As July turned to August at the end of Summer, 16 High Schoolers and adults from Broadway Christian Church set out to Pacific Grove California. We went to be a part of meaningful service project and energetic learning experiences inspiring us to invest in the future health of the ocean. Rev. Deborah Streeter and Rev. Dan Paul run an amazing Disciples Home Mission Station out of the Christian Church of Pacific Grove.
This amazing congregation has been welcoming groups to their space for over a decade helping many from all over the country care for our oceans. This fun and inspiring program that they call “Blue Theology” which offers tremendous hands on learning and serving opportunities. We got to roll up our sleeves and clean up beaches, help with sand dune restoration with native plants, collect important data on sand crab and limpet research, as well as explore the Elkhorn Slue via Kayak, take a whale watching tour through the bay, and get a first hand prayer pilgrimage at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
On this trip, we explored what it means to be good advocates for a healthy ocean. We discussed and learned about how all waterways are ultimately connected to the ocean and how over 2.4 millions pieces of plastic end up in the ocean every day! Yet, we can be a part of a movement to correct this problem. After studying at the Monterey Bay Aquarium we were encouraged to do several beach clean ups where we picked up hundreds of cigarette butts, plastic bottles, caps, and other mostly small discarded items that ocean life can easily mistake for food. One of our students reflected “its scary just how much plastic we use and how easily something simple like a plastic grocery bag can look like a jellyfish in the ocean and get eaten!” That same student continues to pursue a plastic bag-less life back home in Missouri, realizing that she usually can just carry the items or put them into her backpack. It is small realizations that were at the heart of the Blue Theology experience. Sometimes the numbers and circumstances of climate change can seem overwhelming, and yet, we can and should make daily choices about how we consume and what we do with our trash.
Faith formation was a big part of the process where through nightly reflection and creativity, we were taught how to write poetry, do interpretive art projects, and make Blue Theology banners that we’ll proudly hang in our Loft Space at Broadway. We had several folks who felt like these creative processes were outside their comfort zones, yet the faithful members of CCPG and teachers at Blue Theology continue to make it accessible to all of us. Kimberly was particularly encouraging and a great companion to our learning.
We sang, laughed, created, ate, and worked together connected to the beautiful ocean that was literally a block away! Sharing in the joy of how we can face the challenges of ocean stewardship and together with God’s help and many hands we can help the ocean thrive once more. One of the amazing recovery stories was the sea otters’ that are at their highest concentration in the Bay. It was thought at one time there might have been only a few hundred of these keystone species left in the world, and yet with change in the way the bay was cared for and advocacy by local groups, there are thousands of these otters blessing each visitor to the bay with the joy of watching them frolic, feed and play in the ocean.
If you’re looking for a youth mission station, a clergy renewal retreat, or to take an intergenerational group, make sure you contact Pastor Dan (http://bluetheology.com) so that you too can experience the beauty, joy and transformation as you breathe in the salty air.
Thanks to Broadway CC’s Rev. Nick Larson for this story and photos.