CJT Randall’s Intro to Sky Sunday

Randall gave this glorious intro to Sky Sunday, part of our three-week Creation Justice Season at the DUCC. Enjoy:

Good morning. I’m Randall Braaksma, and I’m part of the Creation Justice group at Douglas UCC, and I’m here to talk to you about the sky. Perhaps you’ve worn one of these [face mask respirator] when you were doing some dirty, dusty work around the house or on job site. But many people wear these every day just to breathe a little easier.

I lived for several years in Beijing, China, and this was not a fashion accessory, it was often a necessity. I remember the day Beijing’s normally smoggy skies went clear blue on a crisp December day. We were all amazed until we remembered that the Olympic Committee was visiting to review Beijing’s bid to host the Games.

The city government of Beijing had the power and control to make its citizens stop polluting in order to make a good impression. But just for a while. The smog began descending almost as soon as the Olympic Committee’s plane took off.

Air pollution continues to be a big problem in places like Beijing, Dehli, and Manilla. And it’s causing damaging health effects for millions around the world. Today, about 235 million people suffer from asthma worldwide. And more than 80 percent of asthma deaths occur in low- and lower-middle income countries. Overall, the World Health Organization estimates that 3.7 million people die each year due to air pollution.

Statistics like that certainly make this a justice issue. So, what can we do about it?

Pastor Sal has often exhorted us to speak truth to power. And Lord knows there are plenty of opportunities for us to do that. Just a few weeks ago, the E.P.A. announced it’s looking at letting coal plants that are nearing retirement keep on working, or should I say polluting, with a refurbishment that DOES NOT include adding pollution controls. And just this week, the administration said it plans to roll back rules covering methane leaks and the “flaring,” or burning, of potent greenhouse gas by energy companies. This while U.N. General Secretary António Guterres called climate change the defining issue of our time and said, (quote) “the time has come for our leaders to show they care about the people whose fate they hold in their hands.”

Clean air is a basic human right. When it’s in danger, we must fight this injustice. We can take that fight to the national and international levels. We can take it to our individual lives, too. Last week, Pastor Sal talked about the need to become aware that Christ is in us and in everything, including, or should I say especially, the air we breathe. The challenge is to ask ourselves is, How can I be more aware so that the decisions I make every day do the sky good and not harm?

–Randall Braaksma

CJT Eric’s Planet Earth Sunday Introduction

Did you miss this? I hope not. Eric’s lovely introduction to Planet Earth Sunday at DUCC.

“Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

This all too familiar passage from Genesis is in some ways at the root of our modern-day environmental crisis.  In particular, the word “dominion” has become somewhat problematic. Webster’s dictionary defines dominion as “supreme authority” or “absolute control”.  At this point in our history and culture, we have taken this charge quite literally, plundering the earth for its resources as if we are the “supreme authority”, and as a result, we are putting our own existence in peril. Something about our approach is not right.

If we could somehow see our actions outside of our own culture and context, perhaps we might understand our responsibility differently. Indigenous cultures throughout the world, those who have held on to primal teachings, have something to teach us.  Native American cultures don’t share our story of dominion or even the language of stewardship – their story is of relationship with the Earth.  In language and in practice, these cultures model more closely our own biblical example that God set forth in Genesis – Creator in loving relationship with Creation.  Right stewardship flows from a loving relationship. And it is by remembering and rediscovering this love that we will find our way forward.

Today, on this first Sunday of Creation Season, we begin by celebrating “Planet Earth”.  We open ourselves to learn from lava and trees, soil and water, moths and ravens, and all that our planet has to show us.  We seek to learn the language of seasons and cycles, which makes us more attuned to the underlying rhythms of life, We hope to show the type of compassion that extends beyond all borders, beyond our species, to “all the ends of the earth” –  compassion from a “God’s-eye view”.  And we pray that this compassion results in action and justice for our common home, planet Earth. Please join me in our unison prayer.

–Eric LeJeune, Creation Justice Team, DUCC


Community Read: Death and Life of the Great Lakes


Former State Senator Patty Birkholz, in the year or so before she passed away, served as a great mentor to the DUCC Creation Justice Team. During that time she pressed into our hands — as she did everyone she met — Dan Egan’s amazing and award-winning book, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes.

Patty wanted everyone in the states and provinces that border the Great Lakes to read it, to understand better the challenges our waters have faced and will face, so we can be better equipped to fight for the survival of the largest freshwater system in North America.

So we have decided to read this book together as a kind of community-wide bookclub Event.

Will you join us?

The book is divided into three parts, the Front Door, the Back Door, and the Future. We will gather at the DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, Douglas, MI on these dates to discuss these sections of the book.

The Front Door, September 18, 6:30p.m.

The Back Door, October 23, 6:30p.m.

The Future, November 13, 6:30p.m.

The Saugatuck-Douglas District Library has hard copies and electronic copies of the book available on loan. Cabbages & Kings in Douglas, will be stocking copies of the book.

THIS EVENT IS FULL. Follow this link to Evite.com to put your name on the waiting list!




Honor Thy Mother (Earth)

Our Earth Day celebrations began with a few sore backs and shoulders after dozens of our members showed up to clean 4 miles of highway around our town. See the article all about it, featured on the National UCC newsletter, and more great team photos on the DUCC Instagram account. Special shoutout to Pastor Sal for winning the Michigan Interfaith Power and Light sermon contest for his beautiful Earth Day Message. Stay tuned for announcements of our spring programs. Great work ahead!


What a Waste: Food Waste and Our Future

What a Waste: Food Waste and Our Future
Thursday, March 15, 6:30pm
Douglas UCC Friendship Hall
56 Wall Street, Douglas, MI
Program is free, public is welcome.

On Thursday, March 15, the Creation Justice Team’s next environmental education program entitled What A Waste: Food Waste and Our Future, presenting local and national Environmentalist Tracey Shafroth, who will teach us about the impact of food waste on our environment and steps we can take at home and in the world to help curb it. Tracey serves on the Michigan Advisory Board of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, on the Midwest Council of the National Parks Conservation Association, is a fellow and member of the Keller Science Action Center at the Field Museum, a strategic advisor to the Vital Lands Program of the Grand Victoria Foundation, and a volunteer for Freshwater Futures. We will open the doors of the Friendship Hall at 6:30pm for dessert and coffee. Tracey’s talk will begin at 7pm, with time afterward questions and more conversation. This event is open to the public. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to join us.