From July 28-August 1 19 youth and 5 adults from St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Urbandale traveled to Asheville, North Carolina where they worked with Asheville GreenWorks, a nonprofit group that works for conservation in the Asheville area. Below is a reflection from Evan Economos, a senior at Urbandale High School and member of St. Stephen.

”And God said, Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26).

Dominion is the word that God uses to describe our responsibility as God’s sons and daughters on this earth.  It is defined as the power or right of governing and controlling; sovereign authority. While in North Carolina, we attempted to use this “sovereign authority” to benefit the earth and our fellow humans. Rivers were cleaned, trash was picked up, and bushes were whacked. But make no mistake; this was not a week of brutal torture out in the Appalachian Mountains. 

With the bonds we share as fellow youth group members, the labor was more like games for us. You would never guess that a group of high-schoolers would describe picking up other peoples’ litter as fun, but ask anyone who went–it is especially enjoyable when you pull a full size grocery cart or semi-truck tires out of the riverbed! It was even more surprising to see 19 teenagers volunteer to head out on the river for a second day of clean-up. 

Seeing just where all the trash we throw out the windows or don’t bother picking up goes really affected the group. We are all more conscious about what we drop, and even put forth the effort to gather other people’s garbage. The responsibility that we have to take care of our planet is something that can be carried out with joy!    

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