Thanks to Rev. Kris Litman-Koon, as the South Carolina’s Synod Creation Care convener, a group of ELCA members from across the country came together for rejuvenation and inspiration in November 2019 at the Coastal Retreat Center.
Guidelines for Ecologically Responsible Events
Prepared by Pilgrims Caring for Creation Pilgrim Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN in response to a request from Mary Beth Nowak, ELCA Churchwide Assembly Coordinator, January 22, 2009.*
Adapted for events in observance of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation by David Rhoads, Founder Lutherans Restoring Creation.
*please note some resources may need updating – if you find anything we should alter please let us know!
Publicity about sustainability efforts; through planning, implementation, and beyond:
• Use your website, event program, press releases, opening, signage and post-event publications to tell the story of the green event.
• Put together a brochure with actions taken by your organization to make the event green. Print a limited number for attendees and the public and make it available electronically. Include green actions that individuals can adopt at the event, in their congregations, and beyond. For example:
• Adjust the thermostat in the hotel rooms (and at home) when not there so the heat or air conditioning is not running unnecessarily. Take advantage of hotel policies for less frequent washing of linens.
• List other relevant information related to getting around in the location of the event.
• Set up an onsite sustainability booth to provide information about the event’s greening initiatives. Items at this table could include: transit passes; transit information/maps; bike rental/bike trail information; tips included in the above brochure.
• Invite the local and national Lutheran creation care organizations to have booths and provide consultation to congregations regarding their greening goals.
Procurement of services and products
• Purchasing staff can keep in mind the environmental, social, and economic impacts of purchased goods or services—throughout its lifecycle. Favor goods and services that result in minimal environmental impacts and create good social and economic development. Use environmental criteria as well as quality and price.
• For example, if speaker platforms are created by staff, the wood could be sustainably grown and harvested. If rugs or fabrics are used to soften the areas, they could have minimal adhesives and be reusable or recyclable.
• Develop contract riders to hold suppliers accountable to sustainability commitments.
• For example, ask subcontractors and vendors to consider the lifecycle of the products they use and create.
• There is a precedent for event sponsors to calculate the energy used by the whole event—services, transportation, venues and so forth—and then purchase carbon offsets to cover their energy use. They can choose to ask participants to help bear the costs. There are several calculators to use for this. Consider http://www.nativeenergy.com, but browsing “carbon calculator” on the internet yields comparisons among several. For carbon offset groups, try http://www.co2offsetresearch.org/consumer/OffsetRatings.html .
Communications to participants prior to the event
• Provide opportunities for sending conference information electronically.
• Reduce the use of paper and the need to mail that paper by providing as much pre-event information electronically.
• Allow for and encourage electronic registration.
• Whenever paper is used: Decrease the margins around printing to one-half inch, copy on both sides of the paper, use 100% post-consumer recycled paper, print using soy/vegetable ink, avoid bright colored paper.
Travel to the Event
• Ask attendees to think about others living in nearby communities who will also attend the event and encourage them to consider renting a van or bus and traveling to the event together.
• Encourage each attendee/vendor/presenter/staff person flying or driving to the site of the event to consider purchasing carbon offsets to help mitigate the environmental impact of their travel.
• Encourage people to bring their own water containers or mugs that they will rinse themselves. No Styrofoam or plastic bottles, please.
• Encourage delegates and others coming to the event to consider bringing their families and making the location of the event a vacation destination rather than taking a second trip and thereby emitting additional greenhouse gas emissions. Come early or stay later.
• Consider providing videoconferencing options to individuals who do not need to be physically present at the event.
Lodging for Attendees
• Inquire about the environmental practices of hotels, including their waste and resource management.
• Are bulk dispensers for shampoos and soaps used in hotel rooms?
• Are low-flow water-conserving fixtures used in sinks, toilets, and showers?
• Are paperless check-in and check-out available?
• Are post-consumer recycled paper products used?
• Negotiate room blocks with hotels that are within walking distance, are on the transit line, and/or have green policies.
• Ask guests to participate in linen re-use programs at their hotels. Ask them to shut off lights, TVs, and heat/ A/C when they leave their rooms.
• Ask that the hotel staff to put the thermostat up/down when the room is empty. This is already the standard practice in some hotels.
Transportation around the Event Site
• Discourage the use of single rider rental cars, and encourage carpooling.
• Encourage the use of local transit.
• Inform attendees that bike rental is an option for local transportation.
• Inform attendees that idling is prohibited in many areas, unless the car is in traffic. Avoid idling for more than three minutes.
Event Site Amenities
• Inquire about the environmental practices of the site where the event is being held, including their waste and resource management: Do they employ energy- and water-efficient equipment and practices? Do they minimize the use of harmful chemicals when cleaning? Is recycling available in all common areas Are recycling receptacles readily available and clearly marked? Is staff trained to ensure that recycling and garbage are not co-mingled? Are food-rescue, food-to-animals, or food composting practices followed? Ask if they could schedule heat/ A/C resources around meeting requirements. Can the temperature be changed a little, keeping the halls comfortable but conserving energy?
• Encourage the event site to purchase wind energy during the period of the event. If not, consider purchasing carbon offsets for the event itself.
• Do not distribute plastic water bottles. Instead each table should have a pitcher of water and glasses.
• If you choose to use disposable products such as cups, and cutlery, consider purchasing compostable products made from cornstarch or similar materials. If this option is chosen, then provide for composting services and education to attendees to ensure success.
• Be sure not to put compostable waste inside large non-compostable plastic bags for disposal.
• Encourage attendees to bring their laptop computers and then provide wireless internet service to them. Make all printed materials available electronically so participants can choose to read the materials from their laptops rather than receiving handouts. Individuals may also choose to take notes on their computers rather than on paper.
• Compost food waste.
• Request that food providers use organic, locally produced food and beverages (contract with the site to use local food as much as possible). If it is not possible for all meals to be from local sources, have one or two meals designated as locally grown and publicize them that way.
• Provide only Fair Trade organic coffee and tea throughout the event.
• Direct event staff NOT to pre-fill water glasses at meals. Allow guests to fill their own glasses with pitchers at the tables.
• Do not use disposable water bottles. Provide for glasses and pitchers of water.
• Eliminate disposable items, including containers, plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, napkins, and tablecloths. Earth-Centric has cups that are compostable: http://www.Earth-Centric.com
• Arrange to donate leftover food to local charities. Local charity organizations may be able to assist with this effort. Individuals or groups can volunteer to assist.
• Ensure that any seafood served is harvested responsibly.
• Provide vegetarian and vegan meals or options.
• Choose reusable centerpieces and decorations.
• Make on-line registration an option and encourage attendees to use it.
• Encourage attendees to bring their own name-tags if they have them. Encourage them to be reusable.
• Provide lanyards that are made from recycled materials. Ask participants to return them after the event to be used again later, and provide an incentive for them to do so. For example, if there is a drawing at the end of the event, let people know that their name will be entered only upon the return of the lanyard.
• Give everyone a reusable event bag. The bag can be made of organically grown cotton or canvas, or recycled plastic. Put a logo on it that people will be happy to reuse. This reduces waste and is good advertising.
• Consider the environment when determining giveaways. Provide giveaways that are useful and sustainable, like a bicycle (LED) flasher, keychain with light on end, 3” x 3” recycled leather paper pad.
• Encourage vendors and exhibitors to consider the environment when making choices about giveaways, banners, displays, paper, post-conference waste, etc.
• Encourage them to provide giveaways that are made from recycled materials, or will biodegrade, or are reusable, or are consumable (e.g. note pads made from recycled paper, coffee mugs, Fair Trade chocolate).
• Request/require exhibitors to use recycled and recyclable paper.
• Invite people/companies to exhibit who can sell potentially green things to congregations (eco-friendly Good Friday palms branches, organic communion wine, etc.).
• Encourage exhibitors to reduce waste (and cost) by reusing or recycling displays and other materials, rather than disposing of them after the event.
• Request that exhibitors use sustainable design and construction of their exhibit booths, if possible.
• Attempt to hire “green” display/decoration/production companies for décor (banners, cutouts, platform decorations, posters). Can you reduce? Do you really need everything you think you need? Using less is good for the environment and good for the budget. What are displays and decorations made of? Do they emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)? Can they be reused?
• Use organic communion wine and locally produced communion bread made from organic ingredients, at large group meetings. Practice intinction to avoid plastic communion cups or washing glass ones.
• Encourage presenters to provide their presentations in advance on discs or on the Assembly web site. Remind attendees that materials will be available on a designated website after the event.
The 2019 ELCA Advocacy Convening (April 29 – May 1) gathered over 100 lay and rostered leaders to be trained as advocates. The theme: “Prepared to Care: Our Advocacy in Light of Disasters Intensified by Climate Change.” Below are some highlights as I, Phoebe Morad, experienced them. Thanks to those who support Lutherans Restoring Creation and help get our voice on the scene and for sharing this information and inspiration with your congregations and communities.
April 29th, after an 8 hour train ride from Boston: (The passenger next to me said I was taking the train such a long way to “make AOC happy,” but I said I was doing it for my kids.)
Opening worship at the glorious new space of St. Matthew’s in DC set the stage. This part had to include a bit of hand-wringing; admitting that we are full of fear and that it paralyzes us. Director of ELCA’s Advocacy office, Amy Reumann shared that message of moving past fear in her sermon. Washington D.C. April 2019 Service (great hymns and sample litanies)
During dinner together we heard from Lutherans across the country and globe dealing with fires, floods, immigration and agricultural devastation. A disturbing collage of stories that are all magnified (if not caused) by a changing climate. The positive take-away from that evening: with our combined forces of ELCA’s Global & Domestic Mission, Disaster Response, Advocacy, AND the people power in the congregations (go LRC Green Shepherds!) we are uniquely poised to attack these issues on all fronts.
April 30th, day two, of our training was focused on forcing ourselves into other people’s shoes. How do we talk to people who think differently, have difference perspectives/priorities? Ani Fete-Crews from ecoAmerica’s Blessed Tomorrow’s presentation on 15 Steps to Effectively Talk about Climate utilizes current statistics about what people actually hear (which isn’t always what you say). Time spent learning and practicing Talanoa Dialogue offered a tool for church leaders to bring back to communities with disparate views and learn how to listen to one another and find common solutions. Hearing from pivotal leaders from island nations surrounded by the threat of rising seas and our neighbors to the South fleeing from long-term drought made the current impacts on our neighbors very real.
The last day (May 1) of the convening we started out at a Mexican restaurant for (an awesome breakfast) and to be officially sent into the world – specifically to ASK our elected officials to consider the human toll of climate change. What exactly did we ask for? Download the 2019 Advocacy Ask here which led us in conversation with our public servants.
The energy was palpable in the ELCA DC Advocacy office as cohorts came/went to the Hill, and, it felt like – at least for a day – we were being heard. Bumping into other Lutherans among the offices and around the Capital was a thrill (maybe because I’m a public policy nerd). However, the reality of complex conversations and endurance needed for collaborative work hung in the air after hours of meetings. It was quite a refreshment to then be invited to a vibrant, grassroots reception in an inner-city church basement. With dozens of partner organizations invited to the Interfaith Power & Light’s event, we could be restored in each other’s company and be inspired by one church acting as a beacon of hope in the city. Reformation Lutheran Church was a not only a host to this rejuvenating event, but also invited us to transformational experience called the Healing Blanket Exercise, facilitated by Prairie Rose Seminole, ELCA’s American Indian Alaska Native Program Director.
In a contrast to the “bottom-up” mentality of the evening before, May 2nd offered a very hopeful glimpse of what is happening from the “top-down”. Fortunately, our grassroots movement is in partnership with ecoAmerica which connects leaders from the health, policy, and religious realms so that we can leverage each other’s assets. There are MANY vignettes I would be happy to share in our next Connections Call, but if you can take the time to explore the recording below please do. Rep. Whitehouse (Dem-RI) shared a very clear understanding of what is the hold-up in his “habitat,” Dr. Gail Christopher shared a staggering account of the impacts on health care costs, and Rev. Dorhauer talks about privilege as an impediment to the church. If nothing else, let Shantha Ready-Alonso lead you through a guided visualization of why any of us do this work (start at minute 15 below).
Thanks again so much for being a part of this movement and helping ensure the concerns, efforts, and strengths that come from the Caring for Creation ministries within the ELCA are heard. Meeting with leadership from all sectors of our church in person and focused on the urgent issues of climate was more effective than dozens of conference calls and hundreds of emails. I returned home (via train of course) with a full plate of next steps and a full heart of hope.
Lutherans Restoring Creation partnered with Presbyterians for Earth Care for their bi-annual conference at Stony Point Retreat Center in NY August 6-9, 2019 where over a hundred earth-keepers gathered. Below are some of the remarkable reflections during our time together processing how to take some of the Bible’s directives to bring us to the frontline. Using the World Cafe Method, participants conversed around the three following verses and considered how the Word could help them (and their faith community) progress from movement to action.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ” John 15: 5
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
Romans 12: 4-6
Here are images of our time together at Stony Point Retreat Center:
What is ELCA Coaching? Click here for a Ministry Description
Interested in upcoming trainings? click here.
What happens when Trained Coaches focus on helping those in Caring for Creation Ministries? All the action plans, resolutions, pledges, etc. that have emerged over years of active concern and deliberation are transformed into active progress by accompanying individuals leading these efforts to ensure goals are realized.
Response after Inaugural Creation Care Coach Training (NV- 2/6/19):
“… My most profound feeling is gratitude. THANK YOU to all of you for not only the training, but the preparation that went into it, your expertise, the vision that you invited me into, the people to whom you connected me, and the coming time of transformation. I could never have imagined what these three days would mean for me…and I am just beginning to realize it. Thank you for your partnership, your inspiration, your wisdom, and the HOPE that you have opened up for me! I carry you all with me today and in the days to come, and I look forward to connecting with you through our continued training.”
– Noni Strand, Kansas City – Central States LRC Mission Table Chair
Introduced in 2019, Caring for Creation Coaching is another area of specialty coaching being offered by the ELCA in collaboration with Lutherans Restoring Creation and ecoAmerica. Using a format similar to what has been successful with Stewardship and Discipleship Level II Coaching, this specialty will focus on developing coaching skills and competencies around five pillars (Personal Discipleship, Education, Building & Grounds, Public Witness & Advocacy) of caring for creation in the congregation and local community. Through a series of seven session, participants will be equipped as coaches to accompany individuals and small groups in achieving their dreams through actions that create change related to caring for creation and climate solutions.
In each session special attention is given to sharpening coaching skills and engaging coaching competencies as outlined by the International Coach Federation (ICF). These will help coaches journey alongside leaders involved in God’s work, both loving and serving the world. (Note: ICF is the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals.).
From idea to team to movement: Central States Green Team
Central States Synod voted to become a Lutherans Restoring Creation synod in June 2015 and empowered their LRC Mission Table to begin working on ways to help congregations care for creation through worship, education, buildings and grounds, discipleship and stewardship, and education. February 2016 they hosted a retreat at Camp Tomah Shinga in Junction City, KS for over 20 people excited to help churches in their communities integrate eco-justice in their ministries. Then they organized a follow up event that summer to share what they had learned with fellow ELCA members in other areas of their synod. This Green Team Mission Table just keeps hosting workshops at their assemblies and gatherings all over!
In February of 2018 the group “retreated” again to Tomah Shinga!
Twenty-eight passionate youth and adults from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Minnesota gathered at Camp Tomah Shinga (outside Junction City, Kansas) on Saturday, February 17, 2018 to learn more about how to empower their congregations to “green” their worship, education, buildings and grounds, discipleship in daily life, and public life/advocacy efforts. The workshop was presented by members of the Central States Synod LRC Mission Table in partnership with Camp Tomah Shinga. Participants represented Central States Synod congregations from St. Louis, Florissant, Prairie Village, Olathe, Topeka, Waterville, Salina, Manhattan, Lindsborg, and Wichita in the Central States Synod, along with congregations in Lincoln,
Nebraska, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Upcoming this spring the Central States Synod offer more learning opportunities: Register for their next gathering here!
What can YOU do to get congregations in your area thinking about Caring for Creation as part of church?
- No need to start from scratch – we have many templates that you can use as is or add to. Also plenty of resources are available that connect with a broad range of themes depending on the synod’s theme. Contact us to have materials sent/attached to you directly: email@example.com
- If your gathering is looking for special guests – check our list of speakers and see what other “Green Shepherds” may be in your area.
- Incorporate care for creation into your synod worship services/ Explore our wide array of sample bulletins and services. Especially check out our ecumenical companion site: www.letallcreationpraise.org.
- See here examples of environmental resolutions offered by synods.
- Find out how and when resolutions are submitted for your synod’s next assembly directly from your synod office (look up the contact info here).
- Print out a few sample materials and be sure to have people sign up for more information (you can use this form [Sign-IN-at-Events-sheet.pd] scan/email it back to us and then we’ll send back a list of everyone in your synod who has interest in this ministry!) Set up a computer(if wi-fi is available) and share some video educational tools.
- Stories. Showcase examples of what is happening in the congregations of your synod and ask for more stories – from gardening together, to washing dishes rather than throwing them away. Celebrate what everyone has to offer!
- See our LRC guide: Planning and Carrying Out Green Events
Everyone is invited to attend the day-long Creation Care Workshop led by members of the Central States Synod Lutherans Restoring Creation Mission Table in Kansas City.
Register online at Eventbrite (click here)
Learn how to incorporate creation
care into your congregation’s
• Worship life
• Educational programs
• Discipleship of members at home/work
• Buildings and grounds
• Public ministry and advocacy
In October 2016 representatives from every synod in California came together for a retreat and rejuvenation at Luther Glen Camp in Oak Glen, CA and wrapped up their workshop with a visit to the Central City Lutheran Mission in San Bernardino to discuss the connections between food, water and jobs with creation care work in CA. Since then, their synod green teams have met and shared their experiences, a congregation became certified with GreenFaith, and they have a vibrant Facebook community (be sure to follow if you are on the West Coast!).
The Southeastern Synod decided to enlist a caring for creation “task force” at their 2013 Synod Assembly and since then a small band of powerful people across several states have gained momentum. After meeting as a small group several times to set goals and evaluate personal assets, the team embarked on a two day retreat in March 2014 to brainstorm and educate themselves on the tools and challenges of this ministry.
In 2016 their assembly passed a memorial to go to the Churchwide assembly asking for more investments in cleaner energy. Reaching out and sharing their resources at the South Carolina Synod Assembly, this team is passionate about sharing significance of the vocation of being a good steward to their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Most recently the team sent fifteen members in February 2018 to LutherRanch in Tallapoosa Georgia as a part of a regional retreat and training session. Since then churches in the synod have signed congregational covenants, stepped up their involvement in the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio and created new green teams.
Contact Mary McCoy, member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Marietta GA and chair of the Task Force, or find someone on the Creation Care Ministries map who is closer to where you are!
Many voices come together to make big reverberations!
Twenty-nine Lutherans from across Pennsylvania and beyond gathered at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, PA, the last weekend in January, 2013 to become LRC trainers. They were empowered to return to their synods and congregations with the tools, connections and renewed faith to restore creation.
The workshop was fortunate to have several representatives from the “larger” church’s efforts in advocacy including: Rev. Leah Schade, founder of the Interfaith Sacred Earth Coalition of the Susquehanna Valley (ISEC), Alycia Ashburn, Director of Creation Care Campaign at Sojourners, Rev. Amy E. Reumann and Rev. Paul Lubold from Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania (LAMPa), and Director of the ELCA’s Washington Office, Rev. Andrew Genszler.
The training facilitator, Phoebe Morad, commented: “While many of us feel at times we are just one small voice, this gathering reminds us that we are not alone and that we are called by and supported with our Lutheran faith to carry out this work.”
As a result of this workshop every synod in the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware is now equipped with a team of LRC trainers who are available and eager to share the techniques and insight necessary to integrate care for creation in every aspect of our Christian lives. Each LRC trainer left the workshop with a plan to reach out to interested congregations in their synod and will eventually hold a networking event for the region to continue the ripple effect of this awareness.
Congregations or individuals who are eager to have this training in their congregation or synod, please reach out to Lutherans Restoring Creation!
The Central States Synod Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC) Mission Table is made up of volunteers from across the Synod who feel passionate about caring for creation and want to empower others to learn and act on behalf of all that God has made. Through monthly conference calls and offering workshops throughout the Synod, we share God’s story in creation and facilitate the sharing of stories about how congregations can use worship, buildings and grounds, education, discipleship in daily life, and advocacy to be better stewards of creation. Here are two stories from recent workshop attendees:
Kaylie Ines is a senior at Bethany College and will attend Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in the fall. She is a member of Reformation Lutheran in Wichita. Kaylie writes,“By attending the LRC workshop I was able to engage and reflect on what it means to be an advocate for sustainability – as a Lutheran and as a being. I got a better understanding of why Lutherans care for all of creation. It took my perspective from just a theological idea and expanded it to think about the ethical imperative for the church. I am thankful for this experience and the fellowship shared at the workshop. It was inspiring to engage others and to share ideas on what we can do to help care for creation. I have brought this knowledge and passion back to campus with me and have shared them with our campus pastor. We are looking to organize an Earth Day celebration event. My goal is to help rebuild the interest in creation care with younger students by doing smaller projects to peak an interest and leave behind ideas for bigger projects for a team to tackle when we have sustainable numbers. Our Earth Day Event will also engage others in creation care as we we partner with a local church and our on-campus Art Club!”
Josh Thede is a member of the City of Mission, KS, Sustainability Commission; President of the USGBC Emerging Professionals – Central Plains Chapter; and works as an Acoustical Consultant at Henderson Engineers in Lenexa, KS. Josh did volunteer service in Peru where he lived and worked in the Amazon Rainforest for three weeks doing reforestation, animal monitoring, research, and organic agriculture. He also served as a Camp Counselor at Carol Joy Holling in Ashland, NE. Josh is looking for a Lutheran congregation in the KC area that will help him make a positive impact on the planet. Josh writes, “I was impressed and encouraged by the activities churches are already doing, including solar panels, energy star-rated buildings, up cycling plastic bags into sleeping mats, sending youth outdoors in nature, reducing waste, and composting. I enjoyed that the event was framed in ‘creation care’ which is a different perspective than the secular climate action and clean energy that I am more familiar with. It was an incredible group of people including venture scouts, pastors, congregation staff, college students, camp directors, youth leaders, professors, carpenters, hikers, and more. Each had their own perspective and approach, but the overall theme was consistent: The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Psalm 25), and protecting the Earth should be a priority for all people and congregations. I left encouraged that by the Grace of God, we have hope that our actions will create a positive change to reduce the sin of greed and overconsumption, and increase protection and preservation of Earth.”
The second week in August, 2013, about a dozen and a half Lutherans converged on Singmaster House at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg for a two-day seminar on caring for God’s creation. The training was led by Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC) through a grant from the Lutheran Community Foundation (now InFaith Community Foundation).
We shared hopes and dreams – we talked about worship, education, advocacy, buildings, and grounds – we developed plans, as individuals and within our synods – good Lutherans that we all are, we talked and ate – and we worshiped together: an evening Taizé service in a living room with a slightly out-of-tune piano and candles on a coffee table and an afternoon service under a white oak “witness tree” (one that witnessed the Battle of Gettysburg) that also witnessed the sharing of our visions of creation. We left, hopefully, as seeds, to be planted and to grow.
So, why do Lutherans care for creation? Some excerpts and summaries from LRC information:
- We affirm God as creator of all and cherish the continuing presence of God in, with, and under all reality.
- The theology of the cross gives us solidarity with “creation groaning in travail;” our affirmation of resurrection offers hope for new life in this world.
- We see the material as a vehicle of the divine, seeing Christ present in such ordinary elements as grapes and grain. We worship God with creation.
- We believe that the church exists for the sake of the world, continually reforming in response to the needs and crises of this life.
- We have an ethic of action created by faith in love for our neighbor and all of God’s creation.
- With a heritage back to the Reformation, Lutherans have a history of social ministry to the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, of being a voice for the voiceless. This includes those people hurt by environmental exploitation and degradation as well as the damaged creation.
So, how do you care for creation? How should we care for creation? What seeds do you want to plant, and have planted within you?
Louisa Rettew, P.E., LEED-AP+BD&C
Lutherans Restoring Creation of the Northwest Pennsylvania Synod held a workshop (Caring for Creation: An Environmental Workshop for People of Faith) on September 13, 2014 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Erie, Pennsylvania. The workshop was advertised for all people of faith.
The workshop was planned and organized by three people (Janet Bischoff, Dennis Groce, and Rev. Kenneth Laber) who had received LRC training in the previous couple of years at Gettysburg Seminary. Since that training, we have had several events at an ELCA camp (Lutherlyn) and two synod assemblies. Attendance at the camp events was limited (perhaps due to travel time / expense), but the attendance at the three 50-minute synod assembly forum events was promising.
Based on the experiences at the synod assembly workshops, we decided to develop an event based in Erie, which has the largest concentration of ELCA members in our synod. The workshop was 3 ½ hours in duration, which we felt was enough to provide an introduction to the topics, but not so long that people would be reluctant to attend. We adapted a sample agenda in the LRC materials.
The response was fairly good. In addition to the three organizers and two invited speakers, we had twenty-two attendees, including twelve from seven ELCA congregations (7 ordained and five lay). The other denominations attending were Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Unitarian. We received organizing support from congregations in each of the three Erie County clusters.
The two invited presentations were great, and the three organizers each led one or more portions of the other presentations. Rev. Amy Reumann (Lutheran Advocacy Ministries of Pennsylvania) spoke about the theology of earthcare and public advocacy. Cricket Hunter (Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light) spoke about opportunities for purchasing clean electricity and other ways of practicing earthcare in life at home and work. The discussions were also good, with some good questions and exchange of information.
One of the non-ELCA participants was an especially good source of information, with his primary message being to make an energy audit one of the first building/grounds earthcare actions. One of the participants said the workshop will lead them to emphasize “educating the congregation and to use products that don’t pollute.” We plan to follow up with the participants the weeks following the workshop, and then in a few months to see what progress they have been able to make.
In addition to the workshop described here, we have previously organized:
- A showing of the movie, “Chasing Ice” at Lutherlyn Camp, Prospect, PA
- A discussion and partial viewing of the ELCA “Earthbound” videos at Lutherlyn
- Two synod assembly forum events (2013 and 2014) that provided a 50-minute overview and discussion of earthcare basics for congregations
- One synod assembly forum (2013) with an invited speaker specifically addressing climate change and the likely impact on hunger.
For more information, please contact Dennis Groce / 814-725-9115 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communion with Creation at the beautiful Atlantic coastline with other stewards of God’s good creation.
Be empowered for creation care ministry at your home, congregation, school, or synod. Learn more about how to integrate concern for the planet with the moral calling to be good to our global neighbors (global/local, human/non), practice real strategies to engage in controversial issues, hear about local sea turtle conservation work, and spend time in a beautiful setting with plenty of time to reflect and rest.
The retreat will take place at the Coastal Retreat Center
2101 Palm Blvd, Isle of Palms, SC, located near historic Charleston.
SCHOLARSHIPS OFFERED ARE THANKS TO:
The retreat is sponsored by Lutherans Restoring Creation and is open to different faith traditions.
The Rev. Kris Litman-Koon:
Phone: (843) 884-5470 Email: Pastor.KLK at gmail dot com
Back in the summer of 2018 hundreds of youth and group leaders visited our Lutherans Restoring Creation space in the Interactive Educational Area during the National Youth Gathering in Houston.
Every visitor was asked to spend about 5 minutes walking through a “tour” of their typical day and consider how their daily decisions impacted their global neighbors.
We don’t have to let it end there though! Get your youth group (or adult forum, or bible study, or family…) to read through the tour with pledge form in hand (or on screen) and find solutions in a prayerful way of living. If you use our online form we can stay on touch with you and let your synod leadership know what you’re aiming for.
The two most requested tools for Youth Groups to use as follow up to this discussion starter:
Story of Stuff 20 minute video. (Ask your group what challenges they have with their “golden arrow.”)
Check out the list of assets all these people bring to the table and how many forces are represented here! (Download notes from our January 2015 Gathering at Hartford Seminary by clicking this link). Watch out despair – this alliance remembers how to put hope into action!
At the 2012 synod assembly, the Synod Creation Care Team conducted a survey to learn how it might support the creation care work of congregations. Many congregations asked for more training. In response, the team is offering annual retreats to equip congregational leaders on how to integrate God’s call to care for the Earth into the core elements of congregational life: worship, stewardship, education, and outreach.
The first training retreat was held at Camp Hiawatha on February 22-23, 2013. The focus was on worship and the Season of Creation liturgical resource because, in the words of the team, “worship is at the heart of everything we do and are as the church.”
During the retreat, thirty-four participants from 12 congregations, two camps, and one campus ministry experienced the Season of Creation in worship, learned how other congregations are practicing creation care, shared success stories, and went home equipped with many resources.
“It was a rich experience that provided a lot of encouragement,” according to one participant.
Pastor Karen Foster, team co-chair, said, “This retreat is clearly the beginning of nurturing a growing network through which our congregations, camps, and campus ministries can encourage, inspire, and support each other in this vital focus!”
NE MN Retreat on Worship: Letter of Invitation
Northeastern Minnesota Synod Creation Care Team
Greetings from your NEMN Synod Creation Care Team, and an Invitation to participate in:
Creation Care 2013
The Season of Creation: A Retreat to Equip Congregational Leaders
February 22-23, 2013 at Camp Hiawatha
At this year’s (2012) synod assembly, the Synod Creation Care Task Force conducted a survey to learn how congregations are involved in creation care efforts and how our task force might support that work. From these surveys, we gathered names of some of the congregations who desire more information and training. We are encouraged by what congregations like yours already do and by your desire to network and grow with other congregations!
Many congregations asked for more training in living God’s call to care for creation. In response to this interest, we are offering the congregations of our synod an annual retreat to equip congregational leaders. These retreats will focus on integrating God’s call to care for the Earth into the core elements of congregational life: worship, stewardship, education, and outreach.
The Synod Creation Care Team invites your congregation to assemble a team of key leaders to participate in the first training retreat on Friday, February 22 and Saturday, February 23 at Camp Hiawatha in Deer River. Since worship is at the heart of everything we do and are as the Church, this first retreat will focus on worship, specifically on a season of the church year called the Season of Creation. Developed by the Lutheran Church in Australia and adapted for use in the ELCA, this is a four to six week liturgical season typically inserted mid-way through the green season after Pentecost. It corresponds to our three year lectionary cycle with weekly themes that include, for example, earth, sky, mountains, humanity and world communion.
During the retreat, congregations will experience the Season of Creation in worship, learn how other congregations are practicing creation care, share success stories, and go home equipped with many resources. Registration starts at 4:00 p.m. with introductions at 5:00, supper at 5:30, and opening worship at 6:15. It will conclude about 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. The cost for the retreat will be $50 per person, which cost includes dinner Friday night, overnight accommodations, and breakfast and lunch on Saturday. We are seeking scholarship assistance to help defray the participant cost. More information will be available in the coming weeks.
This is a great opportunity for pastors and other key congregational leaders to become better equipped to lead their congregation in implementing God’s call to be stewards of the whole creation. We hope to hear from you and see you in February. For further questions or to convey your interest in this synodical initiative, please contact either of our team co-chairpersons: Pastor Kristin Foster at 218-741-7057 or Pastor David Carlson at 218-722-3381.
Yours in Christ,
NEMN Synod Creation Care Team
P.S. For more information, check out the web site at http://www.letallcreationpraise.org/season-of-creation.
The NE MN Synod Creation Care Team Mission: To nurture a growing network that inspires our congregations and their members to live out God’s call to be stewards of the earth for the sake of the whole creation!
(*formerly Synod Creation Care Task Force)
Season of Creation Retreat: February 22 and 23 at Camp Hiawatha
Northeast Minnesota Synod
Friday, Feb 22, 2013
Evening opening worship – TBA
Season of Creation overview – Krehl
Team building – Joel
First Sunday in the Season of Creation: Lakes Sunday – Dave & Rosie
Saturday, Feb 23, 2013
Morning Sundays in the Season of Creation – Dennis (as general resource person)?
Second Sunday: Fauna Sunday – Tom, Vicki (& Anders?)
Third Sunday: Storm Sunday – Kristin, Mark
Fourth Sunday: Cosmos Sunday – Krehl (& Steve?)
Afternoon Relationships and resources
- Lutherans Restoring Creation – Mark
- Additional Resources – All
Congregational Planning – Kristin
Sending worship – TBA
Walk through each of the four or five Sundays of the Season of Creation for the year of Luke.
Consider approaching each Sunday in multiple ways, starting with mini-presentations from the team and then providing one or two small group/team reflection times for each session. It might look like this
Do the Season of Creation overview on Friday evening before or after team building.
Do 3 or possibly 4 seasons on Saturday morning, 45 minutes each.
Season of Creation Overview: The Wisdom series from Luke
- The three year season of creation cycle
- Year of Luke perspectives: the Wisdom tradition
- Preview/intro on science, art, music
- Sing a related hymn and one piece of the Dakota road earthkeeping liturgy
- Assign people/volunteers to read the lectionary readings to the whole group
- Small group discussion #1 – diving into the lectionary
- Share insights, mini-presenter draw from those and highlight anything else
- Science and/or other contemporary perspective on the topic
- Small group discussion #2 – Worship possibilities, including art and music
- Large group sharing
- Youth, education, and outreach possibilities – seed with some ideas, then back to small groups/teams
- The lectionary
This way the “congregational planning” piece would be an ongoing process, and then provide some wrap-up planning time toward the end of the retreat.
Series C: The Wisdom Series
Wisdom is a deep impulse within all parts of creation, designing their mysteries, guiding their purposes, and mentoring their functions. The Wisdom series correlates with the Luke series of the church year.
|First Sunday in Creation|
|Theme: Ocean Sunday|
|Old Testament||Job 38:1-18|
|Psalm||Psalm 104:1-9, 24-26|
|Second Sunday in Creation|
|Theme: Fauna Sunday|
|Old Testament||Job 39:1-8, 26-30|
|Epistle||1 Corinthians 1:10-23|
|Third Sunday in Creation|
|Theme: Storm Sunday|
|Old Testament||Job 28:20-27|
|Epistle||1 Corinthians 1:21-31|
|Fourth Sunday in Creation|
|Theme: Cosmos Sunday|
|Old Testament||Proverbs 8:22-31|
This retreat is a model for grassroots leadership in the congregations of our synod and will be led by the whole creation care team, including:
+Joel Abenth (Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry)
+Anders Meier (Camp Onamia)
+Pr. Mark Peters (Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in MN)
+Pr. Krehl Stringer (Faith United, Iron)
+Rosie Loeffler-Kemp (Good Shepherd, Duluth)
+Pr. Kristin Foster (Messiah, Mt. Iron)
+Tom Uecker (Gloria Dei, Duluth)
+Pr. David Carlson (Gloria Dei, Duluth)
+Pr. Vicki Taylor (Northeastern MN Synod)
… we hope to include you!