Tag Archives: congregations

Water and Ecotheology: Articles by Benjamin Stewart

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.

Our Watershed Moment, a toolkit from the EcoFaith Network of the Minneapolis Synod

Our Watershed Momenta 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 (Augsburg Fortress, 2011)

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.

Now available in a Kindle edition.

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.

Lutheran Study Guide to Pope Francis’ Letter on Climate Change

This is a four week study intended for church adult education, college, or seminary classrooms. The study takes up the theme of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation coming that happened in 2017. Please consider adapting this this curriculum for use in your adult educational opportunities.
You can download the study guide from the links below:
Week 1: 
Introduction: Climate Change and Faith
Week 2:
Claimed By God, Claiming our Calling
Week 3:
Gathered into an Integral Ecology
Week 4:
Sent: Eco-Reformation


Eight Ways Pastors can Give Care for Creation Leadership

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.

Endangered Species Day – May 18, 2018

Creation Justice Ministries has a toolkit to help your faith community celebrate Endangered Species Day and accompanying faith-based resources.

If you can donate to cover postage, they will send you copies of this bulletin insert in the mail. Send your request to info@creationjustice.org  (while supplies last.)

Why We Need an Eco-Reformation

There are voices across the ELCA calling for a reformation of the church to encompass care for all of God’s good creation.
We have spent centuries rightly nurturing our relationship with God (Love God) and one another (Love your neighbor). However, we have neglected God’s relationship with creation, our relationship with the rest of creation, and God’s relationship with us through the rest of creation (love creation). Now it is time to turn to this task with our full resources.
God’s Earth is in great trouble—pollution of air, land, and waters, ozone depletion, loss of forests and loss of farmable land to desert, proliferation of waste, global climate change, and much more. These changes are wreaking unjust havoc upon Earth, especially the poorest and most vulnerable humans, and on innumerable other creatures and plants of the entire natural world.

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.

Congregational Covenant and Organizing Kit

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!


Climate Change Revival – New England Congregations Unite (2013)

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.

Carers for Creation Collaborate in the Northeast to Support the Earth and One Another (2015)

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!



Nurturing A Network: NW Minnesota Creation Care Team 2013

The mission of the Northwest Minnesota Synod Creation CareTeam is “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.”

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!”

Training schedule, training brochure

SCCT Training Retreat Letter:

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)

NE MN Synod Retreat on Creation Care Worship, 2013 Retreat Schedule

Season of Creation Retreat: February 22 and 23 at Camp Hiawatha

Northeast Minnesota Synod

Friday, Feb 22, 2013

4pm                  registration

5pm                  welcome/introductions

5:30pm             supper

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

8:00am             Breakfast

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

3:00pm             Depart


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

  1. The three year season of creation cycle
  2. Year of Luke perspectives: the Wisdom tradition
  3. Preview/intro on science, art, music

Ocean/Lakes Sunday

  1. Sing a related hymn and one piece of the Dakota road earthkeeping liturgy
  2. Assign people/volunteers to read the lectionary readings to the whole group
  3. Small group discussion #1 – diving into the lectionary
  4. Share insights, mini-presenter draw from those and highlight anything else
  5. Science and/or other contemporary perspective on the topic
  6. Small group discussion #2 –  Worship possibilities, including art and music
  7. Large group sharing
  8. Youth, education, and outreach possibilities – seed with some ideas, then back to small groups/teams


  • The lectionary
  • Science
  • Music

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
Epistle Ephesians 1:3-10
Gospel Luke 5:1-11
Second Sunday in Creation
Theme: Fauna Sunday
Old Testament Job 39:1-8, 26-30
Psalm Psalm 104:14-23
Epistle 1 Corinthians 1:10-23
Gospel Luke 12:22-31
Third Sunday in Creation
Theme: Storm Sunday
Old Testament Job 28:20-27
Psalm Psalm 29
Epistle 1 Corinthians 1:21-31
Gospel Luke 8:22-25
Fourth Sunday in Creation
Theme: Cosmos Sunday
Old Testament Proverbs 8:22-31
Psalm Psalm 148
Epistle Colossians 1:15-20
Gospel John 6:41-51



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!