Tag Archives: issue-based advocacy

Reflections on Swedish Bishops’ Letter on Climate Change

On May 19, 2015, LSTC Professors Kadi Billman, Barbara Rossing, and Vítor Westhelle, reflected on A Bishops’ Letter about Climate Change published by the Church of Sweden in 2014. The Rev. Dr. Antje Jackelén, archbishop of the Church of Sweden, concluded the session presented for the LSTC Board of Directors and faculty. Click here to watch the four videos.

Click here to read “A Bishops’ Letter about the Climate” from the Church of Sweden.

 

 

 

Giving Voice to My Community and Bringing ELCA Advocacy Home

Giving Voice to My Community and Bringing ELCA Advocacy Home

By: Fumi Liang, Huntington Beach, CA

I am Fumi Liang from Huntington Beach California and I want to tell you a story about a group of senior citizens who are trying to make a difference in caring for the environment.

My friend Dick started a program called “Paper Rollers” many years ago. About 20 seniors came to church every Thursday to make 20 lbs of newspaper rolls and sell them to a floral company. When Dick passed away, nobody wanted to take over his job to organize this program. As a leader of a senior ministry at my church, I could have moved away from this project, but I didn’t want Dick’s legacy to die. So I took over and I’m glad I did, because I found out how much these seniors care about the land our God created.

The seniors in my church worry about how we’re not taking care of the land we live. They want to continue to do as much as they can to keep our land healthy for their next generation. They taught me, through their action, to be deeply concerned about our environment and the effect climate change will have on my grandchildren’s lives. I sincerely hope that through the Green Climate Fund, government can help combat climate change so we can keep the earth green and clean.

This is the message I gave when I met with the offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Scott Peters on Capitol Hill as part of the ELCA’s Advocacy Convening in Washington, D.C. last year.

This convening occurred in the midst of Pope Francis’ visit to Washington. It was the time for the ELCA to get together with the Episcopal Church to share prayers, formation, and practice of our baptismal mandate to strive for justice and peace. This was the first time that ELCA Advocacy invited community leaders from across the United States to attend the event alongside ELCA bishops. I was one of 17 community leaders invited to attend and learn how to become an effective Advocate. Having said that, I was very nervous about participating because I didn’t have any idea about what I would be expected to do.

I knew nothing about ELCA Advocacy; who they are and what they do for what purpose. Everything was new to me. I just had to trust and asked God to give me His extra mercy to guide me through this new challenge.

I was impressed by one of the speakers who emphasized how important it is for us to be truthful when we talk about the issue that matters to us. I always thought that religion and politics should never mix together. However, I discovered during my time in Washington that it could work beautifully if the contact between religion and politics was not for the disputes of powers, money and fame but for the purpose of serving people. After all, people come to church for help and comfort. They want to find the answer of their needs and heal for their pains. If church cannot do that for them, who else can?

Through my participation in the 2015 Advocacy Convening, I realized that the ELCA’s Advocacy ministry can help provide opportunities to make a difference. While in Washington, we urged Congress to provide appropriate funding for global health and refugee services, emergency food assistance, and other development programs through the international Affairs Account; to promote robust structures that help developing countries adopt clean energy technologies and adapt to climate change impacts through the Green Climate Fund; and to protect children and families in Central America by investing in poverty reduction, human rights, and citizen security.

Prior to meeting with Congress, I received training on how to address your opinion effectively. I practiced and prepared my own story and its relation to climate change and environmental issues. It was a great challenge for me to deliver what I wanted to say within 2 to3 minutes. I was grateful that Bishop Finck, Bishop Erwin, Mark Carlson of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy California helped me shape my story and present it during our meetings. Not in my wildest dreams did I think that one day I would voice my concerns on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

After I returned from my trip, I shared my experience with my senior group on Thursday during their “Paper Rollers” time. They were so pleased to know that the ELCA is concerned about our environment and that I was able to give voice to my community’s experience. When I saw their delighted faces, I felt really blessed because I didn’t just attend a fun event in Washington, I was also able to bring ELCA Advocacy home to them by sharing my experience.

 

 

 

 

Watershed Discipleship

Watershed Discipleship is a website and organization based on the idea that the best way to orient the church’s work and witness is through bioregionally-grounded planning and action which focuses on the actual watersheds we inhabit. The website includes a blog, links to articles by Ched Meyers and others, and information about watersheds. Read more: Watershed Discipleship Movement and Resources

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.

2016 Churchwide Assembly Resolution Urging Stewardship of the Gift of Water 

Noting “the many biblical themes of renewal and liberation that water affords,” and the importance of watersheds for environmental justice and creation care, the Assembly resolved to promote awareness, appreciation and stewardship of watersheds and water.  Click here to read the resolution

Motion C: Resolution Urging Stewardship of the Gift of Water

2016 Churchwide Assembly

ASSEMBLY ACTION CA16.05.24 To adopt Motion C. ­­­

WHEREAS, Holy Scripture reminds us that “the Holy Habitation of the Most High” includes “a river whose streams make glad the city of God,” and that “waters of the sea may become fresh, so everything will live where the river goes,” and that “the Holy Spirit descended on [Jesus] in bodily form like a dove” when he was baptized in the River Jordan; and 2016 Churchwide Assembly: Legislative Update Friday, August 12, 2016 Page 11 of 14

WHEREAS, a watershed is the ground that water flows within as it moves toward a stream, river or lake, and is a natural boundary within God’s creation, unlike arbitrary and haphazard geopolitical boundaries, and all of God’s creatures live in a watershed; and

WHEREAS, many of the watersheds in this country are degraded, and this environmental damage leads to water shortages and a crisis that disproportionately affects people of color and people with lower incomes; and

WHEREAS, the ELCA social statement “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice” states that “We see the despoiling of the environment as nothing less than the degradation of God’s precious gift of creation,” and the social statement also reminds us that “congregations have various opportunities during the year to focus on creation… Thanksgiving, harvest festivals, and blessings of field, water, and plants and animals,” and encourages us to “observe Earth Day or Soil and Water Stewardship Week,” so as to protect and restore “natural and human habitats, including seas, wetlands, forests, wilderness, and urban areas”; and

 WHEREAS, “watershed discipleship” requires that Christians acknowledge that water lies both at the center of our Christian rite of baptism and our current ecological and climate crisis, thus deserving deep theological treatment; therefore, let it be

RESOLVED, that the ELCA, in Assembly, requests the Church Council to direct the appropriate churchwide unit to provide every active rostered leader with resources to locate each congregation within its watershed district, so that waters may be named and known in worship and intercessory prayers, and that theological and biblical themes may build awareness, care and thanksgiving for the gift of these waters; and let it be further

RESOLVED, that the ELCA, in Assembly, requests the Church Council to direct the appropriate churchwide unit to provide resources to congregations and individual members to encourage and support conservation and prayerful stewardship of water resources; and let it be further

RESOLVED, that the ELCA, in Assembly, requests the Church Council to direct the appropriate churchwide unit to continue to develop strategies and provide resources to support areas struggling with natural or human-caused disasters that impact access to clean water, such as water contamination, drought and floods, with an awareness that the impact of our environmental actions have disproportionate implication for communities of color with lower incomes; and let it be further 

RESOLVED, that the ELCA, in Assembly, encourages congregations to plan events outside their doors and within their watersheds, utilizing the many biblical themes of renewal and liberation that water affords. 

Cynthia Moe-Lobeda & Scott Thalacker on Access Utah

Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, a professor of Christian ethics, is the author of the 2013 book, Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation (Fortress Press). She gave a lecture at USU in the Tanner Talks series from the College of Humanites and Social Sciences. Dr. Moe-Lobeda joins us for Access Utah today, along with Rev. Scott Thalacker, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan.

Listen here: http://upr.org/post/cynthia-moe-lobeda-scott-thalacker-access-utah

Environmental Stewardship

by John Berge
Member of Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church in Racine, WI.

“Tell the truth. Give no false hope

Tell it like it is.

Tell the truth about the ecological state of the world. How easily we can give false hope by our silence or by minimizing the threats to our environment.

If we do not see the size of the problem, we will not see the size of the response required.

Then speak the truth of the Gospel.

The Bishop says, ‘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.

Here are the reflections of an ELCA layperson who tells it like it is in an article for his congregational newsletter for January, 2014.

ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP
by John Berge
Member of Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church in Racine, WI.

While Wisconsin and the upper midwest was cooler than normal in 2014, this was an anomaly and the rest of the world appears to be heading to a record high in global temperatures. Unless December is much cooler around the world, 2014 will be the warmest since records have been kept and probably the warmest since the start of the industrial revolution. And as you may have noticed in the news, as predicted in virtually every computer model, storms are getting more severe due to global warming or climate change, whichever term you prefer.

Climate scientists outside the fossil fuel industry are in general agreement that climate change is a direct result of increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the increase is caused by humans burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. Reducing our use of fossil fuels such as coal, gasoline, natural gas has been much discussed both here and elsewhere. It is good environmental stewardship to reduce the miles we drive, drive vehicles with better gas mileage, turn down the thermostat, push for and install wind and solar power, etc. It is unfortunate that Wisconsin’s Transportation Department and Public Service Commission both are advocating penalties to those of us who try to be better stewards.

But CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas that is causing climate change; there are other “co-conspirators” in global warming which we as individuals may be able to help reduce. Many are short-lived in the atmosphere, and so will give a quick response.

Methane is 40 times as effective a greenhouse gas than CO2 and comes from a variety of human activity sources. Fracking which has greatly increased the drilling for both oil and natural gas releases (or spills) methane into the atmosphere. Reducing our thirst for fossil fuels will reduce the amount of fracing and the release of greenhouse gases in at least two ways. Other major sources include cows, truly great producers of methane from both ends. Our taste for beef drives this industry. Wastewater treatment plants produce a lot of methane and I have advocated with the Director to capture this byproduct for co-generation which could produce enough electricity and heat to run the plant without further fossil fuel use. Methane from landfills is being used to generate electricity and heat by the power company and local industry.

“Black carbon” is essentially soot from poorly tuned engines (mostly diesel trucks and buses but some cars, too) but also arises from wood burning stoves, bonfires, fireplaces and such. These amenities are things we can control and reduce. Unfortunately, the role of black carbon is not generally agreed upon and its reduction may in some cases hinder rather than help.

Hydrofluorocarbons, frequently and not always accurately referred to by the trademark Freon™, are capable of absorbing as much as 100 times the heat energy as carbon dioxide per molecule. Fortunately, so far there is not a large amount in the atmosphere. Since HFCs are used in a number of household appliances, we can be good stewards by making sure that we have no leaks in this equipment, having them fixed quickly by a competent professional, and disposing of old or defective equipment properly. HFCs are probably the coolant in your refrigerator, freezer, air conditioner and dehumidifier – some households have more than one of some of these. Do you have more than you need? Do you want to dispose of one or more? First of all, they DO NOT GO OUT IN THE TRASH. Anything containing HFCs should be properly drained by a professional who will collect and either reuse or properly dispose of the HFC. There are companies in the Racine area that will do this service, usually for a small fee, but postal regulations prevent me from including their names in this newsletter. If you are replacing a device which uses HFCs, the dealer will often take the old one off your hands and dispose of it properly. As in everything, look to the environmental consequence before you act. Everything we do can make a difference.

Water Conservation in Your Home

Why conserve water:

  • Fresh water is a precious and scarce commodity in the world.
  • Develop the habit of rationing water, because sustainable lifestyle requires it.
  • Reduce carbon emissions by using less hot water.
  • Lower energy use at water facilities plants.
  • Protect the local watershed from polluted runoff.
  • Save money for other ministries.

Efficiency, Conservation, and Protection.

  • Efficiency refers to products put in place to save energy and be Earth-friendly.
  • Conservation refers to human actions to save energy and be Earth-friendly.
  • Protection refers to human actions to protect Earth from degrading products and processes.

Efficiency actions:

  • Purchase Energy Star appliances.  www.energystar.gov.
  • Put low flow aerators on faucets in kitchen, bathrooms, and wash stations.
  • Install low-flush toilets. Or use toilet balloons in older toilets to reduce water use.
  • Check faucets (+outside) and toilets regularly for leaks and runs. Repair immediately.
  • Install push-button faucets in bathrooms.
  • Set hot water temperature at moderate rate (around 140 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Install on-demand water heating system.
  • Put blanket (at least 3 inches) around standard water heater.

Conservation actions:

  • Do not let faucet run.
  • Run dish washer only when full. Wash small loads by hand.
  • Rinse dishes for the dishwasher in a bowl rather than under running water.
  • Store drinking water in refrigerator. Do not let the faucet run until the water is cool.
  • Avoid bottled water. Use safe water bottle to be refilled with tap water.
  • “Bring your own” safe reusable water bottle to be filled for use outside the home.
  • Avoid use of disposal. It uses a lot of water. Compost food scraps.
  • Wash cars by hand (sponge and bucket) rather than in carwashes.

Water Outside:

  • Use rain barrels to collect rain to water plants.
  • Native grasses require less watering. Avoid watering lawn at all.
  • Set the mower high to preserve moisture in the soil.
  • Mow less often and leave the grass clippings on the grass as compost.
  • Plant trees to provide shade that preserves moisture in the soil.
  • Plant drought resistant shrubs and flowers.
  • Use watering can rather than hose for plants and flowers. Avoid sprinklers.
  • If you water at all, do so early in the morning or in the evenings.
  • Put bird baths to provide water for birds, when and where it is safe for standing water.

Protect the Environment:

  • Do not put toxic items down the drain: cleansers, bleach, detergents, and so on.
  • Do not put grease, fat, or cooking oil down the drain.
  • Make grease balls with nuts and raisin to hang for birds to feed on.
  • Avoid use of pesticides or herbicides or weed killers. These will run off into the water shed and pollute local waterways.
  • Plant a rain garden containing special plants with deep roots that absorb water so it does not runoff from roofs into the watershed or water ways.

Educational actions:

  • Get the family on board.
  • Put up reminder signs: Attend to water leaks. Do not let faucet run. Run dishwasher when full.

Advocacy and Public Witness:

  • Restore degraded water habitats such as local streams and lakes.
  • Promote the preservation of wetlands.
  • Learn about water problems around the globe.
  • Advocate for policies and laws to slow global warming.
  • Oppose practices of extraction for oil, gas, or minerals that threaten water resources.

“We Speak from a Sacred Core” – Reflections on an Advocacy Training

Reflections on Attending Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light Advocacy Training, August 26, 2015

by Pastor Inge Williams, Friedens Lutheran Church, Shartlesville, Pennsylvania

I recently heard a theologian say that the first reaction of people to an awareness of the environmental crisis tends to be despair. This was certainly the case for me. I vividly remember the moment when I read the IPCC’s press report in a college computer lab in 2007 and realized that humans were wreaking havoc on the climate. I fell into a spiritual crisis, paralyzed by a sudden understanding of the weight of our folly. (read more)

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