Category Archives: Advocacy

CA – March for Fossil Fuel Freedom 3/16-18

A request from Kim Acker,  member at University Lutheran Church in Palo Alto, to be public witness:

On March 16-18, our local community has decided to take to the streets to demonstrate with our bodies that the jig is up on funding fossil fuels.

I know you accept the reality of climate change, but what to do about it may remain unclear. Here is my request:

Please take a moment away from the rush, the day-to-day relentlessness.

Pause to feel what’s present for you about climate change. Drop into your vulnerable heart.

Within that space of openness within you, consider my invitation:

We don’t yet know how to talk about climate change. To talk about it in the same breath we talk about Trump, doesn’t do it justice. To talk about the planet our children are inheriting (my children are your children) requires courage and vulnerability. Whether we are conscious of it or not, many of us are feeling the effects of living in the context of ecological degradation and even the prospect of extinction. Our feelings include fear, guilt, and grief. And sitting beside those feelings, there is also joy—joy for the wonder and breathlessness of our natural world and the best of who we are together.

We are experiencing the end of the fossil fuel age.

Many of us are also victims of the fossil fuel industry’s playbook: Create doubt and hopelessness. Doubt the solutions. Debate them. Believe that it’s too late and our personal actions won’t make a difference. All these strategies make us strange bedfellows with the power structures of fossil fuel.

What those powers don’t want us to remember is that we are the sleeping giant. We have power as a people, but we have forgotten it. We don’t feel it when we are alone behind our screens. We have forgotten it because we largely live in isolation from one another and cherish our freedom and independence.

The ending of the fossil fuel era invites us to create a new world of not only using less energy and renewable energy, but also to live in greater relationship to one another and to acknowledge the truth that we live in an interconnected web of life.

In the last few months, I’ve been organizing the 3-day The March for Fossil Fuel Freedom. The march is designed to:

1. build community, develop local leaders, and build local capacity for the movement as a whole (not just this march).

2. show our legislative and corporate leaders with our physical presence on the streets that we stand for the new world, and the ending of the old.

3. use a divestment strategy asking Wells Fargo to be the first American bank to divest from funding new fossil fuel development.

The local indigenous community led by Pennie Opal Plant with Idle No More SF will stand at the head of our march. Having the opportunity to learn from the experience of local indigenous activists like Pennie has nourished and humbled those of us organizing the march. The international women who are leading the indigenous movement have already had success in Europe by working their way into the boardrooms of five European banks to demand divestment. This march follows in their footsteps.

My Invitation:

Join this movement. Be part of this community in any way you can. Yes, we need money, but money isn’t enough. We need bodies.

This is your community—it’s local.

These are your leaders—invest in them.

Do this for yourself. Marching will help you remember that we are part of something more powerful than we can imagine alone. Acting together feels good.

How you can support our effort:

· March for all or part of the march (Sunday marchers are particularly needed)

· Come to a dinner. On Saturday, I will be speaking about my passion–divesting from the industrial food system and supporting local farmers growing soil that sequesters carbon. We will celebrate with good food, music, song, and fellowship.

· Come to the rally on Monday, March 18.

· Reach out to your community, share this message, and invite them in.

· Offer your skills (we are in short supply of media professionals)

· Sponsor a marcher.

Thank you for taking time to consider my invitation to be part of building our power as a people.

Kim Acker

www.oilywells.com

 

What to do for Spring in 2019?

We know you don’t need an excuse to celebrate and protect the Earth… but sometimes knowing that similar projects are happening across the globe can build momentum.  Coming up soon is our ultimate Holy Day of Resurrection: Easter on April 22st. The next day is officially Earth Day (4/22).  Many consider the entire month to be a time to focus on our place in the world and responsibility to all our neighbors.

Voices from the ELCA – Caring for Creation Today

God’s work. Our hands. from ecoAmerica on Vimeo.

ELCA churches across the country are working to serve our neighbors and to ensure that how we live does not harm others, including those yet to be born, vulnerable populations, and even life other than human.  We have an ELCA Social Statement written over 25 years ago on the topic, but how do we live that out?  The compilation of voices above give some examples, but it is clear we need to do more.  Lutherans Restoring Creation can help you determine what next steps your congregation can make. Click here for a Step by Step guide to begin work now from your pulpit, pews, and personal life.

Microscopic – Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise

Micro-Creation Service Bulletin – Click here – free to share! (wonderful readings, music, etc.)

Homily by Pastor Susan Henry, House of Prayer Lutheran Church – Hingham MA

Pentecost 13 B Creation  – –  August 19, 2018

Grace to you and peace from God our Creator and from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise

Because I was appalled at the prospect of dissecting a frog, I never took biology. My study of living organisms hasn’t been academic, but it has led me to love life, to stand in awe of God’s creative impulses and energy, and, lately, to feel more and more connected not just with human life, but with all of life.

I wasn’t in a biology lab, but I learned about dinosaurs, insects, and sea creatures because I was teaching four-year-olds about them. I know chicken anatomy because whole chickens are cheaper than chicken parts, so I long ago learned how to cut them up. I’ve milked goats and stirred a microbe-rich culture into that milk to make yogurt, and I’ve watched and smelled yeast at work in fragrant, rising bread dough. Most of what I know about plants comes either from gardening, being in the woods, or drawing what I see around me. Really, what I know about biology is more like having a pocketful of seeds, twigs, and shells than knowing where everything fits in a grand scheme. But, as a hymn puts it, I’m “lost in wonder, love, and praise.”

This is the third of three summer worship services that have been turning our hearts and minds to God the Creator “of all that is, seen and unseen” – the God of galaxies so vast and so distant it’s hard to wrap our minds around them, the God of forests that breathe in the carbon dioxide we have exhaled and then breathe out the oxygen we will inhale, the God of a fungal network so infinitesimal that 800 miles of it runs through the soil beneath just one footstep that we take. Really, the mind boggles!

The biblical writers knew nothing of micro-organisms, of course, but they too were lost in wonder, love and praise: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” “How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!” Both worship and study can draw our attention to what we might often take for granted about God’s awe-inspiring, gracious, creative work made known in human and other-than-human life.

At Bible study Thursday morning, we read today’s verses from scripture, and then we sat in awe of how our bodies are able to heal when we get a cut or break a bone. We laughed in amazement at the number of cherry tomatoes a mere three plants can produce from three tiny seeds. We pondered what we can see through a telescope and what is far beyond our seeing. We caught a glimpse of how everything is connected, how everything belongs. We were lost in wonder, love, and praise.

It’s good for us to intentionally focus on the marvels of creation and on the Creator of all that exists. It’s good for us to contemplate how interrelated all of life is, so that we can honor, respect, and protect what God has made and continues to create. It’s good for us to acknowledge how the Earth suffers when we fail to care for God’s creation, so that we can confess “what we have done and left undone” and so that we can change our ways.

Our reflection today about “the zoo in you” comes from Larry Rasmussen, a Lutheran ethicist who teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He too is lost in wonder, love and praise when he considers the sacredness of the web of life of which we are a part. But out of a passion for the well-being of that whole web of life, he is calling us to a life of faith that honors not only human life, but the life of the Earth itself. We’ve not been very good at that. We humans most often see our planet through the lens of how it can be useful to us, and we’ve gotten quite adept at consuming Earth’s resources – often without considering the consequences of what we do. Never before in Earth’s history have human actions been able to have such a massive impact on the web of life on Earth. That is no small thing.

People of faith bring a perspective to this situation that is grounded in knowing and loving God who creates, redeems and sustains us. And although we do think of God as the creator of all life, we probably haven’t thought much about God’s redeeming and sustaining work for the sake of all of life, for the sake of the web of life itself. Even less have we considered what it might ask of us to honor God’s desires for the well-being of all life.

Well-being, wholeness, fullness of life, flourishing, completeness, harmony, peace – this is the future God is drawing us toward. Scripture uses the word “shalom” to speak of this kind of life. We can also recall Jesus’ many parables about the kingdom of God. People kept asking Jesus, “What is the kingdom of God like? What is life like where what God desires is how life actually is?”

One time, Jesus said, “[The kingdom of God] is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Now, you may find that as enigmatic a response as the Bible study group did, but that’s the nature of parables. Jesus didn’t hand out easy answers but instead left his hearers puzzling over his words, taking them back home with them, pondering what yeast is and what someone did and what the result was – and what all that has to do with wholeness and well-being and flourishing.
Among other things, perhaps Jesus was calling his followers to be leaven in the loaf of their society, to help create something life-sustaining and God-honoring. People of faith like us today can be the leaven mixed into critical discussions and decisions about the well-being of the Earth and about the flourishing of all life – the leaven, the soil, the wheat, the baker, and those who share the bread. In living out such an Earth-honoring faith, we may discover that the kingdom of God has come near.

Amen

What does church have to do with it?

As many faith-based organizations are struggling with their place in relation to people’s daily lives, so does the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America look for ways the world can use what we offer.  As part of an appeal for our churches to take on the uncomfortable challenge of being engaged in the public sphere, let’s take stock of how other sectors of our society ask the church for help.  If you have articles or stories to share please submit them to info at lutheransrestoringcreation dot org.

Comments from BBC’s NewsHour Jan 22, 2019 Davos, Switzerland as Global Business leaders meet at World Economic  Forum:

Listen in to this conversation from global leaders and their call to us all to act as leaders.

What does a “moral and empathic revolution” look like?

When are you tempted to make villains out of your neighbors?

How can prayer offer a way out of habits that take us further away from our goals?

Consider Caring for Creation Coaching

What is ELCA Coaching? Click here for a Ministry Description

Interested in upcoming trainings?  click here.

What happens when Trained Coaches focus on helping those in Caring for Creation Ministries? All the action plans, resolutions, pledges, etc. that have emerged over years of active concern and deliberation are transformed into active progress by accompanying individuals leading these efforts to ensure goals are realized.

Response after Inaugural Creation Care Coach Training (NV- 2/6/19):

“… My most profound feeling is gratitude. THANK YOU to all of you for not only the training, but the preparation that went into it, your expertise, the vision that you invited me into, the people to whom you connected me, and the coming time of transformation. I could never have imagined what these three days would mean for me…and I am just beginning to realize it. Thank you for your partnership, your inspiration, your wisdom, and the HOPE that you have opened up for me! I carry you all with me today and in the days to come, and I look forward to connecting with you through our continued training.”

– Noni Strand, Kansas City – Central States LRC Mission Table Chair

Mark Carlson (CA), Noni Strand (KS), Dan Smith (CA), Solveig Nilsen-Goodin (CA), Keith Mundy (IL), Jane Affonso (CA), Janice Hawley (KS)

Introduced in 2019, Caring for Creation Coaching is another area of specialty coaching being offered by the ELCA in collaboration with Lutherans Restoring Creation and ecoAmerica.  Using a format similar to what has been successful with Stewardship and Discipleship Level II Coaching, this specialty will focus on developing coaching skills and competencies around five pillars (Personal Discipleship, Education, Building & Grounds, Public Witness & Advocacy) of caring for creation in the congregation and local community.  Through a series of seven session, participants will be equipped as coaches to accompany individuals and small groups in achieving their dreams through actions that create change related to caring for creation and climate solutions.

In each session special attention is given to sharpening coaching skills and engaging coaching competencies as outlined by the International Coach Federation (ICF).  These will help coaches journey alongside leaders involved in God’s work, both loving and serving the world.  (Note: ICF is the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals.).

Level One Coach Training involves a great deal of interactive training and laughter.

Make Memorials to Churchwide Assembly ASAP

Our list of synod/church-wide resolutions re: eco-justice are still listed on our “archived” site here.  For the upcoming Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee this August the initiative with the most ground support thus far is detailed below, but if your synod has other ideas please let us know so we can share your goals.

*** UPDATE as of June 4, 2019****

Colleagues, I write to inform you that this past Thursday evening the Upstate New York Synod approved the memorial requesting that the Churchwide Assembly endorse The Earth Charter by a vote of 192-13.  No one spoke in opposition.   So as of now we have four synods that are sending this memorial to Churchwide–New England, Southeast Pennsylvania, Gulf, and Upstate New York.  I think there may be one other synod considering this.

Congratulations on your good work!
Peace,
W. Merle Longwood, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies
Siena College
********************************************

Thanks to a passionate group of Lutherans from across the country there is momentum to request that our ELCA Churchwide Assembly agrees to be an institutional endorser of the Earth Charter.  See note below and follow links to discover how you can bring this to your next Synod Assembly!

From: Merle Longwood

Here is the final version of the resolution submitted to the Reference and Counsel Committee of the Upstate New York Synod, along with the cover letter that I sent accompanying that. It has some editorial corrections that I think may be helpful if others of you are still working on getting something to your own Reference and Counsel Committees.

Let’s hope it really becomes possible for this to come to the 2019 Churchwide Assembly for its endorsement.

To Download a PDF copy Click here: EarthCharterMemorial2019

For a Word document to be sent to you for editing to customize for your synod please write or call Phoebe ASAP at info at lutheransrestoringcreation dot org or call 617-599-2722

The New England Synod also submitted a Memorial to sign the Earth Charter. The HOW – TO submit a Memorial is outlined in this document from Sec. Chris Boerger: Memorial Resolutions Memorandum 2018

Prayers for Leadership on Climate Change

Representative, Ruth Ivory-Moore (Advocacy Energy & Environment) from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America joined the COP24 (the 24th Conference of the Parties) in Katowice, Poland. 

Light For Katowice 2018 >> Click here to download an easy-to-use copy of the prayer booklet.

Thanks to Lisa Brenskelle from the Christ the King Church in Houston Texas for assembling this resource!

Justified by Land and Faith

Christian Faith and Environmental Ethics: Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac and Luther’s Freedom of A Christian

A timeless reflection shared by Marcia Bunge at Luther College in 1994 . Here Bunge relates the writings of revered conservationist, Aldo Leopold with the Doctrine of Creation and Justification from the Lutheran/Christian traditions.

click here to download

 

 

 

Eco-Resources for Your Synod Gatherings

What can YOU do to get congregations in your area thinking about Caring for Creation as part of church?

1. Host a Presentation or Workshop:
  • No need to start from scratch – we have many templates that you can use as is or add to. Also plenty of resources are available that connect with a broad range of themes depending on the synod’s theme.  Contact us to have materials sent/attached to you directly: info@lutheransrestoringcreation.org
  • If your gathering is looking for special guests – check our list of speakers and see what other “Green Shepherds” may be in your area. 

2. Care for Creation Worship:
3. Propose resolutions:
4. Host a display table with information:
  • Print out a few sample materials and be sure to have people sign up for more information (you can use this form [Sign-IN-at-Events-sheet.pd]  scan/email it back to us and then we’ll send back a list of everyone in your synod who has interest in this ministry!) Set up a computer(if wi-fi is available) and share some video educational tools.
  • Stories. Showcase examples of what is happening in the congregations of your synod and ask for more stories – from gardening together, to washing dishes rather than throwing them away. Celebrate what everyone has to offer!
5. Use Environmental “best practices” at your synod assembly

California Lutherans Restoring Creation Connect (2016)

In October 2016 representatives from every synod in California came together for a retreat and rejuvenation at Luther Glen Camp in Oak Glen, CA and wrapped up their workshop with a visit to the Central City Lutheran Mission in San Bernardino to discuss the connections between food, water and jobs with creation care work in CA. Since then, their synod green teams have met and shared their experiences, a congregation became certified with GreenFaith, and they have a vibrant Facebook community (be sure to follow if you are on the West Coast!).

 

 

Congregation celebrates “green graduation,” invites wider community (2017)

Members of LCI gather on the steps of the California Capitol to join California Interfaith Power and Light’s Lobby Day. They advocated for passage of SB 350, which aims to increase California’s renewable energy mix to 50 percent and doubles the energy efficiency of existing buildings. 

Church invites all to its ‘green graduation’ celebration
It’s a little early for graduation season, but Lutheran Church of the Incarnation is celebrating its own commencement of sorts.
Last year, LCI successfully completed the GreenFaith Certification Program, earning official recognition for its work to care for God’s creation. LCI is only the second Lutheran congregation nationally to earn this recognition, and one of only two faith communities in California.

The GreenFaith organization maintains the program that urges faith communities to step up their efforts to integrate sustainability into their ministries and operations. They provide support, resources and a clear road map to achieve the distinction as a sustainable sanctuary. GreenFaith’s independent verification of accomplishments ensures that the certification is meaningful.
LCI believes that environmental stewardship is a moral responsibility. But the church doesn’t just preach about it, it is a common thread throughout all of its ministries and activities.
LCI’s final report to GreenFaith chronicled 139 distinct activities over the two years of the program, in the categories of spirit, environmental justice, action, education and communications.
Church members see themselves as the hands who do God’s work, so they are working to reduce their environmental footprint.

For example, the use of sustainable materials, water-conserving landscapes and energy-efficient lighting, heating, cooling and appliances helped them to expand the LCI facility at 1701 Russell Blvd. in West Davis, while cutting the energy that would have been used after the expansion by 15 percent and minimizing use of resources.

After the renovation, LCI was honored to receive an award for Energy Efficiency from California Interfaith Power and Light recognizing its achievements.

LCI’s worship service also reflect this theme with liturgical art, music and prayer that inspire caring for creation, as well as frequent sermons that call parishioners to approach God’s gifts with a sense of reverence and stewardship.

The child, youth and adult education programs include experiential learning about sustainability. For example, the children planted an organic vegetable garden, and served the harvested food at a lecture on “Food and Faith.”

 

 

Within Limits: Remember the Sabbath

Jim Martin-Schramm
Luther College Chapel
October 7, 2011
Exodus 23:10-12 (or 31:12-17)

Within Limits: Remember the Sabbath

Our reading this morning is from the 23rd chapter of Exodus:

For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild animals may eat. You shall do the same with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard.

For six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest, so that your ox and your donkey may have relief, and your home-born slave and the resident alien may be refreshed. (Exodus 23:10-12)

One of the problems that has plagued the modern era has been a self-defeating anthropocentrism. This brief passage from Exodus is remarkable for its breadth of moral concern. The injunction to let the land lay fallow every seven years reflects God’s concern for the landless poor who needed access to food, but it also reflects God’s concern for wild animals and even for the land itself. The injunction to rest from work every seven days was made to provide rest and relief for all who work the land, including domesticated animals and servants. In this passage God’s scope of moral concern extends well beyond human beings to the welfare of all that God has made.

The alternative reading for today from the 31st chapter of Exodus ties this practice of taking time to rest more directly to observation of the Sabbath:

The Lord said to Moses: You yourself are to speak to the Israelites: ‘You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, given in order that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. You shall keep the sabbath, because it is holy for you; everyone who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it shall be cut off from among the people. For six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the Israelites shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign for ever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.’

Now, I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t remember the part about being put to death for doing work on the Sabbath. How many of you have done work on the Sabbath? If we put everyone to death who worked on the Sabbath I suspect there would not be many of us left!

More seriously, however, perhaps this text has a point. Is it possible that by never taking time to rest we are working ourselves to death? Is it possible that our own work schedules and relentless lifestyles are also working others to death? Is it possible that our industrious and industrial way of life is working our planet to death?

Wendell Berry raises these sorts of questions in his foreword to Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight by Norman Wirzba (Brazos Press, 2006). I read this book in preparation for this homily and found it very helpful. Berry writes:

We are living at the climax of industrialism. The “cheap” fossil fuels on which our world has grown dependent, are now becoming expensive in money and in lives.…. The industrial economy, by definition, must never rest…. Whatever we have, in whatever quantity, is not enough. There is no such thing as enough…. Six workdays in a week are not enough. We need a seventh…. We need an eighth…. We cannot stop to eat. Thank God for cars! We dine as we drive over another paved farm. Everybody is weary and there is no rest. (11)

There is very little that is sustainable about our current industrial way of life. According to Paul Hawken in The Ecology of Commerce, every day the global economy burns an amount of fossil fuel that it took nature 10,000 days to create.[1] Put another way, 27 years of stored solar energy in coal, oil, and natural gas are burned by utilities, cars, houses, factories, and farms every 24 hours. Think about that: Every day we consume an amount of fossil fuel energy that it took the planet 27 years to create.

Given the focus of these Exodus texts on agriculture, it is worthwhile to reflect on how our industrial way of life is affecting the land, other animals, and the people who work to produce the food we consume. While we have made some important strides in the U.S. regarding soil and water conservation, we are still losing topsoil faster than nature can replenish it and our applications of fertilizers and pesticides are polluting waterways and contributing to huge dead zones like the one in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, our land use practices have destroyed and fragmented so many habitats that we are now experiencing an unprecedented rate of species extinction and loss of biodiversity.

Our industrial way of life has not been good for wild animals and it certainly has not been good for domesticated animals. The vast majority of the ten billion animals slaughtered in the United States last year were raised in massive confinement operations that gave them little room to move and little access to fresh air and sunlight. In Iowa, the nation’s largest producer of pork, the total swine herd of nearly 20 million pigs outnumbers the human population of Iowa by almost seven to one.[2] An overwhelming majority of these pigs are locked in stalls that do not provide enough room for them even to turn around. Similar conditions afflict chickens in Iowa, which also leads the nation in egg production. According to Norman Wirzba:

Chickens are crammed, eight at a time, into wire crates no bigger than the drawer of a filing cabinet. The crates are stacked on top of each other in darkness, which means that chickens higher up defecate on those below. As a result, illness and anxiety run rampant, and so heavy uses of antibiotics are required to keep the fowl healthy enough till slaughter…. “(Living the Sabbath, 26)

As we know all to well from the raid in Postville, IA, the people who work in these industrial slaughterhouses are not treated much better than the animals they kill for our consumption. The meat-packing industry is one of the most dangerous in the nation and it relies on cheap and disposable labor frequently furnished by desperate immigrants to our nation. No creature should have to live like this, whether worker or animal.

Norman Wirzba argues that we will not be able to abandon our destructive, industrial way of life until we recover the discipline and practice of the Sabbath. He does not mean that it will be sufficient merely to ritually observe the Sabbath day and to refrain from work during that day. Rather “[t]he key to Sabbath observance is that we participate regularly in the delight that marked God’s own response to a creation wonderfully made.” (15) On the seventh day of creation God steps back to rest and to rejoice in a creation that is “good, very good.”

By keeping the Sabbath we stop to praise God for the goodness of creation. Ellen Davis, the Hebrew Bible scholar, reminds us, however, that “Praise does more for us that in does for God…. We praise God in order to see the world as God does.”[3] By praising God we learn to train our desires and to value creation as gift and not possession.

A life oriented around the Sabbath should lead us to give thanks and praise for the gifts of photosynthesis, soil regeneration, clean water, and the daily supplies of sun and wind. Wirzba writes: “When we forget these gifts, or when we fail to see them as gifts and mistake them to be ours by right or by our own effort, we falsify who we are. We overlook the fact that our lives are everywhere maintained by a bewildering abundance of kindness and sacrifice.” (36)

The Sabbath tradition confronts our anthropocentrism and industrial mindset head-on. We are not independent but radically interdependent with all that God has made. We must let go of our false sense of superiority and live more humbly under the restrictions and limits God has provided so that all may flourish. To deny these limits and turn our backs on God’s creation is to deny God. Thomas Aquinas reminds us that “Any error about creation also leads to an error about God.”[4] God invites us to turn away from our failed and frenetic ways in order to live our lives rooted in God’s delight in the goodness and wonder of creation. Only with such a Sabbath mindset will be able to live sustainably in this world.

Amen.

[1] Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, Revised edition., (San Francisco: Harper Paperbacks, 2010).

[2] Iowa State University Farm Outlook, June Hog and Pig Report Summary (7/6/11), http://www.econ.iastate.edu/ifo/; U.S. Census Bureau: Iowa Quick Facts, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/19000.html

[3] Ellen Davis, Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament, (Boston: Cowley Press, 2001), 34. Cited in Norman Wirzba, Living the Sabbath, pg. 28

[4] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, cited in Wizba, Living the Sabbath, pg. 143.

Upper Susquehanna (PA) Synod Assembly passes three eco-related Memorials/Resolutions (2015)

At the Upper Susquehanna (PA) Synod June 2015 Assembly three eco-related Memorials/Resolutions were passed. The following is a summary of the voting experience from Pr. Leah Schade. Email Phoebe Morad if you would like to contact her personally for more insight.

Colleagues: The Upper Susquehanna Synod Assembly (PA) just voted in favor of the Eco-Reformation Memorial. It appeared that the vote was about 60%-40%. The Assembly also voted in favor of a related Eco-Reformation Resolution. It appeared that the vote was about 80%-20%. The one pastor speaking against the motions stated that they appeared to be “hijacking” the 500 th Anniversary of the Reformation. I spoke in favor of the motions and explained that they were integral to Luther’s thought, Lutheran theology, and in keeping with the ELCA’s previous social statements.

The Assembly also voted in favor of the Memorial for Transition to Clean, Renewable Energy. This vote was close: 79 in favor, 67 against. Those speaking against the memorial said that the motion “went too far,” making demands on those who would not want to divest. “You’re trying to shove this down our throats,” said one pastor. Four people spoke in favor of the memorial (myself included) highlighting that it is a prudent fiduciary measure to divest from fossil fuels, that we need to keep the carbon in the ground in order to avoid further climate disruption, and that the memorial is in keeping with Jesus’ command to care for the “least of these.” I presented a workshop about the motions prior to their coming to the floor (powerpoint available here).

 

 

LRC Seeks Partnerships with Synods of the ELCA

Lutherans Restoring Creation (“LRC”) is a church-wide program involving many partners: congregations, synods, seminaries, outdoor ministries, colleges, and church-wide offices.

LRC is working to establish partnerships with ELCA synods in bringing care for creation into the life of the church. Might your synod be interested?

A partnership between LRC and a synod is a mutual relationship of action and learning. Here are the things LRC may be able to contribute to the life of a synod:

  • Provide an overall structure and program of resources for greening the synod—worship, education, property, personal discipleship, and commitment to public ministry.
  • Offer training workshops in care for creation goals and strategies (for synodical and congregational leaders) and make available programmatic resources to bring care for creation into the life and mission of congregations and institutions in the synod.
  • Provide a network of relationships between and among synods to share ideas and resources through an interactive website and a facebook-type communication site.
  • Recommend video and book resources and to provide access to a speakers bureau.
  • Offer a process and program of registration that would suggest some goals toward which to work and that would provide support over time to bring care for creation into the full identity and mission of the synod.
  • Respond positively to requests for new resources, training, and consultation.

Here are some things ELCA synods can contribute to the partnership:

  • Provide continuing education events for professional leadership in your synod. This may take the form of conferences, lectures, workshops, and retreats.
  • Participate actively in LRC training events by sending representatives for training and agree to hold an eco-faith event in your synod.
  • Bring resources and training in creation-care and environmental-justice ministry to congregations within your synod. This can take a variety of forms: courses, forums, workshops, public lectures.
  • Encourage cooperative creation-care efforts in synodical clusters and local communities—Lutheran, ecumenical, and interfaith.
  • Model creation-care at the synod offices and in synodical events. Promote creation-care among the committees and task forces of the synod.
  • Share the actions, events, projects, and resources in your synod with other synods in the LRC network. Consult the reports of other synods as a way to enhance your ministry.

We invite you to develop some innovative ways to participate in LRC and creative ways to promote it among all segments of the ELCA. Encourage pastors and congregations to adopt Lutherans Restoring Creation. As opportunities arise, promote Lutherans Restoring Creation in the wider church.

Young Leaders Emerging from Central States Group

The Central States Synod Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC) Mission Table is made up of volunteers from across the Synod who feel passionate about caring for creation and want to empower others to learn and act on behalf of all that God has made. Through monthly conference calls and offering workshops throughout the Synod, we share God’s story in creation and facilitate the sharing of stories about how congregations can use worship, buildings and grounds, education, discipleship in daily life, and advocacy to be better stewards of creation. Here are two stories from recent workshop attendees:

Kaylie Ines is a senior at Bethany College and will attend Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in the fall. She is a member of Reformation Lutheran in Wichita. Kaylie writes,“By attending the LRC workshop I was able to engage and reflect on what it means to be an advocate for sustainability – as a Lutheran and as a being. I got a better understanding of why Lutherans care for all of creation. It took my perspective from just a theological idea and expanded it to think about the ethical imperative for the church. I am thankful for this experience and the fellowship shared at the workshop. It was inspiring to engage others and to share ideas on what we can do to help care for creation. I have brought this knowledge and passion back to campus with me and have shared them with our campus pastor. We are looking to organize an Earth Day celebration event. My goal is to help rebuild the interest in creation care with younger students by doing smaller projects to peak an interest and leave behind ideas for bigger projects for a team to tackle when we have sustainable numbers. Our Earth Day Event will also engage others in creation care as we we partner with a local church and our on-campus Art Club!”

Josh Thede is a member of the City of Mission, KS, Sustainability Commission; President of the USGBC Emerging Professionals – Central Plains Chapter; and works as an Acoustical Consultant at Henderson Engineers in Lenexa, KS. Josh did volunteer service in Peru where he lived and worked in the Amazon Rainforest for three weeks doing reforestation, animal monitoring, research, and organic agriculture. He also served as a Camp Counselor at Carol Joy Holling in Ashland, NE. Josh is looking for a Lutheran congregation in the KC area that will help him make a positive impact on the planet. Josh writes, “I was impressed and encouraged by the activities churches are already doing, including solar panels, energy star-rated buildings, up cycling plastic bags into sleeping mats, sending youth outdoors in nature, reducing waste, and composting. I enjoyed that the event was framed in ‘creation care’ which is a different perspective than the secular climate action and clean energy that I am more familiar with. It was an incredible group of people including venture scouts, pastors, congregation staff, college students, camp directors, youth leaders, professors, carpenters, hikers, and more. Each had their own perspective and approach, but the overall theme was consistent: The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Psalm 25), and protecting the Earth should be a priority for all people and congregations. I left encouraged that by the Grace of God, we have hope that our actions will create a positive change to reduce the sin of greed and overconsumption, and increase protection and preservation of Earth.”

 

Metro NY Synod Resolution on Energy Stewardship (2010)

A Resolution on Energy Stewardship – Metro NY Synod

Whereas, we in the industrialized world are consuming energy and Earth’s resources in a way that is both unsustainable in the future and unfair to those in the developing world; and there are disturbing scientific reports of environmental degradation, global climate change, a record rate of species extinction, and a depletion of non-renewable resources that should give us pause; and

Whereas, human activity, especially the over-consumption of energy and resources, appears to be a critical driver in these changes in climate and environmental distress, both causing harm to God’s creation and exacerbating already difficult situations for millions living with poverty and hunger, as weather extremes such as flood and drought increase; and

Whereas, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, recognizing the gravity of these threats, has long been committed to addressing environmental issues as part of our call to justice, sustainability, and solidarity with affected communities and, along with our partners in the Lutheran World Federation and Lutheran World Relief, committed to working to alleviate hunger, poverty, and unsustainable living conditions globally; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the congregations, administrative offices, and outdoor ministry facilities of this synod be encouraged to offer a public witness of energy stewardship by: (1) Measuring the greenhouse gas emissions (i.e., “carbon footprint”) of the facilities they own, to establish a baseline starting point; and (2) With the guidance of the synod’s Environmental Stewardship Committee [see Addendum to this resolution], conduct an energy audit to determine what options there are for reducing energy use; and (3) Make a commitment to decrease their carbon footprint by a certain percentage over a specified period of time through energy conservation, efficiency, or clean energy measures; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the congregations, administrative offices, and outdoor ministry facilities of this synod be invited to share this information with the Environmental Stewardship Committee, synod office and, where applicable, on ELCA congregational reporting forms, and subsequently also share what energy-saving steps were taken, and what measurable energy savings have been realized, as evidenced in a lower carbon footprint measurement; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this synod memorialize the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America at its 2011 Churchwide Assembly to challenge all expressions of the ELCA to reduce their energy-related greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5 percent per year with the ultimate goal of reducing these emissions 25-40 percent by 2020, and to share this commitment and steps taken to achieve it in a public way in official publications and communication channels of this church.

—Submitted by the Environmental Stewardship Committee of the Metro New York Synod

Committee Recommendation: Reference and Counsel recommends adoption of this Resolution.

Approved unanimously May 14, 2010

Florida/Bahamas Synod Energy Audit Resolution (2009)

Florida/Bahamas Synod, 2009

Congregations to do Annual Energy Audits

Targeted to 25% by 2020

WHEREAS, we face urgent climate perils that remind us of the story of Noah and the Ark as God’s earth nears a climate tipping point;

·     Warming of the atmosphere, rising sea levels, changing rainfall and weather patterns will leave millions more people hungry, displace millions from their homes, and lead to increased disease, heat-related illnesses at death.

·     These are the unraveling results of over-dependence on fossil fuels.  Fossil fuel dependence is at the core of the most pressing issues confronting people and governments all over the world – global security, human rights, mass extinctions of species, health, and economy.

·     We all face a critical moment in history, challenged to choose between two distinct futures.  If we continue on our current path, we face catastrophic consequences for generations to come.  When we choose to embrace a new energy and climate vision, we face a future built on justice, earth stewardship, sufficiency and sustainability.  Together, we can address our call to provide for the vulnerable among us and protect the diversity in God’s gift of Creation.

WHEREAS, God challenges us through the prophet Micah to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly, how then shall we act as a people?

·         In the economic, energy, and climate change crises that face our nation and global community, there is both danger and opportunity.

·         Too much of the conversation on the economic crisis has ignored the causes of poverty and the growing ranks of the poor.

·         When we choose a new path, we can create a sustainable and more just future for our nation and all of God’s people.

·         All of us – business and government, private and public, faith-based and nonprofit, the well-organized and the often-forgotten – need to be involved if we are to attain clean, sustainable, and just energy for all people.

·         By working with existing and emerging networks we can develop practical steps for guiding our congregations and our members in increasing energy efficiency and using more clean energy.

WHEREAS, by discussing sacred texts, actively listening to scientific information, and centering in prayer we can open ourselves to new ways in which our footprint on   the earth reflects our true spiritual values and leads to greater forms of sustainable society while lowering waste and abusive consumption of non-renewable resources; and

WHEREAS, how we witness and give voice to a just and sustainable world is public testimony to the depth of our faith in God who made the creation very good; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that we as a people accept the call to  seize this opportunity to declare a vision of transformed economy that is more inclusive and sustainable – a vision that involves challenges both to our own communities of faith and to society in general; and be it further

RESOLVED,  that we call on the bishop and other church leaders of the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to urge our congregations to engage in sacred conversations for discerning the kind of world God calls us to pass on to our children, grandchildren, and all of God’s creatures; and be it further

RESOLVED, that as people of faith we urge congregations of the Florida-Bahamas Synod to address our own use of energy by conducting energy (carbon footprint) audits in our houses of worship and our houses of business and our homes for living; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that these audits be a first step in a series of actions to reduce our carbon emissions 25% by 2020.

Luther College and Raptor Resource Project Build Banding Station (2017)

A grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources allowed Luther College and the Decorah Raptor Resource Project to build an autumn migration banding station on campus, giving students unprecedented direct access to wildlife and conversation research.The banding station, located on Hawk Hill on the northeast edge of the Luther campus, is large enough for classes to observe wild birds, band them and gather data before releasing them back into the wild.
As part of the partnership, RRP hired six Luther College students as interns for the fall semester to learn field and research techniques for trapping and banding wild hawks. The banding station also opens an opportunity for Luther students to interact with students in the Decorah Community School District. When a live bird is banded and school is in session, Luther can contact local schools and take the bird to the school to give a demonstration. To read more about this project, click here.

Several ELCA Colleges Named in the Sierra Club’s Top “Cool Schools” List (2017)

Muhlenberg College, Luther College, Wartburg College, Wittenberg College, and Pacific Lutheran University were all recently included in the Sierra Club’s 2017 List of “Cool Schools”. The national assessment pulls data from STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System), a program run by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Information submitted to AASHE was used and scored across 61 questions from the STARS assessment, in addition to a supplemental question about fossil fuel investments. The Sierra Club used STARS reports to compile the list. To view the complete list of schools click here.