Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Interview by: Anita Peebles
Andy Call is Pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Oberlin. He moved to Oberlin in Summer 2012 with his wife and their three children. Andy is enthusiastic about the renovations at FUMC, especially the improved childrens classrooms. He says, Its an exciting project because it will provide a safe, clean environment for children to be and we are doing it in a way that we think is responsible with the resources we have.
Q: What word or image would you use to describe Oberlin?
A: Progressive. I think of us being a progressive community in many ways, not just in terms of political, but also in terms of being on the new edge, on the leading edge of thinking of alternative ways of living in many ways that other communities would find to be countercultural.
Q: If you defined sustainability for your own life, what would that be?
A: I think of sustainability as ongoing existence, whether we talk about it from an economic sustainability or an environmental or planning sustainability, the idea that we dont have an unlimited life span. We dont use resources in a way that will cause those resources to run out, we use resources in a way that is understood to be renewable and ongoing.
Q: What actions are you engaged in that relate to sustainable life choices or living, either in your home life or the life of the congregation?
A: We talk about environmental sustainability. Rather than trying to find a way to filter out the water that comes through our system or having people buy bottles of water, we have a couple jugs of water, we take them regularly up to one of the nearby natural springs and refill them. We think that is a good model because it is healthy and its reusing resources that are plentiful. When we decided to start this coffee project that we are running when students are on campus, we intentionally made an effort to use local resources. So we work with the Oberlin Market, organic fair trade coffee, same with sugar and cream and tea, we get that fair trade as well. As we start new projects we think about environmental sustainability and healthy systems that help people to be healthy in interactions with each other and with their environment.
...we believe in using products that are organic, renewable, and non polluting
...there is no guarantee that all of the resources that we draw from the earth will always be here.
Q: How do you feel these actions are important?
A: I think its important for a number of reasons. First of all, its just good stewardship. Stewardship is a word that we use in faith communities a lot. We understand our role in this world, not as owners of creation or as masters of creation in any way, but to say that God has entrusted us with this creation and we are responsible to take care of it. So in terms of good stewardship, we believe in using products that are organic or are renewable or dont pollute the environment. Its also a good thing in terms of what we model as a faith community-- we can share that with the people that come through the doors, whether they are ongoing members of the church or just people who come and visit. We have a chance to share a message with them: these are values that we embody and we hope that you will as well, without being prescriptive about that and telling people what they ought to do or how they ought to live. We just think being a good model of that is responsible as a faith community.
Q: Is there anything you would like to tell your fellow community members regarding care for the environment?
A: Im not big on making speeches, other than just to say be aware. Awareness is the first issue in recognizing that none of this is on a permanent basis. All of the resources that we draw from the earth and others around us, there is no guarantee that they will always be here. Just being aware of how we use things and being responsible as much as we can be. I hope we are starting to be more aware of those things and Oberlin is certainly way ahead of the curve in terms of most communities. We think of resources often as financial resources first and think about other impacts second. Its said that we know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. We really would do better if we stopped worrying about cost and started thinking about overall impact. Cost is certainly a factor, but it cant be the only determining factor of somethings value.
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