Tag Archives: community involvement

Skip the Grid

Skip the Grid is an initiative focused on bringing solar power to health care systems and other critical infrastructure in West Africa. Most clinics and many hospitals around the world are off the grid, relying on generators where fuel is difficult and costly to deliver. Hospitals often must shut down their power system for periods of time to conserve fuel. Vaccines are jeopardized, and operations become riskier with intermittent or no power.

Without consistent and reliable power, rural communities face an uphill battle in managing very real health challenges. Photovoltaic (PV) micro-grids represent a sustainable, long-term solution that free up capital for direct health care initiatives, as well as mitigate numerous untold environmental, social, and health costs.

 How Skip the Grid Got Started 

The Skip the Grid initiative was inspired by a Women of the ELCA trip to Phebe Hospital in 2012. At the end of the trip, women from the NE MN Women of the ELCA asked Dr. Jefferson Sibley, a doctor at Phebe hospital, what he saw as the biggest need at the hospital. His answer – reliable energy.

When the Women of the ELCA returned home to Minnesota, they called on RREAL for help.

The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) is a nonprofit organization that has been fighting energy poverty with solar power since 2000. Skip the Grid is an initiative RREAL shares in collaboration with the Lutheran Women of the ELCA to bring solar power to the health care sector in West Africa. These solar projects have attracted support from hundreds of donors and international acclaim.

PV for Phebe

The first Skip the Grid project was built in rural Liberia at Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing. The Women of the ELCA and RREAL worked together to raise funds for the Phebe array, which is now producing power. The solar electric array at Phebe provides up to 77% of the hospital’s daytime electricity needs, reducing operations and maintenance costs. Commissioned in 2017, the project resulted in reduced fossil fuel energy consumption and realized energy efficiency upgrades using renewables and powered equipment with the solar electricity power surge. Cost savings from the array are $35,000 US annually with carbon emission reductions of 198,196.28 pounds and x-ray machines can be used. The added benefits of solar allow Phebe to expand the vital health care it provides and reduce pollution.

Skip the Grid provided solar technical training to the electrical and generator staff at Phebe hospital as well as local Liberians who helped RREAL install the Phebe system. Six months after the installation, in October 2017, two of the hospital technical staff members ventured to RREAL’s home in Backus, Minnesota to participate in a two-week Solar Energy International (SEI) technical training course. The Women of the ELCA hosted the visiting Africans by offering their homes as lodging and providing meals for the trainees and trainers. The trained Phebe technicians are now sharing their knowledge to build solar on rural Liberian clinics, maintain PV micro-grid systems, and support the construction of future Skip the Grid projects.

 

In November 2017, RREAL and the Women of the ELCA traveled back to Liberia to participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Phebe Hospital array. Many people were there, including Nobel Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian Minister of Health, many bishops, two RREAL staff, and nine members of the Women of the ELCA.

During the ribbon cutting visit, RREAL traveled to Curran Hospital to complete a site assessment and develop relationships with the staff. Current for Curran is the next project that will empower a rural Liberian hospital to expand its vital health care services to the poorest people’s through Skip the Grid.

Current for Curran

The next Skip the Grid solar project will be at Curran Hospital in Liberia, a 125-bed hospital facing significant economic and health care challenges. Curran Hospital is a regional referral hospital for 17 clinics and health centers in Lofa County, Liberia. Curran currently depends solely on expensive, polluting, and unreliable diesel generators. These generators often fail, and doctors are forced to deliver babies or complete surgeries using only a cell phone light or flashlight. Watch the Curran Hospital video here.

Without a reliable source of electricity, Curran struggles to meet the daily health care needs of its patients. We can do better. Project Current for Curran will bring clean, reliable solar energy with battery storage to the essential rural hospital in Zorzor City, Liberia.

These are our three specific and measurable objectives for Current for Curran:

1.     Raise $750,000 by October 31, 2018 to cover all project costs

2.     Ship array components, balance of system, and build materials to Liberia by November 30, 2018

3.     Build a 150-kW solar micro-grid with battery power system at Curran Hospital by March 31, 2019

We are grateful for Skip the Grid project partners who invest in the health of our world’s most vulnerable people as care for creation. Liberia, the fourth poorest country in the world, is recovering from a long civil war and the Ebola crisis. Please support Skip the Grid. Follow StG on FaceBook. RREAL and the Women of the ELCA seek your partnership and support of this innovative solar micro-grid solution for Curran Hospital and the global citizens it serves.

Submitted: March 25, 2018 by Vicki O’Day Development Director at RREAL vicki@rreal.org

RREAL is located in Backus, MN. We partner with the Women of the ELCA of Minnesota.

Tools for Talking and Listening

Being church together doesn’t have to mean we have one mind.  Listening to the Holy Spirit within each of our stories can help us move beyond disagreement and confusion.   There is no one way to help us along this journey, but there are many resources to help us find common ground.  Below are some suggestions – please let us know if you have experience with these or other tools you want to share.

Methods:

Talanoa Dialogue – Read the history (click here) of this telling/listening process based on three foundational questions:
>Where are we now?
>Where do we want to go?
>How do we get there?
View sample workshop on how to share this method (click here). 

World Cafe Method – There is a whole community of facilitators with online advice (click here) who can help you figure out how to use this manner of group decision making.  This is a great format when you have people together who already care about an issue but don’t know what steps to take next or feel like they aren’t hearing from all perspectives.   Download an easy visual guide here.

Deliberative Dialogue – For a clear definition of this process of group engagement explore the National Issues Forum site (click here).  For a whole toolkit using this process re: Climate Choices (click here). 

Resources:

5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day as Church Together but Apart

What Does A Strike for Climate Look Like?

The Global Climate Strike (9/20 thru 27) was an opportunity for many people of faith to lift up their voices as witnesses to the critical moral issue of our time and accompany a generation of youth who are calling for the end of “business as usual”.  What does that look like? What are all the various expressions of this witness and action? Below are some illustrations and examples – send us what your congregation/circle is doing. 

Check out Kim Acker,  member at University Lutheran, Palo Alto explaining her reason for taking to the street – Watch clip here prior to their arrest as a result of civil disobedience. 

Check out some scenes from Lutherans on the streets:

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So We Can Restore Creation

While caring for the environment can feel overwhelming, it’s when we stand together, each doing our part, that we find hope, gain strength, and make a difference. Find a tool below to help celebrate God’s gifts to us!

Download (Click Here) the information shared from Portico and Lutherans Restoring Creation at Churchwide Assembly 2019 to celebrate our progress and map the long way we still need to go to restore creation.

Join Up

Adults, start by taking the LRC Personal Covenant.  In 5 – 10 minutes, complete your covenant with creation. You’ll start to receive LRC’s monthly Good Green e-News linking you to other Lutheran earth-keepers and helpful resources.

ELCA Retirement Plan members, invest consciously using Portico’s ELCA social purpose funds. Call a Portico Financial Planner at 800.922.4896 to learn whether you’re in the social purpose funds and how to make that choice.

Children, take the Child’s Pledge With Creation.  Print out this out and discuss with your family. Tip: Frame your completed pledge using a larger piece of cardboard like a cereal box and decorate it with magazine photos that are important to you.

Teens, take the Youth Pledge. Then, walk through the Your Day experience, reflecting on how your daily decisions can impact others with whom we share this planet.

Inspire Others

Rally your congregation to take the Congregational Covenant with CreationThen, use LRC resources to create an action plan with support from LRC mentors.

Active Earth-keepers, become a Green Shepherd in your synodAs your synod’s point person for LRC and ELCA Advocacy and Stewardship outreach, learn to identify, connect and motivate other “green sheep” in your synod.

 

Water discipleship tools – fresh from Vermont!

Vermont Lutheran Church partners with Interfaith Power & Light to Share the Various Ways to Revere Water:

In 2018, Vermont Interfaith Power and Light (VTIPL) joined with local organizations to create a model for watershed stewardship, based on the experience of Ascension Lutheran Church in South Burlington, Vermont.  The Reverend Dr. Nancy Wright, pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church, and Richard Butz, a member of the church, are co-authors of the manuals. Rev. Nancy Wright is also a chairperson of the New England Synod’s Lutherans Restoring Creation “Green Team”. 

VTIPL has created two manuals, one with a Christian emphasis, Congregational Watershed Discipleship Manual: Faith Communities as Stewards of the World’s Waters (1st Christian edition) and another with an interreligious emphasis, Congregational Watershed Manual: Religious Communities as Stewards of the World’s Waters (1st Interreligious edition).

Each one of these inspiring and practical manuals is available by free download from the pdfs on VTIPL’s website (www.vtipl.org) and this website.  Alternatively, if you’d like one copy or multiple copies of the printed and bound manual(s), you can fill out and mail in the order form (attached below).  These are high resolution print copies, spiral bound to conveniently lie flat.  If you’d like to order one or more copies online, you can do this through the website of the organization Voices of Water for Climate (VOW).  VOW is working with VTIPL to take orders and distribute printed copies of the manuals.  Donations to VOW for printed copies will cover costs incurred, including shipping and handling.  The link to order online is below.

www.vow4climate.org/store 

(Email info@lutheransrestoringcreation.org if you are interested in going in on a bulk order with others!)

650 New Cal Lutheran Students Helped with Fire Recovery in Ventura Hills

About 650 incoming California Lutheran University students worked to help the hills above Ventura recover from the Thomas Fire as part of a partnership with the City of Ventura that began over 10 years ago. The incoming freshmen class removed bottles and other trash exposed by the fire and helped spread mulch around surviving plants in the Ventura Botanical Gardens, Serra Cross Park and other areas of Grant Park. The benefits of mulching include reducing surface erosion, absorbing rainfall, reducing downstream runoff, protecting seed banks, providing favorable moisture and temperature for seed germination and suppression of non-native weeds.

The students participated in “You Got Served” during New Student Orientation. It is the university’s largest service-learning project in terms of student participants. Cal Lutheran’s Community Service Center has worked with the City Volunteer Ventura! office on the annual program since 2008. The partnership allows all the incoming students to work together on a single project that introduces them to Cal Lutheran’s commitment to service and justice and connects them with the local community in a meaningful way. Cal Lutheran President Chris Kimball and other faculty and staff members worked alongside the students.

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.”

 

 

29 Lutherans in PA were empowered with creation justice tools! (2013)

Many voices come together to make big reverberations!

Twenty-nine Lutherans from across Pennsylvania and beyond gathered at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, PA, the last weekend in January, 2013 to become LRC trainers.  They were empowered to return to their synods and congregations with the tools, connections and renewed faith to restore creation.

The workshop utilized the action steps outlined in a collaborative LRC Self-Organizing Kit for congregations wishing to integrate Earth care in all their ministries. Many specific teachings which resonate with Lutheran theology are thoughtfully considered in this document by theologian Rev. David Rhoads. The diversity of backgrounds in the interactive workshop brought richness to discussions both during and after official “class” time. Ages ranged from college students to retired laity. Professional backgrounds included teaching, civil engineering, outdoor ministry, laboratory technicians, and of course, clergy from urban to rural communities.

The workshop was fortunate to have several representatives from the “larger” church’s efforts in advocacy including: Rev. Leah Schade, founder of the Interfaith Sacred Earth Coalition of the Susquehanna Valley (ISEC), Alycia Ashburn, Director of Creation Care Campaign at SojournersRev. Amy E. Reumann and Rev. Paul Lubold from Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania (LAMPa), and Director of the ELCA’s Washington Office, Rev. Andrew Genszler.

The training facilitator, Phoebe Morad, commented: “While many of us feel at times we are just one small voice, this gathering reminds us that we are not alone and that we are called by and supported with our Lutheran faith to carry out this work.”

As a result of this workshop every synod in the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware is now equipped with a team of LRC trainers who are available and eager to share the techniques and insight necessary to integrate care for creation in every aspect of our Christian lives. Each LRC trainer left the workshop with a plan to reach out to interested congregations in their synod and will eventually hold a networking event for the region to continue the ripple effect of this awareness.

Congregations or individuals who are eager to have this training in their congregation or synod, please reach out to Lutherans Restoring Creation!

Sunday Evening Conversations on Creation Continue… (July 29, 2018)

Christ the King Evangelical Lutheran Church invites you to a monthly environmental education web meeting series whose theme in 2018 is Stewardship
Sunday, July 29, at 6 p.m. (Central Time)

Houston’s Green Building Resource Center

Steve Stelzer, Program Director, Green Building Resource Center

In July, we welcome Steve Stelzer, Program Director for Houston’s Green Building Resource Center. Steve is an architect with 30 years’ experience who is focused on making Houston a greener place to live and work.

He will discuss the center’s work to educate the public on healthy and energy, water, and material-conserving design & construction. This mission is accomplished in a number of ways: a showroom highlighting building components, water conservation, site, and energy efficiency, monthly educational seminars on a wide variety of topics, and plan review services to suggest strategies to conserve energy and water, save money, & create a healthier building environment. The center also hosts a green book discussion group, holds periodic rain barrel and composter sales, offers Master Composter classes, educates on Drawdown (ways to combat climate change), how to achieve zero waste, and many other green living topics.

Come learn how the center can help you to go green not only with building design and construction, but also operations & maintenance, whether for a residential or commercial property. Get all your green building questions answered!

Please register for this talk, and you will receive an invitation to the web meeting.Contact Lisa Brenskelle at gcs.lrc@gmail.com with any questions.

 

Guide to Green Degrees and Careers

With environmental issues gaining traction in the social consciousness, green careers are constantly growing in both popularity and availability. In turn, colleges and universities are offering more degrees which lead to green jobs. This guide was created to help prospective students understand what their sustainability education options are and what type of careers these programs lead to. The guide was developed in part by Nurit Katz, Sustainability Coordinator at UCLA, and provides an in-depth look at the typical green career path, top-paying green careers, and more. To visit this site, click here.

 

Creation Care Congregation: Personal Discipleship Ideas

Discipleship at home and work: “Love your neighbor”

Personal Covenant with Creation: Plan a worship service in which members can identify the Earth-friendly practices they are willing to commit to at home and work. Use a brief ritual that makes these commitments a stewardship offering. Our online form helps you save paper and participants will be sent a copy of what they pledged. Use the link at our site under Personal Discipleship and those eager to make change can be connected with other members of ELCA churches across the country.

Conduct a workshop on making your home Earth-friendly. Use the material available in the Comprehensive Environmental Guide for Congregations, Their Buildings and Grounds as a guide to inform members about the areas of greening they can do.

Support groups. Excellent for change of habits and accountability for “eco-recovery.” Use Simpler Living, Compassionate Life [www.earthministry.org].

Devotional resources: Recommend creation-care resources to members for personal devotions, like this “Stewardship of Creation: A Thirty Day Discipline.” Ask people to sign up to follow a discipline with a resource for a season of the church year.

A retreat in nature. Take a walk outside the next nice day after worship. Lead a retreat for people to get closer to the natural world. For guidelines, see http://www.letallcreationpraise.org/retreat-on-awe-and-mystery

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

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.

 

 

 

 

Stewarding the Gift of Water: ELCA Advocacy Fact Sheet

Theological background and information on water stewardship globally, nationally, and locally. Under the “Find Your Watershed” section of the Factsheet you can click on the link to the USEPA site and input your zip code and you will be able to locate your watershed.
or go to the ELCA Advocacy Resources page.

Louis Tillman 

Louis Tillman recently finished a yearlong internship at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is expecting to earn his Master of Divinity from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago in May 2017. As part of the GreenFaith Emerging Leaders Multi-faith Climate Convergence in 2015 he went to Rome as one of 100 young leaders, ages 21-40, selected from around the world. He says, “I have had the honor of being in Rome among 100 amazing and incredible climate activists from every corner of the world. We all came from different faiths but we breathe the same air, we share the same trees and we live on the same earth…The multicultural and enriching discussions exploring the deeply connected faith teachings we all have showed me that our common cause of protecting our environment transcends borders, cultures, religions, race and background and means we are truly one family of God’s creation on earth appointed to protect all the things we love. Now let’s start changing the world, one person at a time,” Tillman says.