- Stewart, Benjamin M. “Stream, Flood and Spring: Water Renewing the Earth and the Church.” Living Lutheran, April 2016. (available online)
- Stewart, Benjamin M. “Water in Worship: The Ecology of Baptism.” Christian Century 128, no. 3 (F 2011): 22–25. (available online)
- Stewart, Benjamin M. “Flooding the Landscape: Luther’s Flood Prayer and Baptismal Theology.” CrossAccent: Journal of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians 13, no. 1 (2005): 4–14.
Our Watershed Moment, a toolkit from the EcoFaith Network of the Minneapolis Synod, introduces the concept of a watershed and includes resources for theological reflection, worship, youth, education, advocacy, and water stewardship in the home.
A Watered Garden: Christian Worship and Earth’s Ecology by Ben Stewart is excellent for worship committees and small group study.
Check out the chapter on “A Theology of Liturgy in a New Key: Worshipping with Creation” in The Season of Creation: A Preaching Commentary, edited by Norman Habel, David Rhoads, and Paul Santmire.
Watered Garden begins with the classic, ecumenically held patterns of Christian worship and explores them for their deep connections to ecological wisdom, for their sacramental approaches to creation, and for a renewed relationship to the earth now itself in need of God’s healing. This book is written especially for North Americans: people who live in a specific ecological region, and who play a particular role in the world’s ecology. And of course it is written for Christians, especially those who are part of the Lutheran movement. More information at Augsburg Fortress.
The Rev. Dr. Benjamin Stewart is the Gordon A. Braatz Assistant Professor of Worship and Dean of the Chapel at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago.
Share your sermons, prayers, liturgies, ideas, and pictures.
Send resources or comments to Nick Utphall: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Role of ELCA Pastors in Care of the Earth
Stewardship of the Earth: The people of God are called to the care and redemption of all that God has made. This includes the need to speak on behalf of this earth, its environment and natural resources and its inhabitants. This church expects that its ordained ministers will be exemplary stewards of the earth’s resources, and that they will lead this church in the stewardship of God’s creation.
—From Vision and Expectations for Ordained Clergy of the ELCA.
“Tell the truth about the ecological state of the world
So discipline yourself in life and teaching that you preserve the truth, giving no occasion for false security or illusory hope.”
—From the ELCA Ordination Service. Bishop’s address to the newly ordained.
1. Be informed. Make it part of your continuing education and professional reading to be informed about the ecological state of the world and about theological, ethical, spiritual and practical resources to address caring for creation in your congregation.
2. Be a Spokesperson. As leader of the congregation, you can speak out and create an ethos that caring for creation is an important and integral part of the ministry of the congregation. Through sermons, newsletters, bulletins, and announcements, you can generate interest and awareness.
3. Become a Creation Care congregation. Spearhead and/or support efforts to become a Creation-Care congregation by making care for creation a part of the mission statement and visionary goals of the congregation. Establish an Earth-keeping team/committee. For steps to accomplish this, see the Self Organizing Kit for congregations here.
4. Support your Creation Care team. If a green team already exists, support their efforts and projects. Encourage your staff, the church council, and committee chairs to be aware of the importance of creation care in their work and to respond cooperatively to the work of the Green team. For example, promote efforts to incorporate creation care into the worship planning (see the site we sponsor at http://www.letallcreationpraise.org) or promote efforts to lower energy use and carbon footprint.
5. Be a model. Model creation care in your personal and family life (http://www.letallcreationpraise.org/covenant-with-creation). Green your church office (http://www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org/greening-your-smo-office).
6. Encourage others. Encourage members to live out commitments to care for creation in their homes and work.
7. Witness in church and society. Promote creation care in the life and witness of the synod. Witness to our church’s commitments your local community.
8. Pastoral care. Guard creation care efforts so that they are done out of a rootedness in the gospel of grace and the presence of God’s love in all creation. Support people who are impacted or become disheartened by ecological crises.
Lutherans Restoring Creation has resources for all these actions and initiatives. We stand ready to assist you in any way we can.
The overwhelming majority of scientists believe that these conditions are due in large part to the accumulative impact of human activity since the industrial revolution. To stop the destructive activity and to embrace practices that restore Earth, we will need sweeping changes in our society and our world.
Let’s begin with ourselves as a church. This will involve more than modest reforms such as adding a few hymns or using green cleaning products. This issue is not an add-on or simply a cause for those so interested. It involves all of us together. We need a transformation in our life and mission as a church, individually and together. We need to reform our worship, our theology, our ethics, our practices, and our spiritual disciplines.
As a church, we have always chosen to focus on care for the most vulnerable. We have rightly chosen as a church to emphasize feeding the hungry. Can we now broaden our commitment to the most vulnerable so as to care also for vulnerable earth and to address the connection between hunger and our ailing planet.
Our church needs a New Reformation as radical and transformative as the first one in the sixteenth century. We need to address the signal issue of our time (the restoration of Earth), as the sixteenth century reformation addressed their signal issue of that time (the salvation of the individual). We need to shift from being human-centered in our understanding of salvation to being Earth-centered in a way that seeks the well-being of all Earth Community.
We are approaching the observance of the five hundredth anniversary of the Sixteenth Century Reformation in 2017. As preparation for this event, Lutherans Restoring Creation urges us to consider embracing a New Reformation, an Eco-Reformation, as our means to rise to the greatest challenge of our time.
What can you do?
AFFIRM: Personally, with your church council, or entire synod, review our ELCA’s 1993 call to action and commit to engaging in steps to live into that calling. Sign and submit the Covenant with Creation to be part of our accountability and celebration network.
ACT TOGETHER: Reach out to all church members and share the ideas listed specifically for the area/committee they already work on: Action Plan Ideas. Goals without specific people and dates may remain elusive. Use this form and our ELCA network to help make a path.
Use the online version of the Organizing Kit to the right or download the pdf here: Congregational Self-Organizing Kit
NOTE: We often make updates in the resources and connections. Please refer back online often and let us know if you have any suggestions!
The weekend that Boston’s Copley Square re-opened after the devastating Marathon Bombings brought healing and refreshment in many forms. A large gathering of ecumenical environmental groups gathered for worship and networking all day of April 27th. LRC was one of many featured groups at a poster session. New England ELCA Bishop Hazelwood was part of a panel discussion commenting on critical nature of climate change as a social justice issue.
Check out the list of assets all these people bring to the table and how many forces are represented here! (Download notes from our January 2015 Gathering at Hartford Seminary by clicking this link). Watch out despair – this alliance remembers how to put hope into action!
At the 2012 synod assembly, the Synod Creation Care Team conducted a survey to learn how it might support the creation care work of congregations. Many congregations asked for more training. In response, the team is offering annual retreats to equip congregational leaders on how to integrate God’s call to care for the Earth into the core elements of congregational life: worship, stewardship, education, and outreach.
The first training retreat was held at Camp Hiawatha on February 22-23, 2013. The focus was on worship and the Season of Creation liturgical resource because, in the words of the team, “worship is at the heart of everything we do and are as the church.”
During the retreat, thirty-four participants from 12 congregations, two camps, and one campus ministry experienced the Season of Creation in worship, learned how other congregations are practicing creation care, shared success stories, and went home equipped with many resources.
“It was a rich experience that provided a lot of encouragement,” according to one participant.
Pastor Karen Foster, team co-chair, said, “This retreat is clearly the beginning of nurturing a growing network through which our congregations, camps, and campus ministries can encourage, inspire, and support each other in this vital focus!”
NE MN Retreat on Worship: Letter of Invitation
Northeastern Minnesota Synod Creation Care Team
Greetings from your NEMN Synod Creation Care Team, and an Invitation to participate in:
Creation Care 2013
The Season of Creation: A Retreat to Equip Congregational Leaders
February 22-23, 2013 at Camp Hiawatha
At this year’s (2012) synod assembly, the Synod Creation Care Task Force conducted a survey to learn how congregations are involved in creation care efforts and how our task force might support that work. From these surveys, we gathered names of some of the congregations who desire more information and training. We are encouraged by what congregations like yours already do and by your desire to network and grow with other congregations!
Many congregations asked for more training in living God’s call to care for creation. In response to this interest, we are offering the congregations of our synod an annual retreat to equip congregational leaders. These retreats will focus on integrating God’s call to care for the Earth into the core elements of congregational life: worship, stewardship, education, and outreach.
The Synod Creation Care Team invites your congregation to assemble a team of key leaders to participate in the first training retreat on Friday, February 22 and Saturday, February 23 at Camp Hiawatha in Deer River. Since worship is at the heart of everything we do and are as the Church, this first retreat will focus on worship, specifically on a season of the church year called the Season of Creation. Developed by the Lutheran Church in Australia and adapted for use in the ELCA, this is a four to six week liturgical season typically inserted mid-way through the green season after Pentecost. It corresponds to our three year lectionary cycle with weekly themes that include, for example, earth, sky, mountains, humanity and world communion.
During the retreat, congregations will experience the Season of Creation in worship, learn how other congregations are practicing creation care, share success stories, and go home equipped with many resources. Registration starts at 4:00 p.m. with introductions at 5:00, supper at 5:30, and opening worship at 6:15. It will conclude about 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. The cost for the retreat will be $50 per person, which cost includes dinner Friday night, overnight accommodations, and breakfast and lunch on Saturday. We are seeking scholarship assistance to help defray the participant cost. More information will be available in the coming weeks.
This is a great opportunity for pastors and other key congregational leaders to become better equipped to lead their congregation in implementing God’s call to be stewards of the whole creation. We hope to hear from you and see you in February. For further questions or to convey your interest in this synodical initiative, please contact either of our team co-chairpersons: Pastor Kristin Foster at 218-741-7057 or Pastor David Carlson at 218-722-3381.
Yours in Christ,
NEMN Synod Creation Care Team
P.S. For more information, check out the web site at http://www.letallcreationpraise.org/season-of-creation.
The NE MN Synod Creation Care Team Mission: To nurture a growing network that inspires our congregations and their members to live out God’s call to be stewards of the earth for the sake of the whole creation!
(*formerly Synod Creation Care Task Force)
Season of Creation Retreat: February 22 and 23 at Camp Hiawatha
Northeast Minnesota Synod
Friday, Feb 22, 2013
Evening opening worship – TBA
Season of Creation overview – Krehl
Team building – Joel
First Sunday in the Season of Creation: Lakes Sunday – Dave & Rosie
Saturday, Feb 23, 2013
Morning Sundays in the Season of Creation – Dennis (as general resource person)?
Second Sunday: Fauna Sunday – Tom, Vicki (& Anders?)
Third Sunday: Storm Sunday – Kristin, Mark
Fourth Sunday: Cosmos Sunday – Krehl (& Steve?)
Afternoon Relationships and resources
- Lutherans Restoring Creation – Mark
- Additional Resources – All
Congregational Planning – Kristin
Sending worship – TBA
Walk through each of the four or five Sundays of the Season of Creation for the year of Luke.
Consider approaching each Sunday in multiple ways, starting with mini-presentations from the team and then providing one or two small group/team reflection times for each session. It might look like this
Do the Season of Creation overview on Friday evening before or after team building.
Do 3 or possibly 4 seasons on Saturday morning, 45 minutes each.
Season of Creation Overview: The Wisdom series from Luke
- The three year season of creation cycle
- Year of Luke perspectives: the Wisdom tradition
- Preview/intro on science, art, music
- Sing a related hymn and one piece of the Dakota road earthkeeping liturgy
- Assign people/volunteers to read the lectionary readings to the whole group
- Small group discussion #1 – diving into the lectionary
- Share insights, mini-presenter draw from those and highlight anything else
- Science and/or other contemporary perspective on the topic
- Small group discussion #2 – Worship possibilities, including art and music
- Large group sharing
- Youth, education, and outreach possibilities – seed with some ideas, then back to small groups/teams
- The lectionary
This way the “congregational planning” piece would be an ongoing process, and then provide some wrap-up planning time toward the end of the retreat.
Series C: The Wisdom Series
Wisdom is a deep impulse within all parts of creation, designing their mysteries, guiding their purposes, and mentoring their functions. The Wisdom series correlates with the Luke series of the church year.
|First Sunday in Creation|
|Theme: Ocean Sunday|
|Old Testament||Job 38:1-18|
|Psalm||Psalm 104:1-9, 24-26|
|Second Sunday in Creation|
|Theme: Fauna Sunday|
|Old Testament||Job 39:1-8, 26-30|
|Epistle||1 Corinthians 1:10-23|
|Third Sunday in Creation|
|Theme: Storm Sunday|
|Old Testament||Job 28:20-27|
|Epistle||1 Corinthians 1:21-31|
|Fourth Sunday in Creation|
|Theme: Cosmos Sunday|
|Old Testament||Proverbs 8:22-31|
This retreat is a model for grassroots leadership in the congregations of our synod and will be led by the whole creation care team, including:
+Joel Abenth (Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry)
+Anders Meier (Camp Onamia)
+Pr. Mark Peters (Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in MN)
+Pr. Krehl Stringer (Faith United, Iron)
+Rosie Loeffler-Kemp (Good Shepherd, Duluth)
+Pr. Kristin Foster (Messiah, Mt. Iron)
+Tom Uecker (Gloria Dei, Duluth)
+Pr. David Carlson (Gloria Dei, Duluth)
+Pr. Vicki Taylor (Northeastern MN Synod)
… we hope to include you!