Tag Archives: eco-theology

Northeastern Pennsylvania to Study Divestment (2015)

The following resolution was passed at the June 2015 Assembly of the Northeastern Pennsylvania:
WHEREAS, Jesus calls us as his disciples to both love God and love our neighbor, and climate change is a direct threat to both God’s creation and God’s people, the church should be a leader in all efforts to preserve and protect creation;
WHEREAS, the current movement to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in sustainable forms of energy are an important part of the overall campaign to combat climate change and protect people and the planet;
RESOLVED, Resolved, that the Synod’s Creation Care Task Force be authorized to conduct a study to discuss and evaluate divestment from fossil fuels in preparation for a vote about possible divestment at the 2016 Synod Assembly.
For more information about issues specific to Pennsylvania go to the Lutheran Advocacy office in PA.

Memorial for Transition to Clean, Renewable Energy; Upper Susquenanna Synod Assembly (2015)

WHEREAS, God created heaven and earth and everything therein and proclaimed it good (Gen 1:1ff); and God has entrusted humankind with the care of the earth (Gen 2:15); and

WHEREAS, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has adopted social policy statements, “Caring for Creation” (1993) and “Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood” (1999) that call for economic and environmental justice, to protect the health and integrity of creation both for its own sake and for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations, and for economic justice, to consider how our actions affect the ability of all people to provide for their material needs and the needs of their families and communities; and

WHEREAS, in 1993 with the Caring for Creation social statement, we realized the urgency was already “widespread and serious, according to the preponderance of evidence from scientists worldwide [of] dangerous global warming, caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide” from the burning of fossil fuels, and that “action to counter degradation, especially within this decade, is essential to the future of our children and our children’s children. Time is very short;” and

WHEREAS, climate research is clear that there has been a rapid rise in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, with current levels (400 ppm) the highest in the past probably 2,000,000 years. This increase has occurred most rapidly in the past 200 years during the worldwide Industrial Revolution;[1]

WHEREAS, climate research is clear that burning fossil fuels is the major source of rising levels of carbon dioxide, negatively impacting our climate.[2] Consequently, the use of fossil fuels must be dramatically reduced; and

WHEREAS, the most recent report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claims continued greenhouse gas emissions will cause “long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems;”[3] and

WHEREAS, in “Caring for Creation,” the ELCA declares that we will seek to incorporate the principles of sufficiency and sustainability in our life. Consequently: “We will, in our budgeting and investment of church funds, demonstrate our care for creation;” and

WHEREAS in 1990 and 2007 the ELCA Church Council approved an Environmental Social Criteria Investment Screen that recommends limiting investments made in corporations which are the most egregious in terms of damage to human health or the natural environment and investing in corporations which are taking positive steps toward a sustainable environment;[4] and

WHEREAS despite decades of shareholder engagement with fossil fuel companies, the industry continues to spend nearly $2 billion dollars a day searching for additional fossil fuel reserves and over half a million dollars a day lobbying governments for subsidies and support for further extraction;[5] and

WHEREAS fossil fuel divestment can have a major influence on how society responds to climate change;[6] and

WHEREAS the ELCA has historically divested during periods of great social need, including the movement to end apartheid in South Africa; and

WHEREAS by divesting from fossil fuels, the ELCA joins with faith partners such as the United Church of Christ[7] and the World Council of Churches[8] as well as large institutional investors such as Norway’s $850 billion Government Pension Fund Global[9] and a growing list of colleges and universities, cities, religious institutions and foundations in the fastest growing divestment effort in history[10]; and

WHEREAS, un-burnable carbon stored in fossil fuel reserves presents a material financial risk to investment funds that provide capital to these companies;[11]

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Upper Susquehanna Synod of the ELCA memorialize the 2016 Churchwide Assembly to call on the ELCA and its related institutions and entities, such as the ELCA Endowment Fund Pooled Trust – Fund A (hereinafter “Fund A”), the Mission Investment Fund, Portico Funds, colleges, seminaries, Social Ministry organizations, camps, synods, congregations and individual members to take leadership and make a public commitment to transition away from investments in fossil fuels to investments in clean, renewable energy sources as expeditiously as it is financially feasible to do so; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that by December 31, 2016, the ELCA follow its published procedure titled Social Criteria Investment Screen Policies and Procedures Development[12] to develop a social criteria investment screen designed to result in divestment of all fossil fuels investments held in Fund A,[13] which includes prayerful consideration of the following recommended components:

a)Publication of a list of the values of all fossil fuel investments currently held in Fund A;[14] and

b)Cessation of any new investments in fossil fuel companies with respect to Fund A; and

c)Ensuring that all securities of fossil fuel companies that are either direct holdings or holdings in commingled funds are removed from the portfolio of Fund A within five years; and

d)Publication of quarterly updates, available to the public, detailing progress towards divestment of Fund A as set forth herein; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Upper Susquehanna Synod memorialize the 2016 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA, as part of the development of the new social criteria investment screen identified above, to direct the ELCA’s corporate social responsibility review team to consider and recommend to the executive director of the ELCA’s Congregational and Synodical Mission unit, for further review pursuant to the ELCA’s published procedure titled Social Criteria Investment Screen Policies and Procedures Development, the addition of a fossil-free investment fund that excludes the 200 largest fossil fuel companies as an option for ELCA retirement plan participants; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this synod memorializes the 2016 Churchwide Assembly to urge members of the ELCA and its related institutions to exemplify personal and institutional responsibility by practicing energy conservation, purchasing more energy efficient appliances and vehicles, investing in renewable energy systems, and advocating at all levels of government for public policies that support clean, renewable energy sources.

Respectfully submitted,

The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, Pastor, United in Christ Lutheran Church, Lewisburg, PA

and

The Buffalo Valley Conference of the Upper Susquehanna Synod

[1] Climate Change: The Evidence and Our Options, Lonnie Thompson, Ohio State University. Concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) over the last 800,000 years. Fig. 6, pg. 163. See http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/TBA–LTonly.pdf. 2007 IPCC Working Group. “Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration has continued to increase and is now almost 100 ppm above its pre-industrial level.” See http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch7s7-es.html. EPA: Causes of Climate Change. “Since the Industrial Era began, humans have had an increasing effect on climate, particularly by adding billions of tons of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.” See http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/causes.html.

[2] NRC (2011). Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to  Millennia. National Research Council. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA. “Emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have ushered in a new epoch where human activities will largely determine the evolution of Earth’s climate.” NASA: Global Climate Change; Vital Signs of the Planet. “Humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by a third since the Industrial Revolution began. This is the most important long-lived “forcing” of climate change.” “Over the last century the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).” See http://climate.nasa.gov/causes.

USGCRP (2009). Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. Thomas R. Karl, Jerry M. Melillo, and Thomas C. Peterson (eds.). United States Global Change Research Program. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, USA. “It is clear that impacts in the United States are already occurring and are projected to increase in the future, particularly if the concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continues to rise.” See http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=UCg7inA-HksC&oi=fnd&pg=PA13&dq=USGCRP+%282009%29.+Global+Climate+Change+Impacts+in+the+United+States&ots=uXe7HdVN2I&sig=3OcIArtThzaK sX5JwzBrWNEj59A#v=onep age&q&f=false. NOAA, USGS: Climate change impacts to U.S. coasts threaten public health, safety and economy Coastal Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabilities: A Technical Input to the 2013 National Climate Assessment. “…the effects of climate change will continue to threaten the health and vitality of U.S. coastal communities’ social, economic and natural systems.” See http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2013/20130125_coastalclimateimpacts.html

[3] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5.

[4] ELCA Environment Screen: http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource

%20Repository/Environment_Screen.pdf.

[5] Oxfam: http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp191fossil-fuelsfinance-climate change171014-en.pdf.

[6] Climate Change: Implications for Investors and Financial Institutions: Key Findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report. http://www.unepfi.org/fileadmin/documents/IPCC_AR5__Implications_for_Investors__Briefing__WEB_EN.pdf

[7] United Church of Christ: http://www.ucc.org/gs2013fossil-fueldivestment-vote.

[8] World Council of Churches:  http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/central-committee/geneva 2014/reportofthefinance- policy- committee/@@download/file/GEN_FIN06_APPROVED_Report_Finance_Policy_Committee.pdf.

[9] Article regarding Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/05/worldsbiggest– sovereign-wealthfunddumps-dozens-of coalcompanies

[10] This website lists the institutions that are committing to divest from fossil fuels:  http://gofossilfree.org/commitments/

[11] University of Oxford: http://www.smithschool.ox.ac.uk/research-programmes/stranded-assets/SAP-divestment- report-final.pdf.

[12] Policy is accessible at: http://www.elca.org/Resources/Corporate-Responsibility.

[13] ELCA Endowment Fund: http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource

%20Repository/ELCA_Endowment_Fund_A_Brochure.pdf

[14] By using the current list of 200 coal, oil and gas companies found here: http://gofossilfree.org/companies/. Source: Unburnable Carbon, The Carbon Tracker Institute; http://www.carbontracker.org/wp content/uploads/2014/09/Unburnable-Carbon-Full-rev21.pdf.

 

 

Southeastern Minnesota Environmental Stewardship Resolution (2009)

Resolution 2009 – 03: Environmental Stewardship

1 WHEREAS, the ELCA adopted the “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice” Social 2Statement at the Churchwide Assembly in 1993 to address the church’s understanding of God’s 3 call to us to care for the earth; and,

4 WHEREAS, the ELCA has created materials to guide congregations, schools, and other groups 5 in conducting environmental audits; and,

6 WHEREAS, the knowledge and understanding of the impact of our individual 7andcongregational uses of natural resources is documented (for example, The 8MillenniumEcosystem Assessment) ; and,

9 WHEREAS, Scripture shows God’s love for creation and mandates humans to serve and keep 10 the earth; and,

11 WHEREAS, a Green Team can be a catalyst for transformation in a congregation; and,

12 WHEREAS, there is a relationship between global injustice and the degradation of nature. 13Our Companion Synods in the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Colombia and the Central 14Dioces in Tanzania struggle from the imbalance of the use and exploitation of the world’s 15natural resources,

16 THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Southeastern Minnesota Synod live out more 17fully the “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice” Social Statement actions; and,

18 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that each congregation of the Southeastern Minnesota 19Synod of the ELCA conduct the ELCA’s Environmental Audit; and,

20 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that congregations of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod of 21 the ELCA study caring for creation issues in Sunday School and Bible Studies, to learn more 22 about our call to be God’s stewards of the earth; and

23 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Southeastern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA 24establish a committee or task force to address environmental issues in the synod and 25congregations; and,

26 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a goal be set for the year 2011 for 75% of all products 27 used by the Southeastern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA office and its congregations be 28environmentally conscious. This goal would include attention to the use of fairly traded 29products.

Submitted by the congregational council of Bethel Lutheran Church, Rochester,Minn., authored and approved by the“BIGG Idea” team (Bethel Individuals Going Green) A similar resolution was passed by the Blue Earth River Conference Assembly.

 

 

Metro New York Resolution: Establishing an Environmental Stewardship Committee (2009)

Submitted by the Tappan Zee Conference, St. Luke’s (New Rochelle), St. John’s (Mamaroneck), Our Redeemer (Chappaqua), Chapel of Christ (Yonkers), St. Paul’s (Rye Brook), Trinity (New Rochelle), Grace (Yorktown Heights), Grace (Scarsdale), United Lutheran (Mt. Vernon), Ascension (Glendale), Trinity (Brewster)

Whereas, scripture teaches us that “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it” (Genesis 2:15) and that “The earth and its fullness are the Lord’s” (1 Corinthians 10:26); and

Whereas, the issues of climate change and threats to biodiversity and natural habitats are not simply scientific, economic, and social issues, but also fundamentally ethical and moral concerns; and

Whereas, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s social statement “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice”

· decries “the despoiling of the environment as nothing less than the degradation of God’s gracious gift of creation,”

· calls for “action to counter (environmental) degradation” and “pray(s)… for the creativity and dedication to live more gently with the earth,”

· asks us to “commit ourselves to personal life styles that contribute to the health of the environment,” and,

· calls on our church community to be “a center for exploring scriptural and theological foundations for caring for creation” and “to incorporate the principles of sufficiency and sustainability in our life,” therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Metropolitan New York Synod will:

· educate our churches and members on issues of environmental integrity and creation care,

· encourage celebrations commemorating Earth Day, Rogation Days, Arbor Day and other environmentally conscious events as may be appropriate for Christian churches,

· promote and encourage specific actions each church community and its members can take to act with greater environmental responsibility, and

· promote and encourage actions synod-wide to “green” our operations, including energy audits, adopting cleaner and renewable energy sources, increasing our commitment to recycling and using recycled materials, reducing the amount of waste we produce, and working to protect the precious shared environmental resources of land, air, and water, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Metropolitan New York Synod, in support of the above ongoing efforts, will establish a standing committee on Environmental Stewardship. The Environmental Stewardship Committee may be formed immediately, but will be unfunded for the 2009 year. It will be financed out of the general budget beginning with the 2010 budget cycle.

 

 

Northern Illinois Synod Resolution to Become a “Green Synod” (2008)

WHEREAS, God’s first commandments to humanity are that we care for and take care of God’s good creation (Gen. 1:28 & 2:15); and

WHEREAS, Jesus came to bring salvation to the entire cosmos (John 3:16-17); and

WHEREAS, the Church, as the body of Christ in the world, is charged with calling the world to repentance and ushering in the kingdom of God; and

WHEREAS, “the whole creation is groaning” due to the abuse and misuse of God’s good creation by humanity;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Northern Illinois Synod become a “green synod” by taking the following steps:

Instituting all possible changes to improve energy efficiency in the synod office and other properties owned and/or operated by the synod, including but not limited to:
Performing a “green” audit (as per Green Synod Model proposed by Dr. David Rhoads, LSTC) that will make short and long term recommendations to lessen the carbon footprint on the earth,
Changing incandescent light bulbs to energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs,
Exploring and utilizing alternate, more environmentally friendly means of producing electricity and heat, and
Replacing as necessary windows, doors, insulation, and other structural aspects of the property that may result in loss of energy.
Being persistent about the reduction and recycling of disposable resources in the synod office(s) such as paper, ink cartridges, plastic, Styrofoam, etc.; and
Taking all possible steps to make all synod sponsored events more environmentally friendly by things such as:
Reducing paper use by utilizing projection where practical and encouraging participants to use electronic media such as laptops, PDAs, etc., and
Insisting that meals be served in a manner that reduces waste by things such as:
i. Serving buffet style when possible so people only take what they will eat,

ii. Insisting on the use of paper or washable cups and plates instead of plastic or Styrofoam,

iii. Requiring that all recyclable waste be divided out and recycled properly.

Encouraging, expecting and enabling participants to carpool to events; and
Replacing synod owned vehicles with those that are the most environmentally friendly available (currently hybrid vehicles); and
Providing necessary support and resources so that the Northern Illinois Synod Green Team can continue its work to help the synod, its congregations and agencies to become green; and
Identifying a symbol that expresses and promotes our care for creation that will be used whenever green steps are taken; and
Instituting other strategies that may emerge as science and technology continue to explore means of helping preserve and regenerate the environment.

Submitted by: Synod Green Team

Contact Person: Pastor Don Knowles or Pastor Jeff Schlesinger

Date Received: April 10, 2008

***************************************************************************************

Action of the Resolution Committee

Date of Action: April 25, 2008

Action Taken: Recommend Adoption

Eastern WA/ID Synod Accepts Eco-Reformation Work

Congratulations to the assembly and team which brought forth a Memorial and Resolution to support the focus on ecological integrity throughout the ELCA’s 500th Observance of the Reformation!

The good news as detailed by proud Pastor Alex Schmidt:

Greetings, this evening, Folks of Faith Lutheran [Leavenworth, WA]!
You can be proud of our Synod delegates, John Butruille and Lisa Therrell who have done a splendid job in hanging in there on some long days beginning Friday! Ninety-two churches with over 200 delegates are present here in Pasco. It is now Sat. night and we’ve just finished our 12 hour day.

Lisa, on behalf of the Faith Lutheran Earth Stewardship Group of which she is a part, did a most excellent job in her assembly workshop (which she’ll present as an adult forum on May 24th, along with John’s assembly reflections). Lisa also in gave two very articulate 3 minute speeches presenting the Memorial (directed to the National Church) and Resolution 1 (directed to our Synod) for the Assembly’s consideration and vote. Both documents were prepared by the Earth Stewardship Group and both passed nearly unanimously!

The testimonies that set the stage:

Reverend Barbara Rossing’s video address on why this is a critical ministry for the ELCA to wrap their arms around.
>>>>>>>

Keynote address from Prof. Ben Stewart included the logic laid out in Chris Hayes’ “The New Abolitionism”:

· scientists have identified a limit to how much carbon can go into the air if we hope to avoid cataclysmic damage to human civilization (565 GT by midcentury)

· there’s 5X that much carbon in known, extractable reserves right now (2,795 GT)

· countries and corporations are counting all of that carbon as wealth, but they can only cash it in if they burn it.

· thus, we are charged with convincing or compelling these countries and corporations to count those “assets” as being worth zero, nothing.

· (there’s one clear historical precedent for such a huge amount of “assets” suddenly being ruled no longer “property” — the abolition of slavery in the United States.)

>>>>>>>>

Short address to the assembly:

My name is Lisa Therrell. I am from Faith Lutheran Church in Leavenworth, Washington. I am retired from a 34 year career with the United State Forest Service, where discussions on climate change science became commonplace towards the end of my career. Our family also has a farm in Asotin County that has been in our family prior to Statehood, where we witness changes to the landscape.

In the Genesis story we read, “And God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”

We know this about the Inland Northwest: a land defined by mountains and canyons, prairie and scabland, forests, rivers, lakes, and fertile fields. We are defined by this landscape, fed by this landscape, renewed by this landscape.

I am here to remind you the Earth is God’s Good Creation worthy of our care. Before you are two companion resolutions. Memorial 1 is directed to the 2016 Churchwide Assembly to make addressing climate change and ecological justice major themes of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Resolution 1 is to this Synod, to advocate for reduced dependence on fossil fuels and to step up our care for creation.

God appointed us to tend the garden. Our failure to care for the garden is a sin against God, a failure to love the Creator with our whole heart. The challenge is clear. We must steadily reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. And we can do it. Our congregation put 96 solar panels on our local Middle School, a sign of the transition we can make to renewable energy.

But what does this have to do with the Reformation? The Reformation was a return to our biblical roots and a call for the renewal of the church and its mission. Theologians have coined the term “Ecclesia semper reformanda” meaning “the church is always to be reformed”. So we can observe the 500th anniversary of the Reformation as a “looking back”, but also a “looking ahead” for where the active presence of God’s people is needed in an ailing world.

There are many ways churches can work on ways to reduce their own carbon footprint and to inspire members to do the same. We can be a faith voice in our communities, region, and nation for care of creation. We can lead the way globally as peacemakers and healers of the land, standing in solidarity with those in peril and leaving a positive legacy for unborn future generations.

We are a church of reformers. I ask for your vote in favor of leading an Ecoreformation to save the atmosphere that surrounds our fragile planet while there is still time.

Thank you very much.

 

Eco-Reformation in the Context of Climate Change

Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod Assembly 2015
Resolution 1 

Memorial on Eco-Reformation in the Context of Climate Change

WHEREAS, 2017 will mark observances of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which addressed fundamental threats to human well-being and all of God’s creation in theological, social, and political ways; and

WHEREAS, the 1993 ELCA Social Statement Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice affirms that, “we are called to care for the earth as God cares for the earth;” and

WHEREAS, in 1993 with Caring for Creation we realized the urgency was already “widespread and serious, according to the preponderance of evidence from scientists worldwide [of] dangerous global warming, caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide” from the burning of fossil fuels, and that “action to counter degradation, especially within this decade, is essential to the future of our children and our children’s children. Time is very short;” and

WHEREAS, in the 1999 ELCA Social Statement Economic Life:  Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All, this church declares that “Too often the earth has been treated as a waste receptacle and a limitless storehouse of raw materials to be used up for the sake of economic growth, rather than as a finite, fragile ecological system upon which human and all other life depends;” and

WHEREAS, the Statement of Vision and Expectations for Ordained Ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) stipulates that “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;” and

WHEREAS, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton wrote in a pastoral letter on September 19, 2014: “Daily we see and hear the evidence of a rapidly changing climate. Glaciers are disappearing, the polar ice cap is melting, and sea levels are rising. Incidents of pollution-created dead zones in seas and the ocean and toxic algae growth in water supplies are occurring with greater frequency. Most disturbingly, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at an unprecedented rate. At the same time we also witness in too many instances how the earth’s natural beauty, a sign of God’s wonderful creativity, has been defiled by pollutants and waste… The present moment is a critical one, filled with both challenge and opportunity to act as faithful individuals and churches in solidarity with God’s good creation”; and

WHEREAS, the Lutheran World Federation has already, with its three-fold theme “Salvation: Not for sale. Human beings: Not for sale. Creation: Not for sale.”, signaled its intention to include creation at the center of global 2017 anniversary commemorations; be it therefore

RESOLVED, that this Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod, recognizing the need for ongoing reformation of the ELCA, memorialize the 2016 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA to make climate change and ecological justice major themes in ELCA planning and activities leading up to and following the observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

 Signatures:

Faith Lutheran Earth Stewardship Group:

Margaret Neighbors, Facilitator, Lisa Therrell, Presenter of Resolution

MaryCarol Nelson, Mary Schramm, Rev. John Schramm, Rev. Dr. Barbara Rossing, David Morgan, and Don Hurst, members.

Faith Lutheran Council:

MaryCarol Nelson, President

Judy Moody, Mary Schramm, John Butruille, Terry Leverenz, Dottie Smallbeck, Lindsay Camp, and Pr. Alex Schmidt, members.

Cluster Pastors:

            Pr. David Haven, Celebration Lutheran, Wenatchee

            Pr. Kent Narum, Fullness of God, Holden Village

Congregational Forum Resources:

Caring for Creation:  Vision, Hope, and Justice  http://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Caring-for-Creation   A most excellent Lutheran and Biblical perspective on the crucial, political, social, and economic issues surrounding environmental care of creation.

Economic Life:  Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All   http://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Economic-Life   Another insightful and biblically based document which examines the impact of economics on human well-being as well as sustainability of our environment.

Lutherans Restoring Creation
www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org  LRC is a grassroots movement advocating for and promoting care of creation through the ELCA.  Their website provides extensive and creative ideas and resources.

Lutheran World Federation:
https://www.lutheranworld.org/reformation-2017  This global service and justice oriented organization’s informative website provides an excellent and insightful critique of global tendencies tying human and environmental well-being to economic gain.

 

 

New England Synod’s Eco-Reformation

Resolution on Eco-Reformation 

WHEREAS, 2017 will mark observances of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which addressed fundamental threats to human well-being and all of God’s creation in theological, social, and political ways; and
WHEREAS, the 1993 ELCA Social Statement Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice affirms that, “we are called to care for the earth as God cares for the earth;” and
WHEREAS, in 1993 with Caring for Creation we realized the urgency was already “widespread and serious, according to the preponderance of evidence from scientists worldwide [of] dangerous global warming, caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide” from the burning of fossil fuels, and that “action to counter degradation, especially within this decade, is essential to the future of our children and our children’s children. Time is very short;” and
WHEREAS, in the 1999 ELCA Social Statement Economic Life: Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All, this church declares that “Too often the earth has been treated as a waste receptacle and a limitless storehouse of raw materials to be used up for the sake of economic growth, rather than as a finite, fragile ecological system upon which human and all other life depends;” and
WHEREAS, the Statement of Vision and Expectations for Ordained Ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) stipulates that “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;” and
WHEREAS, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton wrote in a pastoral letter on September 19, 2014: “Daily we see and hear the evidence of a rapidly changing climate. Glaciers are disappearing, the polar ice cap is melting, and sea levels are rising. Incidents of pollution-created dead zones in seas and the ocean and toxic algae growth in water supplies are occurring with greater frequency. Most disturbingly, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at an unprecedented rate. At the same time we also witness in too many instances how the earth’s natural beauty, a sign of God’s wonderful creativity, has been defiled by pollutants and waste… The present moment is a critical one, filled with both challenge and opportunity to act as faithful individuals and churches in solidarity with God’s good creation”; and
WHEREAS, the Lutheran World Federation has already, with its three-fold theme “Salvation: Not for sale. Human beings: Not for sale. Creation: Not for sale.”, signaled its intention to include creation at the center of global 2017 anniversary commemorations; be it therefore
RESOLVED that the New England Synod search for ways to enact the 2013 Churchwide Assembly action to “support and encourage synods, congregations, members, the churchwide organization, and agencies and institutions of this church to adopt and advocate for policies that reduce energy use, and with it our dependence on fossil fuels, as an expression of this church’s commitment to address climate change and to care for God’s creation” and “to re-examine lifestyles and environmental footprints as they relate to the climate crisis and to improve their stewardship of energy resources and promote care for God’s creation;” and be it further
RESOLVED, that the New England Synod commits itself to participate with the ELCA in becoming even more faithfully a denomination that embraces creation care throughout its life and mission.
Memorial on Eco-Reformation 

WHEREAS, 2017 will mark observances of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which addressed fundamental threats to human well-being and all of God’s creation in theological, social, and political ways; and
WHEREAS, the 1993 ELCA Social Statement Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice affirms that, “we are called to care for the earth as God cares for the earth;” and
WHEREAS, in 1993 with Caring for Creation we realized the urgency was already “widespread and serious, according to the preponderance of evidence from scientists worldwide [of] dangerous global warming, caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide” from the burning of fossil fuels, and that “action to counter degradation, especially within this decade, is essential to the future of our children and our children’s children. Time is very short;” and
WHEREAS, in the 1999 ELCA Social Statement Economic Life: Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All, this church declares that “Too often the earth has been treated as a waste receptacle and a limitless storehouse of raw materials to be used up for the sake of economic growth, rather than as a finite, fragile ecological system upon which human and all other life depends;” and
WHEREAS, the Statement of Vision and Expectations for Ordained Ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) stipulates that “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;” and
WHEREAS, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton wrote in a pastoral letter on September 19, 2014: “Daily we see and hear the evidence of a rapidly changing climate. Glaciers are disappearing, the polar ice cap is melting, and sea levels are rising. Incidents of pollution-created dead zones in seas and the ocean and toxic algae growth in water supplies are occurring with greater frequency. Most disturbingly, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at an unprecedented rate. At the same time we also witness in too many instances how the earth’s natural beauty, a sign of God’s wonderful creativity, has been defiled by pollutants and waste… The present moment is a critical one, filled with both challenge and opportunity to act as faithful individuals and churches in solidarity with God’s good creation”; and
WHEREAS, the Lutheran World Federation has already, with its three-fold theme “Salvation: Not for sale. Human beings: Not for sale. Creation: Not for sale.”, signaled its intention to include creation at the center of global 2017 anniversary commemorations; be it therefore RESOLVED, that the New England Synod, recognizing the need for ongoing reformation of the ELCA, memorialize the 2016 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA to request that climate change and ecological justice be major themes in ELCA planning and activities leading up to and following the observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

 

 

NorthEastern Iowa’s Eco-Reformation (2015)

Submitted/Approved at the June 2015 Northeastern Iowa’s Synod Assembly:

Eco-Reformation in the Context of the Northeastern Iowa Synod

WHEREAS, in the previous Memorial Eco-Reformation in the Context of Climate Change, substantive statements were presented indicating the urgency and importance of addressing this matter at our next Churchwide Assembly; and

WHEREAS, these propositions also apply and are critical for our own Northeastern Iowa Synod; be it therefore

RESOLVED, that this Northeastern Iowa Synod will find ways to enact the 2013 Churchwide Assembly action to “support and encourage synods, congregations, members, the churchwide organization, and agencies and institutions of this church to adopt and advocate for policies that reduce energy use, and with it our dependence on fossil fuels, as an expression of this church’s commitment to address climate change and to care for God’s creation” and “to re-examine lifestyles and environmental footprints as they relate to the climate crisis and to improve their stewardship of energy resources and promote care for God’s creation;” and be it further

RESOLVED, that this Northeastern Iowa Synod commit itself to participate with the ELCA in becoming even more faithfully a denomination that embraces and practices creation care throughout its life and mission.

SUBMITTED BY: Care of Creation Network

Memorial on Eco-Reformation in the Context of Climate Change

WHEREAS, 2017 will mark observances of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which addressed fundamental threats to human well-being and all of God’s creation in theological, social, and political ways; and

WHEREAS, the 1993 ELCA Social Statement Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice affirms that, “we are called to care for the earth as God cares for the earth;” and

WHEREAS, in 1993 with Caring for Creation we realized the urgency was already “widespread and serious, according to the preponderance of evidence from scientists worldwide [of] dangerous global warming, caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide” from the burning of fossil fuels, and that “action to counter degradation, especially within this decade, is essential to the future of our children and our children’s children. Time is very short;” and

WHEREAS, in the 1999 ELCA Social Statement Economic Life: Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All, this church declares that “Too often the earth has been treated as a waste receptacle and a limitless storehouse of raw materials to be used up for the sake of economic growth, rather than as a finite, fragile ecological system upon which human and all other life depends;” and

WHEREAS, the Statement of Vision and Expectations for Ordained Ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) stipulates that “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;” and

WHEREAS, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton wrote in a pastoral letter on September 19, 2014: “Daily we see and hear the evidence of a rapidly changing climate. Glaciers are disappearing, the polar ice cap is melting, and sea levels are rising. Incidents of pollution-created dead zones in seas and the ocean and toxic algae growth in water supplies are occurring with greater frequency. Most disturbingly, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at an unprecedented rate. At the same time we also witness in too many instances how the earth’s natural beauty, a sign of God’s wonderful creativity, has been defiled by pollutants and waste… The present moment is a critical one, filled with both challenge and opportunity to act as faithful individuals and churches in solidarity with God’s good creation”; and

WHEREAS, the Lutheran World Federation has already, with its three-fold theme “Salvation: Not for sale. Human beings: Not for sale. Creation: Not for sale.” signaled its intention to include creation at the center of global 2017 anniversary commemorations; be it therefore

RESOLVED, that this Northeastern Iowa Synod, recognizing the need for ongoing reformation of the ELCA, memorialize the 2016 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA to make climate change and ecological justice major themes in ELCA planning and activities leading up to and following the observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

SUBMITTED BY: Care of Creation Network

Upper Susquehanna PA Synod Eco-Reformation 2015

Memorial on Eco-Reformation in the Context of Climate Change

WHEREAS, 2017 will mark observances of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which addressed fundamental threats to human well-being and all of God’s creation in theological, social, and political ways; and

WHEREAS, the 1993 ELCA Social Statement Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice affirms that, “we are called to care for the earth as God cares for the earth;” and

WHEREAS, in 1993 with Caring for Creation we realized the urgency was already “widespread and serious, according to the preponderance of evidence from scientists worldwide [of] dangerous global warming, caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide” from the burning of fossil fuels, and that “action to counter degradation, especially within this decade, is essential to the future of our children and our children’s children. Time is very short;” and

WHEREAS, in the 1999 ELCA Social Statement Economic Life: Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All, this church declares that “Too often the earth has been treated as a waste receptacle and a limitless storehouse of raw materials to be used up for the sake of economic growth, rather than as a finite, fragile ecological system upon which human and all other life depends;” and

WHEREAS, the Statement of Vision and Expectations for Ordained Ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) stipulates that “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;” and

WHEREAS, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton wrote in a pastoral letter on September 19, 2014: “Daily we see and hear the evidence of a rapidly changing climate. Glaciers are disappearing, the polar ice cap is melting, and sea levels are rising. Incidents of pollution-created dead zones in seas and the ocean and toxic algae growth in water supplies are occurring with greater frequency. Most disturbingly, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at an unprecedented rate. At the same time we also witness in too many instances how the earth’s natural beauty, a sign of God’s wonderful creativity, has been defiled by pollutants and waste… The present moment is a critical one, filled with both challenge and opportunity to act as faithful individuals and churches in solidarity with God’s good creation”; and

WHEREAS, the Lutheran World Federation has already, with its three-fold theme “Salvation: Not for sale. Human beings: Not for sale. Creation: Not for sale.”, signaled its intention to include creation at the center of global 2017 anniversary commemorations; be it therefore

RESOLVED, that this Upper Susquehanna Synod, recognizing the need for ongoing reformation of the ELCA, memorialize the 2016 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA to make climate change and ecological justice major themes in ELCA planning and activities leading up to and following the observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Submitted by:

The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, Pastor, United in Christ Lutheran, Lewisburg, PA

and

The Buffalo Valley Conference of the Upper Susquehanna Synod

Congregational Forum Resources:

Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice http://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Caring-for-Creation A most excellent Lutheran and Biblical perspective on the crucial, political, social, and economic issues surrounding environmental care of creation.

Economic Life: Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All http://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Economic-Life Another insightful and biblically based document which examines the impact of economics on human well-being as well as sustainability of our environment.

Lutherans Restoring Creation http://www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org LRC is a grassroots movement advocating for and promoting care of creation through the ELCA. Their website provides extensive and creative ideas and resources.

Lutheran World Federation: https://www.lutheranworld.org/reformation-2017 This global service and justice oriented organization’s informative website provides an excellent and insightful critique of global tendencies tying human and environmental well-being to economic gain.

Eco-Reformation in the Context of Upper Susquehanna Synod

WHEREAS, in the previous Memorial Eco-Reformation in the Context of Climate Change, substantive statements were presented indicating the urgency and importance of addressing this matter at our next Churchwide Assembly; and

WHEREAS these propositions also apply and are critical for our own Upper Susquehann Synod; be it therefore

RESOLVED, that this Upper Susquehanna Synod will find ways to enact the 2013 Churchwide Assembly action to “support and encourage synods, congregations, members, the churchwide organization, and agencies and institutions of this church to adopt and advocate for policies that reduce energy use, and with it our dependence on fossil fuels, as an expression of this church’s commitment to address climate change and to care for God’s creation” and “to re-examine lifestyles and environmental footprints as they relate to the climate crisis and to improve their stewardship of energy resources and promote care for God’s creation;” and be it further

RESOLVED, that this Upper Susquehanna Synod commit itself to participate with the ELCA in becoming even more faithfully a denomination that embraces and practices creation care throughout its life and mission.

Submitted by:

The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, Pastor, United in Christ Lutheran, Lewisburg, PA

and

The Buffalo Valley Conference of the Upper Susquehanna Synod

Congregational Forum Resources: See previous memorial.

Ecological Christianity Through The Sacrament of the Altar

What is the Sacrament of the Altar?

It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.

Where is this written?

The holy evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and St. Paul write thus:

“In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me. Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sins. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

Think! One of the last things Jesus did, before being arrested in a garden and condemned to death, was to share a meal. In various stories, one of the first things Jesus did, after rising from the dead in a garden, was to share meals. What does it mean that Jesus shares this meal with you? How do you feel about Jesus being present in something so common as a bit of bread, of God embodied in the earthly elements of our world?

Act! Visit ELCA World Hunger resources webpage for a toolkit on “Hunger and Climate Change Connections” that has activities and resources for a guided conversation on what climate change means for world hunger. Find this and other ways you can help the ELCA share food and address changing resources by searching www.ELCA.org for “hunger and climate.”

What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?

The words “given for you” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sins” show us that forgiveness of sin, life, and salvation are given to us in the sacrament through these words, because where there is forgiveness of sin, there is also life and salvation.

How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?

Eating and drinking certainly do not do it, but the words that are recorded: “given for you” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sin.” These words, when accompanied by the physical eating and drinking, are the essential thing in the sacrament, and whoever believes these very words has what they declare and state, namely, “forgiveness of sin.”

Think! In regular daily meals, God is present to sustain your life. In communion with so much of creation, with the willingness of sunshine and miracle of photosynthesis, of farmers and pollinators and yeast, by soil and in a vessel God’s salvation is again made present for you. How does their part in bringing you the sacrament bring you to care for them?

Act! The physical eating and drinking is clearly a worthwhile and necessary part of God’s blessing and work. Choose ingredients and bake bread for communion. Visit a winery. “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8)

Who, then, receives this sacrament worthily?

Fasting and bodily preparation are in fact a fine external discipline, but a person who has faith in these words, “given for you” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sin,” is really worthy and well prepared. However, a person who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, because the words “for you” require truly believing hearts.

Think! In this way of looking at the Small Catechism, or in your life generally, what have been actions and behaviors that have been very important for you in saving the earth? How do you feel about the statement that individual actions are “significant but not sufficient” for the problem at hand? What more needs to be done that you cannot do alone?

Act! Always give thanks to God for this abiding grace in Christ, continuing to give to you and everything else. As Psalm 145:15-16 says, “The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living creature.” With this in mind, say a prayer before each meal. Luther suggests, “Lord God, heavenly Father, bless us and these your gifts, which we receive from your bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

 

 

Ecological Christianity Through The Sacrament of Baptism

I. What is Baptism?

Baptism is not simply plain water. Instead, it is water used according to God’s command and connected with God’s Word.

What then is this word of God? Where our Lord Christ says in Matthew 28: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Think! What a great blessing clean “simply plain water” is! God could have chosen any way to act, but makes this promise to you with amazing, abundant water. How would your view of baptism change if the water were polluted and dirty or if there were no water available? How does God’s word with the water remind you of God’s work in the world?

Act! Touch the water in your baptismal font. Make the sign of the cross on yourself and others. If there is no water in the font, ask your pastor if you can add some. And then touch and enjoy its cleanness—God works in things like this!

II. What gifts or benefits does baptism grant?

It brings about forgiveness of sins, redeems from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe it, as the words and promises of God declare.

What are these words and promises of God? Where our Lord Christ says in Mark 16: “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”

Think! Christians have unfortunately been apt to think of baptism as an insurance policy in case of accidental death. Why, from an ecological perspective especially, might God want to save you for your life now for the sake of this world?

Act! Think of saints you’ve known and celebrate what others have accomplished in their lives. Visit a cemetery or memorial garden and note how it continues to be a place of life. Use it as an occasion to remember that our actions today affect generations yet to come.

III. How can water do such great things?

Clearly the water does not do it, but the word of God, which is with and alongside the water, and faith, which trusts this word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is plain water and not a baptism, but with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a grace-filled water of life and a “bath of the new birth in the Holy Spirit,” as St. Paul says to Titus in chapter 3, “through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is sure.”

Think! Because we know of this special bath, we can also see God’s grace working through the “plain waters.” What are some of the “great things” plain water does in our world?

Act! We often overlook the value of water. Water Footprints, like the more common Carbon Footprints, are a new way to be attentive to our use and impact on water supplies. Give it a try at http://www.waterfootprint.org/ Visit http://www.elca.org/hunger/water for church resources.

IV. What then is the significance of such a baptism with water?

It signifies that the old person in us with all sins and evil desires is to be drowned and die through daily sorrow for sin and through repentance, and on the other hand that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written? St. Paul says in Romans 6, “We have been buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we to might walk in newness of life.”

Think! Again, not waiting for afterlife, here is a daily hope that you may live rightly in God’s world. What are five things you can do for the world today because you have the benefit and grace of life?

Act! Obviously God’s Word is strongest, but notice how this cleansing and purifying of baptism is done with water. Take this opportunity to see what harmful cleaning chemicals you could replace with something better.

 

Ecological Christianity Through The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven.

What is this? With these words God wants to attract us, so that we come to believe that he is truly our Father and we are truly his children, in order that we may ask him boldly and with complete confidence, as loving children ask their loving father.

Think! Calling God a Father “in heaven” was to clarify we weren’t talking to a birth parent. It is not trying to say God is “in some heaven light years away.” How is God even more nurturing and trustworthy like a loving parent if God is “Here in this Place” (ELW Hymn #532), still walking amid the garden (Genesis 3:8)?

Act! Since our minds are on the heavens with this prayer, don’t let it get too ethereal! Go outside and notice the clouds or the stars. Feel the sunlight. Watch the phase of the moon. Pause in this prayer to look up from life’s busy paths.

Hallowed be your name.

What is this? It is true that God’s name is holy in itself, but we ask in this prayer that it may also become holy in and among us.

How does this come about? Whenever the word of God is taught clearly and purely and we, as God’s children, also live holy lives according to it. To this end help us, dear Father in heaven! However, whoever teaches and lives otherwise than the Word of God teaches, dishonors the name of God among us. Preserve us from this, heavenly Father!

Think! Asking that God make us holy, we often think about it as more pious, more focused on the supernatural. How do you think God would define holy living amid creation? (You might see the prophets for help—Isaiah 5:8, 11:6-9, 24:3-6; Hosea 2:18-19, 4:3; Amos 5:8-12; Micah 4:4, 6:8)

Act! Adopt a new way of holy living by finding at least one new way to be mindful about conserving resources: Shut off lights. Recycle. Use less water. Pay attention to your actions as a spiritual discipline.

Your kingdom come.

What is this? In fact, God’s kingdom comes on its own without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come to us.

How does this come about? Whenever our heavenly Father gives us his Holy Spirit, so that through the Holy Spirit’s grace we believe God’s holy word and live godly lives here in time and hereafter in eternity.

Think! Notice again that the kingdom is not equated to heaven, but comes in how we live here and now. Read Mark 4:30-32, where Jesus compares God’s kingdom to a mustard shrub in which we all rest. Where do you experience the nesting comfort of God’s promise?

Act! Since the parable talks of birds and plants, find and identify one around you. Know this amazing diversity of who your nest-mates are.

Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

What is this? In fact, God’s good and gracious will come about without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come about in and among us.

How does this come about? Whenever God breaks and hinders every evil scheme and will—as are present in the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh—that would not allow us to hallow God’s name and would prevent the coming of his kingdom, and instead whenever God strengthens us and keeps us steadfast in his word and in faith until the end of our lives. This is God’s good and gracious will.

Think! The prayer continues reinforcing that this is a matter for this life—for this earth! If flowers bloom to the glory of God, gurgling rapids sing God’s praises, and even rocks do what they’re supposed to do, how can you listen for God’s will for you to love all your creaturely neighbors on earth?

Act! Luther says God breaks us from the world, here not meaning the natural world but the things that get in the way of focusing on what God wants. Make a list of at least 5 ways your actions or lifestyle get in the way of God’s good for the natural world. Then list at least 5 things of this world you’d like to pay better attention to. Finally, list at least 5 things to change for the culture of your church, community, or country.

Give us this day our daily bread.

What is this? In fact, God gives daily bread without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we ask in this prayer that God cause us to recognize what our daily bread is and to receive it with thanksgiving.

What then does “daily bread” mean? Everything included in the necessity and nourishment for our bodies, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, farm, fields, livestock, money, property, an upright spouse, upright children, upright members of the household, upright and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, decency, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

Think! Luther here already admits the ecological expanse of our daily sustenance. Where did your last meal come from and what did it take to produce it? How much can you trace about the full origins of your food?

Act! Go one day per week without eating meat. If all Americans did it, it would be the same as taking one of every eight (8 million) cars off the road! Help spread what our resources can sustain.

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

What is this? We ask in this prayer that our heavenly Father would not regard our sins nor deny these petitions on their account, for we are worthy of nothing for which we ask, nor have we earned it. Instead we ask that God would give us all things by grace, for we daily sin much and indeed deserve only punishment. So, on the other hand, we, too, truly want to forgive heartily and to do good gladly to those who sin against us.

Think! How do we balance pardoning and holding accountable environmental sins? Will seals forgive us our oil spills? Will ancient redwoods and Amazon rainforests forgive air pollution and deforestation? Will stream life and coral reefs forgive us for mountain top removal and burning coal? Will people of island nations forgive us for the flooding of their homes?

Act! As atonement for our corporate sins, plant a tree, ride a bike or find another way to atone for and mitigate the destruction humans cause. And know that God is eagerly helping you!

Save us from the time of trial. (Lead us not into temptation.)

What is this? It is true that God tempts no one, but we ask in this prayer that God would preserve and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great and shameful sins, and that, although we may be attacked by them, we may finally prevail and gain the victory.

Think! An average child watches 20,000 commercials on TV each year. This corporate consumer myth of brand identity and purchasing ease and inexpensive happiness is much of what got us into our current ecological crisis. How can you help a child to enjoy life in a natural state?

Act! Don’t forget to get outside yourself! Shut off the TV or computer at some point this week and go for a walk, or sit and enjoy.

And deliver us from evil. (For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.)

What is this? We ask in this prayer, as in a summary, that our Father in heaven may deliver us from all kinds of evil—affecting body or soul, property or reputation—and at last, when our final hour comes, may grant us a blessed end and take us by grace from this valley of tears to himself in heaven.

Think! In Luther’s summary, this perhaps also points to the close of the prayer—and the start—that we are in God’s care forever and ever. Even in this time of trial where we may fear irreversible harm, God is with us. “Yes, it is going to come about just like this!” How does God’s ongoing work for good in this world empower you and give you hope?

Act! Pray for God’s work to save the whole earth. And pray that you also will love what God loves and save what God saves. Yes it shall be so!

 

 

Ecological Christianity Through The Creed

The 1st Article, on Creation

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

What is this? I believe that God has created me together with all that exists. God has given me and still preserves my body and soul: eyes, ears, and all limbs and senses; reason and all mental faculties. In addition, God daily and abundantly provides shoes and clothing, food and drink, house and farm, spouse and children, fields, livestock, and all property—along with all the necessities and nourishment for this body and life. God protects me against all danger and shields and preserves me from all evil. And all this is done out of pure, fatherly, and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness of mine at all! For all this I owe it to God to thank and praise, serve and obey him. This is most certainly true.

Think! In the Creed, Luther frames his thoughts as “me” so that I can know how good God is in my life. We can easily also hear that promise for all of creation. Read Job 38-41, where God the Father speaks of delighting in all of God’s children—including those of no use to humans or even seen by humans as dangerous. What are ways God the Father might be working to “preserve” and “protect” other creatures in this world?

Act! Listen as rivers clap their hands (Psalm 98:8) and trees sing for joy (1 Chronicles 16:33) at God’s goodness and steadfast love! Sing with St. Francis in his Canticle of the Sun (ELW Hymn #835, LBW #527), joining with all our sisters and brothers in praise of God.

The 2nd Article, on Redemption

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father; and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

What is this? I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father in eternity, and also a true human, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned human being. He has purchased and freed me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death. He has done all this in order that I may belong to him, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in eternal righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead and lives and rules eternally. This is most certainly true.

Think! Read Romans 8:18-23. What are ways around us where you think the whole creation has been groaning until now because of our sin, waiting for us to live righteously?

Act! Next time in worship at Confession and Forgiveness, confess your complicity in humanity’s greatest sin of catastrophic planet-wide destruction. Then hear the word of forgiveness in Jesus’ name as your vocational call to go and live rightly amid creation, serving Christ by loving others.

The 3rd Article, on Sanctification

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

What is this? I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith. Daily in this Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins—mine and those of all believers. On the last day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead and will give to me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.

Think! Read Genesis 1:1-5. The Spirit that moved over the waters is the Spirit who breathes new life into you, making you a new creation. What can you celebrate as resurrection moments in your life and in this world? When has the Spirit enlivened you, inspired you or those around you to live in new ways amid creation?

Act! Watch the wind blow waves across a lake or find some water to blow on with your own breath. This is the source of life, and God says it is good!

 

 

Ecological Christianity Through The Ten Commandments

The 1st Commandment: You shall have no other gods.

What is this? We are to fear, love, and trust God above all things.

Think! Read Matthew 5:45. Jesus makes a promise of sun and rain, that this is always around us—good or bad, human or not. How does this promise of needs of life help you love and trust God? What leads you away from the promise, leading you to place trust in other things?

Act! Give thanks for 100 things you encounter in creation today as a way to remember that God is source of everything, working forever to bless us all with what we need to live.

The 2nd Commandment: You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we do not curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive using God’s name, but instead use that very name in every time of need to call on, pray to, praise, and give thanks to God.

Think! 2 billion people (1/3 of the planet) are Christian. What a huge difference our prayers could make in this place! Still, we often think “heaven is my home,” as if we don’t have a part of this world. How does that view take God’s name in vain for this life?

Act! Say a prayer, calling on God presence to be with you today. Ask this same thing for five kinds of other creatures around you.

The 3rd Commandment: Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God’s Word, but instead keep that word holy and gladly hear and learn it.

Think! Read Leviticus 25:1-12. Not only humans need sabbath. Why does God want soils also to rest and “all inhabitants” of a place to have the chance to return?

Act! Learn about or visit a place that has been used and had a chance to rest – a vacant lot, a Superfund site (http://www.epa.gov/superfund) or Conservation Reserve Program farmland (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/CRP/)

The 4th Commandment: Honor your father and your mother.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we neither despise nor anger our parents and others in authority, but instead honor, serve, obey, love, and respect them.

Think! It doesn’t just take two parents, or even a village. Our lives are birthed and nurtured by this whole world. How would we treat Earth differently if we really honored her as our Mother?

Act! Water a plant, bow to the soil, or delight in a weather forecast today. Serve, love, and respect the planet!

The 5th Commandment: You shall not murder.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all life’s needs.

Think! Climate change is already causing what has been called the Sixth Great Extinction, greater than what killed the dinosaurs. Why might our destruction of biodiversity—of God’s great variety of creatures, from polar bears and coral reefs to dwarf crocodiles and others we haven’t even discovered—why might that be of concern?

Act! The impacts of burning fossil fuels are also hurting our poorest human neighbors worst. Go to http://www.lwr.org and search “climate” for stories of how Lutheran World Relief is working to help communities around the world mitigate and adapt amid changing weather patterns.

The 6th Commandment: You shall not commit adultery.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we lead pure and decent lives in words and deed, and each of us loves and honors his or her spouse.

Think! From the last commandment about not harming a creature, this extends to not harming its closest relationships. We could think of it as a ripple effect through the ecosystem. Many orchids, for example, evolved to be pollinated by a single species of insect or bird. How might our world be different without bees to enable plants to reproduce?

Act! Author Michael Pollan says humans have historically eaten 80,000 species but today products of four (corn, soybeans, wheat, rice) amount to 2/3 of our calories. Spread the love—and the genes! Buy food or plant a garden with something you wouldn’t normally—especially an heirloom variety.

The 7th Commandment: You shall not steal.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we neither take our neighbors’ money or property nor acquire them by using shoddy merchandise or crooked deals, but instead help them to improve and protect their property and income.

Think! If all 7.3 billion people of the planet consumed like Americans, we would need the resources of more than four planets to sustain us. Using or abusing in this way, how are we stealing the planet’s resources—and from whom?

Act! Do an online search for “environmental refugees” and learn about how climate change will cause millions of people to be without food, water, or homes.

The 8th Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.

Think! In a harsh climate, it can be hard to speak kindly, with self-righteous tree-huggers versus global warming deniers. What way today can you gently but firmly encourage care for creation?

Act! Become a defender of wildlife and an advocate for justice. Lobby your government officials to speak out against threats and speak up on behalf of creation, from children to polar bears to clean air. Or contact the media and ask that climate change be presented not with skeptics’ perspectives but according to the overwhelming scientific consensus.

The 9th Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we do not try to trick our neighbors our of their inheritance or property or try to get it for ourselves by claiming to have a legal right to it and the like, but instead be of help and be of service to them in keeping what is theirs.

Think! This one we could take pretty directly. According to the US Census, the average house was 1660 square feet in 1973 and 2519 square feet in 2008, more than 50% bigger. Why have we become accustomed to feeling we need so much and aren’t satisfied without more?

Act! Find ways to make your home simpler and less cluttered. Give something you don’t need to a secondhand store or put it on Craig’s List. Make your home better with an energy audit or Energy Star appliances and Water Sense products when needed.

The 10th Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we do not entice, force, or steal away from our neighbors their spouses, household workers, or livestock, but instead urge them to stay and fulfill their responsibilities to our neighbors.

Think! Let’s think of habitats others need to survive: For most of 4 billion years, other creatures didn’t need to compete with us wanting what they’ve got. Now, whether urban sprawl or using resources, we are changing habitats in our world. Agricultural land is drifting toward higher latitudes because of warming. Desertification affects over 2 billion people. A swath of plastics twice the side of Texas floats in the North Pacific Gyre. What is the problem with treating this whole planet as if it is here only for us?

Act! Fight deforestation by using shade-grown coffees (and eco-palms!). Look for the Forest Stewardship Council label for sustainably harvested papers (www.fscus.org/). Plant trees from the Arbor Day Foundation (www.arborday.org/).

What then does God say about all these commandments?

God says the following: “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those that reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

What is this? God threatens to punish all who break these commandments. Therefore we are to fear his wrath and not disobey these commandments. However, God promises grace and every good thing to all those who keep these commandments. Therefore we are also to love and trust him and gladly act according to his command.

Think! Even if we stopped adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and oceans immediately, today’s CO2 would still be affecting the climate for a hundred years. How does it feel that God would leave us to suffer at least that long, and perhaps irreparably, the devastating consequences of our actions?

Act! Find a way to talk to somebody about how relevant (or how unimportant) you feel your behavior amid creation is for your faith.

 

 

Ecological Christianity through Luther’s Small Catechism

We marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with the occasion of Martin Luther writing his 95 Theses. For those of us living with the Reformation heritage, however, another of his writings has likely been more influential in shaping our identity: his Small Catechism of 1528. The occasion for this handbook was that Luther discovered the need to teach the basics of the faith after visiting the evangelical or protestant congregations a decade in to the Reformation.

This exercise takes Luther’s back-to-basics approach, and also sets it in a broader ecological perspective.  As a church that is “always reforming,” we know that the good news of God continues to encounter us in our life.  Just as the papacy and indulgences (the focus of the 95 Theses) are not our central concern, so we also attend to contemporary threats and current events, recognizing the need in our times for Eco-Reformation.

Here, each piece of Luther’s Small Catechism is followed by a learning question, then by a suggested participatory action.  You may use this personally, or print one section each week in your bulletin, or adapt it for confirmation classes.  This is only one way to try seeing the entirety of our faith as permeated with creation care.

The 10 Commandments

The Creed

The Lord’s Prayer

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

The Sacrament of the Altar

 

 

Resolution on Caring for Creation: North/West Lower MI Synod in Assembly 2004

WHEREAS, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted the social statement “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice” by a more than two-thirds majority at its third Churchwide Assembly on August 28, 1993 in Kansas City, Missouri; and

WHEREAS, the 1993 Social Statement:

1) Offers a vision of God’s intention for creation and for humanity as creation’s caregivers;

2) Provides a solid biblical, ethical, and theological rationale for caring for God’s creation;

3) Acknowledges humanity’s separation from God and from the rest of creation as the central cause of environmental crises;

4) Recognizes the severity of current environmental crises; and

5) Expresses hope while calling the church to effective action on behalf of restoring and protecting the integrity of creation; and

WHEREAS, there is currently only one churchwide full-time staff person to address both environmental education and advocacy; and

WHEREAS, a Churchwide consultation, convened in November 2003 on the tenth anniversary of the “Caring for Creation” social statement, urged the ELCA through its congregations, synods, Churchwide organization, and institutions to strengthen its resolve to implement faithfully the commitments that it made in the social statement in 1993;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the North/West Lower Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Assembly commends the “Caring for Creation” social statement and its subsequent implementation strategies recommended by the 2003 consultation, available on the ELCA’s Division for Church in Society website, to our congregations for prayerful review, study, and action;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Synod memorialize the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Assembly 2005 to offer increased attention and support to both churchwide and synodical programs and ministries for environmental education and advocacy, so that this church might more faithfully carry out the vision, hope, and justice goals of the 1993 statement.

Resolution on Caring for Creation

Approved – North/West Lower MI Synod in Assembly

May 14-16, 2004

Synod Resolutions: Eco-Reformation (2015 and 2016)

Northwest Synod of Wisconsin 
Approved May 2016
Submitted/approved by the Upper Susquehanna (PA) Synod
June 2015 Workshop Power Point Presentation
 
Submitted/approved by the Northeastern Iowa Synod June 2015
Approved by New England Synod June 2015
 
Adopted by Northeastern Minnesota Synod May 2015
(forwarded to conference deans for consideration) 
Eastern WA/ID Synod
Approved April 25, 2015

ELCA Churchwide Pledges to Move Towards a Sustainable Energy Future

August 13th, after days of conversation, discernment and prayer the 2016 churchwide voting assembly voted to pass the Memorial: Towards a Responsible Energy Future. After a grassroots divestment coalition brought together various synodical divestment memorials and the proper parliamentary protocol into one statement, the church is now called to act on the amended version you can read here. [Watch recording of vote here minute 47]