Journey through Creation
Earth, Art, and Faith… Alive!

Three webinars and three worship services coinciding with the changing seasons.

The first webinar aired on Saturday, September 26.
(To view the webinar, click on the image at left.)
Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox
Exploring the blessings and wonder of God’s Creation.
More information below

Winter Solstice
Discovering our role as co-creators with the Creator

Vernal Equinox
Pursuing ecological justice for the earth and its inhabitants

The theme of these webinars and worship services focuses on enlivening our church’s worship through the arts and environmental awareness by rediscovering the wonder, joy and commitment of being stewards of God’s creation.

Our year-long biblical study throughout the year will focus on Psalm 8, proclaiming the bounty and blessing of God’s world, and Jesus’ words in Mark 2: 21-22 declaring that if we are to fully receive the new wine of the Spirit we must create new wineskins in which to receive it.

This program is made possible through a Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Grand Rapids, Michigan, with funds provided by Lilly Endowment Inc.

Creative things are happening at First Church in spite of the pandemic. We have received a generous grant to explore our roles as stewards of Creation. We’ll blend, art, science, jazz and theological reflection into a unique four-part series beginning with affirming the blessing and wonder of God’s Creation. You are invited to attend our first webinar—a virtual gathering of folks from north, south, east and west. Join us on a creative journey as we explore the blessings of this world given to us in trust by our Creator.


Wild blessings!


Our guest presenters include:

Valerie Tutson is an international storyteller who spins yarns from world cultures, Black traditions, and sacred scriptures. Her engaging stories touch the hearts and imaginations of children and adults at regional and national events in ecumenical and interfaith settings.

Jean Ponzi is an ecological advocate blending teaching, sustainability coaching, writing, public speaking and storytelling with outbursts of song. “Green Jean’s” weekly podcast, Earthworms on KDHX St. Louis, offers creative ways to live well, sustainably, with our fellow Earth relations



Looking ahead . . . 
Our four-phase program will emphasize the following themes:

  • Exploring the blessings and wonder of God’s Creation.
  • Discovering our role as co-creators with the Creator.
  • Pursuing ecological justice for the earth and its inhabitants.
  • Celebrating our Journey Together as God’s Children.

We have been awarded a Calvin Vital Worship Grant funded by Lilly Endowment, Inc. The grant is a prestigious honor that allows 40 congregations to pursue a year focused on worship leading to “revitalization that increases their ability to reach out to the world with the good news of the gospel.”

Our theme focuses on enlivening our church’s worship through the arts and environmental awareness by rediscovering the wonder, joy and commitment of being stewards of God’s creation.

We will be creating three informational webinars, followed by three inspirational You Tube worship services. Webinars and worship will explore and celebrate God’s Creation through science and the arts. As theological guide, Cliff Aerie will host each webinar and worship service. Each will host an ecological guide and artist interpreter to help explore and interpret humanity’s role as caretakers of God’s Creation.

At the conclusion of the grant year we hope to produce an Earth Walk Festival and jazz vesper service to celebrate our learnings in person. The Oîkos Ensemble will provide the musical thread throughout the year.

Members of our planning and implementation team include Jan Barnes, Chris von Weise, Diane McLean, Debbie Tolstoi, John Paci, Phil Shoulberg, Ian Didriksen, Elston McCowen, Leon Burke III, Dave Denoon, and Cliff Aerie as project director. Each member is involved in the planning, design and implementation of our year-long program.

Rev. Cliff Aerie
Ministry of Imagination, Creativity and the Arts (MICA)
First Congregational Church of Webster Groves, UCC

This program is made possible through a Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Grand Rapids, Michigan, with funds provided by Lilly Endowment Inc.

Valerie Tutson has traveled the world teaching and sharing stories and songs since graduating from Brown University with a self-designed BA, “Storytelling As a Communications’ Art” and an MA in Theatre.  She shares stories from world cultures, emphasizing Black Traditions. She delights in re-imagining and retelling age-old Bible stories. A life-long member of the UCC, Valerie shares her gifts at local, regional and national events, and in ecumenical and interfaith settings.


Tia Richardson is a full-time community muralist working with people from all walks of life. Her projects involve offering people the chance to come together and share perspectives for a vision of community betterment. Since 2007 she has created over 50 murals working with non-profits, K-12 and post-secondary schools, businesses and local government. In 2018 she was recognized as Artist of the Year by the Milwaukee Arts Board. Her work can be seen at:

Jennifer Medina holds a BFA and an MFA in dance. She has served as Dance faculty at institutions such as UMKC, Webster University, the Kansas City Ballet School, American Youth Ballet. Her choreographic research focuses on the lived experience of women. Her choreography has been produced by companies and universities throughout the U.S.  including Washington University, Webster University, and UMKC and  professional dance organizations such as the Tallahassee Ballet, Missouri Contemporary Ballet, Arova Contemporary Ballet, Wylliams-Henry Contemporary Dance Theater and the Virginia School of the Arts 
She is currently on the dance faculty at Washington University in St.Louis and the Director of her own school, SkyStone Conservatory of the Arts. She is also working with Dance the Vote as an artistic consultant, and she is developing a resource organization to fight verbal and physical abuse in the dance field, with an objective to develop a national standard and licensing for dance educators. Jennifer is a proud dog & cat mom and enjoys time with her pets, time outdoors, and her cabin in a remote area of the Smokey Mountains.  To learn more about Jennifer and her work, visit

Jean Ponzi is an ecological advocate. She is grounded in St. Louis, Jean Ponzi is a Plant Ally whose eco-logical work blends teaching, coaching business sustainability, writing, public speaking, interviews, storytelling, and bursting into song. Through her work as Green Resources Manager for the EarthWays Center of Missouri Botanical Garden and her podcast Earthworms, from KDHX St. Louis Independent Media, “Green Jean” motivates her fellow humans toward living well, sustainably, with our diverse Earth relations.

General Recycling Options Offered in the St. Louis Region
Click here to download a pdf file of these links


List of Local Charities that Pick-Up Donations

American Kidney Fund – 314-968-9768
Call and check for pick up services are available in your area
Location: 7435 Watson Rd., St. Louis, MO 63119

Charity Clothing Pickup – 636-282-0000
Schedule a pick up:
Accepted items:

Habitat for Humanity – 314-371-0400
Accepted items: working appliances, building and construction materials in good condition, doors, cabinets and windows, new carpet/linoleum/rugs, plumbing and electrical fixtures, lumber, hardware, roofing, tile.
Donation Guidlines:

Home Sweet Home – 314-448-9838
Location: 290 Hanley Industrial Ct., Brentwood, MO 63144
Accepted items: visit
NOT accepted:

International Institute – 314-773-9090 extension 174 or 145
Location: 3401 Arsenal St., St. Louis, MO 63118
Accepted items: visit

 MERS/Missouri Goodwill Industries – 314-241-3464
Schedule a pick up:
Accepted items:
Not Accepted:

Miriam Switching Post – 314-646-773
Call and check if pick up services are available in your area.
Location: 292 Hanley Industrial Ct., Brentwood, MO 63114

 Salvation Army – 314-535-0057
Donation pick up services:  1-800-728-7825 or 1-888-574-2587
Vehicle Donation:  1-877-725-8276
Ways to Donate:

St. Vincent De Paul Society of St. Louis – 314-881-6000
Furniture pick up:  314-881-6006
Schedule a pick up:
Accepted items:

Vietnam Veterans of America – 1-800-459-8387
Accepted:  clothing and shoes, baby items, small appliances, kitchenware, furniture, electrical
Donation pick up services:  1-888-518-8387

Where to Donate Cars and Other Vehicles and Boats

 Make a Wish Foundation – Wheels for Wishes – 1-855-366-9474

 Local PBS Affiliate – Nine network
Donate your car, boat, motorcycle, truck or other
vehicle to Nine Network you will be supporting all the programs on the local St. Louis PBS station you love; plus, contributions may be tax deductible to the extent permitted by applicable laws.

 St. Louis Public Radio Vehicle Donation Program – 855-277-2346
Accepting: cars, trucks, motorcycles, trailers, boats and more

 Other Sustainability Resources

Water Conservation

  • Take Back the Tap campaign – – Food & Water Watch is working with students at colleges and universities across the United States to promote tap water and ban bottled water on their campuses
  • S. EPA’s Water Sense program –– Evaluating and promoting water-saving devices and equipment

Air Quality and Green Cleaning

Purchasing – Your Product Choices, Influencing Your Suppliers

Transportation Alternatives

Landscaping to Conserve Water, Foster Habitat, Minimize Labor

  • Missouri Prairie Foundation and the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Grow Native! program – Promoting use, appreciation and propagation of native and adapted plants
  • Locally promoting Rain Garden landscaping – – Program of St. Louis County Soil and Water Conservation District

Cultivating Sustainability Literacy – Avoiding “Greenwashing”

Greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service –

Overall Sustainability – General Resources

  •– Missouri Botanical Garden’s sustainability resources
  •– Center for a New American Dream – New Dream empowers individuals, communities, and organizations to transform the ways they consume to improve well-being for people and the planet.

Sustainable Business Resources

Earth Ways Green Resources Answer Service and FAQs | 314-577-0246 

Every Day Green Resources

General Business Resources

     LEED rating systems, best practices guidelines, excellent networking and professional development
through monthly member programs, webinars, etc.

     A regional initiative aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions through education, efficiency and
investment in green business practices

  • Daily e-news for sustainability in business –

Office and Business Supply Resources

 Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Resources

  • S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program – – Comprehensive equipment and building energy resources

Get Off Junk Mail Lists

Simple Tips to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Click here to download these tips

  • Turn off the lights when natural light is sufficient and when you leave the room. It’s that simple!
  • Keep your temperature system on a moderate setting while you’re home and set it a few degrees higher in the summer (or lower in the winter) when you leave.
  • Use your windows wisely! If your climate control system is on, shut them…if you need a little fresh air, turn off the heat or AC. Open curtains and blinds during the day to help heat the house in the winter and close them in the summer to help keep the house cool
  • Cut down the number of appliances you are running and save big on energy.
  • Did you know that many electronics continue using energy even when powered down? This is true of any charger, television, printer, etc. Use a power strip to easily unplug these electronics when not in use.
  • Power your computer down when you’re away. A computer turned off uses at least 65% less energy than a computer left on or idle on a screen saver.
  • Use the stairs as often as possible. Elevators consume electricity.
  • Only do full loads of laundry and using the cold water setting whenever possible.
  • Try to take shorter showers. The less hot water you use, the less energy is needed to heat the water.
  • Switch to LED – Bulb (Projected) Comparison An incandescent Bulb is projected to last for 1,200 hours. A CFL Bulb is projected to last for 10,000 hours. An LED Bulb is projected to last for 25,000 hours!
  • Conserve Paper – Print and copy on two sides and print only what you need.
  • Recycle – Most of us have curbside single stream recycling that will take aluminum & tin cans, plastics, glass, office paper, newspaper, cardboard. There are various facilities for recycling electronics, bulk metal and furniture.
  • Promote Reuse by donating used cell phones and chargers, furniture clothing and cleaning and school supplies.
  • Consider walking or riding a bike if the distance is reasonable. Walk from you bus or subway stop to your office or lab.
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving
  • Buy Locally Grown Food and Locally Produced Meats – By shopping locally, you are purchasing goods produced in your local community, reducing transportation, while giving you healthier food.
  • Eat Less Industrially Produced Meats – It contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation. Giving up meat just one day a week means decreasing your meat consumption by nearly 15 percent, effectively decreasing the problems associated with meat production by the same amount.
  • Use Less Plastic – From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of our planet.
  • Plant a Tree, a Shrub, a Garden – Plants add oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and have a positive effect on lowering energy consumption and lowering costs
  • Incorporate Native Plants in Your Garden – Native plants use less water, attract wildlife and are relatively easy to grow. Do Not Plant Nonnative, Invasive Plants – Nonnative invasive plants choke out native plants that are good for the local environment.
  • Don’t Bag Grass – Yard waste accounts for approximately 20 percent of all waste materials.
  • Compost (If you can) – It saves water by helping the soil hold moisture and reduce water runoff. It benefits the environment by recycling organic resources while conserving landfill space. It reduces the need for commercial soil conditioners and fertilizers.

The Environmental Benefits of Buying Locally Grown & Produced Food

Reduce Your Food Miles
One of the most important ways buying locally helps the environment is by reducing your food miles. By shopping locally, you are purchasing goods produced in your local community. Conversely, when you shop at the grocery store, many of the food items you buy travel over 1500 miles to reach your plate. By cutting down on these miles, you are reducing the environmental impact of your food. Local food doesn’t create large carbon footprints through overseas plane travel or long truck trips. This cuts down on fuel consumption and air pollution. There isn’t a need for shipping facilities, packing facilities or refrigeration.

More Accessible
Local businesses are able to operate in their local communities. It’s easy for them to bring their products to their consumers because their consumers are nearby. Take a farmer’s market for example – consumers are able to easily access lots of local homegrown produce without leaving their own community. Shoppers are able to easily walk or bike to their local market to shop the stalls. On the other hand, with larger grocery and department stores, they usually aren’t able to be located so centrally. Because these larger retailers require more space, they often have to move out of town. That means consumers are forced to drive to these stores, which increases their fuel consumption and carbon footprint.

Fresher Produce
By buying and eating local, consumers are able to enjoy produce that is fresh and nutritious. Many local producers pride themselves on keeping their product organic, hormone free and pesticide free. Not only is this beneficial to the consumer, it’s also beneficial to the environment. Keeping harmful toxins, like pesticides, out of the air helps to improve crops and air quality. In addition, because the produce is fresh and brought directly from farm to table, there is less waste. Many large retailers have significant food waste due to items going bad before they are bought. On a smaller scale with a more direct farm to table approach, this food waste is cut down.

Protects Local Land & Wildlife
Buying local also helps to protect local lands and wildlife. By buying local, you are supporting local farmers and producers. With your support, these farms are able to stay in operation. Because the farms are owned and operated by local farmers and producers, they aren’t being sold to local developers. Local developers could completely transform the land, devastating the wildlife that calls it home. Or, big business producers could buy out the farm and incorporate inhumane and non-eco-friendly farming practices.

Local Workforce
Lastly, an added environmental benefit of buying locally is supporting the local workforce. For example, if you buy your groceries at the local farmers market, you’re helping to keep local growers, creators and farmers in their jobs. You’re also creating an opportunity for other local jobs such as the team who organizes the farmers market, the team that sets up the stalls, the team that cleans up at the end of the day, etc. All of these local businesses with local workers are in place because consumers are demanding local goods. Without that consumer demand, these local businesses may not exist. Many of the employees would have to seek work elsewhere, outside of the community. This would add to highway congestion and fuel consumption, enlarging the overall carbon footprint.

Impact of Industrial Livestock on the Planet

 The environmental impact is huge
Livestock farming has a vast environmental footprint. It contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation.

Nowhere is this impact more apparent than climate change – livestock farming contributes 18% of human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This is more than all emissions from ships, planes, trucks, cars and all other transport put together.

Climate change alone poses multiple risks to health and well-being through increased risk of extreme weather events – such as floods, droughts and heatwaves – and has been described as the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century.

Reducing consumption of animal products is essential if we are to meet global greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets – which are necessary to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

It requires masses of grain, water and land
Meat production is highly inefficient – this is particularly true when it comes to red meat. To produce one kilogram of beef requires 25 kilograms of grain – to feed the animal – and roughly 15,000 litres of water. Pork is a little less intensive and chicken less still.

The scale of the problem can also be seen in land use: around 30% of the earth’s land surface is currently used for livestock farming. Since food, water and land are scarce in many parts of the world, this represents an inefficient use of resources.

It hurts the global poor
Feeding grain to livestock increases global demand and drives up grain prices, making it harder for the world’s poor to feed themselves. Grain could instead be used to feed people, and water used to irrigate crops.

If all grain were fed to humans instead of animals, we could feed an extra 3.5 billion people. In short, industrial livestock farming is not only inefficient but also not equitable.

It causes unnecessary animal suffering
Industrial livestock farming falls well short of this minimal standard. Most meat, dairy and eggs are produced in ways that largely or completely ignore animal welfare – failing to provide sufficient space to move around, contact with other animals, and access to the outdoors.

It is making us ill
At the production level, industrial livestock farming relies heavily on antibiotic use to accelerate weight gain and control infection – in the US, 80% of all antibiotics are consumed by the livestock industry.

This contributes to the growing public health problem of antibiotic resistance. Already, more than 23,000 people are estimated to die every year in the US alone from resistant bacteria. As this figure continues to rise, it becomes hard to overstate the threat of this emerging crisis.

Written by  Francis Vergunst – Postdoctoral researcher, Université de Montréal and Julian Savulescu – Sir Louis Matheson Distinguishing Visiting Professor at Monash University, Uehiro Professor of Practical Ethics, University of Oxford,produced%20greenhouse%20gas%20emissions%20worldwide.


Tips for Using Less Plastic

According to an Article by The BBC:

  • 3 billion metric tons (9.1 billion US tons) of virgin (non-recycled) plastic has been produced to date.
  • Generating 6.3 billion metric tons (6.9 billion US tons) of plastic waste.
  • 9% of that waste has been recycled.
  • 12% has been incinerated.
  • The remaining 79% (5.5 billion US tons) of plastic waste has accumulated in landfills and the natural environment.
  • 12 billion metric tons (13.2 billion US tons) will enter landfills or the environment by 2050 if current production and waste management trends continue.


Tips for reducing plastic waste:

  1.  Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw.
  2.  Use a reusable produce bag. A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Purchase or make your own reusable produce bag and be sure to wash them often! 
  3.   Give up gum. Gum is made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic. 
  4.  Buy boxes instead of bottles. Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard which is more easily recycled than plastic.
  5.  Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container. You save money and unnecessary packaging. 
  6.  Reuse containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk.
  7.  Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages, even when ordering from a to-go shop
  8.  Bring your own container for take-out or your restaurant doggy-bag since many restaurants use Styrofoam. 
  9.  Use matches instead of disposable plastic lighters or invest in a refillable metal lighter. 
  10.  Avoid buying frozen foods because their packaging is mostly plastic. Even those that appear to be cardboard are coated in a thin layer of plastic. Plus, you’ll be eating fewer processed foods! 
  11.  Don’t use plasticware at home and be sure to request restaurants do not pack them in your take-out box.
  12.  Ask your local grocer to take your plastic containers (for berries, tomatoes, etc.) back. If you shop at a farmer’s market, they can refill it for you.
  13.  The EPA estimates that 7.6 billion pounds of disposable diapers are discarded in the US each year. Use cloth diapers to reduce your baby’s carbon footprint and save money. 
  14.  Make fresh squeezed juice or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles. It’s healthier and better for the environment.
  15.  Make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner.
  16.  Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Also, opt for fresh fruits and veggies and bulk items instead of products that come in single serving cups.
  17.  Use a razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor

Missouri Environmental Organizations
Click here to download a pdf file of this list