Category Archives: Issue-Based Advocacy

Featured School: Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA

Gettysburg College has been pursuing sustainable decision making for over three decades. As the world’s environmental issues grow more and more severe, the college has increased its commitment to sustainability. In practice, this commitment entails working to enhance and protect the environment through teaching, research, service, operations, decision-making, and other aspects of life on campus. Gettysburg College, as a sustainable campus, is addressing all three pillars of sustainability. Environmentally, the College works to reduce and eliminate its ecological footprint; economically, it makes purchases and investments within budgetary constraints; and socially, the college is increasing awareness about educational, emotional, and physical needs. To learn more about Gettysburg’s sustainability program and efforts click here.

 

 

Concordia College in Moorhead Hosts Successful Community Tree Planting Event (2017)

A recent community tree planting event was a huge success. More than 60 students, faculty, and staff helped plant trees on the east side of campus. With shovels and good spirits, the campus community jumped into the tree planting project Oct. 14.

Overcrowded and diseased trees just south of the high tunnel garden near the soccer fields were removed last spring. They were replaced with 52 trees — each more than 8 feet tall. Volunteers, organized through the Student Environmental Alliance, were given a tutorial on tree planting by college horticulturalist Jerry Raguse before getting to work. “I’m amazed so many people would come out on a cold Saturday morning to plant trees,” says Haylee Worm ’19, organizer and SEA co-chair. “It is cool that there are so many different groups of people here that have a passion for the environment. It really demonstrates that they do care.”

 

 

Augsburg Awarded $475,000 to Help Infuse Sustainability Into All Facets of College Life (2017)

In 2017, Augsburg University launched initiatives to build capacity for integrating environmental sustainability across all curricular, co-curricular, and operational aspects of campus life. The initiatives are made possible by a grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies. The Minnesota-based foundation believes that college and university campuses can serve as models of operational sustainability for the society at large, testing practical solutions that others can adopt.

Augsburg University President, Paul C. Pribbenow, believes that efforts to achieve sustainability must give consideration to the environment, the economy, and issues of equity. “As a college of the Lutheran Church, we’re called to prepare our students to address and overcome global challenges such as climate change, hunger and food insecurity, and limited access to clean water,” said Pribbenow. “As a liberal arts institution embedded in a diverse, urban environment, we’re accustomed to collaboration across disciplines and beyond the classroom. These important initiatives will better position us to meet these challenges head on.” For more information on this initiative, click here.

Know trash? No trash! Try this youth program!

Put on a youth program about Trash!
How well do you know your trash? How can your youth group become more eco-friendly on the congregational level?
Lutherans Restoring Creation and Lutheran Community Foundation (now InFaith Community Foundation) worked together to provide an exhibit about Trash at the National Youth Gathering. 
Would you like to host a similar exhibit in your home congregation? 
Use our Know No Trash Manual as a launching off point (this PDF can also be downloaded from the bottom of this page). 
                                           
Movies about Trash
Additional Resources to explore your human footprint

 

The Nature of Things: Rediscovering the Spiritual in God’s Creation

Edited by Graham Buxton and Norman Habel
Forward by David Rhoads

With contributions by David Rhoads, Paul Santmire, Celia-Diane-Drummond, Heather Eaton, Ernst Conradie and others, this volume highlights a diversity of perspectives on the spiritual in creation, both traditional and radical.

Download a copy of the flyer here.

Visit the publisher’s website to order

Coming Home To Earth 

by Mark Brocker

As a young Norwegian Lutheran teenager in rural Wisconsin, Brocker lay awake one night worrying whether he believed in Jesus enough to get to heaven. This getting-to-heaven anxiety reflected an excessive focus on individual salvation and a loss of concern for the well-being of the Earth community. A faith journey that leaves Earth behind is misguided.

Ever since those early teen years Brocker has been on a journey to come home to Earth.

Coming Home to Earth makes the case that there is no salvation apart from Earth and that Earth care is at the core of our identity and mission as followers of Jesus. The ecological consequences of a loss of concern for the well-being of Earth have been devastating. Brocker is especially concerned to determine what will motivate followers of Jesus to make radical changes in our way of life so that we can participate in the healing of wounded Earth and all of its inhabitants, both human and nonhuman. We are far more likely to make needed sacrifices for our fellow creatures if we share God’s delight in and affection for them, and cherish Earth as our home.

Read more and order

Youth Gather and We All Grow!

Back in the summer of 2018 hundreds of youth and group leaders visited our Lutherans Restoring Creation space in the Interactive Educational Area during the National Youth Gathering in Houston.

Every visitor was asked to spend about 5 minutes walking through a “tour” of their typical day and consider how their daily decisions impacted their global neighbors. 

Thank you Notes to GOD – for all the gifts given to us that we don’t have to pay for.

We don’t have to let it end there though!  Get your youth group (or adult forum, or bible study, or family…) to read through the tour with pledge form in hand (or on screen) and find solutions in a prayerful way of living.  If you use our online form we can stay on touch with you and let your synod leadership know what you’re aiming for.

Click here to download the “walk through” program – share it as a power point or print it out to pass around. Pledge form in pdf form can be downloaded here (let us know how it goes!) 

The two most requested tools for Youth Groups to use as follow up to this discussion starter:

Story of Stuff 20 minute video. (Ask your group what challenges they have with their “golden arrow.”)

Know No Trash Program

 

FAQs from the Coalition to Divest

Regarding the “divestment vs shareholder advocacy” discussion underway at the assembly:

See position paper which has some great information in the section titled “What effect would our divestment have on the fossil fuel companies? Wouldn’t shareholder activism be more effective?”.

More on the topic:

From the Saint Paul Area Synod’s resolution: “WHEREAS despite decades of shareholder engagement with fossil fuel companies, the industry continues to spend nearly $2 billion dollars a day searching for additional fossil fuel reserves and over half a million dollars a day lobbying governments for subsidies and support for further extraction”
https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp191-fossil-fuels-finance-climate-change-171014-en.pdf

From a reaction to recent shareholder resolutions (nearly all rejected): “There’s a certain point at which noble failure turns into moral cover – by continuing this process past the point where any reasonable person can see it’s a failure, shareholder “activists” actually help the company they’re targeting”
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/20/exxon-shareholders-climate-change-reform-divest

NOTE re: Portico’s wish to engage with companies: Portico will continue to be invested fossil fuel companies through the non-social-purpose funds. They can continue shareholder engagement there if they wish.

From some information provided by Portico: “Portico has filed 84 company resolutions in the last 8 years on a variety of topics, and 56% have been withdrawn due to constructive dialogue/positive company action including adoption of emission reduction plans, increased transparency and disclosure on risk management and best practices, and publishing sustainability reports. For example, in 2015, we withdrew a shareholder resolution on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction at Costco because they agreed to commit to keeping the growth of their GHG emissions to less than sales growth over the next five years.

[That is, 0 resolutions have been approved, not clear what happened as a result of these conversations. The success that is lifted up (Costco) is notably not a fossil fuel company.]

 

Toward a Better Worldliness: Ecology, Economy, and the Protestant Tradition

by Terra Schwerin Rowe

Five hundred years ago the Protestant Reformation inspired profound theological, ecclesial, economic, and social transformations. But what impact does the Protestant tradition have today? And what might it have? This volume addresses such questions, focusing on the economic and ecological implications of the Protestant doctrine of grace.  In the spirit of ecotheologies resonating with the best of the Reformation tradition, this book develops a fresh reading of Luther’s theology of grace and his economic ethics in conversation with current reflections on concepts of the gift and gifting practices.

Read description and order in either hardcover or ebook format
EDUCATION: Adult Forum and Bible Study, eco-theology

 

 

LAMPa Director Testifies on Methane Reductions

Statement of the Rev. Amy Reumann, Director, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania at the EPA Hearing on Proposed Methane Emissions Reduction Rule for Oil and Gas Operations.

Push Congress to improve clean air standards” (OpEd piece from The Capital Times, Madison, Wisconsin.)

Working their Beliefs into the Public Sphere 

On Earth Day 2016, a small group of people of faith visited Massachusetts’ Senator Ed Markey’s office in Boston to detail their hopes for the protection of a special part of the Atlantic ocean habitat. Months later, these advocates, and thousands of their peers, were grateful to hear that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts area was declared the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts area was declared a Marine National Monument by President Obama as part of the Antiquities Act
 
While some faith leaders had been in the activist role before, there were a couple young people initiated into the practice of public involvement for the first time. Lydia Holleck, an 8th grader from Harwich MA and, Thea Morad, an 8 year old from Braintree, MA were at the table, as people of faith, proclaiming the moral imperative to steward our oceans. 
 
Upon hearing the news of the President’s determination from her science teacher earlier this fall, Lydia was blessed with a feeling few citizens get to have in their lifetime. Read her story (and make one of your own). 
Over one million comments were submitted to the Dept of the Interior know what National Monuments in 2017 in support of keeping our national, natural treasures. Read more details about how people of all faiths have stressed our obligation to care for God’s good earth in this way and hear from our youth who have been working locally to defend it. Share an opinion piece with your local papers or online outlets. Read Pastor Jeff Conlon’s piece on the moral imperative of this action.

An Earth Day Action with Results:

*On June 28, 2017 there was a follow-up to this meeting with Sen. Elizabeth Warren – read here*
Working their Beliefs into the Public Sphere 

On Earth Day 2016, a small group of people of faith visited Massachusetts’ Senator Ed Markey’s office in Boston to detail their hopes for the protection of a special part of the Atlantic ocean habitat. Months later, these advocates, and thousands of their peers, were grateful to hear that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts area was declared a Marine National Monument by President Obama as part of the Antiquities Act. While some faith leaders had been in the activist role before, there were a couple young people initiated into the practice of public involvement for the first time. Lydia Holleck, an 8th grader from Harwich MA and, Thea Morad, an 8 year old from Braintree, MA were at the table, as people of faith, proclaiming the moral imperative to steward our oceans. Upon hearing the news of the President’s determination from her science teacher earlier this fall, Lydia was blessed with a feeling few citizens get to have in their lifetime. Read her story below (and make one of your own!).

Below is the account of one 8th grader’s experience joining a small group of people of faith into the office of a U.S. Senator on Earth Day 2016. Thanks to Lydia Holleck for taking the time to write this and to Senator Ed. Markey’s (MA) office for the warm welcome and thoughtful conversation. 

From Lydia Holleck, Harwich MA:

I would like to tell you about an eye-opening experience that helped me learn that citizenship and the environment go together.

On Earth Day, April 22, 2016, I went to the John F. Kennedy Federal Building in Boston to do environmental advocacy.  I was nervous at first about talking with important people.  My mom encouraged me to speak up and I did.  I talked about the 7th grade ELA MCAS test I had just taken a month before.  The first reading was about protecting sea grass, a habitat for endangered seahorses, and other small sea creatures in our oceans. I told the Senator’s staffer that we should protect our waters for endangered animals and their habitats.  She was very impressed that I had paid attention to that part of the state testing, and had remembered it. I noted that what I said at the beginning of the meeting were the first notes she wrote down.

I thought it was really cool that I was part of this small religious group that went, and even more so that I was one of only two kids. The other young girl that was there was only eight, and we understood most of what was being said. This was a really important part of my life for me. Most people I know don’t get to stand up for what they believe, and talk to Senator Markey’s staffers about it.

            I was really proud this fall when my grade eight Advanced Science teacher mentioned the exciting news that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument had been created. When I told Ms. Fleischer that I had been a part of this she also thought this was an influential experience, and also critical to leadership and citizenship. I learned that it is important to be a leader and a citizen by speaking up for what you believe, and by taking part as a role model for others.

 

 

Religious Community Sends Letter to Trump Transition Team

A coalition of 32 faith organizations, including the ELCA, sent a letter on January 11 to President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, declaring that “It is the moral responsibility of our nation, and our sacred task as people of faith, to protect our ecosystems, work for environmental justice, and address climate change. The need for global leadership could not be more urgent.”  The letter includes a list of shared principles of stewardship, sustainability, justice and dialogue, as well as policy recommendations on a variety of environmental issues.  [Read more]

ELCA Welcomes the Global Climate Agreement

On Saturday, December 12, 2015 leaders from 195 nations concluded the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris by approving a global agreement to address climate change. This agreement includes a commitment to keep global warming well below 2 degrees. The ELCA welcomes the Paris Accord, and we renew our own commitment to care for all of God’s good creation.

“We stand at a critical moment, when the world has come together to decide the framework for our shared future,” said Interim Advocacy Director Mary Minette, who traveled to Paris last week as part of a delegation representing ACT Alliance, of which the ELCA is a member.

“People of faith showed up in unprecedented numbers for the climate talks in Paris because we believe that this moment includes a moral obligation to our most vulnerable neighbors, to future generations, and to all of God’s creation to act on climate change.

The Paris agreement sets the world on a pathway to stewardship, justice and sustainability. All countries have, for the first time, agreed to take concrete steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to review and increase their commitments over time.

The Paris agreement includes financial pledges to help developing countries adopt  clean energy technologies and adapt to already-occurring impacts of climate change.  It also includes provisions that will help the most vulnerable countries avoid the worst of human suffering from irreversible climate damage in the future,  and it sets the world on a more sustainable, low carbon, development pathway.

The outcome of the Paris talks reflects momentum brought by a growing global movement of people and communities around the world, including communities of faith, who are leading the way in pushing for a better future.

As we leave Paris and return to our own communities, we must continue to act in solidarity with those who are most vulnerable to climate change, with those yet to come, and with all of God’s creation.

Along with membership in ACT Alliance, the ELCA is also a member of the Lutheran World Federation and World Council of Churches. Together these organizations had a delegation of over 100 in Paris for the summit. You can read ACT Alliance’s response to the Paris Accord here.

To learn more about the Paris summit and how the ELCA continues to be involved in caring for God’s Creation, visit http://www.elca.org/advocacy and read Mary’s updates from Paris on our ELCA Advocacy blog

ADVOCACY: national/global advocacy, public witness
Issue-based advocacy, climate change
ELCA materials/resources

Eco-Reformation: Grace and Hope for a Planet in Peril

Eco-Reformation: Grace and Hope for a Planet in Peril
Edited by Lisa Dahill and James Martin-Schramm
 
The conviction at the heart of this collection of essays is that a gospel call for ecological justice belongs at the heart of the five hundredth anniversary observance of the Reformation in 2017 and as a—if not the—central dimension of Christian conversion, faith, and practice into the foreseeable future. Like Luther’s 95 Theses, this volume brings together critical biblical, pastoral, theological, historical, and ethical perspectives that constructively advance the vision of a socially and ecologically flourishing Earth.  

Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston

This regional organization shares the experts in their midst with the wider audience online across the globe. Check out the series of lecture series on their YouTube channel and follow along with them on their Facebook feed to be sure to know what they are sharing next.

Tool Kit on Climate Change Connections

Take yourself, your class, or your congregation on a journey that explores the intersections between climate change and hunger. These toolkits are designed to be a program-in-a-box or customizable segments of information and activities for use in many congregational or educational settings. [Read More Here]