‘Between Ecology and Economy’ Offers ELCA Leaders Practical Information

Reprinted from The Door (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago), no. 18, April 7, 2013

By Janice Heidlberger

“Between Economy & Ecology: A Stewardship Workshop for Seminarians, Pastors, and Congregational Leaders” was presented by Green Zone at LSTC on Saturday past, April 6. The day started with keynote lecture and discussion from Dr. Jim Martin-Schramm, Professor of Religion at Luther College in Decorah. Martin-Schramm began by reminding us that this is the
century of climate change--the social justice issue which will eclipse and umbrella all other social justice issues of our time.

We saw the usual charts of inverted parabola, depicting CO2 levels higher than seen in the past 10,000 years of history. In this time of unprecedented newness and uncharted territory, the church is called to lead--not follow, always trying to catch up.

Martin-Schramm gave an explanation of the variety of energy-focused sustainability projects at Luther College,including a run down of how PV solar power works, why it works, and how Luther has been able to acquire and make creative use of this power bathing the planet, sunlight. Some of Martin-Schramm’s other points that I found intriguing:

  • reminder of the importance of ‘smart’ and ‘credible’ goals when making plans to become more energy efficient or add a renewable energy source, i.e. goals that are measurable, realistic, specific, and attainable in some timely manner.
  • the reminder that Lutherans have such a healthily low anthropology and high theology that we know we need ‘carrots and sticks’ to make things ethical work. In order for humanity to live sustainably with the cockroaches in our kitchens and invertebrates crawling around in our composts bins outside, we will need public policy that acts as both stick and carrot: ‘carrots’to act as incentives to sustainable individual, institutional and business practices, and ‘sticks’ to deterunsustainable, ecologically degrading practices.
  • the reminder to all pastors and MDiv seminarians in candidacy working toward ordained ministry, who have or will soon vow to live and abide by ELCA Visions and Expectations, that said document encompasses many aspects: one of which is a promise to lead the church in environmental stewardship in this century of climate change. I looked it up. He’s right.

Congratulations, MDiv friends. We’re signing on to be ‘greener than thou’. But the gospel goes like this, in the words of a sermon I recently heard at an ordination: “You are not up to the task. But you have a God who is.” Amen.

After a down-to-earth, informative and thought-provoking morning, we were satiated by the scrumptious produce and culinary talents of Ben Randall and local farms. Afternoon workshops on Simple Living, the ELCA Energy Stewards Initiative, green practices of the ELCA Metro Chicago Synod, and Joe Sittler, as well as tours to The Plant and Hydbrid House.

For more information about the schedule, presentations and presenters, click here.


Dr. Jim Martin-Schramm, Luther College, delivered the keynote address


Warren Gaskill, LRC Energy Steward Initiative Co-Director, presented a workshop on the program