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United Methodist Women kicks off Green Team Environmental Justice Program

Kelly Martini
Executive secretary for communications
Women's Division
General Board of Global Ministries
The United Methodist Church

475 Riverside Drive, #1501
New York, NY 10115

The Green Team

The Green Team
Image by: Naomi Yaeger
Source: Women's Division

April 11, 2005

A new program activating local United Methodist Women members to work on environmental issues in their communities was launched at the spring board meeting of the Women's Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries in Stamford, Conn., April 7-11. The Women's Division is the national administrative body of the one-million member United Methodist Women organization.

Twenty-four United Methodist Women members, including one male pastor, were selected for the Green Team program after a three-month month application process. Pastors of United Methodist churches are ex-officio members of United Methodist Women.

"The Green Team's advocacy goal is to realize environmental justice," explained Sung-Ok Lee, executive secretary for community action for the Women's Division and coordinator of the program. "Environmental justice is the fair treatment and involvement of all people -- regardless of race, ethnicity or economic status -- in the decision-making process on environmental public policies."

The Green Team is a diverse group in age, race, geographic background and area of expertise. Members come from cities, suburbs and rural areas of the five geographic jurisdictional areas of the United Methodist Church, which cover the United States. Areas of expertise include professions of chemists, hydrologist, geologist, sociologist and theologians.  Areas of work experience include government organizations in the area of recyling, environmental research and nonprofit organizations related to environmental concerns.  The biggest asset that this team brings is the presence of  United Methodist Women with long time experience in leadership training and organizing within the connectional system of the organization.  They clearly come with a theologically and scripturally based grounding of the purpose of this environmental advocacy team. 

During the orientation meeting, team members shared environmental concerns of their local communities -- water pollution, safe drinking water, bottled water and privatization, water conservation, recycling/landfills, chlorine-free products, air pollution, climate change/global warming, mercury contamination in food and water and alternative sources of renewable energy. Then  team members separated into jurisdictional groups to develop strategies for addressing area problems. Water pollution and conservation emerged as key concerns in local communities around the country and globally.  Recycling was another issue to work on.

"In the 1990s Michigan became the largest importer of Canadian trash," said Linda Schramm, Green Team member and Women's Division director from the Detroit Conference of the United Methodist Church. "About 200 trucks of trash a day come into Michigan; 100 trucks through the Detroit area."
Each day Ms. Schramm passes mountains of trash landfills as she drives along the interstate highways and the area's waterways including the great Lake Michigan. Ms. Schramm said when people in her area tried to organize against the dumping, they found the state's hands tied  because of NAFTA agreements.

"What I thought was a Michigan issue, then a national issue, I found was really an international issue," Ms. Schramm said. "What's this dumping going to do to the water in this area -- not just Lake Michigan, but the rivers too -- in 20-25 years? That's my number one reason for wanting to work on environmental issues.”

The Green Team adopted a national campaign to continue to work on the chlorine free products campaign -- because of the dioxins caused by chlorine-and to work on the U.N.’s global WASH campaign, which calls for water, sanitation and hygiene for all.

The Green Team members are:
North Central Jurisdiction

1   Karen Anne Hewitson of Lake Carroll, Ill. (Northern  Illinois Conference)
2   Julie Prouty of Hillpoint, Wisc. (Wisconsin Conference):
3   Carol Rieke of Fairfax, Minn. (Minnesota Conference);
4   Linda Schramm of Sandusky, Mich. (Detroit Conference);
5   Naomi Yaeger of Grand Fork, N.D. (Dakotas Conference);
6   Kyung Yu of Dayton, Ohio (West Ohio Conference);

Northeast Jurisdiction

7   Beth Dimond of Winthrop, Maine (New England Conference);
8   Dorothy Scott Fielder of Maryland, N.Y. (Wyoming Conference)
9   Karen L. Rivero of Acton, Mass. (New England Conference)
10  Rebecca Szetela of Acton, Mass. (New England Conference);

Southeastern Jurisdiction

11  Charlene R. Black of Statesboro, Ga. (South Georgia Conference);
12  Wendy McNatt of Simpsonville, S.C. (South Carolina Conference);
13  Grace S. Pyen of Atlanta, Ga. (North Georgia Conference);
14  Mary Farrish of Stunton, Va. (Virginia Conference);
15  Gretchen G. Smith of Buford, Ga. (North Georgia Conference);
16  Diana Sturm of Mobile, Ala. (Alabama-West Florida Conference);
17  The Rev. James Pat Watkins of Richmond, Va. (Virginia Conference);

South Central Jurisdiction

18  Stacie Hawkins of Houston,  (Texas Conference);
19  Detra Kingfisher-Quinones of Tahlequah, Okla. (Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference);
20  Joanne Kurklin of Norman, Okla. (Oklahoma Conference);
21  Mildred Lawrence of Shawnee, Kan. (Kansas Conference)

Western Jurisdiction

22  Lupita Diaz of San Jose, Calif. (California-Nevada Conference);
23  Kumja Lim of Highlands Ranch, Co. (Rocky Mountain Conference);
24  Thelma Wright of Brighton, Co. (Rocky Mountain Conference);


See Also...

Topic: Children Environment Women
Geographic Region: United States
Source: WD Press Releases
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Date posted: Apr 11, 2005