Tag Archives: public witness

Advocacy vs. Politics

Thanks to Tracey DePasquale, Director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of Pennsylvania who joined our Connections Call on May 6th, 2020  to help discern the definition of politics. Hear her commentary here, followed by a discussion including insight from Ruth Ivory-Moore, ELCA Advocacy, Director of Energy & Environment. 

Click here to listen to the call. 

Resources mentioned and related to the call:

See all Advocacy-related resources here!

Water discipleship tools – fresh from Vermont!

Vermont Lutheran Church partners with Interfaith Power & Light to Share the Various Ways to Revere Water:

In 2018, Vermont Interfaith Power and Light (VTIPL) joined with local organizations to create a model for watershed stewardship, based on the experience of Ascension Lutheran Church in South Burlington, Vermont.  The Reverend Dr. Nancy Wright, pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church, and Richard Butz, a member of the church, are co-authors of the manuals. Rev. Nancy Wright is also a chairperson of the New England Synod’s Lutherans Restoring Creation “Green Team”. 

VTIPL has created two manuals, one with a Christian emphasis, Congregational Watershed Discipleship Manual: Faith Communities as Stewards of the World’s Waters (1st Christian edition) and another with an interreligious emphasis, Congregational Watershed Manual: Religious Communities as Stewards of the World’s Waters (1st Interreligious edition).

Each one of these inspiring and practical manuals is available by free download from the pdfs on VTIPL’s website (www.vtipl.org) and this website.  Alternatively, if you’d like one copy or multiple copies of the printed and bound manual(s), you can fill out and mail in the order form (attached below).  These are high resolution print copies, spiral bound to conveniently lie flat.  If you’d like to order one or more copies online, you can do this through the website of the organization Voices of Water for Climate (VOW).  VOW is working with VTIPL to take orders and distribute printed copies of the manuals.  Donations to VOW for printed copies will cover costs incurred, including shipping and handling.  The link to order online is below.

www.vow4climate.org/store 

(Email info@lutheransrestoringcreation.org if you are interested in going in on a bulk order with others!)

This is Church and You Are Needed Inside & Out

Watch this message from our churchwide leaders and fellow members across the country who recognize the tough, uncomfortable work of being “called out” into the world.  It is an empowering 7 minutes – worth the watch for all of us, not just the voting members who will be sitting in the conference rooms.

For those wanting to embolden their sense of calling to Creation Care for All as ministry inside and outside the church – you don’t need to have a resolution ready,  join a march, or preach on climate (yet). Start here:

 

The Sixth Sunday of Easter in Year C (Saler)

Eco-Justice Commentary on the Common Lectionary
The Season of Easter in Year C (2016)
By Robert Saler

Biblical Insights on Power, Religion, and Material Pneumatology

The Sixth Sunday in Easter in Year C

Acts 16:9-15
Revelation 21:10, 22
John 14:23-29

This week’s lectionary selections offer a bounty of potential themes for creation care preaching.

Starting with Acts: the conversion of Lydia has long been understood as a moment in the New Testament in which the early Christian movement—one that, at least according to tradition (with NT scholarship being somewhat divided on the question), was largely comprised of marginal and economically disadvantaged folk—discovers the potential of coming alongside social and economic capital in ways that are faithful. As a dealer in purple cloth, with a home capacious enough to host Paul and his companions, Lydia was apparently a woman of means; and to become so as a woman in her time, she was likely not a person to be trifled with.

Progressive movements, including those towards creation care, tend to have an ambiguous relationship with power and capital. Such movements are often powered by the experience and witness of those on the underside of history; moreover, in the popular imagination at least, the cause is often taken up by those who cast themselves against the rich and powerful (think of Occupy Wall Street). However, as community organizing principles teach us, social change is often effected by organized money and organized power. Lydia, as a formidable presence within the unfolding story of Acts and the unfolding story of the church, might be lifted up homiletically as an instance of an alliance between God’s mission (not only creation care, but also the solidarity with the poor and other victims of injustice that is an inevitable corollary to creation care) and those with capital to effect real change.

Revelation 22, meanwhile, is the verdant image of the river of the water of life. While the best thing for the preacher on this text to do is to consult the beautiful sections on this passage in Barbara Rossing’s study The Rapture Exposed, this is also prime time to remind congregations that the vision of Revelation is one in which “religion,” to the extent that that word implies separation from the merely secular, is precisely the thing that passes away in Revelation 21. Revelation 22’s beautiful imagery, in other words, is predicated on the lack of temple in the new heaven and new earth. Religion so often is separation from the deep incarnation of God’s truth in creation, but precisely this separation is overcome.

Finally, the John readings are shot through with pneumatology. While the role of the Holy Spirit is often invoked in connection with ecological theology, it is crucial that this not partake in the too-common theological error of portraying the Holy Spirit in overly fluffy, sentimental terms. Jesus promises the coming of the Spirit precisely because the disciples, after his death, would be faced with the gritty, life-threatening work of fidelity to Jesus’ continued mission in the world, and nothing less than the very presence of God ongoing in the community of fidelity to the crucified would do. Thus, if creation-care oriented preachers are going to move their sermons in a pneumatological direction this Sunday, they should make it clear that the Spirit’s presence among us is no airy, light thing. It is the emboldening, vital courage of God that inspires fleshly bodies to put themselves on the line in solidarity with threatened people and threatened creation (cf. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Resisting Structural Evil, for an excellent account of this).

While it’s possible to interweave these various themes in a single sermon, wise preaching might also choose to focus in on one and expound. Power, religion, and material spirituality powerfully intersect in the lectionary, and might profitably do so in the Sunday morning experience of those who are in a position to be surprised by the richness of the biblical witness on these subjects.

Reflections from The Bible to the Frontlines – Stony Point Retreat Center, August 2019

 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.”
Psalm 119:105

 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:

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Peace for the Earth: From the Bible to the Frontlines

CA – March for Fossil Fuel Freedom 3/16-18

A request from Kim Acker,  member at University Lutheran Church in Palo Alto, to be public witness:

On March 16-18, our local community has decided to take to the streets to demonstrate with our bodies that the jig is up on funding fossil fuels.

I know you accept the reality of climate change, but what to do about it may remain unclear. Here is my request:

Please take a moment away from the rush, the day-to-day relentlessness.

Pause to feel what’s present for you about climate change. Drop into your vulnerable heart.

Within that space of openness within you, consider my invitation:

We don’t yet know how to talk about climate change. To talk about it in the same breath we talk about Trump, doesn’t do it justice. To talk about the planet our children are inheriting (my children are your children) requires courage and vulnerability. Whether we are conscious of it or not, many of us are feeling the effects of living in the context of ecological degradation and even the prospect of extinction. Our feelings include fear, guilt, and grief. And sitting beside those feelings, there is also joy—joy for the wonder and breathlessness of our natural world and the best of who we are together.

We are experiencing the end of the fossil fuel age.

Many of us are also victims of the fossil fuel industry’s playbook: Create doubt and hopelessness. Doubt the solutions. Debate them. Believe that it’s too late and our personal actions won’t make a difference. All these strategies make us strange bedfellows with the power structures of fossil fuel.

What those powers don’t want us to remember is that we are the sleeping giant. We have power as a people, but we have forgotten it. We don’t feel it when we are alone behind our screens. We have forgotten it because we largely live in isolation from one another and cherish our freedom and independence.

The ending of the fossil fuel era invites us to create a new world of not only using less energy and renewable energy, but also to live in greater relationship to one another and to acknowledge the truth that we live in an interconnected web of life.

In the last few months, I’ve been organizing the 3-day The March for Fossil Fuel Freedom. The march is designed to:

1. build community, develop local leaders, and build local capacity for the movement as a whole (not just this march).

2. show our legislative and corporate leaders with our physical presence on the streets that we stand for the new world, and the ending of the old.

3. use a divestment strategy asking Wells Fargo to be the first American bank to divest from funding new fossil fuel development.

The local indigenous community led by Pennie Opal Plant with Idle No More SF will stand at the head of our march. Having the opportunity to learn from the experience of local indigenous activists like Pennie has nourished and humbled those of us organizing the march. The international women who are leading the indigenous movement have already had success in Europe by working their way into the boardrooms of five European banks to demand divestment. This march follows in their footsteps.

My Invitation:

Join this movement. Be part of this community in any way you can. Yes, we need money, but money isn’t enough. We need bodies.

This is your community—it’s local.

These are your leaders—invest in them.

Do this for yourself. Marching will help you remember that we are part of something more powerful than we can imagine alone. Acting together feels good.

How you can support our effort:

· March for all or part of the march (Sunday marchers are particularly needed)

· Come to a dinner. On Saturday, I will be speaking about my passion–divesting from the industrial food system and supporting local farmers growing soil that sequesters carbon. We will celebrate with good food, music, song, and fellowship.

· Come to the rally on Monday, March 18.

· Reach out to your community, share this message, and invite them in.

· Offer your skills (we are in short supply of media professionals)

· Sponsor a marcher.

Thank you for taking time to consider my invitation to be part of building our power as a people.

Kim Acker

www.oilywells.com

 

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)

 

 

Consider Caring for Creation Coaching

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

Mark Carlson (CA), Noni Strand (KS), Dan Smith (CA), Solveig Nilsen-Goodin (CA), Keith Mundy (IL), Jane Affonso (CA), Janice Hawley (KS)

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.).

Level One Coach Training involves a great deal of interactive training and laughter.

650 New Cal Lutheran Students Helped with Fire Recovery in Ventura Hills

About 650 incoming California Lutheran University students worked to help the hills above Ventura recover from the Thomas Fire as part of a partnership with the City of Ventura that began over 10 years ago. The incoming freshmen class removed bottles and other trash exposed by the fire and helped spread mulch around surviving plants in the Ventura Botanical Gardens, Serra Cross Park and other areas of Grant Park. The benefits of mulching include reducing surface erosion, absorbing rainfall, reducing downstream runoff, protecting seed banks, providing favorable moisture and temperature for seed germination and suppression of non-native weeds.

The students participated in “You Got Served” during New Student Orientation. It is the university’s largest service-learning project in terms of student participants. Cal Lutheran’s Community Service Center has worked with the City Volunteer Ventura! office on the annual program since 2008. The partnership allows all the incoming students to work together on a single project that introduces them to Cal Lutheran’s commitment to service and justice and connects them with the local community in a meaningful way. Cal Lutheran President Chris Kimball and other faculty and staff members worked alongside the students.

Justified by Land and Faith

Christian Faith and Environmental Ethics: Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac and Luther’s Freedom of A Christian

A timeless reflection shared by Marcia Bunge at Luther College in 1994 . Here Bunge relates the writings of revered conservationist, Aldo Leopold with the Doctrine of Creation and Justification from the Lutheran/Christian traditions.

click here to download

 

 

 

Sermon on Public Witness

On the Way

Pentecost 17 B / Proper 19                             September 16, 2018

Isaiah 50:4-9a    James 3:1-12   Mark 8:27-38

Pastor Susan Henry – House of Prayer Lutheran Church,
Hingham MA

Grace to you and peace from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We’re right smack in the middle of Mark’s telling of the story of Jesus, but let’s look back to the start of it.  There, Mark writes that this is “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”  We’ve known who Jesus is from the very first verse of Mark’s gospel.  But Jesus’ disciples and the crowds who seek him out don’t know who he is – yet.  Some of the demons do, but nobody pays attention to them.  Peter and the other disciples have heeded Jesus’ call to follow him, going where he goes, crossing the Sea of Galilee again and again, watching and listening as his ministry unfolds, as he heals people, feeds them, delivers them from what torments them, and teaches them.  The disciples think they have a pretty good idea who Jesus is.

But they don’t, really.  Today’s gospel testifies to that.  Jesus is headed north to Caesarea Philippi, beyond Jewish territory, near some of the places where the Roman emperor is worshipped.  “On the way,” Mark says, Jesus wants to know who people think he is.  The disciples report that some think he’s John the Baptist come back from the dead or Elijah who was taken into heaven or one of the prophets of old who’ve come again.  Any of them could have “a word from the Lord” for those with ears to hear.

But then Jesus asks a harder question:  “But who do you say that I am?”  It’s “you” in the plural – “you all” – but Peter answers, “You are the Messiah.”  You are the Anointed One, the Christ, the Messiah of God – which is the “right” answer.  But then, instead of congratulating Peter on his insight, Jesus “sternly order[s] them not to tell anyone about him.” This confuses us – and I suspect it confused them, too.  If they’ve got it right, why wouldn’t they share it?  Isn’t this what people are waiting for?

We might imagine that Jews in Jesus’ time were all anticipating the coming of the Messiah, but Judaism then was more diverse than we used to think.  Some Jews did expect a powerful leader from King David’s line who would throw off the oppressive rule of Rome and instead establish a reign of peace and an era of holiness.  Some longed for a messianic age of religious purification.  Others no doubt recalled how not only kings but also prophets and priests were “anointed ones.”[1]  Maybe “Messiah” was a word like a Rorschach test – what you saw said more about you than about anything else.

Peter has the right word about Jesus, but we’ll soon see that he has the wrong meaning.  Maybe that’s why Jesus shuts the disciples down:  “Don’t go around talking about something you don’t really understand.”  When Jesus says that he “must undergo great suffering, and be rejected, . . . and be killed, and after three days rise again,” Peter is appalled.  He doesn’t want to hear anything remotely like that from Jesus.  And, anyway, what kind of Messiah would suffer and die?  It makes no sense, and Peter takes Jesus aside and starts to reproach him for saying such a thing.  Jesus, however, comes back at Peter harshly, saying, “’Get behind me, Satan!’  You’ve got your priorities confused with God’s.  Follow me, don’t get ahead of me because I’m not going where you want me to go.  Back off, Peter!”

Where Jesus is going is no longer back and forth across the lake or around the villages and cities, but toward Jerusalem.  From here on, he is on the way to rejection, to suffering, to death.  And even though he has told the disciples that he will rise again, I can’t imagine they could hear that, let alone envision it.  Whatever expectations they’ve held about a coming Messiah have been shattered.  Within those diverse understandings among Jews, none include rejection or suffering, death or apparent failure.  Surely any Messiah will come with strength and power, in glory and triumph.

While the disciples are still reeling from Jesus’ words, he gathers the crowd in with them and he tells all of them that following him will be costly.  It won’t lead to glory or wealth or success or power or whatever else the world counts as “winning.”  Our egos can be seduced by all those things, but if we define ourselves in terms of what our egos are desperate for, we will have a false sense of who we are.  That false self is what Jesus will call his disciples to deny so that they can live with a true sense of who they are — formed in the image of God, made for relationship, called to freedom, meant for serving, created for love.

When we talked in Bible study about what it means to “deny ourselves,” we struggled to understand what Jesus was asking.  If the disciples gave up everything to follow him, is that what Jesus calls us to do, too?  Do we have to abandon the people we love or the work we do or the joy we find in life?  Now, surely among God’s gifts to us are the people who love us and the right use of the abilities God has given us, so that can’t be what Jesus is talking about.  When the word “priorities” came up, something shifted from fear about what we might lose if we follow Jesus to curiosity about what we might gain, even as we reckoned with making some sacrifices as we get our priorities straight.

In denying our false and inadequate selves, we may see our true selves more clearly.  In acknowledging our own brokenness and in letting go of our selfishness – maybe only little by little — we will glimpse more of the full humanity God intends for us.  In following Jesus more faithfully, we will be drawn deeper into the world’s suffering, into Jesus’ suffering for our own and the world’s sake.  These are good things, but hard things.  They remind us that, while we might not get the God we want, we get the God we need.

We get Jesus, who knows that our false selves get in our way and lead us to worship all the wrong things in all the wrong places.  We get Jesus, who sees the messy, broken places in our lives and meets us there.  We get Jesus, whose story ended not in his rejection, suffering and death, but in new life which is ours as well.  And we get Jesus, who continues to love us out of our resistance to following him more faithfully, so that we can more fully experience life in him, in community, and in the kingdom of mercy and grace that is already but not yet here.

There’s hard stuff in the gospel today, for the disciples long ago and for us today, but let’s gather our courage and go where Jesus wants to take us, praying on the way that we may “see him more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly, day by day.”[2]

Amen

[1] David Schnasa Jacobsen, “Mark,” Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentary, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2014, p. 120.

[2] Richard of Chichester, 12th century

Lutherans join many other people of faith at Global Climate Action Summit

Global Climate Action Summit Faith-Rooted Affiliated Workshops

 

The Episcopal Diocese of California, GreenFaith and Interfaith Power & Light held two days of climate action workshops at Grace Cathedral as part of the Global Climate Action Summit that took place in San Francisco from September 12 – September 14. Leaders and experts representing many faiths facilitated the workshops and participants engaged  with issues of faith, climate change, local and global action, and learned about environmental praxis from a multi-faith perspective.

Click here to see photos from the gorgeous Grace Cathedral, images from the Talanoa Dialogue sessions, and some specific slides shared  by Presbyterian Dr. Richard Lyon with references to Christian texts to make the case for Evangelicals to be called to care for creation.

Read descriptions of workshops held at diocal.org.

 

Young Leaders Emerging from Central States Group

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 Nature of Things: Rediscovering the Spiritual in God’s Creation

Edited by Graham Buxton and Norman Habel
Forward by David Rhoads

With contributions by David Rhoads, Paul Santmire, Celia-Diane-Drummond, Heather Eaton, Ernst Conradie and others, this volume highlights a diversity of perspectives on the spiritual in creation, both traditional and radical.

Download a copy of the flyer here.

Visit the publisher’s website to order

Coming Home To Earth 

by Mark Brocker

As a young Norwegian Lutheran teenager in rural Wisconsin, Brocker lay awake one night worrying whether he believed in Jesus enough to get to heaven. This getting-to-heaven anxiety reflected an excessive focus on individual salvation and a loss of concern for the well-being of the Earth community. A faith journey that leaves Earth behind is misguided.

Ever since those early teen years Brocker has been on a journey to come home to Earth.

Coming Home to Earth makes the case that there is no salvation apart from Earth and that Earth care is at the core of our identity and mission as followers of Jesus. The ecological consequences of a loss of concern for the well-being of Earth have been devastating. Brocker is especially concerned to determine what will motivate followers of Jesus to make radical changes in our way of life so that we can participate in the healing of wounded Earth and all of its inhabitants, both human and nonhuman. We are far more likely to make needed sacrifices for our fellow creatures if we share God’s delight in and affection for them, and cherish Earth as our home.

Read more and order

Youth Gather and We All Grow!

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. 

Thank you Notes to GOD – for all the gifts given to us that we don’t have to pay for.

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.

Click here to download the “walk through” program – share it as a power point or print it out to pass around. Pledge form in pdf form can be downloaded here (let us know how it goes!) 

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.”)

Know No Trash Program

 

Toward a Better Worldliness: Ecology, Economy, and the Protestant Tradition

by Terra Schwerin Rowe

Five hundred years ago the Protestant Reformation inspired profound theological, ecclesial, economic, and social transformations. But what impact does the Protestant tradition have today? And what might it have? This volume addresses such questions, focusing on the economic and ecological implications of the Protestant doctrine of grace.  In the spirit of ecotheologies resonating with the best of the Reformation tradition, this book develops a fresh reading of Luther’s theology of grace and his economic ethics in conversation with current reflections on concepts of the gift and gifting practices.

Read description and order in either hardcover or ebook format
EDUCATION: Adult Forum and Bible Study, eco-theology

 

 

Edmonds Lutheran Church is Going Solar

Edmonds, WA – Edmonds Lutheran Church (ELC) installed a solar photovoltaic system to generate renewable energy for their facility in mid- February 2016.  

The system was in part donated by A&R Solar, who has been working with the church for more than a year to make this vision a reality.

“Donating a system is our way of saying ‘thanks’ and giving back to a community that supported us, while also raising awareness to the fact that solar works in western Washington,” says Dave Kozin of A&R Solar. 

Edmonds Lutheran was selected by the Solarize South County Community Coalition, a volunteer group of individuals who led the award selection process. The competitive application process took into account the suitability of the facility to generate solar electricity on site and to serve as a public educational tool.

Rev. Dr. Julie Josund, pastor at Edmonds Lutheran Church has had a vision of making ELC a more eco-friendly building for many years. “We believe the caring for God’s creation goes hand-in-hand with Christian faith. Having solar panels on our church actively visible is a perfect way to get the word out about renewable energy options to many people. We are thrilled to have this partnership with A&R Solar and look forward to a fruitful collaboration in sharing the benefits of solar energy to our friends and neighbors in Edmonds.”

Pastor Tim Oleson and Rev. Dr. Julie Josund,
pastors at Edmonds Lutheran Church

“Doing social good is baked into our DNA at A&R. We believe that solar energy can make the world abetter place in a very fundamental way. The problem is that current incentives make it hard for the people that would benefit from solar energy the most–those in need and the non-profits that support them–to adopt the technology. We’re committed to helping those organizations and those people gain access to solar energy by donating our time and a share of our profits to projects such as the one for the Edmond’s Lutheran Church and Annie’s Community Kitchen,” said Reeves Clippard, Co-Founder of A&R Solar.

Worship as Re-Orientation

One way to look at worship is to say that it is the place where we can express with the larger community the Christian life we have nurtured at home and work throughout the week. Another way to look at worship is to say that it is about reinstating our proper place in relation to God, ourselves, and other people when we have had difficulty maintaining these relationships through the week. It is like being lost in the woods and then stopping to orientate ourselves to the directions by means of a compass and our nearness to the edge of the forest—and then finding our way home. It is like being lost at sea and then stopping to locate ourselves from the stars in the sky so that we know where we really are—and then returning to solid ground. It is like using a global positioning locator to know just where we are in relation to everything else—and then being moved into the right position. Worship is a matter of getting/keeping our bearings and being situated in our rightful place in the universe. In this process, it is important to emphasize that it is not we ourselves who get our bearings. Rather, we put ourselves into a position to allow God to give us our bearings, to restore us to our rightful relationships.

Restoring relationships with God and one anotherThrough the rituals and events of worship, we find ourselves restored to right relationships. Through worship we are oriented to wholeness and our true purpose in life by being brought back into proper relationship with God, ourselves, and others. For example, by praise of God, we restore God to God’s rightful place in our lives as the one who created and sustains us. By thanksgiving, we recognize our human dependence on God for life and health. By confession and forgiveness, we seek to overcome our self-alienation and the brokenness of our relationships. By hearing the word of grace and challenge, we rediscover a proper sense of direction and our purpose in life. Through the offering, we give ourselves and our resources to this renewed vocation. Through prayer, we express a longing for all people who are lost or broken to be restored to a place of wholeness in relationship. By communing together, we return from alienation to a harmonious connection with others of the human community. With a blessing and a benediction, we go out with a renewed sense of who we are, where we are, and where we are going. We have become orientated. We have found our bearings, and we have reaffirmed who we truly are and whose we truly are—and, in so doing, we have found our home, our place of belonging in the world. Of course, it is our responsibility to seek to remain in these relationship from communal worship to communal worship.

Restoring our Relationship with nature. Unfortunately, our restoration/reorientation to place often leaves out an important and, indeed, crucial relationship. We reorient to God, self, and others, but often without restoring our relationship to nature. Yet nature is the web of life out of which we have come and where we will go. Nature is the inextricable matrix in which we live and move and have our being. We are a part of nature. Along with all other living beings and non-living things, we are nature. And if we are out of sorts with the rest of nature, if we are displaced from harmony with the creation of which we are such an integral part, if we are sinning against the natural world from which we ourselves have emerged, then we cannot fully find our bearings or our place.

If God created the world as a place in relation to which human life is inextricably woven, then we need to make the whole natural world an integral and important part of our worshipping experience. If worship is restoring ourselves to our proper place in the world—to recall who we are, where we have come from, the things upon which we depend, and that for which we are responsible—then worship must be a celebration of all life and an orienting of ourselves to our proper place within it. Nature can and should be such a fundamental dimension of the Christian life that we reflect the triad: Love God, Love your neighbor as yourself, and Care for creation.

Worshiping with Nature. To be fully into right relationship, we are called not only to restore our relationship with nature, but also to experience our solidarity with nature in relationship with God. That is, we humans are to worship and praise God with nature. Remember that the Psalms call for the hills to clap their hands and the trees to shout praises, along with animals and sea creatures, the seas and the soils, the trees and the grain—thus calling: “All creation, praise the Lord.” Hence, we can think about nature as our partners in worship. Nature itself is part of our worshipping community. It is important then that we are both in nature and with nature in our worship.

Worship as Counter-CulturalRestoration to relationship with God, others, and nature is not the same as accommodation or assimilation into the society and culture around us. In fact, it may be quite the opposite. Reconciled relationships with God will orient us to values, actions, and structures that may go against the grain of the world around us. Reconciled relationships will place us in an alternative community that reflects the vision of God for human life. Reconciled relationships with others may set us at odds with the injustices, oppressions, neglect, and discrimination of groups and individuals not sharing the values of the church. Similarly, reorienting ourselves to love of nature and care for creation may lead us to resist and oppose the practices of local and national government, businesses, corporations, and others who may contribute to the flagrant degradations of Earth’s natural systems and life. Worship can be quite radical in its call for discipleship. Worship can be subversive of the culture and an expression of counter-cultural thinking and acting. It can lead us to advocate for public policies and laws that foster love of neighbor and care for creation. At the same time, our re-orientation in worship may lead us to affirm many movements and actions in the culture that further the values and behavior fostered by our Christian way of being in the world.

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