How have your plans to integrate creation care in your congregation’s life been working out? Did you complete an Action Plan? That’s a good start , but know that you won’t cross all the finish lines at once – stay connected & share updates to keep momentum. We want to help celebrate and share advice on challenges. Complete the following and help us amplify our good works:
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.
(Email email@example.com if you are interested in going in on a bulk order with others!)
Download, read, and share widely this brief reflection from active disciple, Dr. Johan Bergh. In his piece, published in the Trinity Review (2013), Bergh relates the framework of grace and neighbor love with how we are to understand the role of public action in our church. Read more recent reflections on his blog: www.greengracepostings.blogspot.com
“God does not need our good works, but our neighbor does.” – Martin Luther
Download the six-page excerpt from Trinity Seminary Review here: Johan-Bergh-Published-Journal-Article-Luther-as-Environmentalist.pdf
Dr. Johan Bergh, ACC
Johan serves as Pastor for St. Philip Lutheran Church, Mt. Dora, FL., and is an International Coach Federation ACC Coach, ELCA Coach and Coach Mentor and ELCA Licensed Coach Trainer. He volunteers his service by coaching ELCA leaders and mentoring ELCA Coach-In-Training rostered leaders. He currently serves as Coaching Ministry Coordinator for the Florida-Bahamas Synod and serves on the ELCA Churchwide Coaching Ministry Team as well as a level II Natural Church Development Coach. He earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in 2006 with a concentration in Discipleship and Leadership (M.Div., Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, OH 1981). His Bachelor of Science, Natural Resources, Environmental Interpretation (The Ohio State University) degree provides an environmental studies background for his current work as a Green Faith Fellow (www.Greenfaith.org)
He and his wife Janet have been married 39 years and have two adult daughters and two grandchildren. He enjoys golf, running, hiking, fitness exercise, reading, biking, spinning, and good friends!
-Life and Missional Coach: http://www.beinganddoingmatters.com
-Coaching Ministry Coordinator, Florida-Bahamas Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: http://www.fbsynod.com
Lutherans have had a tremendous history with being good energy stewards – but we have a LONG way to go. There is a broad range of steps to be taken that all make progress in the long run for the environment and for a congregation’s budget. Our houses of worship can either be a beacons of sustainability to our neighbors or a draw on the community’s power – what does God call of us?
- Find out if there is an Energy Steward you would like to contact within our ELCA networks in facilities and investments who could give you advise by looking at our Map (click here).
- Explore the FREE EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager program (which has more Lutherans registered users than any other denomination – so far). Check out (click here) their entire pdf guides here for free.
- Be inspired by reading about stories from the ELCA realm who have had great experiences saving energy while freeing up more money to be used in other ministries!
- Reach out to your local utility and/or regional Interfaith Power and Light for insight as to local support for energy savings and alternative choice options.
A request from Kim Acker, member at University Lutheran Church in Palo Alto, to be public witness:
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.
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.
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)
There is plenty of information “out there” on how we can make steps to live a life with less of a negative impact on our neighbors and bring the Outside in… but that’s only if you happen to go looking for it. Perhaps adding a few simple pieces of inspiration that can work for your fellow worshipers in the material the read periodically can start new habits and open closed minds. Below are some links that you can copy and paste shared by folks throughout the Lutherans Restoring Creation community. (Please acknowledge source when sharing!)
E – news “blurbs” for Winter 2020:
Lutherans Restoring Creation
Never heard of us? Find out more below!
Lutherans Restoring Creation exists to inform, encourage, and uplift the discipleship practice of caring for the environment throughout the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.This is accomplished by cultivating a network of dedicated stewards of earth and neighbor who proclaim God’s promise of hope and healing for all.
Who We Are
Lutherans Restoring Creation is a grassroots movement of Lutherans, driven by laity, pastors, lay professionals, synodical leadership, and others who hold positions in the ELCA and its institutions. This movement grows out of a long history of Lutheran concern (the 1993 social statement Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice).
Search “Congregations” for more resources at www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org.
Looking for a Lenten Discipline?
Every little thing can make a big difference when it comes to care for creation! If you are looking for ways to conserve energy and be a good steward to our earth, Lutherans Restoring Creation can help! They have developed a whole checklist for energy savings in your home and congregation! Visit www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org to discover what you may need for Personal Discipleship. Maybe each day of Lent, we can take some time to better care for God’s creation!
Lutherans Restoring Creation Devotionals
We are facing a critical time in our world when we need to put extra focus on the environment and God’s creation. If you’d like to focus on care for creation during this season of reflection, you can find great devotional materials on www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org.
Lutherans Restoring Creation Commentaries
Preachers: Are you looking for resources and commentaries about care-for-creation during this season? Lutherans Restoring creation has created a wonderful database of commentaries for the entire lectionary cycle. You can find them all by season and narrative sermons at http://www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org
Care for Creation Congregational Covenant
Interested in taking the next step with Lutherans Restoring Creation in your congregation? Our congregational self-organizing kit — available for download at: LutheransRestoringCreation.org. This is a step-by-step guide to help you function as a creation-care congregation as well as how to access to the resources needed to carry out this program on an ongoing basis. Whether or not you are already active in greening your congregation, this kit will enable you to identify yourself with Lutherans Restoring Creation, provide an overall plan for your efforts, and help you to further your congregational commitment to ecology and justice.
Lutherans Restoring Creation: Going a step further
We care for creation on more than just the individual or congregational level! ELCA members have the opportunity to be public witnesses through the process of submitting, educating fellow members, and eventually passing synod resolutions. Some of these public statements and declarations of change also move along to be a Memorial to be passed by the entire Church-wide body which meets every three years. For details about your local submission requirements contact your synod office. You can see examples of synod resolutions on the Lutherans Restoring Creation website.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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
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!
At the Upper Susquehanna (PA) Synod June 2015 Assembly three eco-related Memorials/Resolutions were passed. The following is a summary of the voting experience from Pr. Leah Schade. Email Phoebe Morad if you would like to contact her personally for more insight.
Colleagues: The Upper Susquehanna Synod Assembly (PA) just voted in favor of the Eco-Reformation Memorial. It appeared that the vote was about 60%-40%. The Assembly also voted in favor of a related Eco-Reformation Resolution. It appeared that the vote was about 80%-20%. The one pastor speaking against the motions stated that they appeared to be “hijacking” the 500 th Anniversary of the Reformation. I spoke in favor of the motions and explained that they were integral to Luther’s thought, Lutheran theology, and in keeping with the ELCA’s previous social statements.
The Assembly also voted in favor of the Memorial for Transition to Clean, Renewable Energy. This vote was close: 79 in favor, 67 against. Those speaking against the memorial said that the motion “went too far,” making demands on those who would not want to divest. “You’re trying to shove this down our throats,” said one pastor. Four people spoke in favor of the memorial (myself included) highlighting that it is a prudent fiduciary measure to divest from fossil fuels, that we need to keep the carbon in the ground in order to avoid further climate disruption, and that the memorial is in keeping with Jesus’ command to care for the “least of these.” I presented a workshop about the motions prior to their coming to the floor (powerpoint available here).
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!
Muhlenberg College, Luther College, Wartburg College, Wittenberg College, and Pacific Lutheran University were all recently included in the Sierra Club’s 2017 List of “Cool Schools”. The national assessment pulls data from STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System), a program run by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Information submitted to AASHE was used and scored across 61 questions from the STARS assessment, in addition to a supplemental question about fossil fuel investments. The Sierra Club used STARS reports to compile the list. To view the complete list of schools click here.
Gettysburg College has been pursuing sustainable decision making for over three decades. As the world’s environmental issues grow more and more severe, the college has increased its commitment to sustainability. In practice, this commitment entails working to enhance and protect the environment through teaching, research, service, operations, decision-making, and other aspects of life on campus. Gettysburg College, as a sustainable campus, is addressing all three pillars of sustainability. Environmentally, the College works to reduce and eliminate its ecological footprint; economically, it makes purchases and investments within budgetary constraints; and socially, the college is increasing awareness about educational, emotional, and physical needs. To learn more about Gettysburg’s sustainability program and efforts click here.
A recent community tree planting event was a huge success. More than 60 students, faculty, and staff helped plant trees on the east side of campus. With shovels and good spirits, the campus community jumped into the tree planting project Oct. 14.
Overcrowded and diseased trees just south of the high tunnel garden near the soccer fields were removed last spring. They were replaced with 52 trees — each more than 8 feet tall. Volunteers, organized through the Student Environmental Alliance, were given a tutorial on tree planting by college horticulturalist Jerry Raguse before getting to work. “I’m amazed so many people would come out on a cold Saturday morning to plant trees,” says Haylee Worm ’19, organizer and SEA co-chair. “It is cool that there are so many different groups of people here that have a passion for the environment. It really demonstrates that they do care.”
In 2017, Augsburg University launched initiatives to build capacity for integrating environmental sustainability across all curricular, co-curricular, and operational aspects of campus life. The initiatives are made possible by a grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies. The Minnesota-based foundation believes that college and university campuses can serve as models of operational sustainability for the society at large, testing practical solutions that others can adopt.
At the 2017 Synod Assembly in Kansas City, voting members adopted a resolution that encourages “its leaders and congregations to make use of the resources of Lutheran Restoring Creation for faith-based congregational initiatives and addressing care of creation and the threat of climate damage.” Included in this call to action are efforts to conserve energy and/or the use of renewable energy, congregational educational programs and action plans that may include such things as installing solar panels to generate renewable electricity, utilizing the Lutheran study guide on the Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis (Laudato Si, On Care for our Common Home), and supporting policies that seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Click here to view the Lutheran study guide.
Further, the adopted resolution states “the Central States Synod recommends that all members of its congregations be active environmental stewards and ‘green disciples’ by engaging in prayer for guidance, study to gain a better understanding of environmental issues, and action to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
To help you and your congregation carry out this resolution, the LRC Mission Table will provide regular Green Action items in the Synod e-newsletter. For more information on Lutherans Restoring Creation, if you’d like to host a Creation Care workshop, or if you need help in your setting, please contact Noni Strand, the LRC Mission Table chair at email@example.com.
On the heels of the Pope’s Encyclical encouraging caring for our common home, two religious leaders in New England came together this month in agreement that the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is a time to see how churches can work together to solve some of our most pressing justice issues: including the state of our planet and those least capable of adapting to increasing natural disasters and public health concerns.
St. Luke Fossil Fuel Divestment Resolution passes at Oregon Synod meeting
On Saturday, May 18th, 2013, the St. Luke Fossil Fuel Divestment Resolution PASSED a vote at the ELCA Oregon Synod. Now it will be forwarded for consideration at this summer’s Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh.
In a meeting also attended by Secretary of the ELCA David Swartling, the synod Reference and Counsel Committee suggested an alternative “RESOLVED” clause that they believed had a better chance of being adopted on the national level. This alternative, mirroring one submitted at the NW Washington Synod meeting, requested an “opt-out of fossil fuel stocks” option for church employees in the Portico pension program.
St. Luke’s Pastor David Knapp, Council President Barbara Roady and Environmental Chair Michael Hall declined, stating that, given the magnitude and urgency of the issue, they wanted St. Luke’s request to fully encompass all ELCA-connected investment programs.
With two minor text adjustments, the resolution was allowed to go to the floor “with reservations” about its financial/legal ramifications and the feasibility of its requested actions.
Floor debate about the resolution was dramatic and the final outcome was far from obvious. In the end, the vote tally showed 102 in favor, 94 opposed and 14 abstaining.