Healthy Kids,Healthy Churches,Healthy Communities by SandySmith802


Healthy Kids,Healthy Churches,Healthy Communities

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									                                An Adult ChristiAn EduCAtion
                                 CurriCulum for ChurChEs
                                     in mAssAChusEtts
          A project of the Strategy and Action Commission of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, in
         partnership with the National Council of Churches, funded in part by the John Merck Fund, the
                  Ruth & Allen Moore Fund for Social Justice and Old South Church in Boston.

Healthy Kids, Healthy
Churches, Healthy
Communities                                                                           Study Se SSi o n Gu i de

        s people of faith, we believe that, indeed, there is a balm in Gilead and
         that the Creator, the Great Physician, cares for the health and well-being
           of all people. Like the speaker in the book of Jeremiah, we also won-
             der “why then has the health of my poor people not been
restored?” So as Christians and as citizens of the Commonwealth
of Massachusetts, we here seek to educate ourselves about
health hazards in our community, make healthy choices,
and advocate for just public policies.
   The Massachusetts Council of Churches is pleased
to bring the Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, Healthy
Communities curriculum to the churches of the Com-
monwealth. We hope and pray that these activities
and study sessions will help Christians in the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts live out
a faithful witness of health and whole-
ness, love of creation, and love of
neighbor as we strive for a more just
world in which to live and move and
have our being.

Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?
Jeremiah 8.22
                 An Adult ChristiAn EduCAtion
                  CurriCulum for ChurChEs
                      in mAssAChusEtts

Healthy Kids, Healthy
Churches, Healthy
Communities                                               Study SeSSion Guide

Massachusetts Council of Churches
14 Beacon Street, Suite 416
Boston, MA 02139

Copyright 2008 Massachusetts Council of Churches
All rights reserved

Ms. Laura Everett, writer
The Rev. Lise Hildebrandt, editor

Strategy and Action Commissioners 2005-2008, editors of the Healthy Churches Curriculum
and “A Call to Protect Health and Community: A Christian Response to the Health Effects of
Environmental Racism”
Dr. Paul Baxter, Chair          Rev. Dr. Norman Faramelli     Mrs. Emadel Ramsay
Ms. Rachel Anderson             Ms. Elizabeth Green           Rev. Canon Edward Rodman
Ms. Nancy Banks                 Rev. Debora Jackson           Rev. Dr. Tina Saxon
Sr. Tess Browne                 Rev. Jim McPhee               Mr. Bob Schmalz
Deana Chase                     Rev. Dr. Stephen Mott         Rev. Kristin White
Ms. Tina Clarke                 Rev. Dr. Rodney Petersen      Rev. Cindy Williams

The Massachusetts Council of Churches is the state ecumenical body made up of 17 Orthodox
and Protestant member denominations, with more than 1700 congregations across the state.
Formed in 1902, the Massachusetts Council of Churches has a long history of helping the
churches address social issues together. The Strategy and Action Commission is the social
research, education, and action arm of the Council. The Strategy and Action Commission is
composed of representatives of MCC member denominations and directs work on the Council’s
priority issues.

Table of Contents
WElComE            4

introduCtion to thE CurriCulum                                   6

lEAdEr’s GuidE: EiGht study sEssions
1. Creation, environmental pollution, and our health 9
2. Identifying environmental injustice through Hurricane Katrina 11
3. The Biblical witness on Creation and community 14
4. Applying our faith to environmental health and justice 15
5. Healthy kids: Protecting the most vulnerable in our homes 17
6. Healthy churches: Making our churches safer 19
7 Healthy communities: Mapping our communities and responding 20
8. Safer for all: Legislative advocacy for a healthier Massachusetts 22

onlinE AppEndix
The most current resources are available at:
Handouts for study sessions
Resources for congregational participation
Worship and liturgical resources

          “As inheritors of God’s good earth, bound to all creation
by our own place within the created cosmos, we affirm the interdependence
    of a healthy Creation and healthy people, knowing we cannot live
   without clean water, breathable air, nourishing food and safe homes.
     As people of faith, bound together by our common commitment
         to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we confess the whole
                   human family is inextricably linked.”
                          from “A Call to Protect Health and
                          Community: A Christian Response to
                          the Health Effects of Environmental
                          Racism,” Strategy and Action
                          Commission of the Massachusetts
                          Council of Churches, 2006.

                                     “    WE ConfEss thE
                                          WholE humAn fAmily is
                                          inExtriCAbly linkEd...
The purpose of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, Healthy
Communities Curriculum is to provide Christian congrega-
                                                                    manufacture PVC vinyl are exposed to toxins in plastics;
                                                                    children who chew on the plastic toys are exposed too. Yet,
tions and parishes with an easy-to-use guide for beginning          we are not left powerless or without hope. We can commit
a conversation in your community. The curriculum allows             to educating ourselves and making decisions that protect
people to draw on their own experiences, think theologi-            ourselves and those vulnerable to toxics, wherever they are.
cally about care for our health and the health of others,              As Christians, we have particular resources to offer in
become informed, and take action. We hope that this                 our efforts to make our homes, churches, and communities
resource will be useful for your church as you learn together       healthier. We are communities of faith—as organizations,
how to make healthier decisions for your kids, your church,         we have access to resources, networks, and support systems.
and your community.                                                 As people of the Gospel, we hold onto hope and the belief
   When a can of vegetables for our family dinner is grown          in God’s power of resurrection, even in the face of evil and
in California, packaged in Ohio, and sold in Massachusetts,         death. We know the power of prayer, and we have a long
we can recall that we are inextricably linked to other people       tradition of prophetic witness and social action. We hope,
and places. When pesticide is sprayed along the highway,            we pray, we work for the healing of bodies, communities,
and toxins are transferred to the worker who does the spray-        and the Earth.
ing, and released to the person washing the uniform, we                The writers of the Healthy Churches curriculum and
can recall that we are inextricably linked. When we throw           the theological piece that underscores it (A Call to Protect
an old computer away in Massachusetts and the ‘e-waste’ is          Health and Community: A Christian Response to the Health
dumped in Nigeria, we can recall that we are we are inex-           Effects of Environmental Racism, see appendix) hope that
tricably linked.                                                    this curriculum can begin a conversation in your church
   What we learn when we dig into the issues of environ-            and empower your community to make healthier decisions.
mental health and injustice is that we are all linked, but          As you begin this curriculum, know that you are linked
some communities bear the initial burden of toxic environ-          with other Christians around the state and across the global
ments sooner than others. Buses that spew exhaust when              Church who are reflecting anew on what it means to be
parked in an urban bus depot will still spew exhaust as they        stewards of God’s Creation.
make their way through the countryside. Workers who

Blessings on your journey to building up a healthier Church,
The Strategy and Action Commission of the Massachusetts Council of Churches

September 1, 2008

Introduction to the Curriculum
CoursE ovErviEW                                                     •	 A	youth	group
The Healthy Churches Curriculum is intended as an eight-            •	 A	social	concerns	committee
week adult Christian education course on protecting health          •	 An	ecumenical	clergy	group	
and community wellbeing in Massachusetts.                           •	 An	ecumenical	gathering	with	other	churches	in	your	
The eight study sessions are in two parts:                          •	 A	parenting	group	
I. Four sessions provide a framework for understanding              •	 An	outreach	program
environmental health and environmental justice from a
faith perspective:                                                  About EACh sEssion
1. Creation, environmental pollution, and our health                Each session begins and ends with prayer. Included in the
2. Identifying environmental injustice through Hurricane            guide for each session is a suggestion for a prayer, found in
   Katrina                                                          the Online Appendix. These prayers and liturgical resources
3. The Biblical witness on Creation and community                   may also be incorporated into your church’s worship life, as
4. Applying our faith to environmental health and justice           appropriate.
                                                                       Each session has activities and discussion questions for
II. Four sessions address the question: What can we do?             the 1-1½ hour session, with a list of the items you will
5. Healthy kids: Protecting the most vulnerable in our              need. Photocopy-ready materials for each session can be
   homes                                                            found in the Online Appendix on the Massachusetts Coun-
6. Healthy churches: Making our churches safer                      cil of Churches website,
7. Healthy communities: Mapping our communities and                 healthychurches. At the beginning of each session in the
   responding                                                       section labelled “Tools,” you will find a list of handouts you
8. Safer for all: Legislative advocacy for a healthier              will need from the Online Appendix. Other materials, such
   Massachusetts                                                    as pens, paper, and markers may also be required.
                                                                       Suggestions for further exploration are included at the
Each of the eight sessions can stand alone, be used as a two-       end of each lesson and links are provided in the Appendix.
part series (sessions 1-4 and 5-8), or be used successively.        Often, there will be more topics to cover in a session than
Another possibility is to follow each “understanding” lesson        you have time for. You are welcome to pick and choose the
with an “action” lesson. For example 1, 5, 3, 6, 2, 7, 4, 8.        parts of each session that will fit with your time constraints
The full lessons will take between 1 and 1½ hours each,             and the interests of your study group.
but can be tailored to the time available. While the single
sessions can be used for an adult education class before or         WorkinG ECumEniCAlly
after worship, two sessions can also be put together (with          The curriculum was designed for use in many different
a break in between) for an evening study series extending           Christian communities. Consider offering the curriculum
over four weeks.                                                    in an ecumenical setting, inviting others from churches in
    Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, Healthy Communities is          your town to join in. Churches can alternate sessions at
appropriate for use in:                                             different churches in town or meet at one central location
•	 An	adult	Christian	education	class                               for the series with one or more churches sharing leadership.
•	 A	women’s	or	men’s	fellowship                                    Decide what works best for your community.
•	 A	retreat	setting                                                   The curriculum utilizes statements and resources from
•	 An	Advent	or	Lenten	study                                        various denominations and churches to further our ecu-
•	 An	inter-generational	setting	with	adults	and	high-              menical understanding of our common Christian witness.
   school students

If you would like to find out more about what your church             and other groups” that offers some helpful suggestions about
and other churches have said and done on these issues, visit          how to share what you are learning with others in your
the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs’                church. Working and praying through the eight sessions
Anthology of Policy Statements at              will be a positive experience for the people who participate
anthohome.htm.                                                        in the study sessions, but you can also ensure that others in
                                                                      your church are positively affected.
for thE pAstor or ChristiAn                                              Inviting key people who have experience with illness
EduCAtion dirECtor                                                    caused by toxics, who have environmental science or medical
                                                                      backgrounds, who have experienced environmental injus-
Who should lead the course?                                           tice, or who have worked in community organizing may
No specific educational background is needed to lead a                be especially fruitful. Allowing them to speak from their
session. You may choose to have one leader over all eight             experience during one of the sessions (and/or help recruit
sessions, to rotate the task, or to invite persons with partic-       participants) can be a powerful addition to the series.
ular skills/interests to lead a particular session. Leadership
shared between two or three people lightens the load and              What should leaders do for each session?
ensures continuity, should time conflicts arise for a leader.         •	 Read	the	entire	lesson’s	guide	beforehand.	Photocopy	
Leaders can divide up tasks according to leadership gifts,               prayers and handouts. Gather necessary supplies.
such as materials preparations, discussion facilitation, and          •	 Welcome	participants	and	introduce	the	opening	and	
prayer. Someone with interest in the issue will bring energy             closing prayer.
and background information to the course.                             •	 Facilitate	the	activities	and	conversation.
                                                                      •	 Monitor	the	time	and	ensure	that	all	people	have	an	
for thE CoursE lEAdErs                                                   opportunity to participate.
                                                                      •	 Make	sure	that	a	session	leader	is	scheduled	for	the	next	
How should you begin?                                                    meeting.
Prayer is always a good way to begin. Pray for the leaders,           •	 Be	aware	of	possible	emotional	and/or	spiritual	issues	
pray for the right time and space, pray for ways of reaching             that will arise, and be prepared to provide support and
people who will benefit from the course and add to it. Pray              pastoral care.
for God’s guidance during the course.                                 •	 Pray	for	the	success	of	the	course	and	for	those	who	are	
   Decide on the number of sessions, the day and time of                 participating. The issues can be large, painful, and scary;
the class, and which people the course is especially aimed               staying grounded in our faith and our relationships to
at. Church members? Parents? People in other churches?                   one another will be crucial in this journey together.
The community as a whole? The “who” should also deter-
mine the “when.”                                                      rEsourCEs
   Decide how you will publicize the event within the                 See Online Appendix
church and outside, if this series is being used for outreach         This curriculum draws on three main resources in addition
to families in your community. The curriculum includes                to the Bible:
resources to help your church communicate this project                1. “A Call to Protect Health and Community: A Christian
to the whole congregation. In the Online Appendix, you                   Response to the Health Effects of Environmental
will find the Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, Healthy Com-               Racism,” from the Strategy and Action Commission,
munities Bulletin Insert which can be customized for your                MA Council of Churches, from the Fall 2006 Intersect,
church. Additionally, you will find communication resource               in the Online Appendix.
page from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s
“ELCA Environmental Audit Guide for congregations, schools

2. Resources from the Eco-Justice Programs of the                 are in the legislative process and what your group can do.
   National Council of Churches, including “Mindful               For further information about what is going on in Mas-
   Living: Human Health, Pollution, and Toxics,” and              sachusetts, visit the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow www.
   “Through the eye of the Hurricane: Rebuilding Just    The Alliance for a Healthy Tomor-
   Communities.” These, and other great resources can be          row is a Massachusetts coalition of citizens, scientists, health
   found at                 professionals, workers, people of faith, and educators seek-
                                                                  ing preventive action on toxic hazards.
3. Fact sheets from the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow                        upon ConClusion
                                                                  After the class is finished, your experience can provide
   In addition, leaders are encouraged to explore and inte-       valuable assistance to others as we work to modify the cur-
grate their own church or denominational resources into           riculum and share it with others. Download the Response
the study sessions, including statements of environmental         Form found in the Online Appendix and send it back to
policy (see, lit-            the Massachusetts Council of Churches.
urgy and worship resources, denominational confessions or
catechisms, and so on.                                            Massachusetts Council of Churches
                                                                  14 Beacon Street, Suite 416
stAyinG up-to-dAtE                                                Boston, MA 02139
While you are moving through the curriculum and after             617-523-2771
you are finished, you may want to learn more about these
issues. This will be especially important for the final 
lesson on legislative advocacy. Please visit www.masscoun- to find out where we

                                                                    Have someone read the following
                                                                    “A study by the British Medical Journal concluded that
                                                                    seventy-five percent of most cancers are caused by environ-
                                                                    mental and lifestyle factors. In fact, most Americans have
                                                                    between 400 to 800 chemicals stored in their bodies, typi-
                                                                    cally in fat cells. Health effects of toxic chemicals include
                                                                    cancer, asthma, birth defects, and autism. According to
                                                                    a 2002 report by the Environmental Protection Agency,
Se S S i o n 1
                                                                    in the year 2000, over 7.1 billion pounds of 650 differ-
                                                                    ent industrial chemicals were released in the air and water;
                                                                    266 of these are linked to birth defects.” “Mindful Living:
Creation, environmental                                             Human Health, Pollution, and Toxics,” from the National
pollution, and our health                                           Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs, p. 3.

Goal to understand and share our own experiences with               pArt 2: EnvironmEntAl hEAlth
health and pollution in creation                                    And our ChurCh Community’s
                                                                    EnvironmEnt 25 minutes
Tools From the Online Appendix: article “Report Details             The leader reads: “Environmental health is concerned
Toxins in Home”, the Boston Globe; “Scientists Sound the            with exposure to and the health effects of toxic substances.
Alarm for our Health” from the Alliance for a Healthy Tomor-        Exposure questions are: Who was exposed? How did the
row; “Mindful Living: Human Health, Pollution and Toxics”           chemical or substance travel from its source into the body
from the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs.         of the exposed person (the exposure pathway)? How large
Make one copy for each participant. (Note: Copying on               was the exposure? Was it once, several times, or on-going?
both sides of each page conserves paper and trees.)                 Health effects may include no effects, a one-time illness, or
   Items: large paper, Bibles, markers, pens or pencils, pho-       a chronic condition; some persons or populations may be
tocopied map of your city/town                                      very vulnerable to effects, while others are less so. We will
                                                                    now look at exposure pathways in our own community.”
Preparation Retrieve a map of your town at http://maps.                “We will now take some time to think carefully about On the left side of the          our environment in this community.”
screen, scroll down and click on your town. In the bottom              Pass out photocopies of a map of your city or town.
left corner, click on the printer icon to create a printable        Invite participants to mark such locations as your church,
map, (if your internet server has a pop-up blocker, hold            schools, your home. After this is completed, invite partici-
down the ‘Ctrl’ key when you click on the button “create            pants to mark areas such as town dumps, manufacturing
print page”). Make enough photocopies for the group.                plants, major highways and bus depots.

Begin session with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 minutes                  Invite participants to respond to the following
pArt 1: tAlkinG About our                                           Q Where are there dumps, manufacturing plants, major
ChurCh’s hEAlth 10 minutes                                            highways, bus depots? What are the pathways for
                                                                      toxins in the community?
Invite participants to respond to the following                     Q Where are the farms, gardens, parks, waterways, or
questions                                                             green space? Is it well cared for? What contributes to
Q Which health problems most affect this church? This                 health in this community?
  community?                                                        Q Would you call this town a place that contributes to
  During the response to this question, the leader can                good health or a place that does harm to your health?
  write these health problems on large paper so that all            Q Have you ever lived somewhere that you felt was
  can see the common areas of health concern. Health                  unhealthy? What did that feel like?
  problems can include physical, mental, spiritual issues.

   If time permits, ask participants to also mark grocery                pArt 4: EnvironmEnt or
stores, bars, fast food restaurants, health care facilities, bike        CrEAtion? 20 minutes
paths, etc. Additional questions: How easy is it for residents           Invite a participant to read aloud Genesis 1:26-31 to con-
to buy healthy food, to exercise, have access to health care?            sider the relationship between God and Creation, God and
To move around without a car? Are there usable sidewalks                 human, human and Creation. Use the following questions
or bike paths? Does the town or city structure encourage or              to generate conversation
inhibit health?                                                          Q What does the Creation story say about the nature of
                                                                            God? The origin of Earth and all living beings?
pArt 3: ExpAndinG our                                                    Q According to the story, what is the place of humans
undErstAndinG: thE indoor                                                   in the Creation? How do we understand our primary
EnvironmEnt 20 minutes                                                      relationships (to God, other people, and the rest of the
Leader reads: “Sources of toxic contamination do not just                   created order)?
come from things outside our homes and schools. The great                Q How does God see Creation? How do we see God’s
scientific progress of the past century has created tens of                 Creation? How have we treated it?
thousands of synthetic chemicals with a wide range of uses               Q How does being made in the image of God inform our
in millions of products. These chemicals have made our                      role with respect to the rest of Creation?
homes more comfortable and secure, eased our workloads,                  Q What difference would it make to treat the world we
contributed to our wealth, and made our lives more conve-                   live in as Creation, not just our environment?
nient and fun. However, the use of these chemicals has also
had an unintended and unexpected consequence; many of                    The discussion should center on the Judeo-Christian
them have turned out to be toxic to our health.” from ‘Sci-              concept of Creation, which presupposes the Creator. All
entists Sound Alarm for Our Health, from the Alliance for a              created things have a primary relationship with God the
Healthy Tomorrow.                                                        Creator; humans have a special relationship as beloved
   Pass out copies, Report Details Toxins in Home, by Steven             Creatures, but also as caretakers for and stewards of other
Rosenberg, The Boston Globe, March 24, 2005.                             created beings.

Give the group a few minutes to read the                                 End with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 minutes.
article. Ask the following questions                                     Pray for those suffering from health problems of any kind
Q Were you surprised by any of this information?                         in your church and community.
Q Does this information resonate with you and your
  family? In what ways?                                                  For Further Study
Q What are the exposure pathway of these toxic                           See the Online Appendix for additional handouts and
  chemicals into our bodies? Who is affected? Who is                     reading suggestions.
  most affected? (Don’t forget to mention those who are
  exposed during manufacture and those who may be
  using toxic chemicals during their work.)
Q What is the likely effect of exposure to multiple

                                                                      the video clip on YouTube.)
                                                                      Q What do you most remember about Hurricane
                                                                      Q Who was affected? Who was most severely affected?

                                                                      Pass out copies of resource “Through the Eye of the Hurri-
                                                                      cane: Rebuilding Just Communities” from the National Coun-
                                                                      cil of Churches Eco-Justice Programs. Invite someone to read
Se S S i o n 2
                                                                      aloud the following section from page 2, last paragraph:
                                                                          “Vulnerable Land And People: Connections: The
                                                                          death, destruction, and environmental degradation
Identifying environmental                                                 in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf of Mexico
injustice through Hurricane                                               region brought to light the need for a renewed cov-
                                                                          enant of community. The wind and waters that bat-
Katrina                                                                   tered the Gulf States stripped away our collective
                                                                          blindness to the plight of the poor and marginalized
Goal to explore the connections between our health, the                   among us and awakened us anew to the challenges fac-
environment and racism.                                                   ing environmental racism. We were reminded of our
                                                                          dependence on God’s Creation and recognized that
Tools From the Online Appendix: “Through the Eye of the                   too often our lifestyle choices despoil the Earth and
Hurricane: Rebuilding Just Communities” from the National                 expose communities to greater natural harm and envi-
Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs; “A Call to Protect              ronmental threats.” (adapted from United Methodist
Health and Community: A Christian Response to the Health                  General Board of Church and Society statement)
Effects of Environmental Racism.” Make one copy for each
participant, using both sides of the page.                            pArt 2: CrEAtinG A WorkinG
   Items: large sheet of paper, markers. For pictures from            dEfinition for EnvironmEntAl
Hurricane Katrina, visit A brief            inJustiCE 30 minutes
video of the hurricane (search for “Hurricane Katrina,” 4             Have someone read aloud the following section (page 2,
minutes, 4 seconds) can be viewed on                 last paragraph) of “A Call to Protect Health and Community:
Have a laptop and possibly a LCD projector on hand to                 A Christian Response to the Health Effects of Environmental
watch it with your group. An outstanding National Geo-                Racism,” Naming the Sins: Health Effects of Environmen-
graphic Special Edition on Katrina is available at http://ngm.        tal Racism: or call 800 777 2800                 “The term ‘environmental racism’ was coined in 1987,
to order a copy.                                                         when the United Church of Christ Commission on
                                                                         Racial Justice issued “A Report on Race and Toxic Waste
Note: If you can, invite someone from the church or com-                 in the United States,” in which they demonstrated that
munity who has visited New Orleans since Katrina to be                   the racial makeup of an area was a determining fac-
present and speak briefly about conditions there in Part 1.              tor in choosing locations for toxic sites. Although the
                                                                         term was new, the problem was old. The convergence
Begin with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 minutes                               of the sins of racism and destruction of the environ-
                                                                         ment had been occurring for years before the report in
pArt 1: rEmEmbErinG hurriCAnE                                            many different forms.”
kAtrinA 15 minutes
Take a few moments of silence and ask the group to close              The Leader reads: “Since that time, despite or because
their eyes and remember the images of Hurricane Katrina.              of debate about whether ethnicity, poverty, or population
(Have on hand some pictures from that time, especially if             density is the determining factor in facility sitting and other
participants are young. Or use this opportunity to watch              environmental issues, what has emerged is a broader picture

that understands environmental injustice as the inequitable                        mental injustice, can you think of other examples of times
distribution of environmental hazards due to skin color,                           or places where environmental injustice occurred?”
ethnicity, economic status, and/or immigration status,                                Continue to list examples on the large paper. To prompt
among other things. Environmental injustice is not only                            conversation, the group leader can augment the conversa-
fueled by overt discrimination, but by “white privilege” (or                       tion with some examples from A Call to Protect Health and
white Anglo-Saxon Protestant privilege), special advantages                        Community: A Christian Response to the Health Effects of
granted to white people, which can lead, for instance, to                          Environmental Racism, pg 1 or excerpted below:
being able to move away from industrial areas into the sub-                           “The effect on our health of environmental racism
urbs. The environmental justice movement is concerned                                 can be seen across the United States and its territories.
with giving all people a voice in environmental decisions,                            Urban toxic waste and industrial sites raise carcinogen
and looking not only at how to dispose waste, but also how                            exposure rates for communities of color. Fifteen-mega-
to reduce waste creation.                                                             ton hydrogen bomb testing in the Marshall Islands
   “Hear one definition of white privilege: ‘an invisible                             have been related to pervasive cancer and generations
package of unearned assets that [a white person] can count                            of birth defects. The location of low-income housing
on cashing in each day, but about which [that person] was                             in areas with poor air quality has led to increases in
“meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invis-                        childhood asthma. Pesticide exposure in fields sickens
ible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, pass-                           migrant farm workers. Low-wage workers in unregu-
ports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.’”                          lated workplaces often are subject to toxic environ-
                                                                                      ments. Native Americans have been forced to move to
“White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming To See
Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies” (1988), by Peggy McIntosh,           inhospitable and contaminated rural lands. Then US
Independent School, Winter 1990.                                                      companies ship their toxic materials to other countries
                                                                                      with less strict environmental regulations for process-
Part A Environmental injustice and Hurricane                                          ing. From the mountains to the prairies to the oceans,
Katrina                                                                               we are sickening the land, polluting ourselves and our
Leader invites one person to be a scribe and then reads:                              neighbors.”
“Let’s explore some of the ways ethnicity, poverty, or privi-
lege combined with environmental issues to lead to envi-                           Part C Why does Environmental Injustice
ronmental injustice during and after Hurricane Katrina.”                           occur? (new sheet of paper)
On a large sheet of paper, ask the scribe to write down the                        Leader asks: “As we work to build a definition of envi-
responses to these questions.                                                      ronmental injustice, can you think of reasons why environ-
   Leader asks:                                                                    mental injustices occur?”
Q What were the environmental problems that                                           To prompt ideas, the group leader can also offer examples
   contributed to or resulted from the devastation?                                from the text of A Call to Protect Health and Community:
Q What health concerns resulted from the hurricane?                                A Christian Response to the Health Effects of Environmental
   (contaminated soil, reduced medical capacity, mold)                             Racism, pg 2 or excerpted below:
(begin a new piece of paper)
Q How did environmental injustice manifest itself in                               “Environmental racism [injustice]” covers a broad range of
   New Orleans? Who made the decisions?                                            issues:
Q Are there stories from the aftermath and clean-up                                •	 Barriers	to	information	and	power	that	people	of	color	
   that reveal environmental racism or injustice?                                     [poverty, etc.] face when toxic chemicals are introduced
   (slow response, FEMA trailers with high levels of                                  into the environment in their communities.
   formaldehyde, slow rebuilding in impoverished areas)                                                                                   t
                                                                                   •	 Biased	location	of	toxic	sites,	manufacturing	facili	 ies,	
                                                                                      landfills, oil refineries, and chemical facilities.
Part B Other examples of Environmental                                                                                                    t
                                                                                   •	 Less	competent	cleanup	and	response	from	regula	 ory	
Injustice (new sheet of paper)                                                        agencies.
Leader asks: “As we work to build a definition of environ-                         •	 Disregard	for	the	beliefs	about	Creation	from	multiple	

   ethnic groups, such as those of Native Americans in the          chances are 39 times higher that you live in one of the
   United States.                                                   30 most environmentally hazardous communities in
•	 Lack	of	leadership	opportunity	within	the	environ-               the state than if you lived in a predominantly white
   mental justice movement for people of color [and the             community. This unfair health burden is compounded
   poor].                                                           by barriers to healthcare and uneven responses from
•	 Lack	of	economic	opportunities	that	lead	to	jobs	in	             regulatory agencies to communities of color that are
   environmentally dangerous and poorly regulated jobs              trying to make their communities healthy.’”
   (migrant labor, sweat-shops, cleaning services)                Q How have you witnessed or experienced
                                                                    environmental racism or injustice in Massachusetts?
pArt 3: brinGinG it homE 20 minutes
The leader can choose one or more of the following ways           Option C Thinking about environmental
to bring environmental injustice closer to home—showing           injustice and Scripture
the link with American consumption habits, the link with          For the link with Christian faith, choose one of the fol-
Massachusetts, and/or the Biblical link.                          lowing Scripture passages and have it read by one or more
Option A American Consumption                                     •	 Discuss	how	Jesus	identifies	with	those	who	are	
Leader invites someone to read “Lifestyle Choices Con-               vulnerable and powerless and how this should shape
nection” on page 4 of “Through the Eye of a Hurricane:               Christian relationships with “the least of these,” not only
Rebuilding Just Communities”                                         after a Katrina-type disaster, but in daily life. Matthew
  “Although Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were natural                 25:31-45, the sheep and the goats, or James 2:1-9, the
  disasters, the lifestyle choices that we have made as              preference for the poor.
  a United States population compounded the storms’
  devastation. An industrial area along the Mississippi           •	 The	story	is	based	on	deep	animosity	between	Jews	
  River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, nick-                   and Samaritans of the time. Each group claimed to be
  named “Cancer Alley,” contains chemical plants that                the true descendents of Abraham and to hold to the
  sustained damage from the storms. The plants were                  true faith; Jewish hearers of the story would not have
  located along the Mississippi to facilitate shipping,              expected a Samaritan to have crossed the great divides
  but have now resulted in Louisiana, one of the most                between groups to tend a hurt Jew. Discuss how Jesus
  impoverished areas of the country, becoming the most               changed the definition of “neighbor” from qualities of
  polluted. The area, which contains hundreds of haz-                the recipient to qualities of the giver of love. How does
  ardous waste sites from mines, factories, and chemical             that change our relationships? If participants are familiar
  plants, houses the very industrial sites that produce              with recovery work in the Gulf Coast, have them reflect
  many of our consumer goods such as vinyl siding,                   on who has given and received mercy in the efforts.
  plastics, and oil.”                                                Luke 10:25-37, the Good Samaritan.
Q How did/does American consumerism contribute to
  environmental injustice in the Gulf Coast area?                 End with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 minutes
                                                                  Pray for environmental justice.
Option B Linking environmental racism and
our state                                                         For Further Study
Leader invites someone to read the following from “A              See the Online Appendix for additional handouts and read-
Call to Protect Health and Community: A Christian Response        ing suggestions.
to the Health Effects of Environmental Racism,” p.2:
   “But the health effects of environmental racism
   are not limited to the Gulf; they are present here in
   ‘If you live in a community of color in Massachusetts,

                                                                         four people. Assign each group one of the topic headings
                                                                         (Creation, Sabbath, Justice, etc.) and allow each group to
                                                                         choose one of the Scripture passages to study. Feel free to
                                                                         add or use other passages of Scripture as appropriate.
                                                                         Creation—Genesis 1-:26-2:4 or Genesis 2:4b-17
                                                                                      God’s relationship to Creation
                                                                                    Genesis 3 Humans fall, God responds
                                                                                    Mark 4:35-41 Jesus stilling the storm
S e SS i o n 3
                                                                         Sabbath—Exodus 20:8-11 God’s relationship to Creation
                                                                                    Leviticus 25:1-7, 18-22 Humans’ relationship
                                                                                      to the earth
The Biblical witness on                                                  Justice—Psalm 103, Psalm 107, Psalm 46, Psalm 43
Creation and community                                                              Matthew 23:1-14, 23-25 The greatest is the
                                                                                       servant of others
Goal to discover what the Scriptures say about our relation-                        Luke 1:46-55 The Magnificat
ships to God, others, and Creation, and how they inform                             Luke 4:14-22 Spirit of the Lord on Jesus
our decisions and actions on environmental justice issues.                          Luke 6:20-31 Sermon on the Plain
                                                                                    Mark 10: 3-16 Children and Jesus
Tools     From the Online Appendix: “A Call to Protect                              James 2: 1-9 Treatment of the poor
Health and Community: A Christian Response to the Health                 Healing and Redemption—Isaiah 65:17-25 New heavens
Effects of Environmental Racism.” Make one copy for each                                              and a new Earth
participant.                                                                        Matthew 8:1-17 Jesus heals a leper
   Items: Bibles, markers, pens, small sticky notes, ten large                      Matthew 9:9-13 Calling of Matthew
(5½ x 8 or larger) sticky notes or pieces of paper.                                 Romans 8:18-27 Waiting for the redemption of
                                                                                      our bodies
Preparation Write out each of the ten “Guiding Norms                     Stewardship—Mark 6:30-44 Feeding of the Five Thousand
for Church and Society” from p. 6 and 7 on one of the large                         Matthew 25:14-30 The Talents
sticky notes or papers in marker.                                                   Matthew 25:31-46 Sheep and Goats
                                                                                    I Corinthians 6:12-20 Our bodies as Temples
Begin with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 minutes                                          I Corinthians 12:12-27 The Church as the
                                                                                      body of Christ
pArt 1: introduCtion 5 minutes
Leader Reads: The theological document from the Mas-                     Bible Study Method
sachusetts Council of Churches, “A Call to Protect Health                •	 Invite	someone	in	the	group	to	read	the	Scripture	aloud	
and Community: A Christian Response to the Health Effects                   slowly.
of Environmental Racism,” states: “In Deuteronomy, God                   •	 Let	the	small	group	silently	meditate	on	the	text	for	a	
declares, ‘I call heaven and Earth to witness against you today             minute.
that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.         •	 Allow	the	group	to	respond	to	the	question:	How	
Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.’ (Deut               does the text speak to the relationships between God,
30:19). As people of faith, we are compelled to choose the                  Creation, and humans?
ways of life, both for ourselves and out descendants.”                   •	 Have	another	person	read	the	Scripture	for	a	second
   “In our session today, we’ll look at various passages of                 time.
Scriptures to come to a better understanding of the dynamic              •	 Let	the	small	group	silently	meditate	on	the	text	for	a	
relationship between God and humans as we consider the Cre-                 minute.
ation, health, and justice for all, especially the marginalized.”        •	 Respond	to	the	question:	What	is	a	modern	example	of	
                                                                            what is being taught in this text?
pArt 2: smAll Group biblE study                                          •	 Read	the	Scripture	for	a	final	time.
35 minutes                                                               •	 Let	the	small	group	silently	meditate	on	the	text	for	a	
For the Bible study, break up into small groups of two to                   minute.

•	 Respond	to	the	questions:	What	are	the	characteristics	         everyone understands the concepts. Place the large (sticky)
   of Christian faith illustrated by your Bible passage?           notes with the ten guiding norms around the tables or on
   What characteristics or traits (for example: gentleness         the walls of the room, and invite participants to assign the
   or perseverance) are we being invited to adopt in our           traits from their Bible passages (small sticky notes) to the
   relationships with God, others, and/or Creation?                guiding norm which seems closest. If a trait does not seem
•	 Have	each	small	group	write	the	characteristics	down	on	        to fit with one of the norms, put it in a new category. When
   the small sticky notes, one trait per note.                     all are done, invite discussion. Are there guiding norms that
                                                                   the Scripture didn’t seem to address? Did you come up with
pArt 3: rEConvEninG And                                            other norms? Do you agree with these guides for decision-
rEflECtion on “GuidinG norms                                       making?
for ChurCh And soCiEty” 15 minutes
Invite the groups to reconvene as one large group. Have            End Session with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 minutes
each small group briefly report on its passage and the             Pray for good stewardship of Creation.
group’s discussion.
   Give participants “A Call to Protect Health and Com-            For Further Study
munity.” Go around the room, with each person reading a            See Online Appendix for additional handouts and reading
paragraph from the section on “Guiding Norms for Church            suggestions.
and Society” from pp. 6-7 (through “Equality”). Make sure

                                                                   Preparation Retrieve a map of your town at http://maps.
                                                          On the left side of the
                                                                   screen, scroll down and click on your town. In the bottom
                                                                   left corner, click on the printer icon to create a printable
                                                                   map, (if your internet server has a pop-up blocker, hold
                                                                   down the ‘Ctrl’ key when you click on the button “create
                                                                   print page”). Make enough photocopies for the group.
S e SS i o n 4
                                                                   Begin with Prayer (see Appendix ) 5 minutes

                                                                   pArt 1: CoopErAtivE ACtivity
Applying our faith to                                              30 minutes
Environmental Health                                               Leader Reads: “In this lesson, we will consider how our
                                                                   faith impacts our decisions about our environment.
and Justice                                                           “Do you think about where your waste goes? When you
                                                                   ‘throw something away,’ where is ‘away?’ Where does it go?
Goal to see how Christian faith can be applied to finding          If we are to take toxic products out of our homes, schools,
a way to dispose of toxic products in the community, while         work places, factories, and stores, where do they end up?
taking into account practical issues and priorities.               Who gets to decide? In this simulation, we are going to
                                                                   work together (in groups not larger than 5 people) to find a
Tools From the Online Appendix: “A Call to Protect Health          waste dump site in the community.”
and Community: A Christian Response to the Health Effects             Divide the group up, and assign each participant a char-
of Environmental Racism, from the Massachusetts Council of         acter from “List of Characters for Role Play” and hand out
Churches; “List of Characters for Role Play;” “Map of your         copies of a map of your town.
Community.” Make one copy for each participant.                       Leader reads: “Let me set the stage for you. You each
   Items: paper, pens                                              have a role to play. Assume that people are trying to rid
                                                                   their homes and workplaces of toxic products, and previous
                                                                   landfills are now closed to your community’s toxic product

waste. Where will it go? Your task is to find a new site for          Q How did your faith inform your conversation?
a waste dump in your community. Each of you has been                  Q What other information or points of view did you
given a role and priorities for the site; you may choose your           need?
age or ethnicity as you wish. As you begin negotiations, each         Q Any other insights?
person should start by making a case for a site according to
his or her own priorities, but your task is to work together          pArt 3: rEflECtion on thE
to come to agreement. Use your maps to make your case for             ChurCh’s rolE 20-30 minutes
the best location. You are to assume that everyone lives in           Go around the room and have each person read the section
the community, and that you will be responsible for your              of “A Call to Protect Health and Community” entitled “Mak-
population’s share of toxic products that have been used              ing the connection between Christian Faith and Environ-
while serving medical, agricultural, and workplace needs,             mental Racism,” beginning on page 5.
even if these hospitals, farms, and industries are not located           Leader says: “Let’s consider what power faith communi-
in your community.                                                    ties have and what role they can take in promoting environ-
   “Consider how your faith might inform or change your               mental justice.”
perspective. How will you appeal to those of other faiths or             Ask for a volunteer scribe, and attach a large piece of paper
no religious beliefs?                                                 to the wall. Record the answers to the following question.
   “You may consider actions to reduce the creation or                   Leader asks: “What kind of power do Christians have
disposal of waste, and are encouraged to consider creative            access to? What kinds of power do churches have, when
solutions that will benefit all (including job creation).             addressing community needs?” Have the group list their
   “Pay attention to how you are making decisions: whose              suggestions. Suggested responses:
voice carries most weight in the town? What principles seem           •	 Power	of	God	to	bring	change,	healing,	new	life
to guide your decision most? How do you engage your faith             •	 Power	of	a	community	who	believes	in	resurrection,	
around this issue? What kind of power do you have?                       hope, reconciliation
   “Before you begin to locate this waste site, consider this         •	 Prayer—prayer	teams,	prayer	resources,	etc.	Prayer	grounds,	
definition of environmental justice:                                     enlightens, guides, connects Christians to God, others.
   “‘A condition of environmental justice exists when envi-           •	 Ritual	and	liturgy—these	strengthen	community,	give	
ronmental risks and hazards and investments and benefits                 meaning to joyful and sorrowful occasions, connect
are equally distributed without direct or indirect discrimi-             people to God. Weekly worship and sacraments are
nation at all jurisdictional levels and when access to envi-             especially important rituals.
ronmental investments, benefits, and natural resources are            •	 Preaching	and	prophetic	witness—calling	people	to	
equally distributed; and when access to information, par-                changed behaviors, relationships
ticipation in decision making, and access to justice in envi-         •	 Christian	education,	education	in	the	community
ronment-related matters are enjoyed by all.’” Participants of         •	 Member	resources—education,	finances,	connections	to	
Central and Eastern European Workshop on Environmental                   others
Justice, (Budapest, December 2003) taken from “Through the            •	 Connections	to	other	churches;	judicatory	or	church/
Eye of the Storm,” p.4                                                   denomination resources at a district, state, national level
   “You will have about 25 minutes to do this exercise. Start         •	 Connections	to	secular	local,	state,	and	national	
by allowing each person 1-2 minutes to make his or her case              organizations; members involved in these
about what kinds of waste should be accepted and where to             •	 Outreach	avenues
locate the site in your town.”                                        •	 Public	policy	advocacy

pArt 2: rEflECtion on thE rolE                                        End Session with Prayer (see Appendix ) 5 minutes
plAy 10-20 minutes                                                    Pray for the church and its power.
Reflect as one group on the experience. Use as questions:
Q Did you come to a decision as a group? What could                   For Further Study:
  you agree on? What were your guiding principles?                    See Online Appendix for additional handouts and reading
Q What was surprising? Difficult?                                     suggestions.
Q What priorities seemed most to conflict with each

                                                                       shall be blessed by the Lord (Isaiah 65:23.) Zechariah has
                                                                       a vision of a restored Jerusalem where old men and women
                                                                       sit on their porches and the city is full of boys and girls
                                                                       playing safely in the streets (Zechariah 8:5.)…
                                                                          “Children are among God’s most precious—and most
                                                                       vulnerable—gifts. They are the hope of the future, but
                                                                       theirs is a future threatened by environmental pollution.
                                                                       People of faith are called to work together to help safeguard
S e SS i o n 5
                                                                       children’s health and their future. We can work together to
                                                                       help make Zechariah's dream a reality, where children play
                                                                       safely in their homes and schools, on their playgrounds,
Healthy kids: Protecting the most                                      and even in our city streets.” From the National Council of
vulnerable in our homes                                                Churches Eco-Justice Program, for Earth Day 2002 “Caring
                                                                       for God’s Creation: Making the World Safe for Children.”
Goals to talk about why protecting all children’s health
is of particular concern to Christians, to educate ourselves           pArt 2: Why ArE ChildrEn so
about toxic exposure and children, and to consider how we              vulnErAblE to toxiC ChEmiCAls?
can keep our homes safe for all.                                       15 minutes
                                                                       Hand out the article from the Alliance for a Healthy Tomor-
Tools: From the Online Appendix: “Our Most Precious,                   row, “Our Most Precious, Most at Risk” and have partici-
Most at Risk” from the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow; cop-
                                                                       pants take turns reading out loud the introduction and
ies of “Mindful Living Human Health, Pollution, and Toxics,”
                                                                       “We’re Uniquely Vulnerable in Early Life.”
from the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program.
                                                                          Have the group summarize, and one participant take notes
Make one copy for each participant. By now using both sides of
                                                                       on the large paper, the reasons why young children may suf-
each sheet of paper should be natural to you.
                                                                       fer more from toxic chemical exposure than older persons.
    Items: Large sheets of paper, small sheets of paper, pens
                                                                          Leader reads: “As the article states, children are more
or pencils, assorted children’s toys (some from the church’s
                                                                       affected by toxic chemicals and may be more exposed.
Sunday school space, if available), plastic bottles, children’s
                                                                          Why is the health of children more sensitive to toxins
sleepwear, children’s backpacks or lunchboxes, and/or per-
                                                                       than adults?”
sonal care products that children might use (shampoo,
                                                                          Answers might include: Organs are still developing,
lotion, toothpaste).
                                                                       chemicals may disrupt normal development; immature
Preparation Use a piece of tape to label each toy and                  bodies can’t repair toxin damage; early exposure may result
personal care product with a number.                                   in disease many years later; children have smaller bodies
                                                                       and smaller doses may affect children more than adults.
Video Option: Use the first 7.5 minutes of the “Contami-
                                                                          Leader reads: “How and in what situations might chil-
nated without Consent” video in Part 2 instead of read-
                                                                       dren be more exposed to toxins than adults?”
ing “Our Most Precious, Most at Risk.” The video can be
                                                                          Answers might include: Children have more years left to
viewed online at:
                                                                       be exposed; exposure may start before or soon after birth;
or contact the MCC for a DVD.
                                                                       children might have eating habits or other behaviors that
Begin with Prayer (Appendix) 5 minutes                                 cause greater exposure (eating one kind of food, sleeping
                                                                       more, eating lead-contaminated paint chips)
pArt 1: ChristiAns And CArE for                                           Leader reads: “We are called to protect the most vul-
ChildrEn’s hEAlth 5 minutes                                            nerable in our communities, including our children. This
Leader reads: “The Biblical visions of a redeemed and                  starts in our homes; as parents, grandparents, aunts and
restored Creation often make special note of the security              uncles, and friends of children, we are conscious of mak-
and well-being of children. Isaiah foresees a time when even           ing our homes child-proof. In addition to covering electri-
the most vulnerable children, nursing babes and toddlers,              cal outlets, keeping dangerous tools locked up, and putting
play safely in the presence of the asp and the adder (Isaiah           medicines where they can’t be reached, we need to toxic-
11:8.) People will no longer labor in vain or bear children            proof our homes. The next exercise will teach us how to
for calamity, but they and their descendants yet to come               do that.”
pArt 3: sortinG out thE Good                                          tion of the problem from the Alliance for a Healthy Tomor-
from thE toxiC 25 minutes                                             row: ‘Wrinkle-free clothes, stain-resistant carpet, life-saving
Place the children’s toys and household items on the table.           medical devices, bountiful plastic toys—there’s no doubt
Give each person a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil. Allow          synthetic chemicals have brought a wealth of convenience,
the group to briefly look over the articles.                          comfort and fun to our lives. But what about the hidden
   When they have finished, pass out copies of the “Mind-             impacts? With no government agency watching the store,
ful Living” resource, and have them all turn to pages 6 and           these modern comforts and conveniences have come at a
7. Invite a different person to read each paragraph; include          high price to our health. Governments around the world
paragraphs on Bisphenol-A, Lead, PFCs, Phthalates, and                recognize the dangers of these products, and many other
PBDEs (and formaldehyde if you have wood products or                  countries have taken decisive action to protect their con-
time permits). When you read about lead, be sure to add               sumers. Regulations in the U.S., however, are either lax or
that some children’s toys and jewelry have been found to              non-existent.’ That leads us to ask, as consumers and as
contain lead, which is often added to metals or to polyvi-            Christians, what can we do?” “No One Minding the Store,”
nyl chloride (PVC) plastic (see            The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow.
findings.php). You might want to mention that some cos-
metics have been shown to contain lead or mercury as well             pArt 4: ChristiAns As
(see ).                                         ConsumErs—hoW to mAkE our
   After the sections have been read, have participants num-          homEs sAfE for ChildrEn 15 minutes
ber their papers according to the numbers on the household            Direct the class to turn to page 11 in “Mindful Living” and
items. As they again look over the items, have them write             read the “Fourteen Personal Actions” out loud or silently.
down whether they judge each article to be “toxic” or “non-           Leader asks:
toxic.” Encourage the group to work fairly quickly.                   Q What do you need in order to make healthy choices
   When all are finished, compare answers. Encourage a                   as a consumer? (List on a large piece of paper.) These
discussion using such questions as:                                      might include:
Q Who thinks that item #1 (2, 3, etc.) is toxic? Non-                 	 •	Accurate	information	about	products
   toxic? Why? What toxic chemicals may it contain?                       H
                                                                      	 •		 ealthy,	accessible,	affordable	alternatives	to	products	
   How do you know?                                                       containing toxic chemicals
   (Things to consider: Soft plastics often contain                       S
                                                                      	 •		 ocial	support	to	change	lifestyle.	(What	products	can	
   phthalates (pronounced “thal-ates”) and may contain                    we do without? Who do we need support from?)
   lead. Personal care products that contain “fragrance”              	 •	Prayer	and	discernment
   usually contain phthalates. Children’s bedclothes,                 	 •	Time	and	energy	to	invest	in	change
   especially those made of synthetics, are treated with              Q How can this church support its members in changing
   flame retardants. Hard plastic baby bottles, water                    products at home? How can the church encourage
   bottles, and sippy cups may contain Bisphenol-A.)                     gradual but sustained change (to keep people from
Q How confident are you about your answers? Why?                         feeling overwhelmed?)
   If your group has immediate access to the world                    Q How can churches aid those with fewer resources and/
   wide web, you could check several of the toys at                      or higher risks to change consumption habits? and compare their results to                   Q Should personal consumption habits be the focus of
   participants’ assessments.                                            our efforts as Christians? Why or why not?
                                                                      Q What will happen to the toxic materials we discard in
Leader reads: “The truth is, it is often impossible to deter-            an effort to clean up our homes?
mine which everyday items are toxic and which are safer.
Plastic toys don't come with labels fully disclosing the              End Session with Prayer             (Appendix) 5 Minutes
materials used, the chemicals workers were exposed to in              Pray for the children of the church and community.
the manufacturing, or the toxic ‘off-gassing’ that will occur
after the toy is in your home. We should not need a degree            For Further Study
in toxicology to purchase a toy for a child. The fact that it         See Online Appendix for additional handouts and reading
is so hard to tell the toxic items from the safer ones should         suggestions.
alert us to the depth of this problem. Listen to this descrip-

                                                                         pArt 2: AltErnAtEs to toxiCs
                                                                         disCussion 15 minutes
                                                                         Invite both teams to reflect on what they just found. Ask:
                                                                         Q Did you find anything you could identify as toxic?
                                                                         Q Did you find anything that was a ‘safer’ option?
                                                                         Q Was there anything that you couldn’t identify as toxic
                                                                           or safer?
                                                                         Q Who would these products most affect?
S e SS i o n 6
                                                                         Q How could the church reduce or eliminate exposure?

                                                                         Ask the Cleaning Chemicals Team:
Healthy churches: Making                                                 Q Do you know the person or persons who use cleaning

our churches safer                                                         products in this church?
                                                                         Q Have you ever felt dizzy or nauseous from using
Goal to monitor our own churches for cleaning products                     cleaning chemicals?
and plastics that could impact our health and that of others             Q What might be done in this church to lessen the
who work, meet, and worship in our church.                                 chemical exposure here?

Tools From the Online Appendix: “Smart Plastics Guide,”                  Ask the Plastics Team:
“Cleaning to Protect Your Health” fact sheet; “A Healthy                 Q What plastic or vinyl products were found and where ?
Environment Starts at Home: A Guide to reducing our use of               Q Where they all numbered? Did you find more toxic or
household hazardous products, (hard copies of this resource                non-toxic plastics?
can be requested from the Massachusetts Water Resource                   Q Was it easy or difficult to tell which items were toxic?
Authority at (617) 242-6000). Make one copy for each                     Q What effect might they have on children? Who else
participant.                                                               might be affected?
  Items: paper and pens                                                  Q How could the church reduce children’s or adults’
                                                                           exposure to these toxins?
Begin with Prayer (see Appendix): 5 minutes
                                                                         Pass out copies of “A Healthy Environment Starts at Home:
pArt 1: toxiC produCts                                                   A guide to reducing our use of household hazardous prod-
sCAvEnGEr hunt 35 minutes                                                ucts” from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
Break the group up into two teams: the Cleaning Chemicals                to everyone, the Smart Plastics Guide, and the “Cleaning to
team and the Plastics team. Each team has 30 minutes to                  Protect Your Health” fact sheet to those who have not yet
scour the church and write down all the things they find.                received it.
   Give the Cleaning Chemicals Team the “Cleaning to Pro-
tect your Health” fact sheet. This team is looking for all clean-        pArt 3: dEvElopinG A ChurCh
ing products. Write down the name of the product, where                  poliCy on toxiCs 20 minutes
you found it, and the names of potentially toxic chemicals               Leader reads: “Let’s think about how our church could
in the products. Remember to check under sinks, in the                   develop a policy around the use and storage of toxic materi-
janitor/sexton’s closet, or in the church basement or attic.             als. Many churches and church judicatories have adopted
   Give the Plastics Team the Smart Plastics Guide. The Plas-            a “Safe Church Policy” to ensure that children and vulner-
tics Team is looking for things made of plastic, especially              able persons are safe from abuse. Consider the ancient idea
soft plastics like vinyl. They should be sure to check rooms             of church as sanctuary—that the church building and the
used for children’s programs. Write down what rooms your                 church community are safe places that protect and nurture
find these items in, and the full name of the object or prod-            people both physically and spiritually. A toxics policy can
uct. If you can find it on the item, write down the number               help promote a safe environment for all who work, meet, or
on the recycling symbol.                                                 worship in the church building and can model a toxic-free
   After 30 minutes, have teams return to report on what                 sanctuary to the rest of the community.”
they found.

    “A policy is not necessarily a complex legal document,              the policy (prayer, Bible study, preaching, etc.)?
but is meant to guide behaviors of staff, board members,              Q What issues or potential toxics should be covered
and parishioners in the church, to help in decision-making,             in the policy? (cleaning products, plastics, carpets,
and to give continuity of actions as people and staff change.           furniture, computers, building and repair supplies,
It should be based on Christian understandings of the issue,            pesticides, machine fuels, etc.)
and reflect the mission and values of the parish and denom-           Q What is the projected timeline for the policy? How
ination, if appropriate.”                                               soon could it get written? Implemented? How could
    Invite a large group to break up into smaller groups of             the new policy be publicized and celebrate?
between three and eight people. Each group can either
answer one question or all four, depending on the time                Invite the small groups to reconvene and share their rec-
allotted. Allow each group to answer the questions, and               ommendations with the large group. If there is interest in
take notes.                                                           pursuing the policy, have one or several people agree to take
Q Who would draft a toxic policy for the church? Who                  responsibility for bringing the idea to the governing board
    should be included in the discussion? Who will make               of the church.
    the final decision about the policy?
Q What will form the theological and ethical basis for                End Session with Prayer (Appendix) (5 Minutes)
    the policy? What principles will guide decisions when             Pray for the Church.
    priorities compete (economic realities, priorities of
    different groups within or using the church, etc.)?               For Further Study
    What faith resources will be used when undertaking                See Online Appendix for additional handouts and reading

                                                                      Environmental Ranking of Communities of Color in Massa-
                                                                      chusetts;” “Environmental Health rankings of all MA towns;”
                                                                      “A Call to Protect Health and Community,” the Massachusetts
                                                                      Council of Churches”; A map of your town. Make one copy
                                                                      for each participant, using both sides of each page.
                                                                         Items: Colored pencils or markers.

S e SS i o n 7
                                                                      Preparation      if you have participants with diminished
                                                                      eyesight, you may want to enlarge the map of Massachusetts
                                                                      to 8.5 x 17, or 11 x 17.

Healthy communities:                                                  Begin with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 minutes
Mapping our communities                                               pArt 1: mAppinG EnvironmEntAl
and responding                                                        hAzArds And CommunitiEs most
                                                                      At risk 30 minutes
Goals    To assess our own community’s health and that of
other communities. To the see the correlation between a com-          Mapping Environmental Hazards
munity’s economic level, ethnic makeup, and toxicity. To situ-        Give each person a map of Massachusetts and a marker. The
ate our community in the context of the rest of the state. To         leader calls out each of the twenty most environmentally
consider actions to reduce toxic substances in the community.         overburdened populations from the “Table 6D, Most Envi-
                                                                      ronmentally Overburdened Communities.”
Tools From the Online Appendix: two copies of a map of
Massachusetts for each participant, “Table 6D: Most Environ-          Mapping Low Income Communities and
mentally Overburdened;” “Table 6E: Environmental Rankings             Communities of Color
of Low-Income Communities in Massachusetts;” “Table 6F:               Hand out new maps of Massachusetts. The leader calls

out the first twenty communities with the lowest income                exposed. Thus children, poor communities and com-
from “Table 6E: Environmental Rankings of Low-Income                   munities of color bear the initial brunt of toxic expo-
Communities in Massachusetts.” Have participants color in              sure that endangers all people.” from A Call to Protect
each of those communities. Next, instruct participants to              Health and Community: A Christian Response to the
switch colors, and call out the twenty communities with                Health Effects of Environmental Racism, Massachusetts
the highest minority population, “Table 6F: Environmen-                Council of Churches Strategy and Action Commission.
tal Rankings of Communities of Color in Massachusetts.” Ask            Leader Asks: What do you think are some of the fac-
participants to make a key on their map, labelling which            tors that lead to the uneven distribution of environmental
color indicates low-income and which color indicates a high         hazards?
minority population.
   The leader asks the group to look at the two maps that           Our Town Invite participants to return to their maps of
have been colored, one with the most environmentally                the most overburdened communities. Locating your town:
overburdened populations, and one with the poorest com-             Invite participants to color in their town on the map if they
munities and the largest communities of color.                      haven’t already. Hand out “Environmental Health Ranking
   Leader Ask:                                                      of All MA Towns.” your community on the list.
Q What similarities and differences do you see between                 Leader asks:
   the two?                                                         Q How does your community rank? Is this surprising to
Q What did you expect? What surprised you?                             you?
                                                                    Q Look for the other cities and towns around you. How
Pass out copies of “A Call to Protect Health and Commu-                do they rank? Why do you think your town ranks
nity from the Massachusetts Council of Churches.” We will              here?
be looking at the section beginning on the right hand side
of page 1. Invite one person to read the following and for          pArt 2: WhAt thEn CAn WE do?
others to follow along:                                             ACtion in our Community 30 minutes
   “While all people are vulnerable to an increasing num-           Pass out a map of your town. Have people work in groups
   ber of toxins, certain groups of people are being sub-           of three to five people. The task is to think about toxics in
   jected to greater exposure than others. Children and             the community, who is most affected, and how the faith
   even fetuses in their mothers’ wombs are particularly            community can address these concerns.
   vulnerable to toxic substances as their organs form                 Leader asks:
   and develop. From an early age and often from limited            Q What places in the community are most likely to be
   exposure, many toxins are building up in children’s                 exposed to air, water, or soil contamination? Who is
   developing bodies with the potential for unprecedented              most likely to be affected?
   impact. For many poor neighborhoods and communi-                 Q In which businesses, schools, industries, and services
   ties of color, high levels of toxicity are unavoidable in           are people most likely to be exposed to toxic chemicals
   neighborhoods near bus depots constantly blowing                    (especially indoor pollution)? What kinds? Which
   exhaust, apartments with lead paint, and incinerators               populations are most vulnerable to the effects?
   sending particles of burnt plastic into the air. In Mas-         Q If your community is relatively pollution-free and/
   sachusetts, this means that communities with a median               or has few industries or institutions, consider the
   household income of less than $30,000 average 19.2                  community where most of your population works,
   hazardous waste sites per square mile while commu-                  shops, or receives services, and answer the above
   nities where the median household income is over                    questions.
   $50,000 average 4.6 hazardous waste sites per square             Q What can your church do to serve and empower those
   mile; similarly, communities where the population is                most at risk in your community? Identify 1-2 ideas.
   25% or more people of color average 297 hazardous                   Share the ideas with the group as a whole. Ask people to
   sites per town, in contrast to the average 39 hazardous             continue to consider and pray about these ideas.
   sites per town of communities where less than 5% of
   the population is made up of people of color. It would           Ideas for Community Action
   be good to point out that even when you justify for              •	 Listening/witnessing/storytelling—allow	those	affected	
   income, communities of color are disproportionately                 by toxic contamination and/or environmental injustice to

   tell their stories and make connections to the faith story               addressing the issue
•	 Prayer—stay	connected	to	the	source	of	healing	and	                   •	 Building	relationships—link	with	a	church	with	
   empowerment and keep the community, groups, and                          a different environmental experience for mutual
   persons affected lifted up through prayer                                education, support, and prayer
•	 Education—bring	the	issue	to	the	attention	of	others	                 •	 Institutional	policy	work—help	institutions	or	
   neighborhood groups, businesses, schools, other                          government groups develop toxic use policies
   churches, community leaders, etc.
•	 Organizing—bring	together	people	who	want	to	work	                    End Session with Prayer (Appendix) 5 Minutes
   together to reduce production, use, or exposures of                   Pray for your community.
•	 Support—supply	information,	money,	training,	                         For Further Study
   emotional, institutional support to persons and groups                See Online Appendix for additional handouts and reading

                                                                         pArt 1: pAst involvEmEnt With
                                                                         thE politiCAl proCEss 15 minutes
                                                                         In small groups, have participants each respond to the fol-
                                                                         lowing questions by writing brief answers on a piece of
                                                                         paper. Allow time for small group discussion:
                                                                         Q In what ways have you been politically involved?
                                                                            Have you ever voted? Written a letter to the editor?
                                                                            Sent a letter to a legislator? Called an elected official?
S e SS i o n 8
                                                                            Organized others? Protested?
                                                                         Q What has motivated you to get involved in an issue?
                                                                         Q What kinds of barriers prevent you from getting
Safer for all: Legislative advocacy                                         involved in an issue or acting on it as a citizen? as a
for a healthier Massachusetts
Goals to discuss why Christians should get involved in                   pArt 2: ChristiAn politiCAl
public policy and to increase the church’s capacity to do                rEsponsibility 25 minutes
so. To encourage legislators to vote in favor safer chemical             Hand out copies of “Christian Political Responsibility” from
legislation.                                                             the Massachusetts Council of Churches. Have someone read
                                                                         the introduction and the first four bullet points on page 1 of
Tools From the Online Appendix: “Christian Political Respon-             Christian Political Responsibility out loud in each small group.
sibility, 1996 A Policy Statement” from the Massachusetts Council        Invite the groups to respond to the following. Leader Ask:
of Churches; “Legislation Proposes Safer Alternatives for Toxic          Q Do you agree with this understanding of Christian
Chemicals” from the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow; legis-                 political responsibility? What parts of this statement
lators by town; list of legislative co-sponsors; “Guidelines for            resonate with you? Why? What informs your
Congregation and Clergy on Political Action” from the United                understanding?
Church of Christ; “A Call to Protect Health and Community:               Q What would you add or change?
A Christian Response to the Health Effects of Environmental
Racism” from the Massachusetts Council of Churches. Make                 Hand out the Guidelines for Congregation and Clergy on
one copy for each participant.                                           Political Action from the United Church of Christ. Invite
   Items: pens, paper, stamps, and envelopes.                            groups to discuss:
                                                                         Q What are churches allowed to do politically? Not
Begin with Prayer (see Appendix ) 5 minutes                                allowed to do?
                                                                         Q What are individuals representing churches allowed to

  do? Not allowed to do?                                                 Leader ask:
Q What are all citizens allowed to do, regardless of faith             Q Are there things that you are excited about? Confused by?
  orientation?                                                         Q Look at the list of legislative co-sponsors--does your
                                                                         representative support this legislation?
pArt 3: ChristiAn politiCAl                                            Q After these sessions on Christian responsibility and
rEsponsibility And A hEAlthiEr                                           environmental justice, how as a Christian would you
mAssAChusEtts 20-30 minutes                                              explain your support for the principles around this
Leader invite someone else to read from “A Call to Protect               legislation?
Health and Community: A Christian Response to the Health
Effects of Environmental Racism,” page 11 first full para-             If participants feel supportive about the legislation,
graph in the second column:                                            take time to have them draft letters to their legisla-
                                                                       tors, and address envelopes. If participants do not know
  While we all want to protect the health of ourselves,                who their State senator and State House members are,
  our children and our community, for many reasons,                    invite participants to go online after the session and visit
  some communities are less able to than others. A           
  family may not have access to the information about                      Invite discussion about other ways participants could
  which plastic children’s toys contain phthalates, chem-              support the legislation or influence legislators on the bill.
  icals linked to memory damage and prostate cancer. A                 These could include:
  recent immigrant may not have the choice between                     •	 Speaking	with	legislators	or	their	aides	on	the	phone	or	
  protecting her health and keeping her job cleaning a                    in person, especially in the district
  church with toxic cleaning products, even though her                 •	 Writing	e-mails,	postcards,	or	letters
  job affords her family some health care coverage. A                  •	 Writing	a	letter	to	the	editor	of	the	local	paper
  father may not be able to afford moving to a neigh-                  •	 Getting	others	involved	in	writing,	talking,	emailing	to	
  borhood with less traffic and pollution, even though                    legislators or making a peaceful protest
  his son’s asthma seems to be getting worse. All people               •	 Praying	for	legislators
  in our Commonwealth have the right to a healthy                      •	 Acting	as	a	moral	voice	on	the	issue	
  environment and neighborhood. from A Call to Pro-                    •	 If	you	know	that	your	political	representative	is	a	person	
  tect Health and Community: A Christian Response to                      of faith, appeal to their beliefs
  the Health Effects of Environmental Racism, Strategy
  and Action Commission of the Massachusetts Council of                Next Steps
  Churches, 2006.                                                      The leader can invite participants to join the network of
                                                                       the Massachusetts Council of Churches either by collecting
Leader reads: Legislation is one of the ways that all people in        names and email addresses and sending them on to coun-
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can have equal access       or by encouraging individ-
to a healthier environment. From the lesson on Healthy                 uals to sign on to the network at the same address. Network
Churches, we learned that it is hard to identify all of the            members will receive action alerts about pending environ-
toxins around us. As consumers, we know that we can’t                  mental health legislation in Massachusetts. The National
simply buy our way out of the problem. From the lesson                 Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs (creators of the
on Healthy Communities, we saw that some communities                   “Mindful Living” and “Though the Eye of the Hurricane”
are more affected than others by environmental pollution.              study guides) has a national network for legislative action
Enacting legislation to make us safer is a way to ensure that          alerts and additional congregational resources. To sign up,
all, and not just some, residents of the Commonwealth are              visit
able to live in healthy homes, work in healthy buildings and
send their children to healthy schools.”                               End Session with Prayer (see Appendix) 5 Minutes
   Pass out copies of “Legislation Proposes Safer Alternatives         Pray for elected leaders and those in positions of power.
for Toxic Chemicals” (or other current legislative efforts
around toxic chemicals—check the Online Appendix).                     For Further Study
Give participants a few minutes to read over the handout.              See Online Appendix for additional handouts and reading
Discuss the legislation together.                                      suggestions.

   Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable,
      always excelling in the work of the Lord,
         because you know that in the Lord
              your labor is not in vain.
                         1 Corinthians 15:58

      Healthy Kids, Healthy Churches, Healthy Communities:
An Adult Christian Education Curriculum for Churches in Massachusetts

                 Massachusetts Council of Churches
                    14 Beacon Street, Suite 416
                        Boston, MA 02139

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