Category Archives: Advocacy

Ideas for Reducing your Impact as a Church or Individually

Thanks to our friends from New Hope Lutheran Church in Columbia, MD via Charlie Bailey. If you have updates or want to add suggestions contact us!

Reusable mesh produce bags. With some grant funding from the Synod’s Creation Care Ministry we are purchasing reusable mesh produce bags and are planning to give one to any congregational family that wants one.  We are going to include a fact sheet in each bag with information about single use plastic. For instance, did you know that Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture. See other facts here: https://bit.ly/3btedjj We intend to either give them out when we get back to in person services or by placing them in a bin in front of the church for people to come by and pick up at their convenience.

Communion cups. We have found a source for biodegradable/compostable communion cups (link below). We have not purchased any yet given we have a fairly large supply of existing plastic ones and we plan to use those up versus throwing them out. But next time we make a purchase we intend to check these out.

https://www.churchpartner.com/product/41052/thee-friendliest-communion-cup-box-of-2000/

Reduce/eliminate junk mail. My brother is a rabid anti-junk mail freak. He sent me the info below, much of which I have already done and it works.

This is a good overview article and includes some alarming statistics about the amount of junk mail we produce in the US:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/how-to-stop-junk-mail-and-save-trees–and-your-sanity/2018/02/12/6000e4c4-05d9-11e8-b48c-b07fea957bd5_story.html

Direct Marketers Association do not mail list.  Must be renewed every 10 years.  Allows separate opt out for Credit Offers, Catalogs, Magazine Offers (this includes subscription offers, newsletters, periodicals and other promotional mailings), and Other Mail Offers (this includes donation requests, bank offers, retail promotions and more).  To permanently opt out of the credit card offers, you have to fill out a form and send via US mail, which is what I did.  If you have registered before, you can login and see how much longer you have on the list before you have to re-register.  When I signed in recently, close to my renewal date, it automatically renewed my opt-out for an additional 10 years, until 2030.  You can include as many names for a given address as you want (e.g. You, Lois, Carol Buck, etc.)

www.DMAchoice.org

Do Not Call Registry (for phone calls)

www.donotcall.gov

REDPLUM / VALASSIS has recently been purchased by RetailMeNot.  I recently started getting the weekly fold over mailers (with grocery store ads and a bunch of other stuff) from RetailMeNot, so I went to RetailMeNot’s website and opted out again.  It worked and I stopped receiving the weekly mailers a few weeks after I opted out.

I used a junk name (Jon Doe) in the “Full Name” line since they only have your address.  And I did not provide my email.

https://www.retailmenot.com/everyday/unsubscribe

VALPAK

https://www.valpak.com/coupons/show/mailinglistsuppression

First Lutheran in Decorah Signs Paris Pledge

by Sarah Webb, Iowa Interfaith Power & Light

First Lutheran in Decorah signed the Paris Pledge, joining other congregations across the nation to reduce our carbon pollution by 50% by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050. They have already achieved the 50% reduction goal (read their story here) and they are determined to be carbon neutral by 2050.

In December of 2015, leaders from across the world will meet in Paris to negotiate the next international climate treaty. The Paris Pledge is an opportunity for people of faith to encourage world leaders to commit to deep cuts in their nation’s carbon emissions. We must practice what we preach! So we are encouraging all to sign the Paris Pledge and commit to reducing carbon at home and in our congregations.

We know it’s possible, because so many congregations have already reached the 2030 Paris Pledge carbon reduction goals, and some are even completely carbon neutral. Visit the coolcongregations.org website to learn how they did it.

Take the Paris Pledge, as an individual or as a congregation, and commit to reducing your carbon pollution. Together, we can make a real difference. Interfaith Power & Light will provide you with helpful resources and tools so you can reach your goals.

http://www.interfaithpowerandlight.org/2014/10/take-the-paris-pledge/

 

ELCA Lutheran Steven Beumer one of twelve “Faith Leaders for Climate” honored by White House as a “Champion for Change”

On Monday, July 20th, 2015, the White House recognized twelve people of faith as “Champions of Change” for their efforts in protecting our environment and communities from the effects of climate change.

Among them was Steven Beumer, an active member of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Winter Park, Florida. He has led St. John to make changes through new energy efficient roofing and LED lighting. He also organized a regular worship service in April dedicated to Earth Day. Additionally, Beumer organized hands-on environmental projects such as labeling storm drains in the neighborhood to prevent trash from going into the lakes, and litter clean up on public streets near the church. Further, Beumer has worked with other faith communities to find their environmental footing within their own faith context.

In his statement on the “Champions of Change: People of Faith Acting on Climate” web page, Steven writes:

“When I was child growing up one of my favorite pastimes was getting a big book of connect the dot puzzles and working away on them. It was amazing to see the dots turn into dogs and fire trucks. Our faith communities have many “dots” imbedded in our traditions that address many issues. The environment is one of them. People of faith all share a great reverence and awe for what God has created.

“As we work to connect those dots in our respective faith traditions we see the illusion of our separation fade away. We become closer and bound together as we can celebrate our love of God’s creation—and rejoice in our work to protect it. People of faith share a unique perspective on the environment. We are not a social club, political group or secular advocacy organization, but our very existence is bound up in our oneness as a product of God’s creation. It is most important to take the moral initiative, to shine a light on the need to cherish and protect the sum total of the wonderful parts that make up all creation—people, plants and animals that grace every corner of our amazing planet.”

According to the White House, “These Champions have demonstrated clear leadership across the United States and around the world through their grassroots efforts to green their communities and educate others on the moral and social justice implications of climate change.”

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live streamed on the White House website.

Read the “Champions of Change: People of Faith Acting on Climate”

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

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.

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.

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!

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:

Food – Faith – Farming

Since there are so many members of our ELCA community who live in agricultural areas and we all depend on food to sustain us; let’s explore how we can deliberately share the spectrum of ways our churches can inform members of opportunities, practice mindful eating, and love the wide array of neighbors who help feed us.

What do we know (and do) about Carbon Pricing?

Oceans: Vast & Fragile

This past fall,  Lutherans Restoring Creation helped facilitate an Ocean Leadership Training event at the New England Aquarium along with the aquarium’s educators and Creation Justice Ministries.  We started as a group of strangers coming together with a common concern for the ocean.  We spent the day together exploring the miraculous diversity of life as we explored exhibits, awestruck at images from unknown worlds amoungst seamounts just a few miles from the coast we stood on, and lifting our voices about the significance this all has from faith perspective.  Tools were shared with each other: personal experiences, data from social behavioral research, techniques for reaching out to the public sphere, and the prophetic information gathered by the world-renowned marine researchers.  For more information about how to talk about the significance of oceans to climate (and for the immediate well-being of the soul), explore the Creation Justice Ministries site (here). 

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Climate Justice & Faith Concentration at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

An invitation from Cynthia Moe-Lobeda:

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary is so very pleased to announce a new development in our curriculum that may be of strong interest to you.

We have inaugurated a concentration in Climate Justice and Faith! It is available to all M.Div students and will be available to all students in the new Masters in Spirituality and Social Change that we intend to launch in the fall of 2021.

This flier (click here) describes the climate justice concentration. Please see the website for a fuller depiction at: https://www.plts.edu/programs/master-divinity/climate-justice.html

It is so utterly crucial that faith communities provide leadership in moving our world away from climate catastrophe and toward the flourishing of God’s marvelous creation. Therefore we intend – as soon as possible – to create a version of this concentration for people who want to prepare for leadership in creation care and climate justice, but who are not studying for a masters degree.  It will be a certificate in Climate Justice and Faith.  Stay tuned for more information on that opportunity.

We invite you to share this website and flyer broadly in your organization or network.

May God’s power for healing and liberation flow among us,

Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda, Ph.D.
Professor of Theological and Social Ethics,
Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of California Lutheran University
Church Divinity School of the Pacific
Core Doctoral Faculty, the Graduate Theological Union

Creation Care Ambassador Program

We are thrilled to announce that, through an ongoing partnership between the ELCA and ecoAmerica’s Blessed Tomorrow, a  Creation Care Ambassador Training occurred in April and June of 2020 with over 140 participants from ELCA communities.  These certified Ambassadors are ready to share their new skills and resources with your Lutheran church and community.  Check out how many (click to see map and click “Certified Ambassadors”) have already committed to offering a presentation for free!

Disappointed you missed the training and interested in becoming an Ambassador yourself?

Next Training:
September 18, 2020 from 11:30 to 4 pm Eastern Time.

REGISTER HERE

See how this resources fits into all the ways ELCA supports Creation Care Ministries by listening to this recorded 1 hour webinar. 

Light for Madrid – A Devotional

Thanks to the work of Green Shepherd, Lisa Brenskelle,  there is a way for your congregation to hold a gathering many miles away in prayer.  As the U.N. Climate Conference met in Madrid (Dec. 2-13, 2019) prayers were sent to support their efforts by bringing the conversation into churches in a prayerful way. Consider bringing this resource to your Bible Study, coffee hour, Sunday School or workplace to consider our impact on global issues from our pews.

Download the pdf here – and remember to print it double-sided, flip on the SHORT edge.

What Does A Strike for Climate Look Like?

The Global Climate Strike (9/20 thru 27) was an opportunity for many people of faith to lift up their voices as witnesses to the critical moral issue of our time and accompany a generation of youth who are calling for the end of “business as usual”.  What does that look like? What are all the various expressions of this witness and action? Below are some illustrations and examples – send us what your congregation/circle is doing. 

Check out Kim Acker,  member at University Lutheran, Palo Alto explaining her reason for taking to the street – Watch clip here prior to their arrest as a result of civil disobedience. 

Check out some scenes from Lutherans on the streets:

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