2012 Retreat

Faith & Environmental Justice

Ferncliff Camp, Central Arkansas
Keynote Speaker: Dodd Galbreath, Lipscomb University, Nashville; founding director of Institute for Sustainable Practices

More than 40 people from five states attended the retreat just outside Little Rock. Surrounded by the beauty of the natural world, participants had opportunities to relax, network and learn.

Dodd Galbreath from Lipscomb University at Nashville, Tennessee, opened the retreat with a presentation that linked scriptures to the stewardship responsibilities of caring for creation. He encouraged others to “be seen doing good.”

“Can you market your friendship with God?” Galbreath asked the group.

“Try to be a mustard seed,” Galbreath added. “Stay connected to God, to the earth, and to one another. We don’t know all the answers, and we are not supposed to know how it all ends up.”

“We are called to do radical things,” Galbreath added.

People packed the workshops on Stop Fracking in Arkansas, The Science of Climate Change, Green Mission Outreach, Social Justice, Solar Potential in Arkansas, Energy Efficiency and Watershed Protection. The retreat concluded with an outdoor worship service by the lake.

Rev. David Gill, camp director, took participants on a tour in a solar-powered bus. The group drove over a bridge built from a recycled 40-foot tractor trailer. They saw a community garden, a composting system, a drip irrigation system, a worm farm, houses built by AmeriCorps volunteers from trees that fell during an ice storm, chicken coops and donated pallets for “goat palaces.” The goats will serve as natural lawn mowers and will provide natural fertilizer for the gardens.

Gill described how water purification systems, powered by solar panels, are built by volunteers who attend Solar School. The first 20 systems have gone to Haiti, and other countries are under consideration for solar power installations. More information is available at

“Moms need solar energy to run nebulizers for children with respiratory problems,” said Gill, who just returned from Honduras. Children have health problems because of fires from burning wood for heat and for cooking.

Volunteers assemble baby kits, hygiene kits, school kits, and food kits at the Disaster Relief Center at Ferncliff. At the Center, built by the Presbyterian Women, visitors saw a car that runs on used cooking oil that goes through a filter. Also through Presbyterian Women, Ferncliff will receive $100,000 for rooftop solar panel installations this summer.

At Ferncliff, hydro power from the lake is used to warm and cool inside spaces. All leftover food goes to a compost pile. Everything possible is recycled.

For those interested in the slides from Dr. Terry Tremwel’s presentation on “Faith and Anthropogenic Climate Change” the PowerPoint presentation is available here: Science of Climate Change

See our Retreat Pix on flickr: Retreat Pix

Retreat Sponsors

Regional Recycling and Waste Reduction Disrict of Pulaski County

First United Methodist Church in Little Rock

U.S. Climate Action Network

The retreat included the following workshops:

  • Sam Lane, director of Stop Arkansas Fracking
  • Sarah DeVries, Ark. Dept. of Environmental Quality on “watershed protection”
  • Frank Kelly, Solar Source Consulting on “solar potential in Arkansas”
  • Terry Tremwel, University of Arkansas professor, on “the science of climate change”
  • Rev. David Gill, Ferncliff Camp, on “green mission outreach”
  • Rev. Malik Saafir on “social justice”