Environmental Stewardship Commission

Co-Hosts "Family Harvest Meal"

Story and photos by Susan Barksdale

Over 80 people sat down to a family dinner at the Church of Gethsemane on Monday, August 4. This was a family meal in many senses of the word. Not only was the food shared around the tables as in an old-fashioned farm kitchen, but nearly everything was locally grown, and all was organically produced.

The hall at Gethsemane was filled for this ìEpiscopal Church Harvest Banquetî with diners from General Convention, the Minnesota Environmental Stewardship Commission, members of other environmental stewardship groups, and national and international guests. Brimming platters of vegetables, potatoes, and roast pork and beef were shared at the tables. Several of the food producers were present at the dinner, which was, incidentally, one of the most delicious meals that this writer has enjoyed in a long time.

The hall at the Church of Gethsemane

was filled with diners from General Convention

and environmental stewardship organizations.


The meal was held ìto acknowledge local, sustainable farmers in Minnesota, and to honor the Episcopal Churchís commitment to environmental stewardship.î Sponsors included the Episcopal Ecological Network, the diocesan Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC), and the Land Stewardship Project, an organization which works with small farmers and others to encourage stewardship for the land and work for social and economic justice for the independent family farm.

Lou Schoen, senior warden of Gethsemane Church

(green shirt), was among the diners at

yesterday's meal that showcased locally-

produced foods.

ìI am thrilled that the Episcopal Church is connecting with the Land Stewardship Project,î said Patricia Allen-Unger of Mazeppa, a member of St. Lukeís in Rochester. Allen-Unger is a former organic farmer, and is a member of MEESC. John Johnson of the Episcopal Churchís Government Relations Office in Washington, DC, agreed. He serves on the Presiding Bishopís staff and helps to advocate for public policy issues in the capital, including the protection of the Arctic wilderness from gas and oil drilling.

Over a dessert of all-butter pound cake, ice cream, and raspberries, diners listened eagerly to a number of speakers. MEESC chair Wanda Copeland introduced several special guests. The Rev. Canon John Peterson, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion and a native
Minnesotan, spoke briefly of the Anglican Communionís newly-established environmental coordinating network. The Rev. Eric Beresford of the Anglican Church of Canada shared hopes for international cooperation. Chef Nathalie Johnson of Signature CafÈ and Catering in Minneapolis, who prepared the meal, told appreciative listeners that she had ìlearned how to cook in the basement of a Swedish Lutheran Church.î

The Right Reverend Mark McDonald,

Bishop of Alaska, addressed the

diners yesterday at Gethsemane Church.

Dinner guests enjoyed cups of Bishopís Blend coffee, a shade-grown, fairly traded product distributed by Episcopal Relief and Development, as they listened to the impassioned words of the final speakers. Sarah James is Gwichíin from Alaska and lives in an area that is threatened
by federal drilling for gas and oil. The Gwichíin are 90% Episcopalian. ìThe coastal plain of the Arctic National Refuge is our birthplace,î James said. ìWe call it ëthe place where life began.íî She has worked since the late 1980s to prevent drilling in the area, and is grateful for the support of the Episcopal Church in these efforts.

ìThe Lord be with you; youíre all my relatives,î said Bishop Mark MacDonald of Alaska, the final speaker. In a series of images and ìsnapshots,î he spoke of the growing alienation of the human race from ìthe creation around us, and also from the heart of our own faith.î Using Biblical images, especially that of the Baptism of Christ, Bishop MacDonald spoke of ìgreed, the silent idolatry and of the deep environmentalism in our faith that we need to rediscover. ìScripture says that Godís purpose is to unite ALL things in Christ, not just human beings,î he stressed.

MacDonald issued an invitation to a faith ìthat can see the world in a new way.î Time and again, he added, the Bible tells us, ìIf we all share, there is enough for every one of us. If we donít share, there is not enough for anybody. If we donít articulate this in a loving way as
Christians, we are not faithful to the Gospel.î The standing applause from the dinner guests showed that they were ready to begin this mission.

Courtesy of the Diocese of Minnesota

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5/7/04 -j