All posts by Phoebe Morad

Heidi Ann Michelsen

I´m currently an administrator and professor for the study abroad program of Valparaiso University,  (Praxis Center) located in Costa Rica.  I teach classes about Central American history, politics, religion, ethnicity, environmental issues, sustainable development and also Comparative Healthcare Systems.   In addition, I occasionally lead short term service learning experiences for U.S. universities.  In light of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on my work with college students, I´m also getting certified as a medical interpreter, which I hope to be doing online in the near future.

I served for 21 years in ministry with Lutheran congregations in Costa Rica which were located in squatter´s settlements with primarily Nicaraguan immigrants. I´ve also been involved in initiatives with the Costa Rican Lutheran Church for the past 6 years about climate change and with an ecumenical group of church leaders seeking to educate local congregations about environmental issues.  

In addition, I live in an intentional Christian community ( which seeks to be responsible stewards of the environment through a variety of local projects in our neighborhood.   I bring a perspective about how climate change is affecting vulnerable communities in Central America, and also some of the solutions and mitigation efforts that are being implemented in the region.

Check out the educational presentation Heidi has uses in sharing the connections between faith and climate justice: 

Climate Justice and the Church – Power Point Presentation

Pastor Jeff Schlesinger

Pastor, Heart of Illinois Lutheran Parish (First Lutheran, Lee, IL and Immanuel Lutheran, Compton, IL)

Creation Care has been a lifelong passion of mine and I am thrilled to stretch my network of fellow stewards of Creation beyond the walls of my own congregation and the borders of my synod. I  participate and am active in a number of secular organizations that tend to the environment and am happy to bring the perspective of a “concerned person of faith” to these tables, but relish chances to gather with others whose motivation to care for the land and critters and skies around us comes from a theological perspective. To do so with people throughout the country feeds me, helps me grow in my own understanding and actions and offer the same to others.

Eco-Reformation & Environmental Justice: In Word & Deed

The Grace Gathering ran parallel to the 2016 Churchwide Voting Assembly in New Orleans. The goal in gathering was to inspire one another to look back at the 500 years since the Reformation and see how to move forward in faith and love for the next 500 years. On August 11th a small group was planning to go out and serve near the Make it Right community in the Lower Ninth Ward, still rising from the ashes of the devastation since the levees failed. While, it proved to rainy to get to the land that needed cultivating, our host, Constance Fowler was gracious enough to show off local urban gardens and the Living History Museum. This proved to be a truly transformational outing, even though many were disappointed to not “get their hands dirty”. The service of bearing witness as an act of solidarity with those still impacted by systematic injustices is immeasurable.

The concept of Eco-Reformation was well considered throughout the event as seen in the Reformation Sourcebook Sampler given to every participant which included a section written by LRC founder, Rev. David Rhoads. Two workshops were offered and very well attended: one regarding the WHAT is and WHY we need an Eco-Reformation, and the other focused on the HOW TO engage in the ongoing eco-reformation progress.
Professor Richard Perry, Rev. Nancy Wright, Louis Tillman, Ruth Ivory-Moore and Phoebe Morad shared specific information about the history of the Creation Care movement in the ELCA, including how environmental racism parallels to civil rights injustices.  To download, click: Professor Richard Perry’s pastoral response to environmental racism. If you believe a similar conversation would be appreciated in your community consider looking at our Speaker’s Bureau to see who is in your area.
  

How Do We Truly Commit to the Earth Charter?

During the 2019 Churchwide Assembly the ELCA voted to officially sign onto the principals of the Earth CharterFor a history on that process read here (click).

Now what? How do we all make sure we live this out? 

Thanks to the focus of the Delaware-Maryland Creation Care Ministry group who is acting as shepherd for the larger ELCA Sustainability Table on this facet of our work together.

See most recent working group notes here (from May 2020) and consider how your synod (or just your congregation) may follow their lead: 

As part of the Sustainability/Environment Table workgroup to implement the Earth Charter, the Delaware-Maryland Synod Creation Care Ministry decided to focus on principles 7.a. and 7.b. under II. Ecological integrity.

7. Adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights, and community well-being.

a. Reduce, reuse, and recycle the materials used in production and consumption systems, and ensure that residual waste can be assimilated by ecological systems.

b. Act with restraint and efficiency when using energy, and rely increasingly on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

These were recommended because we believe these goals can be embraced and achieved by our congregations and because energy efficiency and adoption of renewable energy sources is critical to address our climate crisis.

As such, we developed an Eco-Resolution (see here) that was to be presented during this year’s Delaware-Maryland Synod Assembly in May 2020.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our assembly was cancelled, however we continue to share our message via digital means including videos we have produced.

Our Synod Council will vote on whether to pass the resolution and Larry Ryan produced a video to explain our objectives:  YouTube link

  1. Awareness of the ELCA’s longstanding support of Creation Care and specifically the 1993 ELCA Social Statement on the Environment.

2. Awareness of the Earth Charter that was endorsed during Churchwide Assembly in 2019.

3.  Implementation of portions of the Earth Charter working in cooperation with the ELCA Sustainability/Environment Table.

4. Engaging with congregations to help them be better stewards of creation as defined in our project “New Hope for Creation” that received funding from our Synod Connectedness Team.

In addition to our video on the Eco-Resolution, we asked Delaware-Maryland Synod Bishop Bill Gohl to produce a video that explains the Earth Charter at a high level : CLICK HERE

And as part of our outreach to congregations with our New Hope for Creation project, Charlie Bailey produced a video (click here) for his congregation that invites them to become better stewards of creation by becoming a covenant congregation, modeled after LRC’s Covenant for Congregation.

The Delaware-Maryland Synod Creation Care Ministry would be happy to engage with other Synods in implementing the Earth Charter and other creation care work.

Skip the Grid

Skip the Grid is an initiative focused on bringing solar power to health care systems and other critical infrastructure in West Africa. Most clinics and many hospitals around the world are off the grid, relying on generators where fuel is difficult and costly to deliver. Hospitals often must shut down their power system for periods of time to conserve fuel. Vaccines are jeopardized, and operations become riskier with intermittent or no power.

Without consistent and reliable power, rural communities face an uphill battle in managing very real health challenges. Photovoltaic (PV) micro-grids represent a sustainable, long-term solution that free up capital for direct health care initiatives, as well as mitigate numerous untold environmental, social, and health costs.

 How Skip the Grid Got Started 

The Skip the Grid initiative was inspired by a Women of the ELCA trip to Phebe Hospital in 2012. At the end of the trip, women from the NE MN Women of the ELCA asked Dr. Jefferson Sibley, a doctor at Phebe hospital, what he saw as the biggest need at the hospital. His answer – reliable energy.

When the Women of the ELCA returned home to Minnesota, they called on RREAL for help.

The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) is a nonprofit organization that has been fighting energy poverty with solar power since 2000. Skip the Grid is an initiative RREAL shares in collaboration with the Lutheran Women of the ELCA to bring solar power to the health care sector in West Africa. These solar projects have attracted support from hundreds of donors and international acclaim.

PV for Phebe

The first Skip the Grid project was built in rural Liberia at Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing. The Women of the ELCA and RREAL worked together to raise funds for the Phebe array, which is now producing power. The solar electric array at Phebe provides up to 77% of the hospital’s daytime electricity needs, reducing operations and maintenance costs. Commissioned in 2017, the project resulted in reduced fossil fuel energy consumption and realized energy efficiency upgrades using renewables and powered equipment with the solar electricity power surge. Cost savings from the array are $35,000 US annually with carbon emission reductions of 198,196.28 pounds and x-ray machines can be used. The added benefits of solar allow Phebe to expand the vital health care it provides and reduce pollution.

Skip the Grid provided solar technical training to the electrical and generator staff at Phebe hospital as well as local Liberians who helped RREAL install the Phebe system. Six months after the installation, in October 2017, two of the hospital technical staff members ventured to RREAL’s home in Backus, Minnesota to participate in a two-week Solar Energy International (SEI) technical training course. The Women of the ELCA hosted the visiting Africans by offering their homes as lodging and providing meals for the trainees and trainers. The trained Phebe technicians are now sharing their knowledge to build solar on rural Liberian clinics, maintain PV micro-grid systems, and support the construction of future Skip the Grid projects.

 

In November 2017, RREAL and the Women of the ELCA traveled back to Liberia to participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Phebe Hospital array. Many people were there, including Nobel Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian Minister of Health, many bishops, two RREAL staff, and nine members of the Women of the ELCA.

During the ribbon cutting visit, RREAL traveled to Curran Hospital to complete a site assessment and develop relationships with the staff. Current for Curran is the next project that will empower a rural Liberian hospital to expand its vital health care services to the poorest people’s through Skip the Grid.

Current for Curran

The next Skip the Grid solar project will be at Curran Hospital in Liberia, a 125-bed hospital facing significant economic and health care challenges. Curran Hospital is a regional referral hospital for 17 clinics and health centers in Lofa County, Liberia. Curran currently depends solely on expensive, polluting, and unreliable diesel generators. These generators often fail, and doctors are forced to deliver babies or complete surgeries using only a cell phone light or flashlight. Watch the Curran Hospital video here.

Without a reliable source of electricity, Curran struggles to meet the daily health care needs of its patients. We can do better. Project Current for Curran will bring clean, reliable solar energy with battery storage to the essential rural hospital in Zorzor City, Liberia.

These are our three specific and measurable objectives for Current for Curran:

1.     Raise $750,000 by October 31, 2018 to cover all project costs

2.     Ship array components, balance of system, and build materials to Liberia by November 30, 2018

3.     Build a 150-kW solar micro-grid with battery power system at Curran Hospital by March 31, 2019

We are grateful for Skip the Grid project partners who invest in the health of our world’s most vulnerable people as care for creation. Liberia, the fourth poorest country in the world, is recovering from a long civil war and the Ebola crisis. Please support Skip the Grid. Follow StG on FaceBook. RREAL and the Women of the ELCA seek your partnership and support of this innovative solar micro-grid solution for Curran Hospital and the global citizens it serves.

Submitted: March 25, 2018 by Vicki O’Day Development Director at RREAL vicki@rreal.org

RREAL is located in Backus, MN. We partner with the Women of the ELCA of Minnesota.

Katrina Martich’s Blog

Katrina Martich is the volunteer Lectionary Commentary manager and active in our cohort of leaders.  Follow her blog (click here).

“The site and my blog are part of my work to inform, equip, and inspire people to live in ways that honor the diversity of life on planet Earth. This work results from a lifetime of seeing how we are all connected by natural systems. ”

Thanks to Bishop Eaton for her Earth Day Message!

As a grassroots movement, Lutherans Restoring Creation aims to support and advocate Creation Care work throughout ELCA communities.   At our June 20, 2020 Board of Directors meeting we officially recognized the significance of Presiding Bishop Eaton’s 2020 Earth Day message (read in full here).

“…thanks Bishop Eaton for her Earth Day message and her lifting up of Lutherans Restoring Creation.”
excerpt from Minutes of June 20, 2020 LRC’s Board of Directors’ Meeting

We are eager to grow together with church-wide offices in this critical ministry as Creation Care Ambassadors and Coaches flourish, more Congregations sign Covenants with Creation and the emerging ELCA Sustainability Table guides collaborative and action-based progress.

Tools for Talking and Listening

Being church together doesn’t have to mean we have one mind.  Listening to the Holy Spirit within each of our stories can help us move beyond disagreement and confusion.   There is no one way to help us along this journey, but there are many resources to help us find common ground.  Below are some suggestions – please let us know if you have experience with these or other tools you want to share.

Methods:

Talanoa Dialogue – Read the history (click here) of this telling/listening process based on three foundational questions:
>Where are we now?
>Where do we want to go?
>How do we get there?
View sample workshop on how to share this method (click here). 

World Cafe Method – There is a whole community of facilitators with online advice (click here) who can help you figure out how to use this manner of group decision making.  This is a great format when you have people together who already care about an issue but don’t know what steps to take next or feel like they aren’t hearing from all perspectives.   Download an easy visual guide here.

Deliberative Dialogue – For a clear definition of this process of group engagement explore the National Issues Forum site (click here).  For a whole toolkit using this process re: Climate Choices (click here). 

Resources:

Confused about our way forward?

As there has been continuing conversation and controversy emerging since Michael Moore’s film: Planet of the Human, we decided to share some feedback from a Lutherans Restoring Creation member.  Thanks to Josh Thede, an active member of the Central States LRC Mission Table.

Our LRC community plans to discuss the broader challenge of how to make progress in this ministry when consensus on solutions seems vague,  if not conflicting.  Join our next Connection Call. 

Katherine Hayhoe has some of the most compelling information:
Post 1 
Post 2 

Bill Mckibben’s response is interesting,  featured in Rolling Stone (click here).  Above photo from Rolling Stone’s piece.

Both Project Drawdown and Pachamama Alliance have good resources to move forward.
This TED talk is a great overview of that concept (click here). 

There may be a worthwhile conversation about infinite growth and GDP as a takeaway from the film. There is some interesting progress around “Donut Economics” (click here for TED talk). 

More reflections in response to the film and considerations when moving towards a host of energy solutions:

Lutheran Responses to Fossil Fuel Dependency

Some of us bemoan the fact that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has not committed to entirely divest from fossil fuels as many others have (see latest cohort of 42 religious institutions). Some of us are wary of pulling out entirely from shareholder positions when we may be able to have more leverage to make change having a seat at that table.  Others have a deep concern for all who are dependent on these economic systems,  which many of us are complicit in driving every time we use a device or heat up our dinner.

There are many facets (explore below) involved with this complex issue which we are called to discuss and act on as people of faith. There are ways to move forward before we reach a church-wide consensus.  Below are some of our responses, thus far, from regional resolutions to individual members lifting up a moral calling.
Where are you called to next?

Click on each below to hear stories and information we hope will inspire you to act and bring others with you:

Do we Stay Home and DO nothing?

The general call to to action is simply: “Stay Home”.   However, many can’t heed that call, even if they wanted to.  When we are asked to care for our neighbors by stepping back,  what are other ways we can lean in to understanding each other and practice moving  forward in action?

The following is a selection of conversations, reflections, and emerging information.   Consider what realities we have learned about our neighbors’ insecurity,  the adaptability of humans under stress, the impact of policy decisions on our daily lives… and what does our faith give us as tools to fight any crisis?

> Connections, Comparisons & Lessons – April 3, 2020 – Consider how we can learn and grow during this crisis.  Hear a variety of perspectives. Thanks UCC for gathering this group of theologians.

> “The Earth is Sick of Us” – commentary from Dr. Ulysses Burley III

> BlessedTomorrow’s Blog:  Inescapable Lessons Offer Invaluable Opportunities – Earth Day 50th & COVID19 – By Rev. Dr. Jim Antal

Advocacy vs. Politics

Thanks to Tracey DePasquale, Director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of Pennsylvania who joined our Connections Call on May 6th, 2020  to help discern the definition of politics. Hear her commentary here, followed by a discussion including insight from Ruth Ivory-Moore, ELCA Advocacy, Director of Energy & Environment. 

Click here to listen to the call. 

Resources mentioned and related to the call:

See all Advocacy-related resources here!

Covenant with Creation Adapted for Spanish Speakers

We hope that the Pacto Congregacional de Cuidado para la Creación will be useful to support Spanish-speaking congregations to reflect together about all the ways our faith is reflected in how we treat each other and share resources.  The step-by-step supporting materials for this covenant can be found here (click).

Download pdf here: Pacto Congregacional de Cuidado para la Creación

For some more theological reference and guidance into next steps as you work through this process, download more here: Support For Covenant in Spanish. 

From ELCA’s World Hunger team – a guide to start a church Community Garden (click here for Spanish version – free download!)

Contact us  if you find other useful resources in Spanish or other languages you think we should highlight!

Christyn Kochmann

Christyn is a second-generation ordained ELCA pastor and first-generation environmental activist. Her experiences at a Lutheran summer camp in Ohio led her to seminary in Berkeley, California, where she met her husband and also her love for environmental stewardship. She’s especially passionate about using modern media and Christian theology to share the good news of caring for creation. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese language and philosophy from the University of Kentucky and a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Camp Tomah Shinga (ELCA), Junction City, KS, and has previously served as a Bishop’s Associate in the Central States Synod.
Christyn’s current call is as a hospital chaplain outside of Kansas City, where she also serves as co-pastor alongside her husband in an ELCA redevelopment congregation.

Herb Wounded Head III

Campus Pastor at University Lutheran Center – South Dakota State University
Brookings, South Dakota

I enjoy being involved in a larger organization and network with people who have a similar interest in advocating for justice in God’s creation.  It’s challenging to think on a broader level of how we can impact the lives of the next generation and to use our gifts for good.

Part of my personal theology is creation care and care for the environment.  I see the Lakota spirituality of Mitakuye Oyasin (All are related) as primary in how I view my neighbor and in how I view the creation.  All things are related and we need to treat each other, and the creation as God’s good gifts to us.  We cannot follow Christ fully if we are unable to faithfully care for all that God has made. 

Inspirations and gratitude: a Thank You Card for God’s Good Earth

In honor of the High Peaks region of the White Mountain National Park, N. Conway, New Hampshire

From Lawrence Ryan

In honor of the Redwoods of John Muir Woods

With love for the North Shore of Minnesota!

Thanks to the people of Creation Keepers Ministry at St. Andrew’s Lutheran, Columbia, MO

David Rhoads!
Your stories, your wisdom, your dedication, your friendship.

In gratitude for our life-giving rivers and lakes

Matthew 6:26-29 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to your life’s span? And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.”

- In honor of Zulu Davidson -
May we treasure all our elder creatures!

In honor of Jane Affonso, co-chair with me of the Southwest CA Synod Green Faith Team.

For those who advocate & steward well for the Earth!

Psalm 104:14-21 You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart.

In Honor of Dad & Mike

Phoebe Morad
For all of your dedication, friendship, and hard work. :)!

Psalm 1:3 They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.

Phoebe Morad for her awesome job as Executive Director of Lutherans Restoring Creation!

Thanks to all the passion from the North West Pennsylvania Synod Green Team!

Genesis 1:20-23 And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

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As we recognize 50 years since the first Earth Day in 1970, supporters from across the nation say thanks by giving a donation to Lutherans Restoring Creation and lifting up the people, scripture, places, creatures which remind them of God’s love shown through Creation and our vocation to care for it:

 

Tools for Grassroots Advocacy: Full Spectrum

On our April 2020 Connections Call, we lifted up numerous ways we can represent what the ELCA’s Creation Care stance offers and how to implement action from where we are each planted. Since we are all living in very different spaces and each know our own audiences best there seems to be a spectrum of resources. Below is a sampling which we can add to and will continually evolve. While there is no one size which fits all, we can all work in harmony to lift up the common language our faith offers.

From protesting to preaching to praying: