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Six form team to promote a sustainable farming bill

By Meighan Pritchard

At the Pacific Northwest Conference’s Fall Gathering at Shalom UCC in Richland, a group of people interested in environmental justice decided to mobilize around the Washington State legislature’s Sustainable Farms and Fields Bill, SB5947/HB2095.

Susan Chamberlin, Chewelah UCC; Lora Rathbone, Shalom UCC, Richland; Meighan Pritchard, Prospect UCC, Seattle; Lin Hagedorn, Northshore UCC, Woodinville; Judi Edwards, St. Paul’s UCC, Seattle; Kathy Dawson, All Pilgrims Christian Church, Seattle. This is just a subset of the small group working on climate justice at the Fall Gathering.

This bill would create a fund that would award grants to farmers seeking to transition away from fossil-fuel-intensive farming practices and toward more sustainable methods.

They are to reduce use of fuel, fertilizer and pesticides, adopt regenerative agriculture practices—no-till, cover crops, manure, compost and biochar—and plant trees and shrubs to sequester carbon, according to

The bill was first introduced in the 2019 session. It had co-sponsors throughout the state and from both political parties.

The featured presenter at the Fall Gathering, the Rev. John Edgerton of First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois, invited us all to consider what issues most speak to our hearts.

Participants narrowed the list to five issues: racism, health care, housing/homelessness, immigration and environment.

People chose one of these topics and met in small groups to discuss strategies for action.

John said that if tackling a huge problem such, as climate change, will be overwhelming, but if we narrow our focus to one specific action within that topic, we can come up with a plan that has measurable outcomes.

We will know exactly when we win or lose, when we accomplish what we set out to do or don’t.

So the climate team chose this one bill.

Members of the environment small group have been invited to join forces with the Pacific Northwest Conference Environmental Justice Team, which has been meeting for approximately two years under the wing of the conference’s Justice and Witness Ministries Team.

The Environmental Justice Team invites every congregation in the Pacific Northwest Conference to identify one member—clergy or lay—to attend these monthly meetings, help strategize and convey information back to their congregations.

The group meets via Zoom at 4:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month. Meetings last one hour.

The current plan regarding the Sustainable Farms and Fields Bill centers on writing letters at key moments during the 2020 legislative session, and/or calling our legislators.

The team needs help of people who are willing to gather signatures on letters at their congregations in support of this bill.

Support of this bill will help farmers operate in as sustainable a way as possible.  We can we support our farmers as they make these choices.

The PNC can make a difference if we stand together and focus on specific actions. The climate team has chosen this one bill.

We can also find ways to support the other teams that formed during the Fall Gathering in whatever actions they are choosing to pursue.

Let’s find ways to work together and support each other in creating the Realm of God, where justice, peace and a healthy, sustainable environment reign.

For information, email

Meighan is pastor of Prospect UCC in Seattle.


Copyright © Winter 2019-2020 Pacific NW United Church News


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