Central UCC – 2014 Outstanding Certified Pollinator Habitat of the Year with Monarchs Across Georgia

The 2014 Outstanding Certified Pollinator Habitat award goes to Central Congregational UCC of Atlanta with its environmental focus and Ron Smith. Due to the apparent limitless energy of this volunteer, the church grounds have been turned into a massive eight-acre pollinator habitat. Through his hours of planning, finding creative sources for plants and trees, his own donations of supplies and sweat, and securing volunteers from the church and community, he has accomplished:

  • Planting perennial, drought-tolerant pollinator plants all over the acreage
  • Leading the effort to clean out invasive plants along a creek near the church
  • Planting 93 flowering and fruit trees around that area
  • Returning the land near the creek to native grasses and wildflowers in the floodplain/meadow with a grant from the Progressive Christianity Initiative

 A crowd joined Ron at the Celebration Dinner at Rock Eagle in Eatonton,GA. It was a great evening. We are very grateful and proud of all the tending and transforming work that Ron so carefully, generously and quietly brings about at Central UCC. IMG_2223


Beeches by Mary Ellen Myers

In summer, Sacred Space

surrounded, hidden from busy street,

by forest.

Window views of green swaying branches,

bring calm, peace to us.

In Fall, Winter, understory Beeches,

a skirt for taller, bare trees.

seen from driveway

curving through brown warmth

of clinging leaves, marcescence.

In Spring, new buds push out

these hangers on of Beech,

blend with other shades of green.

Mary Ellen Myers, 12-14-14

The power we enjoy daily is a gift!

“Once God has spoken: twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and steadfast love belongs to you, O God. For you repay to all according to their work.” (Psalm 62:11,12)

“… what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

As people of faith, we are called to love and respect all of creation, a sacred and mysterious gift. As Psalm 62 states, “power belongs to God.” In the case of the psalm, the psalmist is saying that power does not belong to the king of those times but to God. In our days, I would like to say that the power source through which we turn on our lights belongs to God. It is not an entitlement but a gift. Our ingenuity made it possible to harness the power for our use. But even our ingenuity is a gift from Divine Love. And Divine Love asks us to be just, kind and humble. How does this request from God influence our relationship to the planet, to our power sources and to our neighbors around the world?


From the Christian Science Monitor Weekly, January 26, 2015

Some great things are happening around the globe to increase access to power for all people. In Africa where candles, kerosene lanterns and diesel generators have been used to provide energy for lighting, the expense has been high. The kerosene fumes are a health hazard and the CO2 emissions from kerosene is Africa is estimated from 30 million to 50 million annually. Solar Power has now come to Africa at a lesser cost than kerosene and brings electricity for necessities like lighting, cell phone chargers and other small basic necessities. After waiting for more than a decade for electric lines to get to homes in northern Tanzania, Nosim Noah tells her story.

“…one afternoon, the Noahs had an unexpected know on the door. An agent for a new electrical company called M-POWER said that, for a sign-up fee of only 10,000 shillings ($6), he could install a fully functioning solar home system in their house – enough to power several LED lights and a radio. The payoff was immediate. While Noah used to spend $18 a month on kerosene, she now pays a monthly average of $11 for her solar lighting, and she no longer has to go into town to charge her cellphone. The person most affted, though, may be her 2-year-old daughter, Emilia, who is afraid of the dark. “She would cry every night – every single night,” says Noah. “It was a struggle to put her to sleep.” Now, with a new light above her bed, “It makes a huge difference,” she says.

          …In another case, a woman says that her 3-year-old son’s chronic cough improved dramatically once he stopped breathing in kerosene fumes daily.”

Moving away from a reliance on petroleum products has made electric power more accessible and more affordable in developing countries (both cities and remote regions) around the globe. And with solar power, the air is cleaner and the impact on the planetary CO2 decreased. God’s gift of the sun and humankind’s ingenuity becomes the way of justice and kindness in these stories.


In the United States, “the price to install solar on homes and business has dropped steadily across the country – by 8% in the last year and 34% from 2010. … Today, the U.S. has an estimated 20 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity, enough to effectively power nearly 4 million homes in the United States … with another 20 GW in the pipeline for 2015 and 2016. … In 2013, $189 million was invested in Georgia to install solar for home, business and utility us… a 795% increase over the previous year…”(seig.org) There are more than 150 solar companies in GA and more than 80 solar contractor/installers in Georgia. Ways to live more sustainably on our planet are increasing every day.

Central Congregational UCC Creates Pollinator Habitats

At Central UCC, the Garden Team led by Ron Smith has done much to create pollinator habitats full of native plants where insects thrive. Ron’s explanation of the need for native plants follows:


Pollination is the critical event in a plant’s life.  80 – 90% of all flowering plants require pollinator assistance for reproduction.


Pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles, bats and birds .

However, bees do the majority of the work.  Bumblebees are generalists, visiting many plant species.  They are after both pollen and nectar for food.  Most other native bees are specialists, as are most other pollinators – they only visit one or a few species of native plants.


Our pollinators depend on native plants.  Certain native plants and certain pollinators developed intricate symbiotic relationships over thousands of years.  The reduction or loss of either partner affects the survival of both. 


We measure an ecosystem’s health by the degree of biodiversity.  Obviously, pollinators are enormously important for maintaining diverse and healthy ecosystems.


Pollinators are also an intricate part of the food web:  For instance, almost all North American birds other than seabirds — 96 percent — feed their young with insects.


There is a general assumption that pollination is a free and abundantly available ecological service.  Not true.  Pollinators are in significant decline.  The Monarch Butterfly’s population is down over 90% in the last two decades.  Feral honeybee populations have disappeared.  Habitat destruction and pesticide use are major reasons for the decline.

Wednesday Morning Prayer

from Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim by Edward Hays (Forest of Peace Books, 1988):

O Beloved, I rise from sleep to join the great dance of life. One with stars and planets no longer visible because of the dawning light of our one star, the sun, yet which are still blazing in beauty all about me. I enter into prayer. One with this whole planet, whose northern hemisphere is awakening to the season of summer. I now awake to your hidden presence in my life as I descend into my heart to be one with you.


North Georgia: A Walk in the Woods

On Easter Monday, Mary Ellen Myers invited us to walk in her woods and see the Spring wildflowers. It was a sacred time with good friends and delicate native wildflowers and plants everywhere on our walk. Here is her poem about that day:

A Walk in the Woods
City dwellers, concerned
that earth is needing care,
tender loving care.
City folk got up early
though retired,
didn’t have to.
City friends drove 70 miles
to take a walk in woods
just leafing out,
birds singing in canopy,
wild flowers budding, blooming.
Not disappointed, lakeside Catesby trillium,
violets of every shape and hue,
crested dwarf Iris, later  Verna,
Iris with orange center.
Buckeye tree in bloom, cross-vine
creeping toward the light,
Pinxster flower,  Wild Geranium,
Foamflower, Columbine.
Sweet Shrub, Wild Hydrangea,
Soloman’s Seal,
Rattlesnake Plantain, no fear,
only a black snake seen.
Mountain laurel, Rhododendron,
buds, no blooms.
Enjoyed learning, seeing, while
walking by gushing stream,
Listening to Scarlet Tanager,
Hooded Warbler,
Vireos, ever present Wrens.
Lunch was welcome, calories burned,
no guilt eating those cookies.