Category Archives: Personal Discipleship

Creation Care Congregation: Building and Grounds Ideas

Building and Grounds: “The church as an alternative community”

Energy Stewards Initiative. LRC program for congregations to reduce your energy use/costs and carbon footprint, with online tracking of energy data via the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio, an action plan, and consultation and accountability through regular webinars. Or get an energy audit and follow steps to reduce energy. For more info contact your local utility or visit: https://www.energystar.gov/buildings/owners_and_managers/congregations

Comprehensive Environmental Guide for Churches, Their Buildings and Grounds. Use a checklist along with the full guide for an overall environmental inventory of your congregation, and take action. Download the entire guide – some details may be outdated, but the ties to faith and ideas are timeless. www.webofcreation.org/Environmental%20Guide.pdf

Choose a specific project: Replace all incandescent bulbs; retrofit fluorescent lighting; develop a recycling program; reduce paper use; purchase green cleaning products; make Earth-friendly food choices; eliminate Styrofoam; develop Earth-friendly lawn care, among others.

Use of land & water: Community garden; restore to prairie; preserve natural habitats; plant trees; create a sanctuary or peace garden; nurture animal life. Phase out fertilizers and pesticides use for lawns. Many free resources, stories, samples and readings to share throughout the LRC site, but local experts are best to build on existing relationships. Consider sharing a broader understanding of our relationship with soil by researching the “Kiss the Ground” program. This educational movement has the potential to involve those interested in agriculture, science, history, gardening and climate change.  Watershed discipleship resources are plentiful and offer a safe entry point for many who may not feel called to other issues in creation care.

Know your property as an “Earth community.” Get to know the trees, plants, animals, insects, birds, and other creatures who live with you on this space. Live in such a way that all of you may thrive together. Pray for them. Worship with them. Include some in your church directory as your creation family. For directions, go to: http://www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org/stewarding-your-property-as-an-earth-community.

For more information about Becoming a Caring-for-Creation Congregation, visit this page.

Creation Care Congregation: Education Ideas

Education: “Know your traditions and your world”

Earthbound: Adult education for this six-part video series produced by the ELCA to explore the theological foundations of Earth care and to examples of Lutheran Institutions carrying them out.

“Caring for Creation.” Organize a forum or study group to read and discuss the ELCA Social Statement. Copies available from the ELCA with guide. See the 52 excerpts from this social statement for use for use in the church bulletin each week.

Awakening to God’s Call to Earthkeeping. A timeless four-session, small group study curriculum for adult forums. Or consider using the ELCA Lenten series “Creation Waits with Eager Longing”

Youth. Try the “Know Trash? No Trash!” program designed by Lutherans Restoring Creation, read stories from other Youth Groups, raise funds through a recycling program. More info here.

Children. Kid’s books abound with environmental themes (The Lorax, The Giving Tree, etc) but for integration of scripture try: I Love God’s Green Earth: Devotions for Kids Who Want to Take Care of God’s Creation by Michael and Caroline Carroll (Tyndale House Publishers, 2010). VBS guides from Lutheran Outdoor Ministries are adaptable to any venue – most are free to download!

Other: For example, organize forums with local experts or develop a Bible study.

For more information about Becoming a Caring-for-Creation Congregation, visit this page.

 

Creation Care Congregation: Worship Ideas

Transformation through Worship: “Let all creation praise God”
(all resources found if searched on LetAllCreationPraise.org)

All Worship: Render every service as creation-care worship: call to worship, confessions, prayers, and blessing/commission, plus scriptures, hymns, and sermons.

Season of Creation. Observe a four-week optional season to celebrate creation as part of the church year, with liturgies, sermons, and alternative scripture lessons, etc.

Special Worship Services. Observe a special day, such as Earth Sunday in April www.creationjustice.org, Rogation Sunday, or a “Greening of the Cross” service in the Easter Season.

Blessing of the Animals. Hold a service near the time of St. Francis Day (in October) or any time in the church year.

Appoint the sanctuary. With creation-care banners, greenery, art.

Green your worship practices: energy-saving lights and heat; altar plants, local wine, green cleaning products, eliminate/recycle/reuse paper, intinction.

Other: For example, develop your own worship resources and occasions for celebration.

For more information about Becoming a Caring-for-Creation Congregation, visit this page.

 

Action Plan Ideas

The goal is to make a difference by transforming attitudes and commitments and by embracing concrete actions that reduce human ecological impact on the earth and contribute to justice for people affected by environmental degradation. The following links will provide ideas for you as you create your congregation’s action plan:

Transformation through Worship: “Let all creation praise God”

Education: “Know your traditions and your world”

Building and Grounds: “The church as an alternative community”

Discipleship at home and work: “Love your neighbor”

Public Witness/Policy Advocacy: “Church exists to serve the world”

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

 

 

Creating An Action Plan

Action Plan Guidelines

1. Explore our action plan ideas: Consult the Manual and the websites/ resources listed with each item for more information.

2. Choose one project from each category for the year. Count the projects you are already doing and add more where feasible [e. g. celebrate Earth Sunday]. Be sure to choose from each of the five areas. As you proceed fill in the Action Plan Form. Choose more than one project if it seems feasible.

Choose actions/projects that . . .

  • Have support in the congregation
  • Have committed people to carry them out
  • Are affordable for the congregation
  • For which you have energy and inspiration!

3. Delegate the responsibility: Identify which individuals or committee will be responsible for carrying out each project. Contact them to see if they are willing to do it [e. g. The Worship Committee]. Offer access to the resources available to do the project [e. g. two websites].

4. Identify a committee member to follow up: designate a member from the creation-care team to offer support to the committee to whom the project has been delegated and follow up to track the project through to completion. Or use the liaison representatives to the various committees who are on the church council [e. g. a liaison from the Creation-Care team to the worship committee].

5. Make the project ongoing: When it is completed for that year, set things up so that the project will continue into the next year [e. g. Put the celebration of Earth Sunday on the worship calendar as a regular part of each year].

6. Report: Report your successes to the church council, the congregation, and across the entire LRC Network (use this form!) Promote your identity as a creation-care congregation [e. g. Church newsletter with pictures of Earth Sunday celebration. Local newspaper].

7. Start again for the next year. Begin process of choosing projects for the following year. Begin with #1 above. [e. g. celebrate The Season of Creation]. Be sure to revisit the overall vision provided by the five areas.

8. Other. If the projects recommended in the action plan do not fit your situation, consider opportunities that use the resources of your congregation or serve the needs of your community.

Evaluate and adjust: Meet regularly (once a month or once every two months). As you work through the year, evaluate your action plan. Where needed, go back and retrace steps to make sure your action plan is being carried out. Affirm where it is working. When the steps suggested here are not working for you, revise the plan and adjust it to your needs and situation.

Remember the overall goal: To incorporate care for creation into the identity and mission of your congregation so that there is an ethos of care for God’s Earth in all that you do.

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

 

 

Approving the Covenant

1. The purpose of accepting the program and approving the mission statement is to engage the entire congregation through its leadership to be aware of our Christian vocation to care for creation and to participate in this mission of the congregation. The benefit of pursuing efforts in five areas serves to make the mission comprehensive and to generate an identity of Earth-care as integral to the congregation. The program gives structure to your efforts in Earth-care and makes them intentional and public.

2. A first step would be for those who initiate the process to make the church council aware of the proposal to accept the care for creation mission for your congregation. In turn, the council may want to make the statement known to the whole congregation through a newsletter and/or bulletin insert. Invite input about the program and the covenant’s affirmations.

3. When you distribute the Covenant, make it clear that this is part of a program to be a care-for-creation congregation identified with Lutherans Restoring Creation. Make it clear that this is not a certification program and does not commit the congregation to any particular actions, projects, or expenses apart from what the congregation itself chooses to do. Use the statement “Ten Why Lutherans Care for Creation” to establish the reasons for the program.

4. We encourage the clergy and church council to read the statement carefully and to edit or adapt it to your situation and congregational ethos. In a formal procedure, the council will approve the affirmation, identify/authorize the liaison/green team, and establish any protocols for responsibility and reporting. You may want to have the covenant approved in a plenary meeting by the whole congregation.

5. You may want to consider incorporating into the overall mission statement of your congregation a phrase or sentence reflecting your commitment as a creation-care congregation.

6. Announce the approval of the program and the mission statement through the newsletter, bulletins, and personal witness at congregational gatherings. Urge people to participate in and support the effort. Consider using the brief ritual in this kit that can be part of any worship service as a way of integrating the program into the life of the congregation and acknowledging the sacred nature of our common vocation of Earth-Care.

8. Consider renewing the commitment to be a congregation that cares for creation on an annual basis, such as at an Earth Sunday service in April or perhaps at a service in the fall when you also ask members to make their personal stewardship commitment: (See “Covenant with Creation” and ritual in this kit).

9. You may want to let the larger community in which your church is located know about your Earth-care commitment via a local newspaper or through your synodical media outlets.

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

 

Green Teams

How to create a “Green Team” with your congregation:

1. Formation. A green team may come into existence in a variety of ways: a self-designated group that approaches the pastor and the church council for authorization, appointed by the pastor and the church council, or recruited in response to an educational program on Earth care or a care for creation worship service.

2. Maintain Momentum. Maintain the green team through regular meetings, representation from various committees, invitations to current and new members.

3. Choose a name: Green Team, Creation Care Task Force, Earth-Care Committee, Stewards for Conservation; choose a name that acts as a welcoming banner to all. Discuss what words in your community have politicized connotations and try to veer away from those that may alienate anyone in your congregation.

4. Leaven for the Entire Congregation: The use of “Team” is our term for the group that sees that the commitments to care for creation are carried out, because a “team” functions differently from other committees. The team may take the leadership on some projects, but mainly it does not serve like other committees. It is like leaven in the congregation to see that the various committees, staff, youth group, older adult organization, Bible Study Groups, and functionaries of the church carry out the various programs. [See the directions for the use of the action plan.]

5. Alternatives. We recommend that a distinct group, such as a Green Team, has the responsibility to give leadership in carrying out the Earth care commitments. However, there need not be a separate group. The functions of the Green Team can be carried out by a standing committee such as the social ministry committee or the stewardship committee or by the church council representatives from the various committees, as long as the arrangement is working well to carry out the commitments of the mission statement.

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

 

 

 

Getting Started, First Steps

Getting Started

The program, becoming a creation care congregation, can begin from any place—pastor, interested lay people, a standing committee, the church council. Once there is some interest, take the program to the pastor and church council for discussion, approval, and implementation on behalf of the congregation. If desired, have the congregation approve the plan at a duly constituted congregational meeting.

This is not a top-down program. It is directed by you at the congregational level. You are free to change, adapt, and add to the program. Edit the mission statement to meet your needs and commitments. Develop your way of implementing the program and adjust the action plan to serve your situation; celebrate all that you do.

1. Approval of a Covenant with Creation. The pastor(s) and church council approve the mission statement on behalf of the congregation, expressing your creation-care commitment in the following five areas: worship, education, building and grounds, member discipleship, public witness. You can make the commitments public in a brief ritual within a worship service.

2. A Green Team and the Action Plan. As part of this process, the pastor and church council authorize the establishment of an individual liaison or “green team” to record, carry out and report the commitments through the action plan. The church council or another committee may serve to carry out the creation care commitments.

3. Promote your identity. Fill in and display the certificate identifying your congregation as a creation care community affiliated with Lutherans Restoring Creation. Promote this identity among the members. You may also want to display “Ten Reasons Why Lutherans Care for Creation.” Encourage the congregation members and request the committees to participate in carrying out the commitments.

4. Report and renew. We encourage the green team to report their projects and events to the church council/ congregation and to redo the action plan process on an annual basis.

Lutherans Restoring Creation stands ready to assist you in providing this program, in making resources available for its implementation, and for promoting your story online as you choose to share it with us.

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

 

 

Ten Reasons Why Lutherans Care for All Creation

To join with other Lutherans in caring for creation, help your congregation become a Creation-Care congregation; visit this page for more information.

Lutherans care for creation for many reasons, including:

1. Theology: We affirm God as creator of all. We have an incarnation theology that cherishes the continuing presence of God in, with, and under all reality. We see redemption as the restoration of creation, as “new creation.” We see the future straining toward the fulfillment of creation.

2. Cross and Resurrection: The gospel leads us to see God in solidarity with the human situation in all its pain and agony, especially the most vulnerable—humans and non-humans. A theology of the cross gives us solidarity with “creation groaning in travail” and stresses that God redeems all creation. Our affirmation of resurrection offers hope for new life in this world.

3. Worship and Sacraments: We affirm that the material is a vehicle of the divine and that Christ is present in such ordinary elements of life as grapes and grain—the basis for our delight in and reverence for creation. Our worship invites us into transforming encounters with God deep in the flesh and in the world. We are called to worship God with creation.

4. Ecclesiology: Our human vocation is “to serve and to preserve” Earth. We believe that the church exists for the sake of the world. We do not have an escapist theology. We are called to continual reformation in response to the needs and crises of this life. When Luther was asked what he would do if the world would end tomorrow, he apparently replied, “Plant a tree.”

5. Ethics: We have an ethic of faith-active-in-love for neighbor and for all creation. Liberated from a legalism that enslaves, we are freed to address new situations, such as the ecological state of the world. We do so not to dominate but as servants to our human and non-human neighbors. We do so not out of fear or guilt or arrogance but joyfully out of grace, love, and gratitude.

6. Social Ministry: With a heritage back to the Reformation, Lutherans have a history of social service to the poor, the elderly, the sick, the oppressed, the marginalized—through hospitals, homes for the elderly, social ministry agencies, Lutheran Immigration Service, and Lutheran World Relief. We extend that service to healing Earth community.

7. Advocacy: We ELCA Lutherans have relevant social statements: “Caring for Creation” and “Sustainable Livelihood for All.” We have a staff person in environmental/hunger advocacy in Washington and Lutheran Public Policy offices in many states.

8. Scholarship and Education: Many Lutheran scholars have written and spoken on ecology—in theology, ethics, biblical study, and social commentary. Colleges and seminaries of the ELCA have environmental ministry courses that prepare Lutherans for leadership in church and world. Many continuing education events for clergy and laity highlight creation care.

9. Caring for Creation across the church: Several synods with creation-care committees have declared themselves to be Care-For-Creation Synods. Many Lutheran congregations incorporate Earth-care commitment in their life and mission—worship, education, building and grounds, discipleship at home and work, and public ministry. Lutheran camps have brought environmental concerns to many people. The ELCA headquarters has a Green Team that works to model environmental action. The ELCA offers grants for environmental projects.

10. Organizations for Earthkeeping: Lutherans have led in the Green Congregation Program, the Green Seminary Initiative, the Web of Creation, promoting creation-care worship throughout the church year and the Season of Creation (www.letallcreationpraise.org), and, of course, Lutherans Restoring Creation (this network, this site!).

Lutherans are in a critical position to listen to the cry of the poor along with the cry of Earth and to take leadership in addressing these critical issues of our day. In whatever context you may be serving, we encourage you to participate in this endeavor.

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

 

 

Companion Sites

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:

LetAllCreationPraise.org
Lutherans Restoring Creation Blog
ELCA Care for Creation
ELCA Advocacy

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 info@lutheransrestoringcreation.org for any updates.

www.webofcreation.org
www.bibleandecology.org

Sacraments and Creation

The sacraments are occasions to reflect on human relationships with the rest of creation. Different Christian communities recognize different sacraments. We will reflect here on the two most common sacraments: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The presence of an element of nature and the pronouncement of a word in relation to the offer of the element of nature assure us that the reality of Christ/God will be present in, with, and under the elements and the whole event, so that they are sacramental—capable of bearing the holiness and grace of God into our lives so as to transform us.

We often focus on the symbolic meaning of the elements used in sacraments: water, bread, and wine. But in the context of our concern for the environment, we can focus on the elements themselves.

Notice how the status of grapes and grain and water as vehicles of the divine can in turn serve to give meaning to and to enhance our experience of these tangible realities of life for their own sake. For example, as a Eucharist or “thanksgiving,” Holy Communion can be an opportunity to express gratitude for all the natural order that sustains life at a material (and a spiritual) level, leading us to delight anew in the creation. To see the natural elements of both sacraments—water, grain, and grapes—as vehicles of grace is to realize that the finite can indeed bear of the infinite to us. This in itself elevates the goodness of nature as worthy and capable of being the means by which we establish a relationship with God and by which God establishes a relationship with us.

Baptism. Traditionally, baptism involves water for cleansing and for judgment or it symbolizes death and resurrection. However, what about also exploring the richness of the symbol of water in new ways in light of our contemporary knowledge and experience of water? We now know that water is the primordial context out of which life emerged and evolved to its present state. Why not connect this with the new creation at baptism? If baptism symbolizes a new beginning to life, then we can reflect on the new beginning to humanity that comes by immersing ourselves in water—so that we can, in a sense, re-emerge from water as a renewed humanity or as renewed life in all its manifestations—and in solidarity with all the life forms that led to human evolution.

Or could we not emphasize how vital water is to life—how our bodies are 90% water and we cannot live long without it? In this way, the water of life in baptism reinforces our gratitude for the water upon which we depend for life and health. Or baptism may remind us of how tragic it is to consider being baptized by water that is polluted rather than the pure living water that God created. Such a connection could lead us to see anew our vocation as baptized people to preserve clean water on the Earth. Or by baptism in water, we may acknowledge how much of the whole earth is comprised of water. In this way, the very fact that we are declared a child of God by immersion into nature itself can serve to get us in touch with our em-beddedness in nature as human beings. In all these ways we may re-connect the water of baptism to the water around us in nature.

The Lord’s Supper. The sacrament of Holy Communion is another opportunity to realize how integral is our human em-beddedness in nature. In the Eucharist, we are using natural fruits of Earth as a vehicle for God’s presence: wine from grapes and bread from grain. But it is more than that. Grapes grow from the vine that brings it forth, the ingredients of the soil, the water that nourishes the soil, the beetles that aerate the soil, the sun that shines on the plants, the air that surrounds the plant—and the composition and the combination of these elements is unique to the particular area or region where the grapes are being raised. Add to these factors the wood from the trees used to make the barrels in which the wine was stored and the ingredients employed as fermenting agents. We can reflect in a similar way on the bread used for communion. Some congregations use organically-grown, whole grain bread. Some congregations use bread made of multiple grains originating from several continents. In these ways, the elements of the Eucharist get us in touch with all of nature.

In addition, the Eucharist is connected to all of life in another way. It is a reminder of the death of Jesus, a recollection that all of life is a cycle of living and dying and resurrection. This is not to reduce the particularity of Christ’s death or the efficacy of it for salvation to the processes of nature. Rather, it is simply to recognize that the death of Jesus is an analog to the natural order in which death gives birth to life. The deaths of trees and other plants and the death of animals over the life span of the planet have made the earth into a great store of energy and one great compost heap that is the source of life and energy today.

The Sacramental Presence of God/Christ everywhere. Finally, it is important to observe that the elements of the sacraments are “common” elements of life—elements of food upon which we depend for life—assuring us that if God can be present in and through such common elements as bread and wine, then surely God is present to us everywhere in life. What difference does it make to our view of the daily food we eat and the daily drinks we drink knowing that bread and wine are sacramental? What difference does it make to our experience of water and soil and air, knowing that water is sacramental? The Eucharist is meant not only to lead us to experience the particularity of its symbolic meaning in the communion meal. It also leads us to think differently about all common elements of life—in such a way that our common experiences of them also become sacramental. That is, all elements of nature may convey for us the grace of God, that dearest freshness that lies deep down all things. As Martin Luther wrote, “God writes the Gospel, not in the Bible alone, but also on trees and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”

When we see all of life as sacramental, it changes our relationship to and our responsibility for creation—concern for pure water, our desire not to waste food, the problems with pesticides on grain and grapes, and a host of other ecological problems to which humans have contributed. We re-dedicate ourselves in worship to stop our actions that degrade nature and to find ways to restore God’s creation.

“A Shared Concern” (Poem) by Gerhard Fuerst

A Shared Concern

This is a collective obligation,
this is a collective effort
by humanity as a whole,
by all who really care
to preserve and to protect
this precious gift,
this global treasure,
this divine creation,
the vital source which sustains life,
the source which shelters,
nourishes, and nurtures all of us,
and
to resist, to counteract, to prevent
the greed and the grabbing,
the trampling, the ravaging, the raping,
the polluting, and the trashing,
the subduing, and the smashing,
of plutocrats
who are out and about
to plunder and pilfer,
to degrade and destroy,
and to enrich themselves
at the expense
of all forms of life
and the chances of survival
and continued living.

They are in in this
to enrich and aggrandize themselves.
They are in this
for the taking,
and not for the giving.
It is time to stand together.
to become and to remain as
collaborative shields of protection.
It is a deed and a duty
which most urgently needs to be done.
We cannot stand idly by
while this perpetual warring against the planet
by the narcissistically, selfishly, pointlessly palavering,
and incessantly plundering and profiteering plutocrats
continues unabated,
and in due course,
to our individual detriment
and our collective cost,
by them would be won.

Gerhard A. Fuerst, 1/26/2016

Gerhard A. Fuerst
(retired secondary & university educator)
701 Academy Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49007-4681
G1st@aol.com

Member of Trinity Lutheran Church
Kalamazoo, MI

Tool Kit on Climate Change Connections

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

 

 

Living Earth Reflections from the ELCA Advocacy Office

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.

Subscribe to receive these reflections by email.

Giving Voice to My Community and Bringing ELCA Advocacy Home

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.

 

 

 

 

Reflection for Good Friday

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, Jesus said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.”  — John 19:28
On Good Friday the youth of United in Christ, Lewisburg, PA, designed a service of darkness focused on the seven last words of Christ. The youth worked in pairs on their sermons which they preached in a dialogical style. This sermon was written by two middle school youth from an ecological perspective, focusing on the need for clean water.

GreenFaith: Mobilizing God’s People to Save the Earth

GreenFaith: Mobilizing God’s People to Save the Earth gives concrete examples and tips that will help people of faith and worshiping communities engage in Earth care—in bold, life-giving ways. Each chapter has questions to guide personal study and group conversation.

Solar on religious facilities. Mass, multi-faith mobilizing. Spirituality that really brings people alive. The religious-environment movement is an awesome story.

Nobody tells it like Fletcher Harper, our Executive Director.

This spring, Abingdon Press released Fletcher’s first book – GreenFaith. Get your copy today and use it in a discussion group in your house of worship.

GreenFaith tells about outdoor spiritual experiences.Eco-teachings from the great religions. Congregations protecting the planet and reinvigorating their faiths. Activism that’s makes a major impact.

And with each chapter – discussion questions for small groups, and ways faith communities can get involved.

This is a great book at a critical time. I hope you’ll get GreenFaith today.

In faith,

Stacey Kennealy
Certification & Shield Director

Creation Care: Faith to Action May 19th, 2018

MAY 19th, 8-12
Come and join us at Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center for a day of learning practical ways we can all respond to God’s call to care for the earth
with Keynote Speaker, Dr. Barbara Rossing

Rev. H. Paul Santmire writes for the rest of us

Behold the Lilies: Jesus and the Contemplation of Nature:  A Primer  (2017)

Read a chapter: From Lake Wobegon to the Streets of Manhattan: Behold then Follow

Behold the Lilies, by the Rev. H. Paul Santmire, draws from the riches of the author’s long-standing work in the theology of nature and ecological spirituality, especially from his classic historical study, The Travail of Nature (1985), and from his Franciscan exploration in Christian spirituality, Before Nature (2014). In this new volume, Santmire maintains that those who would follow Jesus are mandated not just to care for the earth and all its creatures but also to contemplate the beauties of the whole creation, beginning with “the lilies of the field.” His first-person reflections range from “Scything with God” to “Rediscovering Saint Francis in Stone,” from “Taking a Plunge in the Niagara River” to “Pondering the Darkness of Nature.” Behold  the Lilies offers brief spiritual reflections that can be read in any order, over a period of time. This accessible primer will be welcomed not only by those who have already identified themselves with the way of Jesus but also by others who are searching for a contemplative spirituality attuned to global ecological and justice issues.