CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR ELCA SEMINARIES
The LRC Seminary Initiative offers to work together as Lutheran seminaries to cross-fertilize our separate efforts and to formulate a baseline of programs and activities that will prepare every professional leader to offer leadership in church and society in caring for creation.
Why we need to do this!
More than ever, the church needs a transformation to address the ecological issues we face and the social justice issues related to them. There is no more important place to initiate this transformation than in our seminaries, where we prepare leaders for church and society. We must cease seeing the “environment” as one issue among many and incorporate our human mandate to “serve and protect” creation as central to our human/Christian vocation.
To date, many environmental developments have taken place at ELCA seminaries—courses offered, care for creation worship, energy saving projects, community gardens, conferences, lectures, and workshops, among others. I believe it is time for us to step up and work together to offer Lutheran seminaries a challenge to rise to this occasion in time. This endeavor will take some creativity, and it will not happen overnight. Nevertheless, there are some things we can do to move the process along in significant ways.
I believe we (the care for creation point people at our seminaries) can be helped by working together as means to support each other and learn from each other. I suggest we work to establish some common baseline challenges for all the seminaries and see what we can do to move us all forward. Each seminary is unique. Each seminary is in a different place and will proceed in diverse ways. Let’s respect those differences. Nevertheless, let’s celebrate the progress and advances we have already made and build on these to see if we can take some steps together that we could not do alone. Will you join Lutherans Restoring Creation in this effort?
What is the long range goal?
The larger goal is to bring care for creation into the full life and mission of the seminary—students, faculty, staff, administration, board, alumni and constituents—such that it pervades the ethos of the seminary.
The curriculum of the seminary in preparing leaders: curriculum, courses, emphases, CPE, field work, internship projects, workshops.
The life of the seminary: worship life, building and grounds, best practices of all members, public witness, conferences and lectures.
What are some steps we can take together?
1. Identify the “Green Team” at each seminary and/or the “point person” for LRC networking and planning.
2. Identify our successes and celebrate them—publicize them! Update our reports on the LRC Web site: www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org. Promote our achievements.
3. Organize as a network with a steering committee and leadership: To establish an agenda of items to be considered and addressed together. Share ideas and resources.
4. Agree to a series of conference calls: to continue the conversation, report, and share information working toward an overall plan. Each call could be organized around a particular area of seminary life and mission.
5. Develop a baseline of fundamentals: for the educational programs and the life of a seminary and then develop plans within each seminary to enact these.
The goal is to develop a mission statement of purposes and goals for all ELCA seminaries—to incorporate care for creation into our preparation of church leaders and into the life of the seminary—and then to strategize how to make this happen.
Here are some questions/ issues to be considered:
· What is a vision for seminaries in the 21st century vis-à-vis the ecological state of the world?
· What knowledge and skills should graduates of seminaries have for leadership in the church? How can we provide this?
· What biblical, theological, and ethical foundations should graduates of seminaries have for leadership in church and society? How can we provide them?
· What are the curricular components wherein ecological issues can be addressed?
· Can we explore an across-the-board, shared curricular program of courses to accomplish jointly what we do not have resources to do alone?
· How can the seminary as a whole institution be a model and laboratory for students—worship, building and grounds, lifestyle, public witness, and so on?
· How can we engage the seminary as a whole so as to make care for creation part of the ethos of the seminary—faculty, students, administration, staff, board of trustees, alumni?
· What efforts might we all agree to do in our respective seminaries, such as the “Gettysburg Pledge” offered to members of the community?
· What funds might be needed to move things along at each seminary? Where might we go for grants?
· How might we work with the ELCA office of theological education to further these concerns? Conversations between LRC and this office have already indicated support for such efforts.
These are not meant to overwhelm, only to provide a big picture and some specific steps needed to keep us moving forward. We may need to take baby steps or giant leaps, but we need to do something! LRC looks forward to working with you and offering support as we are able.
For more information and to share ideas, please contact David Rhoads, Director of LRC at firstname.lastname@example.org.