Our Mission

This is a place where families of one or more are always welcome to join hearts, minds, and souls in service to God.

Our ministry reaches far beyond the membership of our congregation. Our building is open most nights for such groups as a quilting club, meetings of the Tomah Area Cancer Support Group board. Members are involved in many area organizations as volunteers from Hospice to Habitat for Humanity; from Army Kettle Campaign at Christmas to support of the work of Church World Service. If a need is brought to our attention, we try to find a way to fulfill it.

The members and friends of First Congregational UCC are eager to welcome new individuals and families to join us.

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                                November, 2018

   I am going to focus this newsletter piece on caring for our earth. This year has been, and continues to be, one of dramatic weather and earth events. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, all around the world. The scientific community is raising the alarm and asking for everyone to take action, from governments and national institutions to individuals and small groups throughout the land.

   Our scriptures have told us that the earth is God’s, and we have been created as stewards, caretakers of this earth and all that is in it. We have a responsibility to step up and do whatever we can to prevent further damage, to help in the healing, and to advocate for the earth in the public arena. 

   There may be a few among you who still wonder if this is all as serious as it is made out to be. It really is. The weight of scientific evidence is far too much to ignore. You and your children will continue to experience the effects as we have this year and as we have seen around us. It will be as bad everywhere. Europe’s 100 year heat wave that killed several people last year could happen again next year. People in Africa starve when the Sahara expands. Hillsides collapse when wildfires are followed by heavy rains. This is real. It is not a fluke. It will get worse. 

   In early October, a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change pressed the urgency of a wide and dramatic response to climate change if we are to avoid ever more destructive storms, widespread heat waves and fires, and dramatic sea level rise. The whole planet is on a path to reach the upper limit goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius rise in average temperature by 2030, much sooner than was anticipated at the Paris Climate Accords.  The average temperature has already gone up by nearly 1 degree in the industrial age. 1.5 degrees C is about 2.7 degrees F. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but the effects are very evident, no only in our weather this year, but in loss of coral reefs, melting ice in the Arctic, and in glaciers here and elsewhere. Melting ice in Greenland has not only raised water levels, it has shifted the axis of the earth enough to throw off our GPS systems.  Areas of tropical forests are missing millions of insects that cannot adapt to changing temperatures. And that wipes out the birds that feed on the insects as well. The sound of our world is changing, becoming evermore empty.                 Sustainability may be a trendy word lately, but it is a good way to think about repairing and healing our relationship to the world around us. How can we live in a more sustainable way on this earth? We can ask that question for every aspect of our lives, from our grocery shopping to our interactions with our neighbors.  Can we keep purchasing and throwing away plastics at our current rate? Can the earth handle that? The answer for plastics as for so many things is no. We are overwhelming the recovery capacity of the earth every day, with our trash, our carbon dioxide and other emissions, with methane from our animal production, with pavement that keeps the earth from breathing. 

   What can we as individuals do for such a huge problem? A great deal.  We need to reduce our use of plastics for one. Take your own cup with a permanent straw to get a fountain drink; buy products with the least packaging - take advantage of the bulk bins at Festival; take a shopping bag not just to the grocery, but to every store; wrap your sandwich in a reused bag or in wax paper.  Reduce your meat consumption. Animal husbandry uses up lots of land, produces lots of methane, and the meat clogs arteries. One or two meatless days a week isn’t really hard and we all need to eat more vegetables.  But eat locally more than globally. Notice where your food, clothes, and other stuff comes from and try to find a local substitute to keep the transportation pollution down. Buy for long lasting rather than single use in everything from batteries to appliances. Buy for efficiency first, before looks or extras.  Every action we take to lower our impact is important.  Plant trees, lots of trees, to absorb as much carbon dioxide as possible - then don’t burn them and release it all again.

   We can also choose to use renewable power. If you can afford an extra $5-10 per month, you can ensure that your power comes from renewable sources. Check with your power company.

   Most of this you all have heard, I am sure but it is important to repeat. These are not really difficult changes to make in our lives. They are doable and we can start with one and add more, but we really do need to make changes for our own good and the good of all.

   I hope that as a church we can use our lovely plates, rather than paper, our collection of mugs rather than styrofoam or plastic, real tableware, even real glass communion cups. We can consider ways to use less paper while maintaining our participation in worship, our communications, etc. We can look for efficiencies in our appliances, increase our commitment to recycling and to reducing waste. We can consider other “green” technologies, including solar panels for the building.  

   And, of course, we need to advocate for similar measures and bigger efforts at all levels of government, schools, etc. Rising temperatures will affect the crops we can grow, the amount of rainfall we will get, the costs to heat and cool our buildings. Our waste stream affects our land use, the air we breathe, the food we eat. This is not, or should not be, a political issue. It is the health and wholeness of our lives and our children’s lives, and our children’s lives. We could join with other groups and be a leader in moving the Tomah area to take this more seriously. 

   God made us stewards of this earth, given us use of the planet, but it is still God’s world. Let us increase our care for all we have received.

 See you in church,

Pastor Marlea