LUTHERANS RESTORING CREATION
Action Plan: Part Two
Transformation through Education
Commitment: We seek to learn about the biblical, theological, and ecclesial traditions concerning creation, including the biblical mandate from God for us to care for the earth. We will seek also to learn about the present degradations of creation due to human activity, how these degradations are related to human exploitation and oppression, how we as religious people are implicated in these matters, and what we as Christians can do to heal and restore creation for future generations. We will seek to train people to be leaders in their congregations and in their communities in our cooperative efforts to care for creation.
People: Pastors, lay professionals, director of Christian education, education committee, teachers, vacation church school staff, children, students, youth leader, youth groups, senior groups, adult participants in educational experiences—everyone.
Goal: To incorporate “care for creation” into the educational opportunities of the congregation.
Actions: Here are some actions that may help to carry out these commitments.
• Ecological justice/ social justice for all Earth community
• Lutheran theology, biblical traditions, and other resources for creation-care.
• Incorporate Earth-care into all aspects of parish education
• Use many opportunities for educating the congregation
• Hands-on experiences for learning
Remember to consult www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org. Look for the stories of what other congregations are doing. Check out the pages on “Synods” for training workshops in your area. See the section on “Theology” for books and articles on creation care. Explore the resources section for relevant and timely videos to share with your congregation. Look for “Links” to explore other groups that are interested in connecting care of creation with their faith.
A. Learn about many aspects of ecological justice.
1. Learn about the environmental state of the world: global warming, ozone depletion, deforestation, desertification, loss of species diversity, proliferation of waste, over-population, and so on. There are many books, videos, and articles available for this purpose, such as general treatments of the environment or the annual State of the World put out by the World Watch Institute.
● Plan B, by Lester Brown (ISBN: 0393328317)
● An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore. (ISBN: 9781594865671)
● Red Sky in the Morning, by James Gustave Speth (ISBN: 0300102321)
2. Learn about the dynamics of ecological justice: the relationship between the exploitation of the Earth and the most vulnerable—those who are most affected by ecological devastation. Learn about environmental racism, the disproportionate effect of degradation of the environment on people of color. Learn what the ecological problems are in different countries and continents. Ask how your country may contribute to these problems (www.ecojusticecollaborative.org).
On Christian ethics and ecology:
● Earth Honoring Faith by Larry Rasmussen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)
● Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation (Minneapolis:
Fortress Press, 2013).
● Earth Habitat: Eco-Justice and the Church’s Response, edited by Larry Rasmussen
and Dieter Hessel (Fortress, 2001)
● Christian Environmental Ethics: A Case-Study Approach, James Martin-Schramm
● Confronting Environmental Racism and other books by Robert Bullard.
● Ecotheology: Voices from South and North, edited by David Hallman (Orbis, 1994).
On global climate change, see especially
● Climate Justice: Ethics, Energy, and Public Policy, by James Martin-Schramm
(Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010).
● God, Creation and Climate Change: Spiritual and Ethical Perspectives, edited by
Karen Bloomquist (Geneva: LWF, 2009).
● Restoring Earth Community, and Soul: Creating the Social, Economic, and Religious
Transformations Required by Global Warming by Andrea Lynn Orcutt (Earth
Community Press, 2014).
● Resources connecting hunger and climate change, from the ELCA
● View Sisters on the Planet [www.oxfamamerica.org]
On Faith and Ecology:
● Bibliography on Faith and Ecology, go to the LRC website at:
● Eco-Lutheranism: Lutheran Perspectives on the Ecology, ed.Karla Bohmbach and
Shauna Hannan (Lutheran University Press, 2013)
● Read: “Reflections on A Lutheran Theology of Creation: Foundations for a New
3. Study the “Earth Charter”: There are study guides available for use with this statement prepared by representatives of many nations seeking to find a common ethic to address the social, ecological, and international crises and conflicts of our time. [www.earthcharter.org]
4. Learn how you can make a difference: Find out your ecological footprint on the Earth by your lifestyle and your actions and determine specifically what you can do to make a difference. [www.footprintnetwork.org]
B. Learn about many Lutheran/Christian Perspectives on Creation-Care.
1. Learn about our biblical traditions: Traditions that show God’s love for creation, that mandate humans to serve and keep the earth, and that show the relationship between human injustice and the degradation of nature. There are books available highlighting the Bible’s view of creation. Or, you may want to study a series of biblical passages that talk about the earth/creation.
52 Bible quotations for the church bulletin. Here are Bible verses on creation, our relationship with Earth and our Creator. There are 52 verses listed here from the New Revised Standard Version. They may be used weekly in your congregation’s bulletin. You may want to add an environmental living tip or perhaps with announcements from your creation care group. Though they are listed in order, but they may be used in a staggered order. [http://www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org/Home/individuals/bible-verses-on-care-for-creation]
2. Study the Lutheran social statement on “Caring for Creation”: Every congregation should study the Lutheran environmental social statements “Caring for Creation” and “Sustainable Living for All.” Reflect on the statements of the ecological problems, the theological analysis, and what is proposed to address the situation. Check the ELCA website for resources on the Social Statements “ along with a study guide and some discussion questions. For “Caring for Creation, go to [http://www.elca.org/caringforcreation]. For the economic statement, visit [http://www.elca.org/en/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Economic-Life]
Luther’s Catechism updated for our Ecological Concerns: There is also on the LRC website a reflection on Luther's Small Catechism and our vocation as Earthkeepers (written by Pastor Nick Utphall of St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Madison, WI): http://www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org/Home/individuals/luther-s-small-catechism-some-ecological-implications.
ELCA Newsletter. Encourage members to read the monthly online reflection by ELCA’s Mary Minette in the ELCA advocacy office in Washington: Living Earth Reflections on God’s Ongoing Work in Creation: http://www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org/events.
C. Incorporating eco-justice education in the Christian Education program
1. See the DVD video series “Earthbound,” produced by the ELCA. This cutting-edge series, filmed in high definition, takes Martin Luther´s breakthrough understanding of Justification and Vocation and explodes it across God´s magnificent creation. EarthBound is a journey beyond the rhetoric into God´s rich and complex creation.
This six-part series, hosted by David Rhoads, features Walter Brueggemann, Larry Rasmussen, Barbara Rossing, Terry Fretheim, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda and many others.
Six 20-minute segments on two DVDs. Includes extensive study guide as a PDF on an additional CD.
To order the series from Select Learning Resources and receive a discount, go to: http://www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org/Home/highlights/videos/earthbound-dvd-educational-series .
2. Offer adult classes: Class could cover an introduction to all the basics: ecology, theology, ethics, biblical resources, creation-themed worship, organizational skills, and greening the parish. Consult the list of “What Every Christian Should Know About Care for Creation” and go about incorporating those things into the educational program. The list is Addendum One at the end of this manual.
3. Forums and speaker programs. There may be experts available in your area: community organizers, local farmer, scientist, corporation representative, experts in science and technology, victims and social organizers, theologians and religious activists, people from local groups committed to ecology and religion, naturalists and biologists. There will be specialists on native plants, green lawn care, and organic gardening. Invite a local representative of an environmental organization. Discuss an article on the environment from a national magazine. People could be encouraged to surf the internet and share their findings.
4. Care-for-Creation across the parish curriculum: Encourage all teachers to incorporate care for creation into every class. Establish this as part of the teacher training program. The confirmation program should also have a component of creation-care.
5. Youth programs: Engage youth in care for creation programs. Draw and build upon what children are learning in school. Engage in an environmental service project at the church or in the community. Encourage youth to attend summer camp.
6. Discover your own Earth Community. Consider a great project for the youth group. Invite them to identify all the members of Earth-community that share the small parcel of creation that comprises your church property: ground animals, birds, insects, worms and beetles, trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetables in a garden, grasses, soil, and rocks. Then ask them to find a way to bring the rest of the congregation to awareness. Do we know how much we depend on them for our well being (such trees to breathe and beetles to aerate the soil)? How are we part of their ecosystem with them? How do our actions in lawn care harm them? Do we make provisions for their well being? Can we see them as worship partners? Could we include pictures of some of them in the church directory?! See “Treating Your Property as Earth Community” at: http://www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org/treating-your-church-property-as-an-earth-community.
7. Older adult groups: Plan for programs in the gatherings of older adults relating to the environment or your role as a creation-care congregation. Develop intergenerational eco-projects.
8. Vacation Church School: There are now materials available to make nature a focus of summer programs for children. Or develop your own. If you have a community garden at your church, caring for the garden can be an integral part of every vacation church school. See the vacation Bible School resource "ReNew," a "Green VBS" program from Sparkhouse, a subsidiary of Fortress Press. Available for three different age groups: preschool, lower elementary, upper elementary. To learn more and order, go to: http://store.augsburgfortress.org/store/productfamily/158/ReNew-The-Green-VBS?domainRedirect=true.
9. Create a book/poetry discussion group: Look for books and novels about the environment that would be of interest to a green church. Share environmental/nature poetry. Consider works by Barbara Kingsolver and poetry by Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, Annie Dillard, among others.
10. Show films or videos: Congregations can arrange for showings of certain films on the environment. There are also many videos available for viewing and discussion by secular and religious groups. Go to http://www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org/Home/highlights/videos.
11. Workshops and Training Sessions: Provide workshops introducing care for creation or training to green congregations. Consider a council retreat with training about ecological and eco-justice issues, along with opportunities to commune with nature. Use each meeting to do a devotional related to creation.
12. Recommended. Consider the educational materials for small groups available from the Northwest Earth Institute (www.nwei.org). They are excellent opportunities to strengthen your commitment to care for creation. The course include such topics as “Voluntary Simplicity,” “Discovering a Sense of Place,” and “Menu for the Future.”
D. Educational opportunities for many occasions:
1. Newsletters and bulletins: Make use of parish printed materials to promote creation-care—with articles, relevant scripture quotes, excerpts from books, environmental tips, announcements of events, and reports of environmental actions by the congregation.
For the Bulletin:
2. Meetings of the Creation Care Committee: These can be open to anyone and include an educational component.
3. Explain ecological actions and innovations: If you organize a vegetarian potluck, explain its importance. If you change from paper to ceramic at coffee hour, be sure to give the environmental benefits for such a switch.
4. Library resources: Keep relevant environmental books, periodicals, curricular materials, and videos in the church library offerings. Then promote the offerings in bulletins and newsletters. For a secular periodical that has news, practical articles, and resources, subscribe to “E” magazine. For religious periodicals, the Earth Letter from Earth Ministry is excellent, informative and inspirational. Order it at www.earthministry.org.
E. Hands-on experiences (action/reflection):
1. Retreats: Where appropriate, hold meetings or retreats in a natural setting and use the opportunity to connect with nature. There may be an opportunity for the governing board or a committee or other group to have a spiritual retreat at a site that enables the natural world to be an integral part of the retreat experience. Invite a naturalist to lead you in a nature-focused exploration of the church grounds and the neighborhood or an interesting natural site near you. Consider a spiritual director to lead in reflections on eco-spirituality. For resources for a “Retreat on Awe and Mystery,” go to: http://www.letallcreationpraise.org/retreat-on-awe-and-mystery.
2. Field trip: Arrange to visit a site in your area where nature has been degraded, such as a polluted stream or a brown-field, and offer prayers for its healing. Meet with someone who is working on a restoration project. Visit an agency that works with eco-justice issues. Ask someone to give you an eco-tour of such sites in your area. Discuss your experiences.
3. Community project: Join a group to restore a stream or prairie area, or to clean up a vacant lot for use a community garden. Then follow it with a discussion and an opportunity to share your experience with the rest of the congregation.
4. Sponsorship: Establish a fund to send members to attend an ecological seminar or conference as a source of inspiration and find ways for them to share with congregation what they have learned. Send delegates or representatives to workshops on congregational care for creation or eco-spirituality. Provide scholarships for individuals or families to go to church camps for a week or a weekend which is focused on care for creation. Offer a small grant for people to do a restoration project at home or at work.