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United Methodists receive award for protecting Lake Superior

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A UMNS photo by Greg Peterson

The Rev. Margaret West (right) and church member Joanne Mingay (left) wrap old computers at Marquette (Mich.) Grace United Methodist Church.

July 14, 2006

By Greg Peterson*

MARQUETTE, Mich. (UMNS) — In recognition of several ongoing environmental projects, Upper Peninsula United Methodists have received an international Environmental Stewardship Award from the Lake Superior Binational Program.

Thousands of northern Michigan church members turned in more than 320 tons of electronic waste in April for Earth Day 2006 and participated in a similar 2005 project that targeted common household poisons and car batteries.

The award was presented to the interfaith signers of the Earth Keeper Covenant, including the Rev. Grant Lobb, Marquette District superintendent of the United Methodist Detroit Annual (regional) Conference, which has 8,372 parishioners and 60 northern Michigan churches.

“Appreciation for creation is very easy here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where the Great Lakes surround us with their beauty,” Lobb noted.

“We know that if the generations to come are to also enjoy these bodies of water, we need to continue the efforts of preventing any further damage to the lakes, and cleaning the area as well as we can,” he added.

Lobb said he was pleased that United Methodists of the Upper Peninsula, in partnership with the Earth Keepers, have been recognized for environmental stewardship. “We United Methodists understand that being good stewards of God’s wonderful creation is a vital part of being committed Christians.”

The Earth Keeper project is coordinated by nine faith communities — United Methodist, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Unitarian-Universalist, Bahá’í, Jewish and Zen Buddhist — as well as two environmental groups, the Central Lake Superior Watershed Partnership and the Cedar Tree Institute; two dozen core team members across the Upper Peninsula; and the newly formed Northern Michigan University student branch.

“The Watershed Partnership has never coordinated a more successful pollution prevention than the Earth Keepers,” said Carl Lindquist, executive director of the Central Lake Superior Watershed Partnership.

“Last year, they collected over 40 tons of hazardous household waste, then over 300 tons of electronic waste and we’re already planning future Earth Keeper projects,” he continued. “Clearly, Earth Keepers is one of the most effective public programs I’ve ever seen to help protect the Great Lakes.”

The Rev. Jon Magnuson, Earth Keeper Initiative co-founder and founder and director of the Cedar Tree Institute, said the group will continue developing projects to protect Lake Superior and its tributaries.

“Our efforts are part of a new awakening of a deep prophetic theme hidden in the great religions of the world,” said Magnuson, the Lutheran campus pastor at Northern Michigan University. “This award is a special sign of encouragement and hope to continue this special work to protect and celebrate Lake Superior.”

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Will Shampo

More than 300 tons of electronic waste was collected in April for Earth Day 2006 by United Methodists in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The Lake Superior Binational Program was formed by the United States and Canadian governments to protect Lake Superior and oversee uses of the largest, deepest and cleanest of the Great Lakes.

The Earth Keeper team received the environmental award in the community group category for the United States because of its “outstanding efforts to restore or protect the natural environment in the Lake Superior basin,” according to a letter from Lissa Radke, the U.S. coordinator for the binational forum, a citizen group for the Lake Superior Binational Program.

Primary funding for the Earth Keeper Clean Sweep project comes from a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with grants from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

For information about how to organize a “clean sweep,” call Lindquist at (906) 228-6095 or send an e-mail to

*Peterson is a local news reporter and volunteer media adviser for Earth Keeper.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or

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Lake Superior Binational Program
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