The Church’s Vision of Creation / Just Transition
“We as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are deeply concerned about the environment, locally and globally, as members of this church and as members of society.” This deep concern is rooted in our belief in a God who created all things and called all God created good (Genesis 1), a God who calls us to partner with creation and each other (Genesis 2 / Jesus across the Gospels), a God who invites us into the interconnectedness of a garden creation we have all received as a gift to care for and steward.
CLICK HERE to learn more about a “just transition” to a sustainable future.
Walking the Talk at the 2022 ELCA Church-wide Assembly
The ELCA has for generations seen creation care as central to the life of faith, and a core part of our vocation as followers of Jesus. Churches have held Creation Care Worships, preached and practiced environmental stewardship in communities locally and globally, and in 1993 the ELCA adopted the social statement Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice. This is a document all expressions of being church can use to shape witness and ministry in context.
As we become more aware of the interconnectedness of human activity and our climate, there has been a growing urgency to respond to the climate crisis across the world with a just transition to a sustainable future. Climate scientists have been faithfully listening to our planet for many years. Their call to quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions echos the voices of the prophets of old, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, whose messages were urgent refrains to turn away from ways of living that harmed community and neighbor.
Lutherans Restoring Creation, together with synod teams across the ELCA, called for urgent action in response to the climate crisis at the 2022 Church-wide Assembly. 17 of the ELCA’s 65 synods sent memorials to the church-wide assembly in Columbus, Ohio, calling for this denomination to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030 and 100% no later than 2050, paralleling the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) call to action that would aim to limit global warming to 1.5C.
CLICK HERE for a list of the 17 synods and their memorials.
CLICK HERE for the final memorial language approved and passed (672 / 45).
CLICK HERE to watch the discussion and vote at the church-wide assembly.
How have we as the ELCA been “Walking the Talk” since 2022
|Creation Care Network – Noted in the church-wide memorial, this network represents voices from across the ELCA that meet quarterly to coordinate and network with each other to define and implement a system-wide strategy toward meeting the 2022 church-wide goal of reducing our denominational greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030 and 100% no later than 2050.|
|ELCA social message on “Earth’s Climate Crisis” – With this social message the ELCA provides facts, raises questions, draws on its own social teaching, and identifies convictions that expansively address caretaking for Earth’s climate. At the heart of this social message lies the claim that climate change presents humanity with a kairos moment; that is, a critical moment in time when God is leading us into decisive action. Also refer to the 1993 ELCA Social Statement Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice.|
|Climate Advocacy / Just Transition Team – This team formed out of LRC in September 2022 to help make sure the ELCA does the work passed at the 2022 church-wide assembly on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by providing healthy pressure for ELCA to walk the talk, encouraging & nurturing partnerships for generative change, identify ways to communicate stories of faith in action, and identify ways to resource church and beyond to act. This is a grassroots team made up of lay and rostered leaders from across the nation who helped bring memorials to their 2022 synod assemblies that went on to the church-wide assembly. This team also includes folks who have a passion for climate and creation care. Contact Harold Vanicek if you are interested in being part of this team. CLICK HERE to see where our conversations have led, and the work we have been about.|
|Cool Congregations Cohort – The Central States Synod LRC Mission Table is working with ELCA Synods across the United States and KIFA (Kansas Interfaith Action) to curate an ever-growing cohort of congregations and ministry sites that want to focus on measuring progress and the impact of reducing our carbon emissions, utilizing the resources of Interfaith Power and Light’s Cool Congregations program and/or the EPA’s Energy Star program. Congregations can join in at any time. Education, collaboration, and guidance will be provided through a regular Zoom call on the second Tuesday of each month at 7pm CST. CLICK HERE to view previous meetings and resources.|
Ways you can join in walking the talk for a healthier climate
|Connect with Lutherans Restoring Creation – The LRC website is a warehouse of resources for all levels of participating in creation care, from individual to congregation and organization to worship to synod to churchwide action. CLICK HERE to visit the LRC homepage.. Search for what you are looking for by interest, category, and level. Use the interactive map to find and connect with someone near you who has done what you wish to do. Contact LRC to help guide you to the next step in your care of creation hopes and actions.|
|Actions Speak Loudly! Share your Congregation’s Action Plan – The goal is to make a difference by transforming attitudes and commitments and by embracing concrete actions that reduce human ecological impact on the earth and contribute to justice for people affected by environmental degradation. CLICK HERE to learn more about creating an action plan.|
|Become a Creation Care Ambassador – Since 2020 ELCA and ecoAmerica’s Blessed Tomorrow have trained over 300 members to reach out to their faith community in order to activate congregations to work towards climate solutions in their areas. There are dozens of certified Ambassadors ready to share their new skills and resources with your church and community. CLICK HERE to learn more about becoming an ambassador.|
|Join the Cool Congregations Cohort – Description above. Contact Noni Strand with questions and to join this group of congregations.|
|Join the One Home One Future Campaign – One Home One Future is a coalition effort of US faith denominations and organizations, supported by ecoAmerica’s Blessed Tomorrow program as the organizer. One Home One Future is a campaign that educates, activates, and supports clergy, congregants, youth, and all spiritual people in meaningful and just solutions locally, regionally, and nationally in ways that are accessible and positive.|