St. Luke's United Methodist Church


4851 S. Apopka-Vineland Road
Orlando, FL 32819
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A Note from Saniye Kazan-July 27, 2023

Posted on July 27, 2023 at 10:11 am in .

Dear St. Luke’s family,

Earlier this month, St. Luke’s Middle School Youth took a trip to the East Coast for a Creation Care Mission Experience (click here to see a full recap)! This all started back in August 2022, when I sat with students and asked them what “breaks their hearts.” Using ZOE’s dream charts as a template, students shared what weighs on them, what brings them joy, and what they want for the future. While we got many excellent answers, our middle schoolers felt especially passionate about the climate crisis and the environment, specifically our waters. Upon learning what matters most to them, Brandon Sangster, our Director of Youth Ministries, and I created a mission experience where students would learn about our waters and marine life, what is harming them most, and what they can do to help preserve and protect them. Throughout the week students didn’t shy away from asking tough questions, and in turn, questioning themselves and the choices we all make that directly and indirectly affect the planet.

For this Creation Care Mission Experience, we focused on the East Coast in Brevard County with the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). Since 71% of the IRL sits in Brevard County, there are many conservation and restoration efforts there, including Restore Our Shores of Brevard Zoo, the Marine Resource Council, and Keep Brevard Beautiful, all of which we had the incredible opportunity to engage in impactful environmental initiatives with.

During our time, we learned so much! Did you know that…

  • A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day! They keep the ecosystem balanced by filtering and cleaning water, which helps to control harmful algae blooms and protect shorelines. Check out the oyster gabions we built with Restore Our Shores!
  • Mangrove forests cover just 0.1% of the planet’s surface but store up to 10 times more carbon per hectare than terrestrial forests. By planting Mangrove trees with the Marine Resource Council, we helped bolster the health of the lagoon and create a more resilient shoreline.
  • At least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. By picking up litter, and collecting trash from beachgoers with Keep Brevard Beautiful, we raised awareness on the importance of responsible waste disposal and the impact of plastic pollution on our oceans.
  • Our choices as individuals can greatly impact our planet and we all have a place in the environmental movement. We learned that from the YouTube documentary “50 Minutes To Save The World” (click here to watch).

You see, to Restore Hope for our neighbors experiencing hunger, homelessness, and poverty, we must actively be involved in Creation Care. In the words of EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, “The impacts of climate change that we are feeling today, from extreme heat, to flooding, to severe storms, are expected to get worse, and people least able to prepare and cope are disproportionately exposed.”

Our responsibility to repair the damage we’ve done is biblical. As bearers of God’s image, all people have the responsibility of caring for God’s creation. The Book of Discipline calls United Methodists to be caretakers of God’s creation: All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creations and not solely because they are useful to human beings.

Now what, you ask?

St. Luke’s Missions invites you to a Conversation on Creation Care Reception on Sunday, August 20 after each worship service at 10:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., where we will learn and discuss efforts toward environmental protection and sustainability. Join us in making St. Luke’s and our community one that loves and cares for all of God’s creation. To learn more about how you can participate in this new ministry, please send me an email.

Love and light,

Saniye Kazan

St. Luke’s Director of Mission Engagement

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