Justice & Mercy
Better Health, Better Lives: Health Justice Team
Advocating, educating and promoting a healthful life for all God’s people!
Many of us take our excellent health care system in Lincoln for granted. But why is there a 20-year life-expectancy difference between citizens who live in downtown Lincoln vs. citizens who live in southeast Lincoln?
That question is best answered by understanding the concepts of Equity and Equality. Equality means each person gets the same thing, whereas Equity means each person gets what they need. Think of it this way: if bicycles were assigned to citizens under a model of equality, each bicycle would be the same size, type, and shape. Under an equitable system, this one-size-fits-all approach is modified to meet the needs of the individual. Some might need a bigger bicycle, some a smaller bicycle, and some might need a bicycle with training wheels. An equitable system can bend to meet the needs of the individual, whereas an equal system asks the individual to do the bending.
The health care needs of Lincoln’s downtown residents are simply not being met. Those shortfalls may be related to lack of access to health care, preventive medicine, substance abuse treatment, mental health care treatment, nutrition, prenatal care, or a number of other areas within the healthcare system.
This spring we have been listening to the fabulous sermon series of Pastor Jed Linder, who has been teaching us about the book of Acts and the Disciples’ idea of “radical generosity.” “Radical Generosity” can be explained as choosing Equity over Equality. We learned that a true Christian community gives to others according to their needs, not according to their value. In an ideal Christian community, equity, not equality is both the goal and the result.
Interested in learning more about the concepts of Equity vs. Equality?
Here’s a great article by UNL extension educator Emily Gratopp, MS.
a) The 211 helpline is a free service that refers callers to non-emergency health & human services in Nebraska, including housing assistance, clothing, food pantries/meal sites, shelters, counseling, health clinics, employment, financial assistance, and transportation.
b) MyLink is an app (and website) which provides a comprehensive list of resources available in the Lincoln community, including food, housing, health, disability, children and family, senior services, LGBTQ, refugee, and immigrant, legal, prison re-entry, financial, education, military and veteran, recreation and cultural centers and transportation. MyLink is available in multiple languages, including Arabic, English, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese. mylink.app
c) Clinic with a Heart — clinicwithaheart.org — is a faith-inspired organization that serves people who are uninsured and underinsured through a ministry of healthcare. Volunteers provide free healthcare services, including medical, dental, chiropractic, physical therapy, mental health, vision, hearing, dermatology, and spiritual services. Saint Paul UMC is a sponsor of Clinic with a Heart, donating both financially and in volunteer time and commitment to the organization.
Dust off those sneakers for fun and fitness! Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health. It’s low impact, requires no gym membership or equipment, and can be done at your own pace and schedule. You can walk with a friend, spouse, or dog, with some good music, or in solitary meditation, contemplation, or prayer. Walking is an underrated form of exercise.
Click here to read “6 Common Walking Myths, Busted:”
Walking in nature has added benefits to improve your mood and reduce stress. Visit a nearby park or explore some of the 134 miles of trails in our city. Click here for an interactive map of Lincoln trails.
Or if you’re looking to challenge yourself with a walking goal, check this out.
However you chose to walk, it’s good for your body, mind, and spirit.
Health Equity within our state is largely determined by legislative and financial matters. One member of the Health Justice committee, Steve Dunbar, is actively monitoring the Nebraska Unicameral and keeping us informed on their actions as it relates to health care. We must remain informed and involved to seek justice in our community! Watch for more updates.
Climate Change Information
1. Thanks to the Climate Action Team at First Plymouth Church, two outstanding climate related presentations were made available to the public by Zoom in October and November. If you missed the live presentations, they are still available on YouTube and can be found at firstplymouth.org/cat. Both presentations were by internationally known climate scientists. The first was by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe; she not only provides a lot of information about climate change, but also explains what she has found to be a successful strategy for getting people to engage in conversation about that subject. She is also the author of a recently published book titled “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World”, a book we highly recommend.
The second presenter was Nebraska’s own Dr. Don Wilhite, UNL Professor Emeritus. In his presentation Dr. Wilhite reviews the basics and discusses what climate scientists have learned in the last year. By watching his presentation you can learn what we know about our future based on the past year and brush up on the basics of climate change science.
2. In addition to Dr. Hayhoe’s book recommended above, the following are also recommended as sources of information that will further understanding of climate change and its impacts:
- Bill Gates book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” not only describes the nature and extent of the climate challenge ahead of us, but also the technological obstacles that must be overcome to meet those challenges.
- “The Future We Choose” by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac describes what we can expect in the future (2050) if we alternatively do or do not do anything to stop emitting greenhouse gases.
- A short 112 page book that includes speeches by Greta Thunberg, the remarkable Swedish teenager who has gained worldwide acclaim for her advocacy for climate change action is titled “No One is Too Small to Make a Difference.”
- A slightly different twist on the environmental challenges ahead can be found in Doug Tallamy’s book “Nature’s Best Hope, A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Backyard.” In that book the author explains how important insects and plants, especially the native plants that support the insects, are essential to the continued existence of our ecosystems.
3. In early August the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) released its latest assessment of that issue. While the full report is over 3000 pages in length, a 41 page “Summary for Policymakers” provides extensive information about the current status of global warming and its causes, a number of scenarios about how quickly or slowly we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and what impacts on numerous aspects of our lives can be expected under each of those scenarios. The report has excellent charts and graphs that depict those potential consequences. It can be found at: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGI_SPM.pdf.
4. The team decided that it was time to highlight some of the energy and resource conservation measures that were on the 2021 Lenten Carbon Fast Calendar. The following suggestions are especially relevant to the upcoming fall and winter seasons.
- When the heating season begins, turn down the thermostat to 68 degrees or lower.
- Check for air gaps around your doors and windows and seal them if possible.
- Learn about and consider subscribing to LES’s Virtual-Net Metering and/or Sunshares programs.
5. Check out the following educational sources found on the EPA’s website.
- For information on the sources and proportions of greenhouses gases in our atmosphere, take a look at: https://www.epa.gov/ghemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases.
- To calculate your own carbon footprint and see which of your activities are causing the most emissions, do the fun activity found at: https://www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator.
- To learn about emissions globally, by type of gas being emitted, by economic sector and by country, see: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data.
6. Arguments are still being made about whether electric vehicles result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions when their manufacture and disposal are also considered. For an excellent article about how much lower emissions are with an EV, read: https://arstechnica.com/cars/2021/07/electric-cars-have-much-lower-life-cycle-emissions-new-study-confirms/
7. A blog about plastic bags and the damage they cause can be seen at: https://blog.padi.com/2017/03/27/7-facts-plastic-bags-will-change-way-use/.
8. An article about divestment in fossil fuels in the New Yorker magazine can be found at: https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-powerful-new-financial-argument-for-fossil-fuel-divestment.
9. Composting of food waste and other organic materials is another way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The City of Lincoln’s website has several items of interest about composting including how to do it ourselves and what is available commercially in that regard. It can be easily accessed by going to: https://www.lincoln.ne.gov/home and by searching for “compost.” The UNL Extension Service also has made a lot of helpful information about composting available at: https://extension.unl.edu and by searching for “compost” there as well.
- Decoding the Weather Machine – A documentary outlining what is happening scientifically to our planet because of the addition of greenhouse gases to our atmosphere and what options exist for reducing the increases in global warming.
- “Earthrise” by Amanda Gorman – A poem recited by National Youth Poet Laureate.
House Passed “Build Back Better” Contains Many Provisions to Address Climate Change
After months of debate and negotiation, the House of Representatives passed the “Build Back Better” bill (H.R.5376) on November 19. The bill will now go to the Senate for further negotiation which is expected to last several weeks. Below is a summary of just the climate change provisions found in the House passed version of the bill according to a November 19 article in the Washington Post.
The bottom line: The majority of the funding, totaling more than $300 billion, would provide tax incentives for expanding clean energy generation, electric vehicles, transmission lines and other infrastructure to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Significant additional provisions would bolster the nation’s resilience against damages caused by climate change and targets climate-friendly investments in clean energy, technology development, manufacturing and supply chain.
Consumer incentives: The changes that people would likely notice most directly and immediately are the tax credits, rebates and other incentives aimed at encouraging companies to go green. The credit on electric vehicles, for instance, would increase from the current maximum of $7,500 to $12,500 for cars that are manufactured in union-organized factories in the United States. Car buyers would get the rebates right at the time of sale, instead of having to wait until they’ve filed their taxes. The tax break would begin phasing out for individuals making over $250,000 a year and joint filers making over $500,000.
The proposal would also extend credits to include the purchase of certain used electric vehicles. It would also triple the credit available for two-to-three wheeled electric vehicles to 30 percent of the cost, with a $7,500 maximum, potentially a major boon for, say, electric motorcycle enthusiasts.
The House bill would extend the credits for installing solar panels, geothermal pumps, small wind turbines and other residential clean energy projects, covering up to 30 percent of the cost of the system. The White House estimates that if would cut the cost of installing rooftop solar by about 30 percent and shorten the payback period by roughly five years.
The proposal includes about $6 billion for “qualifying electrification projects” such as converting gas or fossil fuel-powered appliances to electric alternatives, or installing a heat pump system. Heat pumps, for instance, could qualify for rebates of between $1,250 and $4,000 depending on the type and efficiency of the system. There’s a maximum of $10,000, or half the project cost. Of the incentive pot, $3.8 billion is reserved for rebates “carried out in Tribal communities or for low or moderate-income households.”
There’s roughly another $6 billion to support home energy efficiency retrofits. The money would go to state energy through the Energy Department. These rebates will depend on how much energy is saved during a retrofit and range from $2,000 to $4,000.
Climate Conservation Corps: A key aspect of the resilience measures in the Build Back Better proposal is funding for a new Civilian Climate Corps. Modeled in part after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s popular New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, the climate program could hire hundreds of thousands of young people to restore forests and wetlands and guard against the effects of rising global temperatures. While it may take time to launch the initiative, and only certain segments of the population will be eligible, it could ultimately be an attractive employment option for American youth.
Other resilience provisions include billions for wildfire and hazardous fuel reduction measures on National Forest System land. There’s also funding for “investing in coastal communities and climate resilience.”
Clean technology and manufacturing: This proposal would put money into a wide range of clean energy technology and manufacturing sectors. The Energy Department, for instance, would get $1 billion for researching renewable energy. There’s also billions of dollars available to help companies start, or convert to, manufacturing alternative fuel vehicles.
Fossil fuel revenue: This bill aims to raise more than $100 billion in revenue from fossil fuel companies. It does this by closing a tax loophole, reinstating a lapsed tax and a few other smaller measures, such as raising the royalty rate for new fossil fuel leases on public lands.
In its current form, the bill also includes a controversial fee on methane, designed to prod companies to curb leaks of the potent greenhouse gas. The House bill would phase in payments for methane emissions above a certain threshold, starting at $900 a ton in 2023 and ramping up to $1,500 a ton in 2025.
Mission and Ministry: Mercy
Songs of Mercy and Justice Hymn Festival
Saint Paul Justice & Mercy Team FAQ
- Presence at the state capital for justice gatherings on topics such as immigration and racial injustice
- Representation on community partnership boards working for justice
- Speakers, classes and forums to educate on justice issues
- Preaching justice
- SP supports (financially and through participation) the Interfaith Peacemaking Coalition yearly workshop.
- We have placed yard signs in member’s homes which address justice issues to let community know we are sharing God’s Love for all in acts of justice.
We have gained new members through our efforts at justice as people have seen our witness with PRIDE festival and our rainbow banners outside the church. Each have told stories of their previous exile from churches due to homophobic or shame-based theology. They have found new life and new connection to God through the welcoming of Saint Paul UMC.
- Saint Paul has undergone a new visioning process with the guidance of the Unstuck Church Group. One of the areas of our focus for growth is in Mercy and Justice. We have formed a strategic planning team which will be leading the congregation into greater justice-centered mission practices.
- We will begin with a foundation of deepening our own understanding of lovingkindness. All justice work must be grounded in love (open hearts).
- Next we will educate ourselves and the congregation around justice and the biblical mandate (open minds).
- Finally, we will go forward into the world beyond our doors to do acts of justice (open doors).
Our strategic planning team has identified three areas for our focus: racial justice, ecological justice, and health care. Each of these areas will be resourced and ministry teams will be formed to engage the congregation in love, education and action. We will schedule our efforts strategically by launching one at a time and building support before adding the next.