Youth Explore Environmental Justice at Irons Homestead Retreat

Youth Explore Environmental Justice at Irons Homestead Retreat

On February 18, youth and adults from four different congregations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island came together at Irons Homestead for a Youth Environmental Justice Retreat. The program was led by Environmental Justice Intern Lillian Steinmayer, a first year MDiv student at Yale Divinity School. Lillian combined her undergraduate background in biology with her deep spirituality to offer an introduction to environmental justice, a laughter-inducing activity to demonstrate consequences of greed or working together, and mindful time in the beauty of God’s Creation.  

Participants began the day learning about the 17 Principles of Environmental Justice, connecting these concepts to real-world examples of what falls under the large umbrella of environmental justice, including the recent train derailment and environmental disaster in East Palestine, OH. These principles continued to ground conversations in racial equity and the experiences of real people throughout the day. 

Irons Homestead’s Path of Mindfulness provided space for participants to reconnect with their bodies and spirits. People commented on how good it felt to walk just to experience being outside, with attention to what they could see, smell, and hear, rather than to quickly get somewhere. The gentle ripples on the lake were a reminder to slow down and breathe.  

At the end of the day, participants reflected on what they had learned and how they were feeling called to promote environmental justice. In their church groups, they discussed what needs they might address in their communities, and who they might work with in their schools, congregations, or other community groups. Some of the great ideas included composting in the school cafeteria and promoting the use of reusable plates and utensils at church coffee hour. 

There is another Youth Environmental Justice Retreat, this time at Silver Lake, on Saturday, May 6. Register here, and contact Emma Brewer-Wallin to request scholarships – cost should not be a barrier! 

Lillian Steinmayer is available to preach this spring! Contact her for availability,  Lillian is also leading an Earth Month Book Study, reading Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass. Learn more and register.  


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Noah Brewer-Wallin

Noah serves as the Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Southern New England Conference. Noah supports congregations in making God’s love real through engagement in environmental and economic justice. Contact them for: ...

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