First Mennonite Church in Kitchener.

In the weeks leading up to the September election, Scott knocked on doors promoting the Green Party candidate, and helped manage the campaign’s finances.

“I’m not saying the Green Party has all the answers,” Scott said. “But at some point when you’ve got a ballot, you have to make a decision.” Mike Morrice is the founder of an organization promoting sustainability in the Waterloo region and his campaign was based on environmental policies.

“That seemed, from the environmental side, what was most needed at the moment,” Scott said.

That was Scott’s first time being involved in a politician’s campaign. Traditionally, Many Mennonites have stayed out of politics, but Scott said, “I think that’s something that’s evolved in the Mennonite community in my 40 years of experience with it. I think Mennonites are more willing to see that as a legitimate and necessary part of any action.”

An example of the shift is the big blue and green banner hanging over the door at First Mennonite, Scott’s church. It reads: “Join communities for climate justice: act now.”

The banner was put up in 2021 as part of a project by the Faith Climate Justice Waterloo Region advocacy group to call the community to climate action. A flock of birds on the banners displayed by churches around Waterloo represents the need for collective action.

The group is currently working to make more affordable, environmentally-sustainable housing available in the region, an issue Scott and others from the church continue to be involved in. 

Another way First Mennonite Church has engaged in local activism is through a campaign called 50 by 30. 

In 2020, a group was formed to push the local government to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 50% of 2010 levels by 2030.The Mennonite congregation wrote a letter supporting the campaign that was signed by church members and encouraged other churches to send letters.

In 2021, the Waterloo Region and its seven municipalities agreed to make the commitment as a step toward the longer-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% in 2050. That same year, Mike Morrice became one of two Green Party members in Parliament and is pushing for sustainability in Waterloo and all of Canada.

For Scott, it’s encouraging to see that more Mennonites are now “seeing that political side of things as one avenue for action that is needed.”


The banner hanging above the door at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener reads: “Join communities for climate justice: Act now.” The website for Faith Climate Justice, the group that created the banner, says: “It is our belief that the more of these that are hung throughout the community, the greater the call to action will become.” Photo contributed by Scott Albrecht.

Mar. 9: Fair Trade should be the Norm


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


The coffee served at Arboretumkerk church in Wageningen, Holland, is certified Fair Trade. So is the milk, sugar and tea. 

Jan Joost Kessler, a long-term member of the congregation who served on the sustainability working group, won’t have it any other way. 

“I would expect religious organizations to do this,” he said, “because it is so much in line with principles of solidarity and responsibility for vulnerable (peoples and the environment).” 

With a background in ecology, Jan Joost has spent his career working to make global value chains for products like coffee, cocoa and palm oil more sustainable. “There are many issues in these trades,” Jan Joost said. “There is risk of child labor, there is often discrimination of women, sometimes there is even slavery.” 

One of his most recent assignments for the Rainforest Alliance, an international non-profit organization working to make agriculture more sustainable for farmers and the environment, is working to help prevent child labor on coffee farms in Guatemala.  

About ten years ago, Jan Joost and a few other members from his congregation brought the issue of climate change to the church agenda. “We made an action plan which consisted of several elements,” Jan Joost said. “One was to buy fairtrade products.” To make sure they followed through, they appointed someone to check the church’s purchases. 

“I think a lot of people think ‘my personal contribution doesn’t make a difference,’” Jan Joost said. “I don’t think that’s true.” 

“If the majority of people would buy fairtrade products, or biological products, that would really make a difference.” 

Jan Joost said: “We have a lot of farmers who want to change towards more biological forms of farming (i.e. working with natural systems to reduce the need for chemical pesticides and fertilizers), but that requires more effort, so the products are generally more expensive.” 

Many of the churches Jan Joost has talked to are concerned about the cost of switching to Fair Trade. 

“It’s frustrating,” he said, “but I try to explain that if you pay more, it helps poorer communities in producing countries like Guatemala, and I think that’s essential.” 

Jan Joost doesn’t just encourage people to buy Fair Trade products from around the world; buying produce from local farmers is equally important, when it’s feasible. 

“Coffee and tea we can’t produce in the Netherlands,” he said, “so that’s good to import. (Other places) have climates that are very suitable for these products. If you pay good prices, it’s an opportunity for a living in other countries.”


For the yearly “green themed” service in May last year, the congregation of Arboretumkerk met outdoors in a local park. Afterward, they shared a meal made with local produce. Photo contributed by Jan Joost Kessler.

Mar. 8: The Weight of Waste


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


For six months last year, Donna Detweiler’s Sunday routine included sorting and weighing her church’s waste. She measured how much her congregation, Albuquerque Mennonite Church, in New Mexico, USA, was sending to the compost pile, the recycling center and the landfill, in hopes of helping to reduce the amount this year. 

“Every Sunday (from July to December) we would weigh the three different categories,” Donna said. “Now we have a baseline and what I would love to do is do some publicity… and see if we might be able to get under that benchmark.” 

Donna is a member of the Watershed Way group at her church. In addition to carrying out the waste stream audit, Donna initiated and runs a composting project at the church. 

Producing less waste and disposing of waste products properly is important for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming published in 2017 ranks reducing food waste as the third most effective solution for lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Composting and recycling household products come in at #60 and #55. 

Managing the waste stream at Albuquerque Mennonite church isn’t always straight forward. 

For one, the church shares its building with two other congregations as well as a daycare center. Donna said it’s hard to make sure that the different users of the facility adhere to the sorting system, putting recyclable and compostable items in the correct places. 

Even when people do put items like compostable paper plates in the compost, management of the pile can be an issue. Because of the dry environment, the compost pile has to be watered regularly and paper plates have to be separated and torn into smaller pieces. 

The compost produced by the church is used to fertilize the plants on the church’s property. “We like the idea of not sending (our organic waste) to the landfill to produce more methane,” Donna said. 

In the next few months, Donna hopes to create more consciousness in her congregation around the issue of waste and how to take care of it. 

To help with that process, a potter in the congregation made a set of ceramic plates and mugs for use at potlucks and other events. Donna hopes that getting in the habit of using those instead of disposable plates will help the church waste less. 


Lynn Eby made a set of ceramic dishes for the church to use in place of disposable ones. Photo contributed by Donna Detweiler.
Lynn Eby made a set of ceramic dishes for the church to use in place of disposable ones. Photo contributed by Donna Detweiler.
Food scraps and paper dishes become fertilizer for the plants on the Albuquerque Mennonite Church property after they decompose in this compost pile. Photo contributed by Donna Detweiler.
Food scraps and paper dishes become fertilizer for the plants on the Albuquerque Mennonite Church property after they decompose in this compost pile. Photo contributed by Donna Detweiler.

Mar. 7: No Rain, No Cows: Adapting to a Drying World


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


“I used to have 30 cows,” said Joel Lankas, a “modern Maasai” who lives in Kimuka, Kenya, “Now I have ten. You can do the mathematics.” 

For the third year in a row, no rain fell in Kajiado County, where Kimuka is located, this past rainy season. The drought, one of a half dozen that have parched the East African country in the last 30 years, has caused the death of over 2.5 million head of livestock, according to the State Department. For the Maasai people, who rely on cattle for their livelihoods, it is disastrous. 

“According to my experience, this was the worst drought of all droughts,” said Joel. He is a field officer for Maasai Integrated Development Initiatives (MIDI), a non-profit organization that receives funding from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). “We are trying to help (the Maasai) adapt to this kind of climate change.” 

The Maasai are traditionally pastoralists, living off of the meat, milk and blood of their livestock. Their lifestyle requires large tracts of pastureland for cattle to graze on. 

“Twenty years ago, our land used to be very large, animals could walk long distances for pastures,” Joel said. But in the 1980s, the land was privatized by the government and families were given their own small plots. 

Some people sold their allotments to other tribes, Joel explained, and soon some Maasai, like his family, had to migrate to other regions to find enough pasture.

Today, increasing human population combined with drought means that grass for cattle is very hard to come by. “Many people are buying (hay) for their livestock, including myself,” Joel said. “I can tell you it’s very expensive to feed livestock using money.” 

MIDI is working to help community members find alternatives to cattle raising.

Goats are one solution. They are better at resisting drought because, Joel said, “When the grass is no more, they browse on the trees. The cow can only feed on grass.” 

Chickens are another promising alternative. Joel said: “Chicken are the best because they just take a very small place, they mature very quickly, you can sell eggs to get some money and you can raise as many as you can. It’s really cheap to raise many chickens.”

Right now, two of Joel’s cows are so weak that they need help standing up. 

In the meantime, his 20 goats are thriving, and Joel looks forward to increasing his current flock of four chickens. In addition, his family has planted a vegetable garden and Joel is preparing a field to plant cash crops, like corn, beans and vegetables. 

Finding alternatives to cattle grazing is becoming increasingly necessary as water gets scarcer and pasture for cattle disappears. 

“I believe (growing crops) could be the best alternative for my livelihood,” Joel said, “to make my children go to school and to make myself food secure.”


Heat, dehydration and lack of food weaken cattle until they are no longer able to stand up on their own. This cow, belonging to Ben Moiko, is being lifted back to its feet. Photo contributed by Joel Lankas.
Muresi Ripau (left) and Amos Koitee feed Muresi’s chickens. Maasai didn’t traditionally raise chickens, but they are becoming popular because they are cheap and relatively easy to raise. Photo contributed by Joel Lankas.
Goats drink water from a pool formed by a sand dam. Dams like this one retain water from seasonal rivers for use during the dry season, but as rains fail, these reservoirs are drying up. Photo contributed by Joel Lankas.
Goats drink water from a pool formed by a sand dam. Dams like this one retain water from seasonal rivers for use during the dry season, but as rains fail, these reservoirs are drying up. Photo contributed by Joel Lankas.

Mar. 6: All Religions are Called to Creation Care


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


The Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa (GITJ) congregation in Jepara, Indonesia, partnered with other religious groups in the area to protest the construction of a nuclear power plant on Mount Muria in the early 2000s. It was the first time the groups worked together for a joint cause, but not the last. 

While the campaign came to an end when the government canceled the project in 2015, Danang Kristiawan, pastor of the congregation, believes the era of interfaith collaboration has only just begun. 

In the last ten years, Danang has been involved in multiple interfaith gatherings. One, a three-day live-in program held at an Islamic boarding school in 2016, included young leaders from Christian, Islamic, Hindu and Bhudist faiths. 

“We analyzed the ecological problems in Jepara and shared our faith reflections on these ecological issues,” Danang said. 

Interacting with individuals from different religious traditions has taught Danang a lot about the role of humans in caring for creation. 

In the Islamic tradition, Danang said, humans, as heads of creation, have a responsibility to take care of the earth.

In Buddhism, people are not separate from the natural world. Through reincarnation, humans can become animals in another life, and animals can become humans, so there’s no basis for a distinction between the two. 

Indigenous Javanese people believe that the earth is their mother. They are deeply connected to the natural world and view animals with a lot of respect. 

And in mystic worldviews, Danang said, “creation is the window to God,” so creation should be respected as it leads to the divine. 

The Christian Bible also encourages stewardship of creation, Danang said. In Colossians 1:16 it says that all things are created in Christ by Christ. “If all things are created in him then it means that Christ embraces the creation in himself.” 

Danang hopes that sharing and understanding these beliefs will push religious organizations, including his own church, to take more action on behalf of the environment and the climate. And he hopes that by working together, the interfaith network can be a powerful force for change. 

“We need inter-religious perspectives,” he explained. “All religions have an idea of creation. They are called to move.”


Danang converses with a Muslim leader, a Christian leader and a local religious leader. Interfaith dialogue, like this, is becoming more common, Danang said. Photo contributed by Danang Kristiawan.

Mar. 5: Farming as an Act of Hope


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


When John and Danile Martens returned to the United States from an MCC term in Cambodia, they knew one thing: they wanted to grow food. 

The idea of permaculture was just beginning to spread at the time, and John said, “They were doing really cool stuff with permaculture in Cambodia.” 

“We lived in a place (in Cambodia) where the soil just seemed hard to work,” Danile said, “ You come back here (to South Bend, Indiana) and stuff grows without having to even work for it. It seemed crazy that people are just growing grass.”

A few decades later, the couple lives on a 77-acre farm shared between three families. Permaculture has become their way of life. 

At Restoration Farm, the three families raise pigs and broiler chickens for meat as well as laying hens for eggs. They harvest almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cherries, apples, peaches and plums from trees on the property as well as blackberries, raspberries, elderberries and grapes. They even tap maple and walnut trees to make their own syrup.

Danile’s big garden produces almost all of the couple’s vegetables. And their income comes from a herd of beef cattle, which they graze using a rotational grazing method to maximize regeneration of the soil and plants. 

The farmers are making an effort to get away from using fossil fuels and all three houses have solar panels.

John said: “we’re transitioning as much to electric as we can.” That means electric cars, electric lawnmowers and an electric tractor (which he’s working on getting now). 

Where do John and Danile get the motivation to do all this? 

“We find ourselves grieving a lot (because of climate change),” John said. “Regenerative agriculture is the thing that kept us from really despairing completely.” 

“If there’s something that you can do that contributes to the mitigation of climate change,” he said, “that changes your perspective and gives hope.”

The couple also finds hope in books they read. Their recent favorites include: Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake, The Secret Life of Fungi by Aliya Whiteley, Nourishment by Fred Provenza and Call of the Reed Warbler by Charles Massy. 

Books like these open their eyes to new possibilities for regenerating the earth and living sustainably. 

Danile said: “Getting excited about possibilities we’ve never thought of gives hope in face of climate change.”

Mar. 4: Running to Share Clean Water


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


For two hours last March, 45 runners from the Mennonite Church of Enkenbach in Germany ran in loops to raise money for new wells in Benin.

The participants, including children, adults, retired folks and even one dog, completed as many kilometers as they could around designated loops in the allotted time. 

Beforehand the runners asked friends, family members (and) neighbors to become their sponsors,” said Patrick Schmidt, a member of the congregation who helped plan the event. “The sponsors promised to donate a certain amount per kilometer the runner would run within two hours.” 

The participants covered a total of 475 kilometers and raised almost 9,000 euros ($9,600 US). 

The fundraiser was the culmination of a 7-week “climate fast” the congregation took part in last year as part of a year-long creation care theme. 

The congregation is generally very environmentally-conscious, said Dora Schmitd, Patrick’s wife and chairperson for the church. The congregation has invested in solar panels for energy, runs a second-hand clothing store and is involved in a food sharing program that intercepts discarded grocery store food before it goes to the dumpster and makes it available for those in need.

“(Environmental action) very much comes out of the cultural movement (in Germany),” Dora said. She emphasized that her church is just one of many taking action to address environmental issues.

The money from the fundraiser will be used by Mennonitisches Hilfswerk, Germany’s national Mennonite aid organization, to help build wells and water facilities in the West African country of Benin through the “Water 4 Aligoudu” project, a cooperation with La Casa Grande Benin. 

According to Mennonitisches Hilfswerk, 3 out of 5 people in Benin don’t have access to clean drinking water. The Climate Knowledge Portal of the World Bank, reports that climate change is bringing more droughts and floods to the region as well as causing sea levels to rise on the Southern coast.

“It’s easy to sit here in comfortable Europe and say we’re doing what we can,” Dora said, “But we’re not being too negatively affected by (climate change).”

“We’re being called to see how our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world… are being very negatively affected by climate change… see how what we’re doing has an effect on people in (other places).”  


Members from the Mennonite Church of Enkenbach cheer on the runners in the fundraising event held last March. Participants ran as many kilometers as they could in two hours. Photo contributed by Patrick Schmidt.
Before run: The participants gather at the start of the run. Together, they raised $9,600 to build wells in Benin. Photo contributed by Patrick Schmidt.

Mar. 3: Marching Against a Mine


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


Every year, the congregation from Iglesia Menonita de Ibague in Colombia dresses up in colorful costumes, grabs banners printed with verses from the Bible, and joins thousands from the city in a march for the environment. 

The Carnival March has taken place in Ibague every year for more than a decade. The Mennonite congregation has participated since the inaugural march in 2011 which was used as a platform for protesting the construction of a massive open-pit gold mine outside the city. 

In 2006, the company AngloGold Ashanti discovered what is likely the country’s largest gold deposit beneath a forest reserve in Cajamarca, Tolima, the municipality neighboring Ibague. 

They started to talk about the installation of an immense open-pit gold mine,” said Jose Antonio Vaca Bello, a leader in the Ibague congregation who also serves in roles with the regional and national Mennonite church. 

The operation would require a lot of water and create pollution and waste, Jose said. Plus, the mine would be in a seismic risk zone, built on an inactive volcano with an active volcano, Machin, nearby. 

“A great social movement lifted up,” Jose said. Universities, cultural organizations, government entities and churches joined together to protest the project. 

They applied pressure to stop the construction of the mine and pushed to create a legal process that would allow the people living in an area to vote on mining projects that would impact their livelihoods. 

The efforts worked. The Constitutional Court agreed to instate a mechanism for local governments and citizens to challenge mining permits. And in 2017, a vote by the residents of Cajamarca led to the suspension of the gold mine project. 

Construction has been suspended, but Jose said, the title is still in the hands of the mining company, so the project could start up again any time.

In the meantime, the carnival marches continue to serve as a call for environmental justice. 

In the most recent parade last summer, church members carried a banner with words from Romans 8:22-23A: “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves.” 

The earth is in pain, Jose said. Humans need to help it heal.


Congregants from Iglesia Menonita de Ibague march for the environment in the Carnival March last August. They have participated in the city-wide marches for over a decade. Photo retrieved from Facebook.

Mar. 2: Is Your Diet Causing Climate Change?


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


Search the website for Portland Mennonite Church in Oregon, USA, and you can find recipes for vegan borscht and black bean burgers. 

Why? Rod Stafford, the church’s lead pastor, explained that when the congregation’s Climate Change Justice Committee was formed in 2017, “We focused on food.”

“We talked a lot about ‘what do you do with this existential challenge?’” Rod said, “because it’s so big but it’s also deeply personal.” After consulting resources like the book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming published in 2017, the committee decided that one of the most impactful things church members can do is change their eating habits. 

According to Drawdown, animals raised for meat (using unsustainable farming practices) are responsible for somewhere between 15 and 50 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions each year. If people in countries that consume a lot of meat, like the United States, transition to a plant-rich diet, the potential for lowering greenhouse gas emissions is huge. 

Equally important is reducing the amount of food that is wasted, as Drawdown reports that a third of all food produced currently doesn’t make it to the fork and instead produces methane in landfills. 

The Climate Change Justice Committee addresses these issues at Portland Mennonite Church by sharing resources on the environmental impacts of different diets, hosting workshops on how to cook with what you have, encouraging people to shop locally and eat seasonally and providing a space for church members to share their favorite vegetarian and vegan recipes. 

Vegetarian potlucks have been especially successful, Rod said. “It’s hard to imagine being a vegetarian until you taste some really good vegetarian food.”

For Rod and the rest of the committee, grounding climate action in Anabaptist values is important. 

“It’s easy to be pessimistic when it’s not clear how much difference it makes if I give up beef or not,” Rod said. That’s why he believes it’s critical to find “grounding in something deeper than just the ability to successfully roll back the impacts (of climate change).” 

An article written by David Garen and published in The Mennonite (now Anabaptist World Magazine) in 2019 has helped the congregation find a connection between its Anabaptist faith and climate justice. 

The article, titled “Mennonite values in a warming world,” explains how the values of simplicity, community, justice and peace can provide a framework for diagnosing and solving the root causes of environmental degradation and climate change. Rod encourages all Anabaptists to read it. 

In the end, Rod said, “You do this stuff because it’s right, because it’s what we’re committed to, even if it’s not going to be as effective as we may hope.”

Learn More:

Mar. 1: Building Farmland with Trees


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


Rice, wheat and maize are the three main crops grown in the agricultural region of South-Eastern Nepal. A joint project between the Brethren in Community Welfare Society (A non-profit organization run by Brethren in Christ (BIC) Nepal) and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has worked to add trees to the mix.

Over the last 9 years, the partners distributed over a thousand trees to rural families. Each household got one mango tree starter, one lychee and one jackfruit. 

“Of course some died,” said Shemlal Hembrom, the chairman of BIC Nepal who volunteers with the project. “But more than 60 percent survived, so now if you go in the village area you can see the trees.”

Most of the BIC churches in Nepal are located in small agricultural communities in the Terai plains. Both droughts and floods are common threats faced by farmers, and Shemlal said, deforestation has made these threats more intense. 

“During the dry season, in the months of May and June, it is very hot, very completely dry,” Shemlal said. “Because of that, whatever (people) plant, even the vegetables, it just dries up.” 

At the same time, Shemlal said, “When there were no trees, whenever there was a flood, it completely flooded the villages.”

In the last decade since planting trees, Shemlal said that communities are starting to see some benefits. Trees provide shade, block the wind and help keep riverbanks from washing away during floods. 

The book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, published in 2017, ranks tree intercropping (planting trees amid annual crops) as the 17th most effective solution for climate change. When planted alongside crops like maize and wheat, trees help create a more suitable environment for crops by blocking the wind and sun, slowing water evaporation, protecting the soil from erosion and bringing nutrients up from deep in the earth. 

“In the book of Genesis when God created human beings,” Shemlal said, “God gave them to cultivate the land and take care of whatever they have… That means they need to care for the jungle, the trees, the climate.” He believes planting trees is the best way to do that. 

On his own small plot of land, Shemlal has planted over three hundred trees. He said: “I try to help other people see that planting trees, it helps with cultivation.”


Reu Devi Shah stands beside a lychee tree planted as part of the joint project between BIC Nepal and MCC Nepal. As a beneficiary of the program, Reu, from the Jahada Rural Municipality Ward no. 2, Morang, received a mango, jackfruit and lychee tree to plant as well as training in vegetable farming and vegetable seeds to plant. Photo contributed by Shemlal Hembrom.
A grove of teak trees Shemlal planted to show his community the value of tree planting. Teak trees provide many benefits: “Teak timber is expensive,” Shemlal said, and “fallen leaves become compost for any crops surrounding the area.” In addition, these trees help bring moisture to a dry climate. Photo contributed by Shemlal Hembrom.

Feb. 28: Question from a Son


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


“If people care so much, why don’t they do anything?” 

That’s the question Matoli Braun DeGroot asked his parents three years ago. His father, Will Braun said, “It stopped me in my tracks.” 

Will, who recently became the executive editor of Canadian Mennonite Magazine, lives on a 7½-acre farm in Manitoba, Canada, where his two sons (now 12 and 15) have grown up. 

The family’s farm is home to a flock of Icelandic sheep, some laying hens, a vegetable garden, bee hives and many fruit trees. “We’re not superheroes or anything like that,” Will said, “but we try to grow much of our own food, we try not to drive too much.” 

What worries Will is the message his sons are getting from others around them, including the church. 

“There are people pursuing conversations about how to address climate change,” Will said, but that’s pretty much where it ends. Many church members have gardens, but besides that, they live just like everyone else: big houses, two cars per family, trips whenever they feel like it. 

Will said, “I want my kids to see people making sacrifices, where it’s obvious that people are making sacrifices, and there just isn’t much of that.” 

“If (kids) see that breach, that lack of integrity (in the church),” Will asked, “what do you do with that? If we say one thing but don’t act on it in the area of the environment–of climate–then what about the other stuff, are we just playing a game?” 

Feb. 27: Trees and Refugees


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


January to April is the rainy season in Guayaquil, a port city on the coast of Ecuador. But this year, said Sara Noemi Viteri Moreno, a member of Iglesia Jesus el Buen Pastor in Guayaquil, it has hardly rained at all.  

Noemi is an environmental engineer who helps lead the youth program at her church. “It has stopped raining the way it used to,” Noemi said, “and that makes it so it’s hotter.” Noemi suspects these trends are linked to something else: decreasing tree cover in the city. 

“Close to the church, there used to be these trees that were really old,” Noemi said. “They had been there for many years.” But about five years ago, the city removed them. 

Since then, Noemi said, there is less shade and the increased heat is notable. It’s not just those trees, either. All around the city, trees have been cut down as the population increases. “Those trees brought rain to this area,” Noemi said.

With over three million residents, Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador, and it’s constantly growing. Many of the newcomers are Ecuadorians from rural areas, but the city has also been receiving an increasing number of refugees from outside the country, mainly from Venezuela. 

Since 2015, Ecuador has received over 500,000 refugees fleeing political turmoil, violence, poverty and economic and social insecurity in Venezuela. In Guayaquil, Noemi said, many of them end up living by the rivers, under bridges and in parks. 

United Nations Climate Change (UNFCCC) describes climate change as a threat multiplier that “worsens social, economic and environmental pressures, leading to social upheaval and possibly even violent conflict.” 

Immigration of refugees from Venezuela means that destinations like Guayaquil become more crowded. People cut down forests and build near rivers and this, Noemi said, leads to problems like landslides and flooding. 

Noemi wishes her church would do more to address environmental issues. But, she said, “We aren’t very conscious about what is happening.” 

What the congregation has done is provide support for Venezuelan refugees. Over the years, the church building has served as a temporary home for families searching for work and housing, and the congregants have provided the newcomers with mattresses to sleep on, food to eat and clothes to wear. 

“Migration means there are more people in one place,” Noemi said. “There aren’t any more places to get established anymore.”

She continued: “This is something that is a part of climate change. It’s one of the problems we can start with.”

Feb. 26: An Energy Coach


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


With solar panels, a heat pump and a windmill, Leo Bakker produces more renewable energy at his home in Aalsmeer, Holland than he uses. In retirement, he is dedicated to helping others do that too.

Leo, a member of the sustainability committee of the Mennonite Congregation of Aalsmeer, spends his days volunteering as an energy coach in his community.

What does that mean?

Leo explained that the country of Holland has set high goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and is working hard to meet them.

The government’s goal is to reduce emissions by 49 percent by 2030 and 95 percent by 2050. Holland has long used technology to manipulate the environment–building dikes to create dry land out of the ocean. It is now seaking technological solutions to the climate crisis. That includes switching to renewable energy and energy-efficient appliances at the household level.

“Many municipalities in the country have realized that you have to look into every house and every family and find out what the best (solution) for that situation is,” Leo said. “It takes a lot of time to cover all of the houses in a village, but it is the only way to really get into it.”

Leo is one of 12 energy coaches in his community who visit homes and help families come up with plans to reduce their emissions.

For many homeowners, reducing energy usage can seem like a daunting, confusing task, so Leo tries to make it simple. For each house, he does an assessment of energy usage and creates a list of changes that could be made to save energy. He starts with simple things like installing water-saving shower heads and switching to LED lights. Then he introduces larger steps like improving insulation, adding double-paned windows, installing solar panels and switching to electric heating and cooking appliances.

Leo does calculations to show the families how much the changes will cost and how much they can save by reducing their energy consumption and he connects them with government programs and subsidies that can help with the cost of the upgrades.

Leo said: “I see from my experience that if you really discuss it with people and you show them what they can do, then they start doing it.”

Feb. 25: United in Protest


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


For the Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa (GITJ) congregation in Jepara, Indonesia, environmental issues weren’t at the forefront of the church’s agenda, until a nuclear power plant was planned to be built next door. 

“This happened in Jepara around 2003,” said Danang Kristiawan, pastor of GITJ Jepara and a lecturer at the Wiyata Wacana Theological Seminary in Pati. The government’s proposal to build a nuclear power plant near the city created a complicated issue, but it led to an unexpected and, Danang believes, hopeful result. 

The book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming published in 2017 ranks nuclear power as the 20th most effective solution to climate change because of the amount of greenhouse gasses it could keep out of the atmosphere. 

But, nuclear power comes with risks. These include environmental destruction and contamination during the mining of necessary metals, harm to aquatic organisms that are sucked into cooling systems, and radioactive leakage during the hundreds of thousands of years it takes nuclear waste to decay. 

The Fukushima nuclear disaster that forced over 150 thousand in Japan to evacuate due to escaped radiation in 2011, showed that natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis can also be catastrophic for nuclear power plants. 

The location chosen for the Indonesian plant placed it on a dormant volcano, Mount Muria, located to the West of the coastal city of Jepara. 

Realizing the risks to those living nearby if the power plant were hit by an earthquake, tsunami or volcanic eruption, Danang said, “Representatives of religious communities in Jepara, namely Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, and Buddhism met to discuss this issue from the perspective of their respective faiths.” 

Together they planned a demonstration to protest construction of the plant. Representatives from each of the religious groups marched the 10 kilometers from the proposed construction site to the city center. 

In 2015, after years of opposition, the government permanently halted the project. Plans remain to build a nuclear power plant somewhere in Indonesia in the next couple of decades as part of the nation’s plan to reduce carbon emissions and switch to more renewable energy sources. 

But for those involved in the protests, another outcome remains: The connection formed between the different religious groups in Jepara. 

“This is important for us,” Danang said. He hopes the group will work together to find solutions to climate change in the future. 

“If we want to get movement in creation care in Indonesia,” Danang said, “I think from a religious perspective, we need to work together as a community.”


Young leaders from Islamic, Christian, Hindu and Bhudist traditions gathered in 2017 to talk about environmental responsibility. Photo contributed by Danang Kristiawan.

Feb. 24: Running to #protectoakflat


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


The runners on the men’s and women’s cross country teams at Goshen College, a Mennonite university in Goshen, Indiana, ran over 5,000 miles last September. They dedicated those miles to a campaign to protect Oak Flat, a sacred site of the indigenous Apache people, from mining. 

Arleth Martinez, a member of the women’s team who led the effort, visited Oak Flat (called Chi’chil Bildagoteel in the Apache language) during a summer class in the southwestern United States. On the trip, she and others from the cross country team camped amid the ancient, gnarled oak trees and rock outcroppings that characterize Oak Flat, located in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. The area is under threat of being turned into a copper mine. 

When Europeans arrived on the North American continent centuries ago, they decimated the indigenous population by forcibly removing indigenous people from their lands, making them give up their traditions, languages and cultural knowledge and destroying their sacred sites. 

Oak Flat, which was deemed a traditional cultural property in 1955, is one of the few sacred indigenous sites left in the country. In 2014, the government tried to trade it to a mining company, Resolution Copper. 

If the trade goes through the mine will pollute the land and water and turn the sacred site into a lifeless crater. The trade is being fought by a group called the Apache Stronghold. 

In September, the Apache Stronghold took their case opposing the land swap to the ninth circuit of appeals. Each day during that month, the Goshen College cross country team shared posts on their social media accounts with the hashtag #protectoakflat. 

Arleth talked to her team about the issue and encouraged them to begin each of their runs with a prayer for Oak Flat. “I wanted to (create) a support system,” Arleth said, “and make sure that they knew we were with them and that we’d stick with them.” 

At the hearing, the court agreed to reopen the case. It will likely reach the Supreme Court. 

This campaign is important because it’s not just about protecting one sacred site, Arleth explained. It’s about changing the pattern of taking and destroying the land of indigenous peoples. 

“If we let this keep happening,” Arleth said, “people coming in and taking the land and making this big environmental disaster, it’s just going to keep happening and cycling, and in the end there’s not going to be resources left.”

Members of the Goshen College cross country team visited Oak Flat last June. Photo contributed by Arleth Martinez.
The sun rises over Oak Flat. Photo contributed by Arleth Martinez.

Feb. 23: Planting Trees: A Necessity


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


A powerful rainstorm hit parts of Malawi last year. “Trees were falling down, houses were falling down, it was terrible,” said Shadreck Kwendanyama, a bishop and the director of Mennonite Brethren (MB) Malawi. While devastating, storms like this one have become commonplace in recent years. 

Changing weather patterns across the country of Malawi mean that rain events are less predictable and more powerful than before. But Shadreck said, “rain (itself) is not a problem.” 

What is a problem is that without trees to hold the land in place and help the soil retain water, “land is being carried away… houses are being swept out because of the force of the water.” 

Naturally forested, Malawi has seen a 14 percent loss in tree cover since 2000, according to Global Forest Watch, and deforestation started decades before that. 

Beginning in the 1970s, Shadreck explained, trees were cut down to clear fields for tobacco, and in the 1990s, deforestation for the production of charcoal ramped up.  

“Wherever you go, when you see a hill,” Shadreck said, “it’s just clear.” 

Charcoal and firewood are the main sources of fuel used for cooking in Malawian homes. “We are using charcoal, including me,” Shadreck said. 

But about a decade ago, Shadreck said, it became obvious that the trees were running out, and the consequences were serious. 

“These challenges of floods, storms, cyclones, it’s because we have destroyed nature, we’ve destroyed what God created. The land has been degraded.” 

“That’s when the church and the community as well sat down and decided to say, ‘what can we do?’” Shadreck said. The answer was obvious: start planting trees.

In communities around the country, church members and villagers started tree nurseries near river banks. They plant seeds in the rainy season in June and July and five months later, they transplant the young trees to homes, gardens and reforestation plots. 

Fast-growing trees like banana, pawpaw and kesha are prioritized because they only take a few years or less to mature and provide fruit and wood quickly. They also provide windblocks and help stabilize riverbanks in the event of storms. 

“The community has already started benefiting from the project,” Shadreck said. 

Not every one of the 50 Mennonite Brethren churches in Malawi has started planting trees, but Shadreck said, “the message has reached to each and every church.” 

The message Shadreck hopes will reach the broader church: “We need to understand and agree that the creation has been destroyed. In Malawi that is the situation. They should teach their communities, teach their church members the dangers we are facing now.”


An agricultural field in the Mangochi district of southern Malawi in 2021. Fields like this one are now irrigated thanks to a project by MB Malawi. Photo contributed by Shadreck Kwendanyama.
Moses Chirusha, MB Malawi communications officer (right), speaks with the Traditional Authority Njolomole and his two subordinates at an event launching a new project in 2021. The Ntcheu district of central Malawi is one of the locations for MB Malawi’s irrigation and agroforestry projects. Photo contributed by Shadreck Kwendanyama.
Trees were planted by church members at the MB Malawi Malovu Mission church in central Malawi early this year. Photo contributed by Shadreck Kwendanyama.

Feb. 22: Can You Fit Your Trash in a Jar?


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


During lent last year, Noa Baergen replaced their trash can with a mason jar. Fitting six weeks of garbage into a container the size of a water bottle challenged the university student to rethink their relationship with waste. 

“It changed how I think about waste (because) it forced me to understand that garbage is permanent and that it does accumulate and it does have real effects,” Noa said, “Having to keep the garbage I created in a container where I could see it really made that stand out to me.” 

Noa is in their second year studying art at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. They modeled their lent experiment after the Zero Waste Challenge sponsored by Reep Green Solutions, an organization promoting sustainability in the Waterloo region. 

The purpose of the Zero Waste Challenge is to help participants develop a circular economy mindset. In a circular economy, nothing is “thrown out” for good, instead materials are constantly being reused, recycled and repurposed. Limiting the amount of trash sent to landfills keeps more materials in circulation to be used again or turned into something new. When it comes to climate change, this is important because it reduces the need to extract new resources from the environment and keeps garbage out of landfills, where it produces methane. 

Noa said the challenge was an opportunity to think more critically about what they consume–and how it’s packaged. “If there’s a food I want to buy and it comes in a non-recyclable wrapper,” Noa said, they learned to ask the questions: “Is there a different brand that comes in something that can be recycled? or is there a way that I can make it at home?” 

Whether participating in a formal challenge or not, Noa encourages others to grab a jar and try the experiment for themselves. 

When it comes to climate change, Noa said, “I wish there was more of a sense of urgency in climate action. I wish there was more of a willingness to take real action even though it requires inconvenience or a change in lifestyle.”

Feb. 20: Youth Group Sets the Bar for Climate Action


A Climate Pollinator story by Sierra Ross Richer


Youth from the Iglesia Cristiana Menonita Central de Ibague in Colombia could be found picking up trash in their city’s center earlier this year. 

When they were asked by passersby what they were doing, Jose Antonio Vaca Bello, one of the leaders of the church, said their answer was: “We want people to see that it’s not okay to throw trash on the streets.” 

The garbage collection project was part of the youth group’s focus on creation care this year. Other activities on the agenda include planting trees and organizing a recycling program for members of the congregation. 

“When I was a young person in the church,” Jose said, “we never worried about (environmental issues).” So he is pleased to see his church’s youth take up the cause. 

“The young people are the motor of change in our society,” Jose said. “They teach us with their actions and their commitments what all of us should be doing.” 

The youth group is currently raising money to buy trees to plant along the waterways feeding into the city. The seedlings will come from a nursery run by the local environmental department and once they grow, they will help reduce erosion and flooding. 

In the meantime, the group is working to promote the three Rs–reduce, reuse and recycle–among members of the congregation.  Youth group members visit the homes of congregants to collect their recyclables and encourage others to bring their paper, aluminum, glass and plastic to a collection center at the church. They then take the materials to a collection facility where they receive a compensation that is put toward the group’s activities. 

“The future of our churches is in the hands of our kids and our youth,” Jose said. Those hands are already hard at work.