Tag Archives: congregations

First Lutheran in Decorah Signs Paris Pledge

by Sarah Webb, Iowa Interfaith Power & Light

First Lutheran in Decorah signed the Paris Pledge, joining other congregations across the nation to reduce our carbon pollution by 50% by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050. They have already achieved the 50% reduction goal (read their story here) and they are determined to be carbon neutral by 2050.

In December of 2015, leaders from across the world will meet in Paris to negotiate the next international climate treaty. The Paris Pledge is an opportunity for people of faith to encourage world leaders to commit to deep cuts in their nation’s carbon emissions. We must practice what we preach! So we are encouraging all to sign the Paris Pledge and commit to reducing carbon at home and in our congregations.

We know it’s possible, because so many congregations have already reached the 2030 Paris Pledge carbon reduction goals, and some are even completely carbon neutral. Visit the coolcongregations.org website to learn how they did it.

Take the Paris Pledge, as an individual or as a congregation, and commit to reducing your carbon pollution. Together, we can make a real difference. Interfaith Power & Light will provide you with helpful resources and tools so you can reach your goals.

http://www.interfaithpowerandlight.org/2014/10/take-the-paris-pledge/

 

Covenant with Creation Adapted for Spanish Speakers

We hope that the Pacto Congregacional de Cuidado para la Creación will be useful to support Spanish-speaking congregations to reflect together about all the ways our faith is reflected in how we treat each other and share resources.  The step-by-step supporting materials for this covenant can be found here (click).

Download pdf here: Pacto Congregacional de Cuidado para la Creación

For some more theological reference and guidance into next steps as you work through this process, download more here: Support For Covenant in Spanish. 

From ELCA’s World Hunger team – a guide to start a church Community Garden (click here for Spanish version – free download!)

Contact us  if you find other useful resources in Spanish or other languages you think we should highlight!

Let us Lift Up our Voices!

How have your plans to integrate creation care in your congregation’s life been working out? Did you complete an Action Plan? That’s a good start , but know that you won’t cross all the finish lines at once – stay connected & share updates to keep momentum.  We want to help celebrate and share advice on challenges. Complete the following and help us amplify our good works:

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.

 

This is Church and You Are Needed Inside & Out

Watch this message from our churchwide leaders and fellow members across the country who recognize the tough, uncomfortable work of being “called out” into the world.  It is an empowering 7 minutes – worth the watch for all of us, not just the voting members who will be sitting in the conference rooms.

For those wanting to embolden their sense of calling to Creation Care for All as ministry inside and outside the church – you don’t need to have a resolution ready,  join a march, or preach on climate (yet). Start here:

 

Growing a garden church from food scraps and compost

We turned an empty lot in L.A. into an edible sanctuary.

by Anna Woofenden (shared from Christian Century magazine)

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to start a church that connected people with food, the earth, each other, and God, I envisioned a sanctuary created around the table. It would not be built out of stones and stained glass and wood but would be circled by vegetable beds and fruit trees, with sky for ceiling and earth for floor. The vision was to create an urban farm and outdoor sanctuary feeding people in body, mind, and spirit.

In the early months, the Garden Church wandered from public park to downtown street corner. We walked the neighborhood and listened to our neighbors, finding out which grocery stores had fresh vegetables and noticing the homeless encampments, the schools, the clinics, and the empty lots. [Read more here…]

 

 

 

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.

Water: “Living Water” Bible Study

•Opening Prayer:  Gracious God, we thank you for your many gifts, and especially for the gift of water that sustains all of life.  Bless us as we hear your word, like a spring to our lives of faith.  Amen.

 

•Reading: Psalm 104:10-15.  Read aloud three times, hearing from different voices.

•Discussion:

-How are God, water, and life interrelated?

-We often think of God’s act of creation as complete, but this psalm acknowledges that God continually creates and sustains life.  What evidence do you see of this today?

-How do you think this passage speaks to problems of water contamination?

•Reading: Psalm 107:33-38.  Read aloud three times, hearing from different voices.

•Discussion:

-What does this passage have to say about water and life?

-Is this image hopeful?  Why and/or why not?

-How does this psalm speak to us today?

•Reading: John 4:7-15.  Read aloud three times, hearing from different voices.

•Discussion:

-Imagine walking to a well to draw water each day.  How might this affect our understanding of water?

-In verse 9, the author explains the division between Jesus and the woman at the well: “Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.”  With regard to water, how is the world divided today?

-Why do you think Jesus uses the image of water to describe faith?

-Brainstorm further biblical references to water.  What do these images have to say about the human relationship to the world and to God?

Closing prayer: Loving God, you quench our thirst with the waters you have created. Sustain those without a secure source of water, and protect streams, rivers, wetlands, lakes, and oceans, and especially (local body of water or waterway), from harm.  We thank you for the gift of water, especially the living water of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

Central States Synod Gather Again & Again!

From idea to team to movement: Central States Green Team

Central States Synod voted to become a Lutherans Restoring Creation synod in June 2015 and empowered their LRC Mission Table to begin working on ways to help congregations care for creation through worship, education, buildings and grounds, discipleship and stewardship, and education. February 2016 they hosted a retreat at Camp Tomah Shinga in Junction City, KS for over 20 people excited to help churches in their communities integrate eco-justice in their ministries. Then they organized a follow up event that summer to share what they had learned with fellow ELCA members in other areas of their synod. This Green Team Mission Table just keeps hosting workshops at their assemblies and gatherings all over!

In February of 2018 the group “retreated” again to Tomah Shinga!

Twenty-eight passionate youth and adults from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Minnesota gathered at Camp Tomah Shinga (outside Junction City, Kansas) on Saturday, February 17, 2018 to learn more about how to empower their congregations to “green” their worship, education, buildings and grounds, discipleship in daily life, and public life/advocacy efforts. The workshop was presented by members of the Central States Synod LRC Mission Table in partnership with Camp Tomah Shinga. Participants represented Central States Synod congregations from St. Louis, Florissant, Prairie Village, Olathe, Topeka, Waterville, Salina, Manhattan, Lindsborg, and Wichita in the Central States Synod, along with congregations in Lincoln,

Nebraska, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

 

 

 

 

 

Hear from two young attendees about their response to being a part of this group.

Upcoming this spring the Central States Synod offer more learning opportunities: Register for their next gathering here!

 

 

 

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!).

 

 

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.”

 

 

Southeastern Synod’s Green Task Force

The Southeastern Synod decided to enlist a caring for creation “task force” at their 2013 Synod Assembly and since then a small band of powerful people across several states have gained momentum. After meeting as a small group several times to set goals and evaluate personal assets, the team embarked on a two day retreat in March 2014 to brainstorm and educate themselves on the tools and challenges of this ministry.

In 2016 their assembly passed a memorial to go to the Churchwide assembly asking for more investments in cleaner energy.  Reaching out and sharing their resources at the South Carolina Synod Assembly, this team is passionate about sharing significance of the vocation of being a good steward to their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Most recently the team sent fifteen members in February 2018 to LutherRanch in Tallapoosa Georgia as a part of a regional retreat and training session. Since then churches in the synod have signed congregational covenants, stepped up their involvement in the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio and created new green teams.

Contact Mary McCoy, member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Marietta GA and chair of the Task Force,  or find someone on the Creation Care Ministries map who is closer to where you are!

 

 

 

Upper Susquehanna (PA) Synod Assembly passes three eco-related Memorials/Resolutions (2015)

At the Upper Susquehanna (PA) Synod June 2015 Assembly three eco-related Memorials/Resolutions were passed. The following is a summary of the voting experience from Pr. Leah Schade. Email Phoebe Morad if you would like to contact her personally for more insight.

Colleagues: The Upper Susquehanna Synod Assembly (PA) just voted in favor of the Eco-Reformation Memorial. It appeared that the vote was about 60%-40%. The Assembly also voted in favor of a related Eco-Reformation Resolution. It appeared that the vote was about 80%-20%. The one pastor speaking against the motions stated that they appeared to be “hijacking” the 500 th Anniversary of the Reformation. I spoke in favor of the motions and explained that they were integral to Luther’s thought, Lutheran theology, and in keeping with the ELCA’s previous social statements.

The Assembly also voted in favor of the Memorial for Transition to Clean, Renewable Energy. This vote was close: 79 in favor, 67 against. Those speaking against the memorial said that the motion “went too far,” making demands on those who would not want to divest. “You’re trying to shove this down our throats,” said one pastor. Four people spoke in favor of the memorial (myself included) highlighting that it is a prudent fiduciary measure to divest from fossil fuels, that we need to keep the carbon in the ground in order to avoid further climate disruption, and that the memorial is in keeping with Jesus’ command to care for the “least of these.” I presented a workshop about the motions prior to their coming to the floor (powerpoint available here).

 

 

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!

Tales from a Green Shepherd, Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg (2013)

Participants under the Witness Tree on the Gettysburg battlefield, site of worship at the LRC Retreat.

The second week in August, 2013, about a dozen and a half Lutherans converged on Singmaster House at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg for a two-day seminar on caring for God’s creation. The training was led by Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC) through a grant from the Lutheran Community Foundation (now InFaith Community Foundation).

Participants at the LRC Retreat at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg

We shared hopes and dreams – we talked about worship, education, advocacy, buildings, and grounds – we developed plans, as individuals and within our synods – good Lutherans that we all are, we talked and ate – and we worshiped together: an evening Taizé service in a living room with a slightly out-of-tune piano and candles on a coffee table and an afternoon service under a white oak “witness tree” (one that witnessed the Battle of Gettysburg) that also witnessed the sharing of our visions of creation. We left, hopefully, as seeds, to be planted and to grow.

So, why do Lutherans care for creation? Some excerpts and summaries from LRC information:

  • We affirm God as creator of all and cherish the continuing presence of God in, with, and under all reality.
  • The theology of the cross gives us solidarity with “creation groaning in travail;” our affirmation of resurrection offers hope for new life in this world.
  • We see the material as a vehicle of the divine, seeing Christ present in such ordinary elements as grapes and grain. We worship God with creation.
  • We believe that the church exists for the sake of the world, continually reforming in response to the needs and crises of this life.
  • We have an ethic of action created by faith in love for our neighbor and all of God’s creation.
  • With a heritage back to the Reformation, Lutherans have a history of social ministry to the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, of being a voice for the voiceless. This includes those people hurt by environmental exploitation and degradation as well as the damaged creation.

So, how do you care for creation? How should we care for creation? What seeds do you want to plant, and have planted within you?

Louisa Rettew, P.E., LEED-AP+BD&C

 

 

Youth Volunteers Improve Energy Efficiency at Koinonia (2016)

By Maggie Hutchison
Metropolitan New York Synod, ELCA

How many young people does it take to screw in a light bulb? What sounds like the start to an overused joke was in fact a serious question last weekend when high school youth recruited by our synod’s Environmental Stewardship Committee volunteered to help improve energy efficiency at Koinonia. Led by Pastor John Flack of Christ, Floral Park, and Brandon Chenevert, staff member at Koinonia, the team of ten youth spent two days making simple improvements to the camp’s facilities that will save both energy and money in the long term.

The weekend started off with a team-building session filled with games and activities intended to build community and encourage communication among group members from four different congregations. Chenevert, who previously worked for a Minnesota non-profit that improves energy efficiency in private residences, made a presentation on climate change and energy conservation in order to raise the group’s awareness and contextualize the importance of the work they were about to accomplish. The group spent the rest of the weekend working on two main projects: replacing all of the incandescent lightbulbs in the Koinonia dining hall with energy-saving compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) and caulking around windows in three other buildings on site to reduce air flow and heat loss. 

Youth participants and leaders alike were enthusiastic about the opportunity to learn more about energy conservation and to make a difference at Koinonia. Olivia Souza of St. Andrew’s, Smithtown, was excited to improve Koinonia’s energy efficiency because she believes that “humans need to leave different marks on the world that aren’t harmful in order to heal the scars we’ve made so far.” Pr. Flack, a member of the Environmental Stewardship Committee, was pleased that the youth learned so much about conservation because he believes that the greatest challenge facing the church–and the world–is thoughtful environmental stewardship. Jack Shipsky and Paul Ulmer of Christ, Floral Park, were proud that they helped accomplish so much in just one short weekend to help save Koinonia both energy and money.

While most of the youth had never replaced lightbulbs or caulked before, they were impressed by how simple it was to make improvements that can have a big impact in both commercial and residential settings. Olivia commented that caulking “had a bit of a learning curve” but that she hopes to use the skill when she returns home to help make sure her parents’ house is better sealed. Paul said that the projects were easier than he thought they were going to be but took some time and planning to implement. Jack noted that “it was fun, not boring to make the improvements.”

At final tally, replacing the lightbulbs in Koinonia’s dining hall saved a whopping 5640 watts. Though it is harder to calculate the energy-saving impact of caulking around windows, Chenevert emphasized,”it’s a critical part of energy conservation because it saves so many therms…I can’t recommend it enough.” Thanks to the work of youth volunteers from the Environmental Stewardship Commitee, Koinonia will be appreciating the benefits of improved energy efficiency for years to come.

Reprinted by permission of the Metropolitan New York Synod, ELCA

See the original story and learn more about the Synod’s environmental stewardship work.

 

 

New England Synod Takes the Challenge (2013)

At the New England 2013 Assembly, June 7-9, voters agreed to urge the restraint of hydraulic fracturing and request an eventual divestment of church funds from fossil fuel companies. LRC Synod Trainer, Nancy Urban, was also there to challenge everyone passing by to see how “cool” their congregation was with a game giving points to those who have taken steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Beyond winning a delicious piece of Fair Trade chocolate as an reward for playing the game, we learned as a community that we are ready to take on the most meaningful challenges of caring for creation. While progress was made on paper and good conversation, it must be seen how the actions of our members and congregations enact the good intentions of these statements.  See full versions of what was voted on here and here.

Upper Susquehanna Synod Assembly Lutherans Call for Repeal of “Fracking Loopholes” (2014)

On the recommendation of a bipartisan task group, the Upper Susquehanna Synod Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted on June 20, 2014, to call for all environmental and public health exemptions on shale gas and oil drilling and its related processes, known as the “Halliburton loopholes,” to be repealed and all processes related to shale gas and oil extraction and processing to be subject to the Safe Drinking Water Act (1974), the Clean Air Act (1990) and Clean Water Act (1972). Download the press release here.