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).
Reflections on “Public Witnessing” with your children
by Phoebe Morad, Lutherans Restoring Creation
As someone who has worked in some facet of environmental action for over 20 years, you’d think that fear, guilt, and longing would consume my anticipation of what world I leave for my children. Fortunately, since I found my place among faith-based communities looking for solutions through eco-justice minefields, I’ve been able to see past the numbness of daunting objectives. I’ve also been able to bring my kids along for the journey.
Earth Day 2016, my daughter was 8, armed with her stuffed animal tree frog and outfitted in her hand-written “end plastic pollution” t-shirt and in silent (yet fervent) agreement with the small cohort who gathered at Senator Ed Markey’s office. We came as representatives from area houses of worship who wanted to emphasize the moral imperative to protect 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.
Thea’s patience was tried when waiting from April to September to hear the results from the petition she took part in – but what a result! The first marine monument on our eastern shores made into a sanctuary to act as a nursery for more fish to feed people and an undisturbed ocean bed as researchers only just began to explore the gifts in this underwater Eden. I wanted to grab this 4th grader by the shoulders before she went into school shouting triumph and warn her: “It isn’t that simple: just because we talked with our representatives, stated our case, and joined others in laying out the importance of this matter – that doesn’t usually result in seeing anything actually changing.” But I bit my tongue and hoped that this would mean exactly that.
Then 2017 happened. The Antiquities Act being used as a tool for upholding Theodore Roosevelt’s intentions to preserve natural treasures is up for debate as the tide of leadership shifts. Was Thea paying attention to my one-way conversation with the news on the radio as Sec. Zinke re-assessed the validity of “our victory”? I decided to keep her on the roller coaster for the rest of the ride. Off we went again to the JFK Federal Building in October to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office to speak with her staff alongside the Creation Justice Ministries team and others who had worked with local fishing coalitions and marine biologists. Our appeal was to hold firm to conserving the area: an investment in the future of our fishing industry and the collective impact of ocean care as a climate change mitigation had to trump the short-term worry over economic impacts.
I’m so glad Thea brought her sketchpad to take notes as we spoke with the voice on the speaker from Warren’s DC office; “…fisher people did not feel invited,” she notes alongside drawings of happy fish. That particular point was certainly contended, but the feelings remain. Everyone knows how it feels to not be invited to something, not to be heard. The conversation emerged from our hour in Warren’s office that faith-based groups are uniquely situated to bring together disparate factions and help foster healing interactions. Our next twist on this roller coaster is going to be a long climb: encouraging relationship building between a broader faction of the fishing economy and the faith leaders in their midst to consider how to provide for their loved ones while acting as stewards of the natural gifts meant to share with other generations.
As we left Warren’s office Thea and I were excited to see some of her “adornments” on the shelves. She has a rock collection too! There are a few stuffed animals among her books. Being able to relate to Senator Warren’s gender and interests may be the first hook to my daughter’s aspirations, but I hope that isn’t the part that lasts longest. I’m grateful that she gets to see that progress is no straight road. She’s just had a glimpse as to all the diverse interests we need to consider in discovering “justice”. The Elizabeth Warren she will see on campaign ads soon, is not the one and only person to look for all our answers. That is not a true leader’s role. So many, many people are part of the efforts to make a better common home for all. I pray that we can all find a unique role in serving our neighbors needs as St. Paul refers to in his letter to the Corinthians:
If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 17-20)
There is plenty of information “out there” on how we can make steps to live a life with less of a negative impact on our neighbors and bring the Outside in… but that’s only if you happen to go looking for it. Perhaps adding a few simple pieces of inspiration that can work for your fellow worshipers in the material the read periodically can start new habits and open closed minds. Below are some links that you can copy and paste shared by folks throughout the Lutherans Restoring Creation community. (Please acknowledge source when sharing!)
E – news “blurbs” for Winter 2020:
Lutherans Restoring Creation
Never heard of us? Find out more below!
Lutherans Restoring Creation exists to inform, encourage, and uplift the discipleship practice of caring for the environment throughout the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.This is accomplished by cultivating a network of dedicated stewards of earth and neighbor who proclaim God’s promise of hope and healing for all.
Who We Are
Lutherans Restoring Creation is a grassroots movement of Lutherans, driven by laity, pastors, lay professionals, synodical leadership, and others who hold positions in the ELCA and its institutions. This movement grows out of a long history of Lutheran concern (the 1993 social statement Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice).
Search “Congregations” for more resources at www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org.
Looking for a Lenten Discipline?
Every little thing can make a big difference when it comes to care for creation! If you are looking for ways to conserve energy and be a good steward to our earth, Lutherans Restoring Creation can help! They have developed a whole checklist for energy savings in your home and congregation! Visit www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org to discover what you may need for Personal Discipleship. Maybe each day of Lent, we can take some time to better care for God’s creation!
Lutherans Restoring Creation Devotionals
We are facing a critical time in our world when we need to put extra focus on the environment and God’s creation. If you’d like to focus on care for creation during this season of reflection, you can find great devotional materials on www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org.
Lutherans Restoring Creation Commentaries
Preachers: Are you looking for resources and commentaries about care-for-creation during this season? Lutherans Restoring creation has created a wonderful database of commentaries for the entire lectionary cycle. You can find them all by season and narrative sermons at http://www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org
Care for Creation Congregational Covenant
Interested in taking the next step with Lutherans Restoring Creation in your congregation? Our congregational self-organizing kit — available for download at: LutheransRestoringCreation.org. This is a step-by-step guide to help you function as a creation-care congregation as well as how to access to the resources needed to carry out this program on an ongoing basis. Whether or not you are already active in greening your congregation, this kit will enable you to identify yourself with Lutherans Restoring Creation, provide an overall plan for your efforts, and help you to further your congregational commitment to ecology and justice.
Lutherans Restoring Creation: Going a step further
We care for creation on more than just the individual or congregational level! ELCA members have the opportunity to be public witnesses through the process of submitting, educating fellow members, and eventually passing synod resolutions. Some of these public statements and declarations of change also move along to be a Memorial to be passed by the entire Church-wide body which meets every three years. For details about your local submission requirements contact your synod office. You can see examples of synod resolutions on the Lutherans Restoring Creation website.
Lutherans Restoring Creation greatly appreciates the volunteers who keep the following resources updated. We are also blessed to have a ELCA Stewardship and Advocacy teams who manage a standing library of resources ranging from public policy how-to’s to every social statement in entirety to study guides to talk about holistic stewardship practices in your church:
The following sites are great for referencing material and tracing the history of this work. However, there are many broken links and out-dated contact information. Please use these resources with that in mind and ask firstname.lastname@example.org for any updates.
Giving Voice to My Community and Bringing ELCA Advocacy Home
By: Fumi Liang, Huntington Beach, CA
I am Fumi Liang from Huntington Beach California and I want to tell you a story about a group of senior citizens who are trying to make a difference in caring for the environment.
My friend Dick started a program called “Paper Rollers” many years ago. About 20 seniors came to church every Thursday to make 20 lbs of newspaper rolls and sell them to a floral company. When Dick passed away, nobody wanted to take over his job to organize this program. As a leader of a senior ministry at my church, I could have moved away from this project, but I didn’t want Dick’s legacy to die. So I took over and I’m glad I did, because I found out how much these seniors care about the land our God created.
The seniors in my church worry about how we’re not taking care of the land we live. They want to continue to do as much as they can to keep our land healthy for their next generation. They taught me, through their action, to be deeply concerned about our environment and the effect climate change will have on my grandchildren’s lives. I sincerely hope that through the Green Climate Fund, government can help combat climate change so we can keep the earth green and clean.
This is the message I gave when I met with the offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Scott Peters on Capitol Hill as part of the ELCA’s Advocacy Convening in Washington, D.C. last year.
This convening occurred in the midst of Pope Francis’ visit to Washington. It was the time for the ELCA to get together with the Episcopal Church to share prayers, formation, and practice of our baptismal mandate to strive for justice and peace. This was the first time that ELCA Advocacy invited community leaders from across the United States to attend the event alongside ELCA bishops. I was one of 17 community leaders invited to attend and learn how to become an effective Advocate. Having said that, I was very nervous about participating because I didn’t have any idea about what I would be expected to do.
I knew nothing about ELCA Advocacy; who they are and what they do for what purpose. Everything was new to me. I just had to trust and asked God to give me His extra mercy to guide me through this new challenge.
I was impressed by one of the speakers who emphasized how important it is for us to be truthful when we talk about the issue that matters to us. I always thought that religion and politics should never mix together. However, I discovered during my time in Washington that it could work beautifully if the contact between religion and politics was not for the disputes of powers, money and fame but for the purpose of serving people. After all, people come to church for help and comfort. They want to find the answer of their needs and heal for their pains. If church cannot do that for them, who else can?
Through my participation in the 2015 Advocacy Convening, I realized that the ELCA’s Advocacy ministry can help provide opportunities to make a difference. While in Washington, we urged Congress to provide appropriate funding for global health and refugee services, emergency food assistance, and other development programs through the international Affairs Account; to promote robust structures that help developing countries adopt clean energy technologies and adapt to climate change impacts through the Green Climate Fund; and to protect children and families in Central America by investing in poverty reduction, human rights, and citizen security.
Prior to meeting with Congress, I received training on how to address your opinion effectively. I practiced and prepared my own story and its relation to climate change and environmental issues. It was a great challenge for me to deliver what I wanted to say within 2 to3 minutes. I was grateful that Bishop Finck, Bishop Erwin, Mark Carlson of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy California helped me shape my story and present it during our meetings. Not in my wildest dreams did I think that one day I would voice my concerns on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
After I returned from my trip, I shared my experience with my senior group on Thursday during their “Paper Rollers” time. They were so pleased to know that the ELCA is concerned about our environment and that I was able to give voice to my community’s experience. When I saw their delighted faces, I felt really blessed because I didn’t just attend a fun event in Washington, I was also able to bring ELCA Advocacy home to them by sharing my experience.