What Every Seminarian Should Learn about Caring for Creation

1. The environmental state of the world—basic principles of ecology, information about critical issues (such as global warming, ozone depletion, loss of diversity, deforestation, desertification, waste, toxic waste, and overpopulation), the human/ natural causes of these conditions, and the potential consequences of their continuation.

2. The human justice issues involved in every aspect of environmental degradation: environmental racism, impact on the most vulnerable, rural/urban issues, global dynamics of poverty and underdevelopment, and neo-colonial exploitation of peoples and earth.

3. The systemic changes we need to make in the social, cultural, political and economic structures of our nation, corporations, institutions, and global patterns of interaction in order to address environmental crises and to create conditions for a sustainable world.

4. Familiarity with national laws and policies (Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, etc.) and global conferences and treaties (Montreal Treaty, Rio, Kyoto Protocol) and effective means to advocate for strengthening these measures so as to give voice to the human/non-human beings most affected by these matters.

5. Knowledge about environmental ethical issues, the movement to create a global ethic (The Earth Charter), and the means to become part of this effort. Familiarity with the commitment of other religions and of secular organizations as partners in Earth-care.

6. Awareness of Lutheran and other denominational traditions that have contributed to Earth’s problems, what biblical, theological, and ethical resources in the Lutheran traditions that might help us, and how we can think creatively about environmental situations.

7. What congregations can do to incorporate care for the Earth into their identity and mission—worship, education, property, discipleship at home and work, and public ministry—and the organizing tools and leadership skills to bring about those changes.

8. How congregations can be places of moral deliberation for issues that face the larger community, assisting people to work together to address social conflicts over choices of justice and ecology—and to model how this might be done.

9. What lifestyle changes are necessary to counter the consumer culture and to live simply—in ways that minimize our impact on the earth and serve to restore creation.

10. How personally to work though fear, guilt, grief, and anger so that we are fed by God’s grace and love, which enables us to make environmental choices with joy and commitment.

11. How to get in touch with nature so that a foundational experience with the natural world leads us to love creation. We will save that which we love.