Category Archives: Regional Advocacy

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

Missouri Lutherans Caring for Creation: 3/30 & 4/27

Collaboration, Commitment, and Action

Sat., March 30 in St. Louis, MO or Sat. April 27th in Columbia, MO

Register for either (or both) here: https://www.css-elca.org/lrc

Please share this flier with local houses of worship throughout this season of Resurrection: April27.2019 LRC Retreat 8.5×11 Poster Columbia

3/30 Schedule

8:00 – 8:30:  Gathering/   Registration

8:30-9:00:    Opening Worship

9:00-12:30:  Presentations

12:30-1:30:  Lunch/Networking

Presentations include:

  • Greening the Bible: A Biblical Basis for Creation Care, J. Clinton McCann, Eden Theological Seminary

  • Breaking the Silence on Creation Care

  • Toward Regional Sustainability – Jenny Wendt, OneSTL

 

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.

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.

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!).

 

 

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.”

 

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.

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.

 

 

St. Olaf Natural Lands Play an Important Role in Conservation Efforts for Native Species

A story in the Star Tribune newspaper highlights how St. Olaf College’s 350 acres of natural lands not only serve as a hands-on learning laboratory for students, but also play an important role in conservation efforts for native species like the bluebird. “The 143-year-old Lutheran college is part of a greater survival story to rebuild Eastern bluebird populations that had declined in the 1960s and ’70s due to loss of savanna – their preferred habitat – and competition from nonnative birds,” notes Star Tribune writer Shannon Prather. Since 1989 the college has conducted extensive natural habitat restoration projects on hundreds of acres of land it owns adjacent to the campus. This includes a bluebird trail comprised of 64 specially designed birdhouses through woodlands and prairies. For more information on St. Olaf’s natural lands, 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.”

 

 

Capital University Utilizes “Green Thread” Environmental Sustainability Platform

Through Green Thread, Capital University’s environmental sustainability platform, innovative and efficient solutions are brought to life. Green Thread helps employees and customers minimize environmental impacts in their operations and in their communities. Green Thread places special emphasis on responsible sourcing, waste minimization, efficient operations, and transportation management. Green Thread also measures the university’s impact, holds them accountable, and enables continuous improvement.

 

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.

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.

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]

Lutherans Weigh in on PA Clean Power Plan

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania trained and turned out Lutherans to testify at hearings on the Pennsylvania Clean Power Plan in Fall 2015.  
 
States are required to develop plans to implement the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.  The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection held public hearings to gather input from citizens on how the state should aim to reach the targets set by the EPA for reducing carbon pollution.
 
Among those testifying was Pastor Paul Metzloff, who said,
“It’s abundantly clear that climate change is not only real and caused by people, but that as it affects the world it also most directly affects the poor and vulnerable – those Jesus tells us to help. In that, then, it impacts such core ministries of the church as working against hunger, disaster relief, and support for refugees. Climate change affects all of those areas, and worsens things for those least able to deal with them. We need to fix this problem, as big, as complex, and as daunting as it may be. It’s a moral obligation.” [Read More]
 

Also testifying was Pastor Rebecca Knox:

I firmly believe that God created the universe in which we live, and we are entrusted to it’s care keeping in balance growth, productivity and prosperity without destroying the natural balance or dishonoring the sacred nature of our planet.” [Read More]


Pennsylvania Lutherans had also turned out to testify when the EPA draft rule was released in Spring 2014.  Read the testimony from Lutherans at the EPA hearings in Pittsburgh.

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.