Lutherans Restoring Creation of the Northwest Pennsylvania Synod held a workshop (Caring for Creation: An Environmental Workshop for People of Faith) on September 13, 2014 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Erie, Pennsylvania. The workshop was advertised for all people of faith.
The workshop was planned and organized by three people (Janet Bischoff, Dennis Groce, and Rev. Kenneth Laber) who had received LRC training in the previous couple of years at Gettysburg Seminary. Since that training, we have had several events at an ELCA camp (Lutherlyn) and two synod assemblies. Attendance at the camp events was limited (perhaps due to travel time / expense), but the attendance at the three 50-minute synod assembly forum events was promising.
Based on the experiences at the synod assembly workshops, we decided to develop an event based in Erie, which has the largest concentration of ELCA members in our synod. The workshop was 3 ½ hours in duration, which we felt was enough to provide an introduction to the topics, but not so long that people would be reluctant to attend. We adapted a sample agenda in the LRC materials.
The response was fairly good. In addition to the three organizers and two invited speakers, we had twenty-two attendees, including twelve from seven ELCA congregations (7 ordained and five lay). The other denominations attending were Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Unitarian. We received organizing support from congregations in each of the three Erie County clusters.
The two invited presentations were great, and the three organizers each led one or more portions of the other presentations. Rev. Amy Reumann (Lutheran Advocacy Ministries of Pennsylvania) spoke about the theology of earthcare and public advocacy. Cricket Hunter (Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light) spoke about opportunities for purchasing clean electricity and other ways of practicing earthcare in life at home and work. The discussions were also good, with some good questions and exchange of information.
One of the non-ELCA participants was an especially good source of information, with his primary message being to make an energy audit one of the first building/grounds earthcare actions. One of the participants said the workshop will lead them to emphasize “educating the congregation and to use products that don’t pollute.” We plan to follow up with the participants the weeks following the workshop, and then in a few months to see what progress they have been able to make.
In addition to the workshop described here, we have previously organized:
- A showing of the movie, “Chasing Ice” at Lutherlyn Camp, Prospect, PA
- A discussion and partial viewing of the ELCA “Earthbound” videos at Lutherlyn
- Two synod assembly forum events (2013 and 2014) that provided a 50-minute overview and discussion of earthcare basics for congregations
- One synod assembly forum (2013) with an invited speaker specifically addressing climate change and the likely impact on hunger.
For more information, please contact Dennis Groce / 814-725-9115 / firstname.lastname@example.org.