Environmental Protection Agency Public Listening Sessions

Testimony on November 7th, 2013
EPA Washington, D.C.
Creation Justice Ministries


My name is Ashley Goff and I’m a pastor at Church of the Pilgrims, a congregation in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A in Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.

50,000 honeybees call the backyard of Church of the Pilgrims home. Three honeybee hives are part of our urban garden called Sacred Greens. Our honeybees pollinate the vegetables and fruits of our garden along with the forest oasis right next to us, Rock Creek Park.

The eggplants, green peppers, basil, beans, butternut squash, and carrots we grow for Sacred Greens, our urban garden, goes to create meals for Open Table, our lunch every Sunday afternoon for 40 hungry neighbors.

On Sundays our garden is poignantly alive—honeybees buzzing around pollen and hungry neighbors noshing on casseroles of fresh eggplant, tomato sauce, and basil. In that moment, our backyard is host and home to living beings our society thinks are disposable: honeybees and hungry, homeless folks. Honeybees are threatened by colony collapse disorder—an ecological crisis created by humans via pesticides, harmful bugs, and climate change. Hungry people are the most socially vulnerable of humanity, starving off the lack of access to affordable and healthy food.

We designed our backyard because of our trust in the Holy one and in a Christian Ethic with a moral vision: our garden symbolizes how we are to live as people of God’s Way and shows what we live for. Psalm 104 states we are to renew the face of the planet. And right now the planet is poor from climate pollution impacting humans and an insect like the honeybee.

Oikos is the Greek work for house or household. Oikos is also root for the words ecology and economics. For Christians of the ancient Church, Oikos was not limited to the private home but was referring to the planet itself as the World House, God’s home. Oikos sets Church of the Pilgirms intention in how to be a sacred neighbor; that we are a shared household where all who are born belong and all who live co-habitat, where humans and all of life live into each other’s life and die into each other’s death. There is no way around our inter-connnectedness. It’s the Way of God and Life.

The role of the EPA is to regulate the commons. At Church of the Pilgrims, we are doing just that—tending to our eco-location with intentionality to reflect our place in society and God’s home. Having no national carbon limits for power plants suffocates God’s planetary design. Church of the Pilgrims charges the EPA to care for the household, the World House, by regulating carbon pollution standards for fossil fuel power plants. May it be so.