“Mustard Seeds and Good Yeast” Eco-Justice in the time of COVID-19

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it?  It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

Luke 13:18-21, From the Christian New Testament

Our week long Eco-Justice Conference was helped shaped by several poems, scriptures and prayers.  The parables of Jesus offered above are found in the Christian New Testament and seem to point toward our common work of caring for earth and one another.  

The mustard seed idea of an eco-justice camp has continued to offer branches for rest and wisdom at Christmount with Green Chalice of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina.

The 40 of us began with a sense of resilience as we were forced to gather for the Eco Justice Conference online instead of going with our original plans to gather in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains at Christmount Conference Center.  While the virtual space confined us in some ways with less creeks, trees, and mountain air, God was still present and the new format allowed for participants to join from all across the country.  Preachers and teachers spoke to us with passionate hearts and wise minds to challenge us to seek wholeness in our social systems and health for ecological systems.  The church and our people were invited to participate with God to bring about a more just world.

Each of our four days included an online creek laden video devotional, Scriptures, poems, small group sharing and powerful preaching and teaching.

Many of us found an enlivened curiosity seeking out the interconnections across issues of poverty, racism, climate change, pollution, food, and spirituality.  We discovered new connections with one another and with God.  We learned new ways to creatively do this work.  Pizza making was a tangible skill I picked up as I learned more about yeast and dough and the mighty impact of even the small things when kneaded well.  As we faithfully face climate change, racism, and disease we have an opportunity to sprinkle the yeast of God’s love into the greater church and into our communities and to plant seeds of compassionate action even while not knowing if or how our actions will grow.  May we plant and knead together. 

Eco-Justice Conference speakers and leaders included:
Deke Arndt- Climate Scientist, St. Eugene Catholic Church
Rev. Phyllis Byrd-Global Ministries, Organization of Africa Instituted Churches
Emma Childs-Christmount Conference Center
Rev. Dr. David Daniels III -McCormick Theological Seminary
Rev. Carol Devine-Green Chalice
Wendy Davidson-Disciples Peace Fellowship Intern
Rev. Wilson Dickinson-Lexington Theological Seminary
Dargan Gilmore-Toward Zero Waste
Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri-Creation Care Alliance, Green Chalice
Rev. Sandhya Jha-Oakland Peace Center
Rev. Rob Morris-Christmount Conference Center
Rev. Erica Williams-Poor People’s Campaign


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