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.
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).
Vermont Lutheran Church partners with Interfaith Power & Light to Share the Various Ways to Revere Water:
In 2018, Vermont Interfaith Power and Light (VTIPL) joined with local organizations to create a model for watershed stewardship, based on the experience of Ascension Lutheran Church in South Burlington, Vermont. The Reverend Dr. Nancy Wright, pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church, and Richard Butz, a member of the church, are co-authors of the manuals. Rev. Nancy Wright is also a chairperson of the New England Synod’s Lutherans Restoring Creation “Green Team”.
VTIPL has created two manuals, one with a Christian emphasis, Congregational Watershed Discipleship Manual: Faith Communities as Stewards of the World’s Waters (1st Christian edition) and another with an interreligious emphasis, Congregational Watershed Manual: Religious Communities as Stewards of the World’s Waters (1st Interreligious edition).
Each one of these inspiring and practical manuals is available by free download from the pdfs on VTIPL’s website (www.vtipl.org) and this website. Alternatively, if you’d like one copy or multiple copies of the printed and bound manual(s), you can fill out and mail in the order form (attached below). These are high resolution print copies, spiral bound to conveniently lie flat. If you’d like to order one or more copies online, you can do this through the website of the organization Voices of Water for Climate (VOW). VOW is working with VTIPL to take orders and distribute printed copies of the manuals. Donations to VOW for printed copies will cover costs incurred, including shipping and handling. The link to order online is below.
(Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in going in on a bulk order with others!)
Celebrating Earth: The Waters of Baptism
By Laura Heller, Minister of Word and Service and Creation Care Ministry Coordinator for the Delaware-Maryland Synod.
ELCA Advocacy Office Relections
Living Earth Reflections from ELCA Advocacy offers writing from staff and guest writers on a variety of issues. Search on the ELCA Advocacy site to download reflections and use for Adult Forums or Bible Studies or as a preaching resource.
“Stirring the Waters: Faith, Science and Action!”
Pennsylvania – Tracey DePasquale, Interim-Director
LAMPa partnered with ELCA Global Mission and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg for two days of worship, service, learning and advocacy on April 17 and 18, focused on the theme “Stirring the Waters: Faith, Science and Action!”
Sunday’s events featured outdoor learning, service, an interfaith blessing of the waters and a meal, music and climate-change lecture in the Capitol rotunda. All events were open to the public. More than 150 people participated in the day’s events, which focused on our mutual call to care for the earth that sustains all of us. Highlights included tree- planting that kicked off a Reformation service-and-advocacy project and a canoe trip led by Cindy Adams Dunn, secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Lutheran Camping Corp. supplied canoes, recruiting and staff for that event.
The second day featured workshops and advocacy training around a variety of topics, with a special focus on the links between science and the issues on which we advocate. The event was an official part of the seminary’s Spring Academy Week. The day also featured a celebration of advocacy successes and recognition of advocates from each of Pennsylvania’s seven synods.
We also unveiled a sample of a video on making advocacy known among our congregations. The video features advocates telling their stories, as well as an introduction by Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia theologian and LAMPa policy council member the Rev. Dr. John Hoffmeyer.
Educational materials for all ages, including Church Leaders Guide and Litany.
- Stewart, Benjamin M. “Stream, Flood and Spring: Water Renewing the Earth and the Church.” Living Lutheran, April 2016. (available online)
- Stewart, Benjamin M. “Water in Worship: The Ecology of Baptism.” Christian Century 128, no. 3 (F 2011): 22–25. (available online)
- Stewart, Benjamin M. “Flooding the Landscape: Luther’s Flood Prayer and Baptismal Theology.” CrossAccent: Journal of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians 13, no. 1 (2005): 4–14.
Watershed Discipleship is a website and organization based on the idea that the best way to orient the church’s work and witness is through bioregionally-grounded planning and action which focuses on the actual watersheds we inhabit. The website includes a blog, links to articles by Ched Meyers and others, and information about watersheds. Read more: Watershed Discipleship Movement and Resources
Our Watershed Moment, a toolkit from the EcoFaith Network of the Minneapolis Synod, introduces the concept of a watershed and includes resources for theological reflection, worship, youth, education, advocacy, and water stewardship in the home.
2016 Churchwide Assembly
ASSEMBLY ACTION CA16.05.24 To adopt Motion C.
WHEREAS, Holy Scripture reminds us that “the Holy Habitation of the Most High” includes “a river whose streams make glad the city of God,” and that “waters of the sea may become fresh, so everything will live where the river goes,” and that “the Holy Spirit descended on [Jesus] in bodily form like a dove” when he was baptized in the River Jordan; and 2016 Churchwide Assembly: Legislative Update Friday, August 12, 2016 Page 11 of 14
WHEREAS, a watershed is the ground that water flows within as it moves toward a stream, river or lake, and is a natural boundary within God’s creation, unlike arbitrary and haphazard geopolitical boundaries, and all of God’s creatures live in a watershed; and
WHEREAS, many of the watersheds in this country are degraded, and this environmental damage leads to water shortages and a crisis that disproportionately affects people of color and people with lower incomes; and
WHEREAS, the ELCA social statement “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice” states that “We see the despoiling of the environment as nothing less than the degradation of God’s precious gift of creation,” and the social statement also reminds us that “congregations have various opportunities during the year to focus on creation… Thanksgiving, harvest festivals, and blessings of field, water, and plants and animals,” and encourages us to “observe Earth Day or Soil and Water Stewardship Week,” so as to protect and restore “natural and human habitats, including seas, wetlands, forests, wilderness, and urban areas”; and
WHEREAS, “watershed discipleship” requires that Christians acknowledge that water lies both at the center of our Christian rite of baptism and our current ecological and climate crisis, thus deserving deep theological treatment; therefore, let it be
RESOLVED, that the ELCA, in Assembly, requests the Church Council to direct the appropriate churchwide unit to provide every active rostered leader with resources to locate each congregation within its watershed district, so that waters may be named and known in worship and intercessory prayers, and that theological and biblical themes may build awareness, care and thanksgiving for the gift of these waters; and let it be further
RESOLVED, that the ELCA, in Assembly, requests the Church Council to direct the appropriate churchwide unit to provide resources to congregations and individual members to encourage and support conservation and prayerful stewardship of water resources; and let it be further
RESOLVED, that the ELCA, in Assembly, requests the Church Council to direct the appropriate churchwide unit to continue to develop strategies and provide resources to support areas struggling with natural or human-caused disasters that impact access to clean water, such as water contamination, drought and floods, with an awareness that the impact of our environmental actions have disproportionate implication for communities of color with lower incomes; and let it be further
RESOLVED, that the ELCA, in Assembly, encourages congregations to plan events outside their doors and within their watersheds, utilizing the many biblical themes of renewal and liberation that water affords.
Why conserve water:
- Fresh water is a precious and scarce commodity in the world.
- Develop the habit of rationing water, because sustainable lifestyle requires it.
- Reduce carbon emissions by using less hot water.
- Lower energy use at water facilities plants.
- Protect the local watershed from polluted runoff.
- Save money for other ministries.
Efficiency, Conservation, and Protection.
- Efficiency refers to products put in place to save energy and be Earth-friendly.
- Conservation refers to human actions to save energy and be Earth-friendly.
- Protection refers to human actions to protect Earth from degrading products and processes.
- Purchase Energy Star appliances. www.energystar.gov.
- Put low flow aerators on faucets in kitchen, bathrooms, and wash stations.
- Install low-flush toilets. Or use toilet balloons in older toilets to reduce water use.
- Check faucets (+outside) and toilets regularly for leaks and runs. Repair immediately.
- Install push-button faucets in bathrooms.
- Set hot water temperature at moderate rate (around 140 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Install on-demand water heating system.
- Put blanket (at least 3 inches) around standard water heater.
- Do not let faucet run.
- Run dish washer only when full. Wash small loads by hand.
- Rinse dishes for the dishwasher in a bowl rather than under running water.
- Store drinking water in refrigerator. Do not let the faucet run until the water is cool.
- Avoid bottled water. Use safe water bottle to be refilled with tap water.
- “Bring your own” safe reusable water bottle to be filled for use outside the home.
- Avoid use of disposal. It uses a lot of water. Compost food scraps.
- Wash cars by hand (sponge and bucket) rather than in carwashes.
- Use rain barrels to collect rain to water plants.
- Native grasses require less watering. Avoid watering lawn at all.
- Set the mower high to preserve moisture in the soil.
- Mow less often and leave the grass clippings on the grass as compost.
- Plant trees to provide shade that preserves moisture in the soil.
- Plant drought resistant shrubs and flowers.
- Use watering can rather than hose for plants and flowers. Avoid sprinklers.
- If you water at all, do so early in the morning or in the evenings.
- Put bird baths to provide water for birds, when and where it is safe for standing water.
Protect the Environment:
- Do not put toxic items down the drain: cleansers, bleach, detergents, and so on.
- Do not put grease, fat, or cooking oil down the drain.
- Make grease balls with nuts and raisin to hang for birds to feed on.
- Avoid use of pesticides or herbicides or weed killers. These will run off into the water shed and pollute local waterways.
- Plant a rain garden containing special plants with deep roots that absorb water so it does not runoff from roofs into the watershed or water ways.
- Get the family on board.
- Put up reminder signs: Attend to water leaks. Do not let faucet run. Run dishwasher when full.
Advocacy and Public Witness:
- Restore degraded water habitats such as local streams and lakes.
- Promote the preservation of wetlands.
- Learn about water problems around the globe.
- Advocate for policies and laws to slow global warming.
- Oppose practices of extraction for oil, gas, or minerals that threaten water resources.