By Alice E. Gerard
Being caretakers of God's creation is more than taking plastic bags to Tops and placing bottles, cans, and newspapers in the recycle bin, said the Rev. Kris Bjerke-Ullman, pastor of St. Timothy Lutheran Church, on Wednesday at the fourth in a series of five Lenten luncheons.
The title of the Lenten Luncheon, held at Trinity United Methodist Church was "Justice for God's Creation."
"We are asked to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us," Bjerke-Ullman said. "It is hard to care for the things that are not ours and have dominion over every living thing. Do we own and control it and do it our way? We do not have special privilege to destroy and dominate with force and power."
"How do we take care of God's creation in Grand Island?" Bjerke-Ullman said. "We support biodiversity." She said that, to have a healthy environment, we need a variety of species. "We don't always allow biodiversity to happen, and we make changes in the environment."
One of the changes that people have made in the environment is to plant invasive species, such as European buckthorn and purple loosestrife. "European buckthorn looks like a lush sea of green with pretty berries, but it is low in protein and high in carbohydrates. It is bad to eat and can kill smaller birds." It grows rapidly and reduces biodiversity by shading out native shrubs and plants, Bjerke-Ullman said. There is also the risk of soil erosion into nearby bodies of water, she said. Purple loosestrife is "beautiful, invasive, and destructive." It is an invasive plant species that "suppresses growth of native species and replaces marshland meadow species. It reverses biodiversity."
Bjerke-Ullman recommended digging up and removing these and other invasive plant species.
Another way to be better stewards of the Earth in Grand Island is to "stop mowing to the water's edge," The creeks and streams in Grand Island are tributaries of the Niagara River." Bjerke-Ullman said. "Leave an unmowed buffer zone. Fifty feet is adequate." She said that native plant species in the unmowed areas, which could include such plants as spotted Joe Pye weed, New England Aster, and blue flag iris, will capture impurities before they go into a creek. She also suggested that people not use lawn chemicals, to prevent chemicals from possibly leaching into a creek or into the Niagara River.
Bjerke-Ullman also said that she plans on setting up workshops "to talk about a healthy and diverse environment." The workshops would be designed for both children and adults.
The last week of the Lenten Luncheon series is scheduled for noon on March 21 and will feature the Rev. Carla Kline of Island Presbyterian, who will discuss "Justice for Immigrants."