Saturday, September 23, people of faith gathered at 11:30am at John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Bridgeton, Missouri to learn about some of the most wounded parts of God's creation in the greater St. Louis area. We gathered with urgency to learn, pray, and call for action to protect our communities' health and safety.
While Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has said that cleaning up toxic Superfund sites is one of his top priorities, the Trump Administration's proposed budget would cut the EPA's Superfund remediation budget by more than 30 percent. Failure to prioritize resources for cleaning up toxic messes has had devastating impacts on our drinking water, air, and communities' health. According to the landmark Toxic Waste and Race study by the United Church of Christ, communities of color bear an unjust burden of having toxic sites nearby, contributing to racial disparities in health problems such as asthma and cancer. If we don't invest in cleaning up now, matters will only get worse.
This event was one in a series. See information about Superfund Prayer Tours in Dayton, Ohio on September 24 and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 30. This blog post was last updated on September 25, 2017.
The tour began with a lunch briefing on Superfund sites in the St. Louis area. We heard remarks and were led in prayer by several local community leaders, and we visited the WestLake Superfund site for prayer and reflection. We especially held in prayer those who are suffering cancer related to their exposure to environmental toxins. Participants in the event included religious sisters, clergy, seminarians, students, local community members, and people who work at or near WestLake Landfill. This prayer event highlighted the need to protect communities from toxic pollution, and we urge Congress to fully fund the EPA and its Superfund Program.
SPEAKERS AND PRAYER LEADERS
The Rev. Dr. John Shear has been the pastor of JCPC for 14 years. Prior to that he served two other churches in the St. Louis Area. He has a BA in Political Science from the University of Missouri St. Louis and both an MDIV and DMIN from Eden Theological Seminary. Before his work in direct ministry, Pastor John served as an elected official in St. Louis County, representing one-seventh of the county. His district happened to include those sites effected by radioactive contamination in the North County Area and as a County Councilman he worked to get the Federal Government off the idea of building a storage bunker in North County and instead encapsulating this contamination for shipment to the rock burial in the western states. Rev. Shear is married to Rev. Jackie Havis-Shear, an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. They have a blended family of six children, five grandchildren, one cat and two dogs.
Dawn Chapman (pictured left) is a mother of three special needs children and co-founder of Just Moms STL, to fight for environmental justice and downwinder status. Just Moms wants the complete removal of radiation from the West Lake landfill and for the EPA to take responsibility and buy out families that live one mile from the perimeter of the landfill. Dawn wants to see a safe and permanent clean up of radiation from the West Lake Landfill.
Karen Nickel (pictured right) is a wife, mother and grandmother doing everything she can to protect her children and community from radioactive waste. She is the founder of the the West Lake Landfill Facebook group, and Co-founder of Just Moms STL. Karen grew up exposed to the radioactive Coldwater Creek site, and for the past twenty years, she has lived 1.8 miles away from the West Lake – Bridgeton Landfill Superfund Site. For Karen, working with Just Moms is what “SHE HAS TO BE” doing to protect her family and future generations.
Sister Corlita Bonnarens, RSM is a native St. Louisan and a Sister of Mercy. She graduated with an MA degree from the Institute in Creation Centered Spirituality, and also has an MA degree in Art. She has ministered for over 30 years at Mercy Center in St. Louis, inviting people in retreats & workshops to integrate art, spirituality and justice with creation through praying and creating with clay & watercolor experiences. Sr. Corlita has created 25 watercolor images that depict sacred moments of the Universe that are in packets for use in the ritual of a Cosmic Walk. She is artist, teacher, spiritual director and ecologist. She has initiated the planting of over 100 trees on the grounds of Mercy Center, planting a pollinator garden of native wildflowers on 5 acres of ground, as well as inviting 2 beekeepers to install beehives at Mercy Center. Sr. Corlita is a founding member of the Intercommunity Ecological Council of Women Religious in St. Louis, MO.
Sister Jeanne Derer, FSM is a Franciscan Sister of Mary residing in St. Louis, MO. She is an artist and an advocate for our common home and our common good. She has been faithfully co-organizing prayer vigils near the WestLake Landfill Superfund site every second and fourth Wednesday of every month.
Jennifer Reyes-Lay is a board member for Creation Justice Ministries, representing the Ecumenical Catholic Communion. She serves as Assistant Director for the Congregational Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Office of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. She is also a student at Eden Theological Seminary.
LEARN ABOUT A FEW OF THE SUPERFUND SITES NEAR ST. LOUIS, MO
Check the EPA website and map for Superfund, brownfield, etc. at https://www.epa.gov/cleanups/cleanups-my-community
WestLake Landfill Superfund Site
The Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals Corp. Site
About this Blog
This blog shares the activities of Creation Justice Ministries. We educate and equip Christians to protect, restore, and rightly share God's creation.