Tag Archives: national/global advocacy

Lutheran Responses to Fossil Fuel Dependency

Some of us bemoan the fact that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has not committed to entirely divest from fossil fuels as many others have (see latest cohort of 42 religious institutions). Some of us are wary of pulling out entirely from shareholder positions when we may be able to have more leverage to make change having a seat at that table.  Others have a deep concern for all who are dependent on these economic systems,  which many of us are complicit in driving every time we use a device or heat up our dinner.

There are many facets (explore below) involved with this complex issue which we are called to discuss and act on as people of faith. There are ways to move forward before we reach a church-wide consensus.  Below are some of our responses, thus far, from regional resolutions to individual members lifting up a moral calling.
Where are you called to next?

Click on each below to hear stories and information we hope will inspire you to act and bring others with you:

Tools for Grassroots Advocacy: Full Spectrum

On our April 2020 Connections Call, we lifted up numerous ways we can represent what the ELCA’s Creation Care stance offers and how to implement action from where we are each planted. Since we are all living in very different spaces and each know our own audiences best there seems to be a spectrum of resources. Below is a sampling which we can add to and will continually evolve. While there is no one size which fits all, we can all work in harmony to lift up the common language our faith offers.

From protesting to preaching to praying:

Creation Care Ambassador Program

We are thrilled to announce that, through an ongoing partnership between the ELCA and ecoAmerica’s Blessed Tomorrow, a  Creation Care Ambassador Training occurred on April 4, 2020 with over 100 participants from across ELCA communities.  Once their training is complete,  these certified Ambassadors will be eager to share their new skills and resources with your Lutheran community.  Register here (click) if you are interested in having an Ambassador connect (virtually, or eventually in person).

Disappointed you missed this training event!?
Another one is already planned:
June 6, 2020 from 11:30 to 4 pm Eastern Time.

Register here (CLICK)

See how this resources fits into the other ways ELCA supports this ministry by listening to this recorded 1 hour webinar.  Please stay tuned for official registration information coming soon.

My Daughter’s Inheritance

Reflections on “Public Witnessing” with your children

by Phoebe Morad, Lutherans Restoring Creation

As someone who has worked in some facet of environmental action for over 20 years, you’d think that fear, guilt, and longing would consume my anticipation of what world I leave for my children. Fortunately, since I found my place among faith-based communities looking for solutions through eco-justice minefields, I’ve been able to see past the numbness of daunting objectives. I’ve also been able to bring my kids along for the journey.

Earth Day 2016, my daughter was 8, armed with her stuffed animal tree frog and outfitted in her hand-written “end plastic pollution” t-shirt and in silent (yet fervent) agreement with the small cohort who gathered at Senator Ed Markey’s office. We came as representatives from area houses of worship who wanted to emphasize the moral imperative to protect a special part of the Atlantic Ocean habitat. Months later, these advocates, and thousands of their peers, were grateful to hear that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts area was declared a Marine National Monument by President Obama as part of the Antiquities Act.

Thea’s patience was tried when waiting from April to September to hear the results from the petition she took part in – but what a result! The first marine monument on our eastern shores made into a sanctuary to act as a nursery for more fish to feed people and an undisturbed ocean bed as researchers only just began to explore the gifts in this underwater Eden. I wanted to grab this 4th grader by the shoulders before she went into school shouting triumph and warn her: “It isn’t that simple: just because we talked with our representatives, stated our case, and joined others in laying out the importance of this matter – that doesn’t usually result in seeing anything actually changing.” But I bit my tongue and hoped that this would mean exactly that.

Then 2017 happened. The Antiquities Act being used as a tool for upholding Theodore Roosevelt’s intentions to preserve natural treasures is up for debate as the tide of leadership shifts. Was Thea paying attention to my one-way conversation with the news on the radio as Sec. Zinke re-assessed the validity of “our victory”? I decided to keep her on the roller coaster for the rest of the ride. Off we went again to the JFK Federal Building in October to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office to speak with her staff alongside the Creation Justice Ministries team and others who had worked with local fishing coalitions and marine biologists.  Our appeal was to hold firm to conserving the area:  an investment in the future of our fishing industry and the collective impact of ocean care as a climate change mitigation had to trump the short-term worry over economic impacts.

I’m so glad Thea brought her sketchpad to take notes as we spoke with the voice on the speaker from Warren’s DC office; “…fisher people did not feel invited,” she notes alongside drawings of happy fish. That particular point was certainly contended, but the feelings remain. Everyone knows how it feels to not be invited to something, not to be heard. The conversation emerged from our hour in Warren’s office that faith-based groups are uniquely situated to bring together disparate factions and help foster healing interactions. Our next twist on this roller coaster is going to be a long climb: encouraging relationship building between a broader faction of the fishing economy and the faith leaders in their midst to consider how to provide for their loved ones while acting as stewards of the natural gifts meant to share with other generations.

 

As we left Warren’s office Thea and I were excited to see some of her “adornments” on the shelves. She has a rock collection too! There are a few stuffed animals among her books. Being able to relate to Senator Warren’s gender and interests may be the first hook to my daughter’s aspirations, but I hope that isn’t the part that lasts longest. I’m grateful that she gets to see that progress is no straight road. She’s just had a glimpse as to all the diverse interests we need to consider in discovering “justice”. The Elizabeth Warren she will see on campaign ads soon, is not the one and only person to look for all our answers. That is not a true leader’s role. So many, many people are part of the efforts to make a better common home for all. I pray that we can all find a unique role in serving our neighbors needs as St. Paul refers to in his letter to the Corinthians:

 

If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were a single member, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.   (1 Corinthians 17-20)

 

 

Living the Change: A Tool Connected to Many Faiths

GreenFaith has helped pull together leaders from various religions across the globe to recognize our common concern for the planet and life on it. In doing this they have created a tool that can be customized to each tradition and helps us focus on the major activities which we can alter to mitigate a changing climate. Please use this link to sign up (either solo or as a whole team… youth group, Bible Study Class, family, etc.) we want to know of your efforts and celebrate together!

Living the Change as Lutherans Restoring Creation 

What does church have to do with it?

As many faith-based organizations are struggling with their place in relation to people’s daily lives, so does the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America look for ways the world can use what we offer.  As part of an appeal for our churches to take on the uncomfortable challenge of being engaged in the public sphere, let’s take stock of how other sectors of our society ask the church for help.  If you have articles or stories to share please submit them to info at lutheransrestoringcreation dot org.

Comments from BBC’s NewsHour Jan 22, 2019 Davos, Switzerland as Global Business leaders meet at World Economic  Forum:

Listen in to this conversation from global leaders and their call to us all to act as leaders.

What does a “moral and empathic revolution” look like?

When are you tempted to make villains out of your neighbors?

How can prayer offer a way out of habits that take us further away from our goals?

Make Memorials to Churchwide Assembly ASAP

Our list of synod/church-wide resolutions re: eco-justice are still listed on our “archived” site here.  For the upcoming Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee this August the initiative with the most ground support thus far is detailed below, but if your synod has other ideas please let us know so we can share your goals.

*** UPDATE as of June 4, 2019****

Colleagues, I write to inform you that this past Thursday evening the Upstate New York Synod approved the memorial requesting that the Churchwide Assembly endorse The Earth Charter by a vote of 192-13.  No one spoke in opposition.   So as of now we have four synods that are sending this memorial to Churchwide–New England, Southeast Pennsylvania, Gulf, and Upstate New York.  I think there may be one other synod considering this.

Congratulations on your good work!
Peace,
W. Merle Longwood, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies
Siena College
********************************************

Thanks to a passionate group of Lutherans from across the country there is momentum to request that our ELCA Churchwide Assembly agrees to be an institutional endorser of the Earth Charter.  See note below and follow links to discover how you can bring this to your next Synod Assembly!

From: Merle Longwood

Here is the final version of the resolution submitted to the Reference and Counsel Committee of the Upstate New York Synod, along with the cover letter that I sent accompanying that. It has some editorial corrections that I think may be helpful if others of you are still working on getting something to your own Reference and Counsel Committees.

Let’s hope it really becomes possible for this to come to the 2019 Churchwide Assembly for its endorsement.

To Download a PDF copy Click here: EarthCharterMemorial2019

For a Word document to be sent to you for editing to customize for your synod please write or call Phoebe ASAP at info at lutheransrestoringcreation dot org or call 617-599-2722

The New England Synod also submitted a Memorial to sign the Earth Charter. The HOW – TO submit a Memorial is outlined in this document from Sec. Chris Boerger: Memorial Resolutions Memorandum 2018

Prayers for Leadership on Climate Change

Representative, Ruth Ivory-Moore (Advocacy Energy & Environment) from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America joined the COP24 (the 24th Conference of the Parties) in Katowice, Poland. 

Light For Katowice 2018 >> Click here to download an easy-to-use copy of the prayer booklet.

Thanks to Lisa Brenskelle from the Christ the King Church in Houston Texas for assembling this resource!

Synod Resolutions: Synod Actions

Resolution to become an LRC Synod
Central States Synod
Approved June 2015

Resolution to become a Green Synod
Northern Illinois Synod Assembly
Approved April 2008

Resolution on Establishing an Environmental Stewardship Committee
Metropolitan New York Synod, 2009

 

Synod Resolutions: Divestment from Fossil Fuels

Transition to Cleaner Energy Memorial
Upper Susquehanna (PA) Synod June 2015

Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod’s Creation Care Task Force pledges to investigate what divestment would mean for the synod and the world. June 2015

Metro New York Synod
Approved May 29, 2015
News Release 

Saint Paul, MN Area Synod
Approved April 24-25, 2015
Oregon Synod
Approved May 18, 2013.
New England Synod
Approved June 7-9, 2013

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]

 

Sample resolutions to edit and submit at your next synod assembly

Sample Transition to Clean, Renewable Energy Resolution

Sample Fossil Fuels Divestment Resolution

Sample Synod Resolution on Eco-Reformation

Sample Resolution Regarding Inclusion of Stewardship of Creation in Worship

Sample Resolution to Become a Lutherans Restoring Creation Synod

 

 

2017 Synod Assemblies Pass More Eco-Justice Resolutions!

South Central Wisconsin passed their Carbon Fee & Dividend Resolution!
MD/DE Synod Assembly for approving a Resolution on Ecological Justice (read here).

Creation Care Congregation: Public Witness/Policy Advocacy Ideas

Public Witness/Policy Advocacy: “Church exists to serve the world”

Hands-on project. Learn what environmental projects are happening in your area and what organizations are sponsoring them. Recruit members of your congregation to partner with them in the effort. Restore a habitat, clean up trash, plant trees.

Informational forums. Learn what environmental organizations are in your community and invite a representative of one or more to present a forum on their program. Promote the ways that your congregation can support their efforts. If you feel called to speak on climate change, there are tools available to help you communicate about the issue effectively according to behavioral science studies. Go to ecoAmerica’s Blessed Tomorrow site for a Moving Forward guide and consider taking their course to train others ineffective climate communication.

Legislative forum. Invite the head of the Lutheran Public Policy office in your area to preach and present a forum at your congregation. Or invite a local official familiar with local state and regional issues around the environment. If there is a critical issue in your area, plan a forum for information and conversation about it.

Action alerts: Invite members to sign up to receive action alerts via e-mail from ELCA e-Advocacy Network: http://www.elca.org/en/Our-Work/Publicly-Engaged-Church/Advocacy/Get-Involved. The process for contacting legislators is made very simple.

Partner with other faith communities. Join with others seeking to green their congregations. If no such organization exists, start one by asking the green team of one or more other congregations to meet with you and share ideas. Or, if you have been active for several years, offer to mentor another congregation in becoming a creation-care community.

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

ELCA Welcomes the Global Climate Agreement

On Saturday, December 12, 2015 leaders from 195 nations concluded the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris by approving a global agreement to address climate change. This agreement includes a commitment to keep global warming well below 2 degrees. The ELCA welcomes the Paris Accord, and we renew our own commitment to care for all of God’s good creation.

“We stand at a critical moment, when the world has come together to decide the framework for our shared future,” said Interim Advocacy Director Mary Minette, who traveled to Paris last week as part of a delegation representing ACT Alliance, of which the ELCA is a member.

“People of faith showed up in unprecedented numbers for the climate talks in Paris because we believe that this moment includes a moral obligation to our most vulnerable neighbors, to future generations, and to all of God’s creation to act on climate change.

The Paris agreement sets the world on a pathway to stewardship, justice and sustainability. All countries have, for the first time, agreed to take concrete steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to review and increase their commitments over time.

The Paris agreement includes financial pledges to help developing countries adopt  clean energy technologies and adapt to already-occurring impacts of climate change.  It also includes provisions that will help the most vulnerable countries avoid the worst of human suffering from irreversible climate damage in the future,  and it sets the world on a more sustainable, low carbon, development pathway.

The outcome of the Paris talks reflects momentum brought by a growing global movement of people and communities around the world, including communities of faith, who are leading the way in pushing for a better future.

As we leave Paris and return to our own communities, we must continue to act in solidarity with those who are most vulnerable to climate change, with those yet to come, and with all of God’s creation.

Along with membership in ACT Alliance, the ELCA is also a member of the Lutheran World Federation and World Council of Churches. Together these organizations had a delegation of over 100 in Paris for the summit. You can read ACT Alliance’s response to the Paris Accord here.

To learn more about the Paris summit and how the ELCA continues to be involved in caring for God’s Creation, visit http://www.elca.org/advocacy and read Mary’s updates from Paris on our ELCA Advocacy blog

ADVOCACY: national/global advocacy, public witness
Issue-based advocacy, climate change
ELCA materials/resources