Dear EcoFaith friends,

I arrived feeling crappy, achey, not excited at all, frankly, to be setting up our EcoFaith meeting at Augustana Lutheran last Saturday morning. Solveig was there to do it with me. I hugged her more limply than usual, then let my sense of duty drag me through moving chairs, tuning my guitar, washing the EcoFaith mugs that Robyn brought over.

But I left our EcoFaith meeting a few hours later filled with the Spirit, lustrous with color and light, like a dove kissed by a peacock. The quiet joy stayed with me all day, then all through the night. I did tasks I’d been avoiding for weeks, was unusually patient and kind with my husband. I saw beauty everywhere I turned. I felt faith despite our world’s terrible suffering and the horror of climate change.

What happened in between my cranky, off-kilter start of the day, and my coming away from our meeting transformed?

I got a hit, as I was with you-all, of the recovery part of EcoFaith Recovery. We do live in a sick, addictive culture that worships wealth and materialism, puts property ahead of people, and isolates us from each other and from the earth. Naming that fact helps, right there. Doing the Practices together does heal us from this sick culture, restoring us to sanity and spiritual health. 27 of us from various chapters of EcoFaith’s nine-year history came together on Saturday morning (and we learned during our outreach that many more wanted to attend, but had scheduling conflicts). The Practices are life-giving, especially when done by two or more gathered together (see the first bullet-point below).

People had so much to say about their visions for EcoFaith’s future it took Amazonian discipline for Robyn and Solveig to get our meeting wrapped up (or at least officially adjourned) at 11 a.m. Please see the bullet-points below; they summarize what people wrote on the sheets we collected at the end of the meeting, not everything that everyone shared.  

In the leadership team’s Practice 6 after the meeting, we reflected that attendees on December 8th may have stored up, some for months or years, their need for what EcoFaith offers. Then finally, given safe and sacred space, feelings and words come pouring out.

It is hard to believe and think from the margins. We get to doubting ourselves, and staying small. Let’s note that Jesus lived and taught from the margins. So did the abolitionists, and Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They were reviled during their lifetimes; now all kinds of things are named after them.

I don’t need anything named after me. But am called to believe, think and write from the margins, in recovery from our sick culture. I do need the kind of spiritual health I was restored to last week by our EcoFaith Recovery meeting.

If we want EcoFaith to keep being there for us, we need to keep EcoFaith financially viable. Everyone on the leadership team, including myself, is a sustaining donor (above and beyond hundreds of volunteer hours, collectively). What are you called to give to meet EcoFaith’s 2019 budget? Our deadline for giving to be matched is December 31st. Our website as I write shows $4,858 raised of the $12,000 we need to meet expenses in 2019. You can donate here.

Many people pledged on December 8th to increase their support of EcoFaith and to help fundraise by reaching out to others. If you are in this group, you’ll receive follow-up, i.e., a scanned copy of the pledge sheet you filled out, and an offer of logistical help in your follow-through.

Stay tuned for details and/or a survey on our next in-person meeting, and also for info on the first of our monthly EcoFaith Zoom meetings in 2019. The latter will attract people from around the country, including some of EcoFaith’s graduated interns (a rich pool, by now, of about 50).   

Below are attendees’ written responses on December 8th to the question: “What aspect of EcoFaith’s emerging vision for 2019 most excite you or are you most interested in?”

·       Excitement about Solveig’s vision of weekly EcoFaith Recovery meetings in church basements, like Twelve-Step meetings, i.e. discussing how we are cultivating the practices (whether personally, interpersonally, in our faith communities or in the public sphere).

·       Interest in advocacy/support for the statewide Clean Energy Jobs Bill  (different from the Portland Clean Energy Fund) in the Oregon state legislature’s 2019 session

·       Sharing EcoFaith’s practices with secular groups that are interested — collaborating and cooperating with other nonprofits and organizations who also value heart and soul work

·       Partnering with front-line (marginalized) communities to do projects funded by Portland Clean Energy Initiative

·       Intersection of Wilderness Way and EcoFaith (to meet a) personal need for continuing reassurance of hope and faith. Need occasional regeneration from EcoFaith, not extra work or time commitments.

·       Youth mentorship

·       Connect Salt & Leaven Church’s Housing Coalition to Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF)

·       Help in getting solar panels for my congregation’s roof [this is eligible for PCEF funding]

·       Educate faith communities – our own and others – on how to tap into PCEF funding

·       Discern the next action in which EcoFaith should engage, whether Portland or statewide

Warmth and faith,

Alison Wiley
EcoFaith Recovery

EcoFaith As Actual Recovery: Cranky, Peacock-Kissed Notes from our Dec. 8th Gathering

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