Bridging Science, Faith, and Troubled Waters

As Dottie Yunger writes in ‘Rev. Riverkeeper’ in the November 2013 issue, Yunger spent three years serving as the ears, eyes, and voice of the Anacostia River watershed as its appointed “Riverkeeper.” Yunger, a pastor at Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church, has worked to combine her identity as a person of faith with her identity as an environmental advocate.

Sojourners editorial assistant Rebecca Kraybill sat with Yunger to discuss how she bridges these two worlds.

Rebecca Kraybill: Can you describe your current roles at work and in the church?

Dottie Yunger: I am the associate pastor for Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church and lead pastor for the Crossroads worshiping community at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. (Editor’s Note: Dottie served as the “Anacostia Riverkeeper” from 2008-2011 and executive director of the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake from 2011-2013.)

You started in a lab at the Smithsonian. What led you to ministry and environmental work?

My background is in marine biology. So I started off working in a marine ecology lab at the Smithsonian. I really enjoyed working in the lab but also enjoyed working with the public and being able to explain the research that was going on in the lab and why it was important to people and their everyday lives. And so I then started spending more time working with the public and giving tours to school groups and teachers; and started doing satellite broadcasts from our scientists who build stations around the country and around the world. And I’ve always been a United Methodist. But I felt like the two worlds were separate: During the week we didn’t talk about faith, but some days we didn’t talk about the environment.

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