Tag Archives: Environment

In celebration of St. Martin’s Table

St Martins Front In 1984, a new restaurant opened in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, between the west bank campus of the University of Minnesota and Augsburg, a private liberal arts college of the ELCA.  Restaurants come and go, and this new start was hardly noteworthy except that the goal was not to make money but to give it away, and they have succeeded beyond the founder’s wildest imagination.  By the time that St. Martin’s Table serves its final customers this December, 26 years after it first offered delicious, homemade vegetarian fare, it will have gifted over $700,000 to alleviate hunger locally and globally.

St. Martin’s Table is an outreach ministry of the Community of St. Martin. It is a bookstore and restaurant open to the general public. St. Martin’s Table strives to be a center for peacemaking and justice seeking. This focus springs from the Community’s faith, centered in the life and teachings of Jesus, and so we seek to provide hospitality to all people in their journeys toward peace, justice and wholeness.

St Martin's TableThe existence of St. Martin’s Table was one of those things that lay somewhere in the recesses of my mind.  I knew about it, but I didn’t really know about it.  Thus, when I stopped in for lunch for the first time a month or so ago, my response was “why haven’t I been here before” and “I can’t wait to come back.”  The homemade gazpacho and generous wedge of carrot cake were part of the attraction, but it was much more than that.

The food served is a celebration of God’s gifts to us. To that end, St. Martin’s Table serves vegetarian meals with and emphasis on locally grown and organic food. Volunteer servers not only contribute their time, but also contribute their tips to programs that alleviate hunger in the global community.

Conversation takes place not only around the table at noon, but also during programs centered on peacemaking, justice issues and community-building through the arts. St. Martin’s Table is also available for study, worship, fellowship and special events for the wider community.

St. Martin’s Table strives to be fiscally sound and to be a good steward of all resources, especially as they relate to the long-term vitality of the Table. As an alternative business, it is our priority to model a more just way to live and have that reflected in the relationships we cultivate. The Table strives to be a place of peace where creative visions for a world of justice are welcomed and nurtured.

And who is St. Martin, the namesake of the community and the restaurant/bookstore?

The restaurant/bookstore, like the ecumenical community, was named for five Martins who have been models of change, truth and resistance in the Christian faith:

  • Martin Luther, the 16th century reformer who taught the theology of the cross
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., for his leadership in nonviolent protest to end racism and injustice
  • Martin of Tours, a fourth century Roman soldier turned pacifist
  • Martin de Porres, a Spanish-Indian healer who served the poor of Peru in the 1600s
  • Martin Niemoeller, a German pastor imprisoned for his nonviolent resistance to the Nazis during World War II

On August 25th, I received an email that announced that The Table would serve its last meal this coming December.

It is with thankfulness for all of the hospitality that has been shown here for 26 years, and also with great sadness that we announce that St. Martin’s Table will be closing in December, 2010.

Bookstore manager Kathleen Olsen encouraged people to continue to support The Table between now and Christmas. “We hope that our loyal clientele, in addition to those who have never been to The Table, will join us in the upcoming months for good food, good books, and good conversation. Help us celebrate a great 26 years!”

Drop in for lunch or leave a greeting on the Facebook page ( which lists the Thursday menu as “Soups: Creamy Curry Split Pea and Chilled Cucumber Yogurt followed by Cashew Carrot (cold). Spreads: Swiss Dill, Tofuna and Bunny Luv”).

Study: Evangelicals Trail Other Faiths on Global Warming

(RNS) While a majority of white evangelicals believe there is solid evidence that the earth is warming, only one in three says human activity is the cause, according to a recent survey.

As the world celebrates Earth Day, a survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life shows significant disagreement among U.S. religious groups on climate change and its causes.

Nearly half of all Americans blame global warming on human activity, according to the survey, but only 34 percent of white evangelical Protestants do the same. Seventeen percent of that group say natural patterns are the cause, and 31 percent are not convinced that the earth is warming at all.

That stance is at odds with black Protestants, white non-Hispanic Catholics, white mainline Protestants, and religiously unaffiliated Americans, all of whom are significantly more likely to accept evidence of global warming, according to Pew.

Black Protestants (39 percent); white, non-Hispanic Catholics (44 percent); white mainline Protestants (48 percent); and religiously unaffiliated Americans (58 percent) are all also more likely to attribute climate change to humans, the survey found.

Daniel Burke

Religion News Service, quoted in the Pew Forum

West Bank YAGM team plant trees

Thanks to ELCA Missionary the Rev. Shadra Shoffner for submitting this picture and caption. On Earth Day (April 22) give thanks and pray for those who plant trees and plant peace. Sue-s
During their mid-year retreat, the Jersusalem/West Bank ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) team planted trees near Nahalin Village, West Bank. The property belongs to a Palestinian Lutheran family who advocate for peace, saying “We refuse to be enemies.”

Front: Nikki Schmidt, Marta Spangler.
Back: Paul Kacynski, Martin and the Rev. Shadra Shoffner (YAGM coordinators), Daher Nassar (local host), Chelsea Mathis and Kendra Kintzi.
(Unless otherwise noted, the pictured are ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission. 2009 Photo by Meredith Harber, YAGM.)

Make Earth Day Resolutions

I don’t want to rain on the parade, but I’m not 100 percent in love with Earth Day. Don’t get me wrong—I love the awareness and the fact that projects get done on (and around) April 22. But what about the other 364 days of the year? So this Earth Day, I am challenging you to make Earth Day every day.

Sit down on April 22 and make your own Earth Day Resolutions—a list of day-to-day eco-friendly goals and challenges that will help you live a greener, cleaner and healthier life over the next 365 days. Don’t know where to start? Naturally Savvy has some great suggestions.

Ditch plastic wrap (some of it contains PVC—yikes!)

Stop using paper plates. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. It’s wasteful and completely unnecessary. If you’re worried about family time, make washing dishes or loading the dishwasher a rotating chore that you do with one of your kids each evening.

Use public transit

Walk or take your bike whenever possible

Stop using chemical cleaners. Switch to natural products or homemade solutions.

Choose organic foods—particularly when it comes to pesticide-heavy produce and genetically modified foods.

Grow your own fruits and vegetables to eliminate pesticides and a huge part of your carbon footprint.

Start composting!

Stop using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. There are tons of natural alternatives on the market and all sorts of home remedies. (Trust me, people with chemical sensitivities will thank you.)

Use cloth diapers.

Volunteer with a local recycling program or environmental group.

Paper or plastic? Neither. Always take along a reusable bag when you leave the house.

Learn one new thing about the environment every week, then pass it on. Knowledge is power.

Reduce your garbage to a maximum of one bag per week. (It’s the limit in my town, and with four people in my house, we rarely fill the bag.)

Send one letter or postcard to a politician—local, state, federal or international—each month concerning an environmental issue. A politician once told me that one letter or postcard represents about 50 people who feel the same way. Politicians won’t take the environment seriously unless you show them you do.

Cut your paper footprint and switch to recycled paper products—paper towels, toilet paper, printing paper.

Ditch wrapping paper and paper gift bags in favor of eco-friendly and reusable alternatives.

Refuse to use polystyrene (Styrofoam). If a restaurant or take-out joint uses it, point out that it’s unhealthy and bad for the environment.

Don’t buy products made with PVC (polyvinyl chlorate). PVC is difficult to recycle and a recent study links the phthalates in vinyl flooring to autism. Other places PVC is lurking include: shower curtains, rain gear…

This list could go on and on. Planet Green has tons of great advice on living a little greener, so take some time to browse the site if you’re looking for other options.

So what are my resolutions? I already do a lot of the things listed above, but there’s definitely room for improvement.

Cara’s Earth Day Resolutions

Plant a fruit and veggie garden

Switch to organic, free range chicken and eggs

Find a non-toxic, natural hair dye

Send one letter per month to a politician concerning an environmental issue

Always carry a reusable bag (I’m forgetful, but I’m vowing to remember!)

Cara Smusiak writes on behalf of Naturally Savvy.com about how to live a more natural, organic and green lifestyle.