LUTHERANS RESTORING CREATION
Manual of Resources
LUTHERANS RESTORING CREATION
What Seminarians Can 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 Christian and denominational traditions that have contributed to Earth’s problems, what theological and ethical resources 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.
Table of Contents
Lutherans Restoring Creation: [Profile of the Program] 3-4
Partnership with ELCA seminaries 5
Seminary Pledge 6
Getting Organized: Overall Strategies 7
Action Plan 8
1. Curriculum 9-10
2. Building and grounds 11-12
3. Worship 13-15
4. Discipleship at Home and Work 16-17
5. Public ministry/ political action 18-19
Appendix 1: “What Seminarians Can Learn about Caring for Creation” 20
Appendix 2: “We Lutherans Restoring Creation” 21
“Lutherans Restoring Creation” (LRC)
A Program designed to serve the ELCA
LRC is a grass-roots effort designed to encourage the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to incorporate care for creation into its full life and mission at all levels. LRC desires to become partners with the ELCA in these efforts at the congregational, synodical, seminary, college, outdoor ministry, public policy, and national office levels. The goal is to incorporate care for creation into the organizational patterns, worship life, educational programs, responsibility for buildings and grounds, discipleship of members at home and work, and public ministry leadership development of all these institutions—so that Earth-keeping and justice for all Earth community becomes integral to the identity and purpose of our church.
LRC is a program that emerged from the Lutheran Earthkeeping Network of the Synods (LENS), a loose-knit, independent network of Lutherans devoted to bringing care for creation into the life and mission of the ELCA. It was founded in 1997; and its informal leadership as changed through its history. LENS has maintained a website at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago hosted by the Web of Creation, a Lutheran-sponsored ecumenical website providing environmental resources for faith communities: www.webofcreation. At this time, a group within LENS is transforming the LENS organization into the LRC program: Alycia Ashburn, Pat Benson, Christine McNeal, Mary Minette, Keith Mundy, Mayra Nieves, Mark Peters, David Rhoads, and Kim Winchell, with other committed persons serving as consultants. At this time, the LENS network is being phased out so that is can emerge as Lutherans Restoring Creation. A new website now serves the LRC program: www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org.
LRC believes that Lutherans are uniquely positioned to offer leadership in the movement to restore creation, based on: a strong theology of creation, a sacramental theology that discerns the active presence of God in all of life, a theology of the cross that leads us to identify with the most vulnerable, a situational ethic that enables us to respond creatively to new challenges, an ecclesiology which says that that the church exists for the sake of the world, a tradition of commitment to social ministry and public advocacy for justice, an understanding of justification that empowers us to act out of gratitude and grace, a spirituality that fosters a relationship of love for creation, and our affirmation of a future that is in God’s hands.
Furthermore, we Lutherans have a long history of social service to and advocacy for the poor, the elderly, the sick, the oppressed, and the marginalized—through hospitals, homes for the elderly, Lutheran Immigration Service, Lutheran World Relief, and on and on. As a church, we have already begun to extend that commitment to protecting and healing Earth community. Bishop Mark Hanson has issued statements about our commitment to care for creation. The ELCA has a fulltime person in environmental/hunger advocacy issues in Washington (Mary Minette). Lutheran Public Policy offices address issues of environmental-justice. The ELCA Office of Hunger Education offers grants for environmental projects.
Much creation-care is already well established in many congregations, within ELCA synods, in Lutheran outdoor ministries, at colleges, and among seminaries. Lutherans have spearheaded the Green Congregation Program, the Green Seminary Initiative, and the resources on the Web of Creation (www.webofcreation.org). We have helped to lead the way in promoting a Season of Creation in the church year (www.seasonofcreation.com). There are many Lutherans scholars representing diverse disciplines who have written on care of Earth for church and academy.
LRC believes it is time now to respond in comprehensive and holistic ways to the environmental justice challenges that are facing humanity in our time. Our purpose is to partner with ELCA congregations, synods, seminaries, colleges, outdoor ministries, public policy offices, and ELCA church-wide offices to develop and strengthen programs in restoring creation. Here are some components of the program we envision.
LRC commitment is:
By August 2011, Lutherans Restoring Creation hopes to have expanded significantly the number of ELCA congregations actively engaged in care for creation and to engage them in this program. The program will also hope to increase the number of “Green Synods” within the ELCA so as to provide leadership and training for the LRC congregational program. LRC will hope to have a number of ELCA Seminaries as partners in the endeavor to train church leaders in environmental ministry. Similarly, LRC seeks to strengthen care-for-creation efforts by colleges, outdoor ministries, and public policy offices. We will work with the ELCA leadership to bring care for creation into the full life and ministry of the church.
Among other things, Lutherans Restoring Creation will seek to help congregations and other institutions of the church to reduce their carbon impact on the environment, foster the use of creation-care resources for Lutheran worship throughout the year, study the ELCA social statement on Caring for Creation, share information from the ELCA advocacy program, embrace models for congregations to address issues of ecology and justice, generate leadership in the local communities, and encourage Lutherans to embrace care for creation at home and work. Creativity and initiative at the local level will be an important ingredient in the program.
The LRC program is supported by a grant from the Lutheran Community Foundation, a faith-based community foundation working nationally to help people give where they find their strongest connections. To learn more about the Foundation, please visit www.TheLCF.org.
LUTHERANS RESTORING CREATION
Partnership with ELCA Seminaries
Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC) is a church wide program involving four partners: congregations, synods, seminaries, and church-wide offices.
LRC would like to establish a partnership with ELCA seminaries in bringing care for creation into the life of the church. A partnership with the seminary would seek a mutual relationship of action and learning. Here are the things LRC can contribute to the seminary
Here are some things ELCA seminaries can contribute to the partnership.
We invite you to develop some innovative ways to participate in LRC and creative ways to promote it among all segments of the ELCA. Encourage pastors and congregations to adopt Lutherans Restoring Creation. As opportunities arise, promote Lutherans Restoring Creation in the wider church.
LUTHERANS RESTORING CREATION
As a seminary committed to care for creation, we rejoice in the creation in all its glory and beauty. We acknowledge God as source of all things. We acknowledge Jesus Christ as redeemer of all things. We acknowledge the Spirit as sustainer of all things. The whole earth is full of God’s glory. As a result, we strive to respect all of life as sacramental. We accept our vocation as Earth-keepers who care for creation. We see ourselves as part of the covenant of Noah that God made with humans and with all the animals of the land, sea, and air. We accept our responsibility to live justly in relation to our fellow human beings in ways that all creatures thrive together.
Transformation through Education: We seek to learn/teach about the biblical, theological, ecclesial, and ethical traditions concerning creation, including the mandate from God for us to care for Earth. We seek also to learn about the present degradations of creation due to human activity, how we as religious people are implicated in this degradation, how it impacts vulnerable humans, and what we as Christians can do to heal and restore creation for future generations. We seek to train people to be leaders for church and community in caring for Earth.
Eco-Friendly Buildings, Grounds, and Best Practices as a Teaching Model: We seek to make the buildings and grounds of our property into an Earth-Friendly Zone. We agree to evaluate the destructive impact that our activities and the use and maintenance of our property may have upon creation—in such matters as energy use, toxic products, paper use, water use, waste, transportation, among others. We will strive to make choices that lessen our negative impact on the Earth and that serve to renew and restore Earth community.
Transformation through Worship: We seek to worship throughout the year so that we express our gratitude and praise to God the creator, show gratitude to God for creation, and glorify God together with all creation. In worship, we will celebrate creation, confess our sins against creation, grieve the losses of creation, and commit ourselves to care for the earth.
Discipleship at home and at Study/Work: We encourage ourselves as individual members of this seminary—students, staff and faculty—to care for creation in our offices and in our homes, knowing that our habits and practices are connected to key environmental issues. We seek to foster a closer relationship with nature so that we can live simply and walk lightly upon the earth.
Public Ministry/ Political Advocacy: We seek to change the systems that foster the degradation of creation and to rectify the human injustices that result from it. We seek to alert our community to environmental legislation that protects creation and to encourage their active participation in the development of public policy. We encourage members to participate in civic activities that foster environmental health. We seek to let our care for creation be known to others.
We pledge to be visionary in our approach to caring for God’s creation and prophetic in our actions on behalf of Earth community.
[Create your own pledge or adapt this pledge as needed. You may also want to list after each category some commitments you have made to green your seminary.]
LUTHERANS RESTORING CREATION
Getting Organized: Overall Strategies
Be Creative: You know best how to organize and what actions to pursue. Many resources are available to you in the LRC program. We encourage you to develop your own initiatives and design your own expressions of creation-care. What follows is meant to be generative.
Restore Creation. Keep the larger purpose before you: to reduce the negative human impact on Earth and to take actions to restore God’s creation. We are called as human beings to be servants and keepers of our sisters and brothers and of all God’s creation. Organize around this purpose.
Revitalize the Seminary. Keep the immediate goal in mind: to transform the life and mission of the seminary so that care for creation is incorporated into the full life of the seminary. A key role of the seminary is to prepare people who will give eco-justice leadership in congregations and communities and, as a seminary, to serve as a model for this ministry. Organize around this goal.
Get Organized: Form a team or task group to address these goals. Build on what you already have and expand the work. Or create a new structure. A small or large team will work well. Be representative. Decide on a name. Students are your greatest asset!
Develop an Action Plan: We recommend the following template to use when making an action plan. It has six areas: Education, Building and Grounds, Worship, Community Life, Discipleship, and Public Ministry. Decide, refer, and follow through. Seminaries will engage divergent issues in diverse ways. Develop the initiatives that are right for your situation.
Be a catalyst. The goal of an LRC team is not to do all the environmental projects of the seminary. Rather, it is to be a catalyst to engage all parts and segments of the community to embrace care for creation: academic program, community life, worship, care of property, personal lifestyle, and public ministry. This will build ownership across the seminary.
Register as an LRC seminary. The registration process will help to involve the whole seminary community in this endeavor. Establish the LRC team within the organization of the seminary. Develop a strategy to maintain continuity from year to year.
Promote Your Identity as an LRC seminary. Because there are new students each year, it is necessary to re-acquaint the committee and the community at the beginning of each academic year with the goals and tasks of the committee. Try e-mail, newsletters, posters, personal contact, phone trees, announcements, bulletin boards, the seminary website and publications.
Live by Grace. Seek to act out of gratitude and grace, to work positively and constructively, to proceed cooperatively, and to celebrate the steps you are able to take. Begin with initiatives that will succeed. Some cost no money, and some take no additional energy. Build on what you accomplish until care for creation becomes part of the ethos of the seminary.
LUTHERANS RESTORING CREATION
Making an Action Plan
Have a Plan: It is important to have a comprehensive plan for greening your seminary. Otherwise, the process will be scattered-shot and limited. We recommend the following model to use when making an action plan. It has five areas: Education, Building and Grounds, Worship, Discipleship, and Public Ministry. Keep the goal in mind: Make care for creation an integral part of the full identity and mission of the seminary.
Be a Catalyst It is not the work of the LRC planning committee to carry out all of the actions. Rather, it is the goal of the LRC team to be a catalyst for the whole community to become engaged. Work with the various people responsible in different areas of seminary life—providing ideas, resources, and support—so that they incorporate care for creation into their arena of responsibilities. Share the work and engage many people in taking ownership for the greening of the seminary.
Be Creative: There are resources in the LRC model to draw upon. At the same time, this is a collaborative rather than a top-down program. Please engage the community in discovering what works best for you and what innovative ideas you might generate. These can be inspirational to others. Everything is flexible. Change and adapt the model and the program to your plans and ideas.
Make it policy: Avoid long term projects that will depend on volunteers. Rather, institutionalize the actions as quickly as possible. This way, it will not depend on the committee to suggest them anew each year. For example, if you celebrate Earth Week one year, seek to make it a regular part of the worship schedule for every year. Do not re-invent the wheel each year.
Work with projects that have a strong chance of success. Do not avoid challenging and ambitious efforts. At the same time, choose projects that you believe will be do-able with the limited time and financial resources that may be available to you. Where possible, incorporate Earth-keeping into regular programs and activities of the seminary. Build on your successes to create an ethos of caring for creation.
Do not try to do it all at once: Do not be overwhelmed by all that there is to do or all that could be done. The idea is to choose projects that are manageable. You cannot do all of them at once. So pick and choose. You will find that there are good starter projects. Then, as you reach a threshold of interest and support, other more ambitious projects will be possible. Celebrate what you get done without worrying about what does not get done. You can only do what you can do!
Revisit the model: We encourage you to keep coming back to this action plan so that you keep the larger picture before you and that you keep the process of brainstorming and planning as an ongoing part of your work. Keep the vision alive!
LUTHERANS RESTORING CREATION
Action Plan Part 1: Transformation through Education/Curriculum
Policy: We seek to learn about the biblical, theological, and ecclesial traditions concerning creation, including the mandate from God for us to care for Earth. We will seek also to learn about the present degradations of creation due to human activity, how we as religious people are implicated in this degradation, and what we as Lutheran Christians can do to heal and restore creation for future generations. We will seek to train people to be leaders for the church and the community in their efforts to care for creation.
People: Academic Dean; curriculum committee; faculty members; adjunct faculty; library director and staff; field education director and staff; contextual education supervisors; internship supervisors; leaders of workshop/experiences; continuing education directors..
Goal: To incorporate “care for creation” into the academic program and educational opportunities of the seminary.
Actions: Be creative and innovative. Share your ideas with other seminaries. Here are some actions that carry out these commitments.
A. Incorporate eco-justice education in the academic program
1. Create an Eco-Justice Emphasis or Concentration: Many seminaries offer opportunities for students to specialize in an area such as Bible or Urban Ministry. Here is a proposal to have an “Environmental Ministry Emphasis,” which might include courses, papers on the environment in standard courses, field education experiences, senior project, and hands-on work at the seminary. One example is from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (www.lstc.edu).
2. Offer an introductory course: This course, required or elective, could cover an introduction to all the basics: ecology, theology, ethics, biblical resources, green worship, organizational skills, and greening the parish. See the profile in this packet entitled “What Every Seminarian Should Know about Care for Creation.”
3. Offer specialized elective courses in various fields: Ecology and Justice; Theology of Nature; Nature in the Bible; Earth Ethics; Spirituality of Place/Nature; Native American Spirituality; Eco-Therapy Pastoral Care; Creation Care Worship; Preaching the care of Creation; Greening Your Congregation; and so on. To these can be added opportunities for Independent Studies.
4. Care-for-Creation Across the Curriculum: Engage in faculty development to include eco-justice and care-for-creation concerns as a component in many courses—Bible, theology, ethics, church and society, pastoral care, worship, preaching, and so on. When planning classes, consider book choices, speakers, modules within course, class assignments, projects, field trips.
5. Pedagogy: Think about assignments not only in terms of their content (e.g., readings or projects about creation-care) but also the process of the course: does this course help facilitate students’ immersion in creation? Does it encourage the practice of Sabbath and love of the Earth? Do its ecological gifts balance its own use of fossil fuels (projection technology, trips), or is the content of Earth-care undermined by pedagogies that limit learning to the indoors?
6. Field Education:
a. Internship projects in parishes.
b. Share an internship site between parish ministry and placement in an agency.
c, Contextual education opportunities in parishes on weekends.
d. Clinical Pastoral Education sites located at agencies that address environmental
issues. See the Urban CPE program at the Associated Seminaries of Chicago.
e. Field Education Courses, work in an agency or hands-on ecological project.
f. Work experience at local environmental agency.
B. Faculty Development:
1. Faculty Retreat. Consider a faculty retreat with training in the environment, updates from various academic fields, along with opportunities to commune with nature. Discuss the book edited by Dieter Hessel, Theology for Earth Community: A Field Guide (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1996), which includes articles on each subject in the seminary curriculum. On Biblical studies, see resources at the Earth Bible page, hosted at the Web of Creation.
2. Faculty Colloquies: to read and discuss a book, such as Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble, by Lester Brown. Or, as a basis for discussion, request each faculty to present a brief description of how they might incorporate eco-justice concerns into courses. Discuss the ELCA social statement on “Caring for Creation.” Study the Earth Charter.
C. Educational opportunities for the seminary community as a whole:
1. Workshops. Provide workshops introducing care for creation or training to green congregations. Consider the educational materials for small groups available from the Northwest Earth Institute (www.nwei.org).
2. Speakers and conferences. Provide care-for-creation speakers for seminary lectures and conferences: community organizers, local farmer, scientist, corporation representative, or a seminary or college faculty member.
3. Brown bag discussions: informal conversations over lunch or coffee.
4. Newsletters and bulletins: Make use of student and faculty in-house publications to keep the issue before the community—with articles, relevant scripture quotes, excerpts from books, environmental tips, announcements of events, and reports of actions by the seminary.
5. Meetings: Meetings of the Creation Care Committee can be open to everyone and include an educational component.
6. Natural Settings: Where appropriate, hold meetings or retreats in a natural setting and use the opportunity to connect with nature.
D. Resources: Books, periodicals and DVDs:
1. Library: Keep relevant environmental books, periodicals, and audio-visual resources in many academic fields of the seminary up to date in library offerings.
2. Bookstore: Request your bookstore to stock relevant environmental books, periodicals, and audio-visual resources.
LUTHERANS RESTORING CREATION
Action Plan Part 2: Building and Grounds as Model
Policy/pledge: We seek to make the buildings and grounds of our property into an Earth-Friendly Zone. We agree to assess the destructive impact that our activities and the use and maintenance of our property may have upon creation—in such matters as energy use, toxic products, paper use, water use, waste, transportation, among others. We will strive to make choices that lessen our negative impact on the earth and that serve to restore Earth community.
People: Director of Building and Grounds; Maintenance staff; head of the cafeteria; all members of the community—students, faculty, staff—who live and work at the seminary.
Goal: To reduce the negative ecological imprint of the seminary in regard to every aspect of the physical area of the seminary that has an impact on the environment.
Actions: Here are some things that can be done to carry out these commitments.
A. Think of Your Property as an Earth Community. Take an inventory of the trees, bushes, flowers, grass, and other plants that grow on your property. Make a map of these identifications for display. Identify as many animals as you can that share your space with you: rabbits, squirrels, rodents, birds, beetles, insects, fish, and other fellow creatures. Take into account the soil and water and air with you. Recognize your dependence on many of these dimensions of nature. Promote awareness of your Earth Community. Consider how your human activity might negatively affect them. Plan ways to provide for other living things to thrive together with you.
B. Consultation: Find ways to support the maintenance staff in their efforts to bring care for creation at the seminary. Request to be represented at some staff meetings that address issues impacting the environment. Meet annually with the head of the building and grounds to go over various areas to address in the seminary environmental action plan for each year. Develop a collaborative relationship. The maintenance staff will have the best and most feasible ideas for implementation. Remember: maintenance people are often working with severe limitations of time and money. They do not need more pressure or public criticism of their efforts.
C. Do a Comprehensive Environmental Inventory. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do. Consider the “Environmental Guide for Churches, Their Buildings and Grounds” (see manuals on the Web of Creation) with your seminary property. Determine what areas it is feasible to address and revisit the inventory regularly to assess what new actions can be taken. If you are building or remodeling, consult the new building guide available from the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Working Group.
D. Here are some specific areas that might be addressed:
1. Energy for lighting: It is amazing what fossil fuel burning can be averted and what money can be saved by retrofitting lights and by replacing current lights with new and improved lighting. Replacing one incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light saves the burning of five hundred pounds of coal over the lifetime of that bulb. You can do this also in the living units.
2. Energy for heating and cooling: An energy audit for heating may also uncover some feasible ways in which you can conserve in the production of heat and air conditioning.
3. Renewable energy: Some seminaries have gone to a geothermal energy source. Others are using solar energy for heating water or for outside lights.
4. Recycling: Seek to develop a comprehensive recycling program for the main buildings and the living units—plastic, cans, glass (of several colors), different kinds of paper, cell phones, printer cartridges, household batteries, plastic bags, and so on. Encourage members of the seminary community to participate actively. Post instructions near the receptacle bins and in the living units (in the language of the occupants). Develop resources and procedures for composting of food and lawn waste.
5. Lawn maintenance: Avoid pesticides and herbicides; avoid chemical fertilizer; where feasible, mow with a hand mower or battery powered mower; consider planting low maintenance grass.
6. Green Cleaning products: Reduce or eliminate toxic products used in the maintenance of the buildings. Environmentally safe products are now available for most cleaning and polishing jobs.
7. Food: Work with the cafeteria to seek ways to purchase organic and/or locally grown food. Make efforts to reduce or eliminate the use of Styrofoam and paper products. Increase the availability of meatless meals. Provide a mug rack. Consider eliminating the provision of bottled water.
8. Paper products: Do an inventory of paper purchases and seek to purchase recycled/ post-consumer waste paper for office use as well as for bathroom use. Develop guidelines for the use of office paper by faculty, staff, and students—to reduce, use fully, and recycle. Make use of paperless electronic means of communication where feasible.
9. Conserve water. Encourage members to conserve water in the restrooms and living units.
10. Best practices: Consider environmentally best practices for coffee hours and catered meals.
11. Garden. Plant a garden and share produce with local food banks.
E. Institutionalize: If some new initiative begins as a voluntary effort of students, consider the appropriateness of institutionalizing the effort, so that it becomes part of the regular work of the paid staff. Students come and leave and have periods when they cannot do extra volunteer labor. The cycle of student availability means that volunteer labor cannot always be counted on for consistent and long term commitments.
F. Promote what you do! Be sure to announce actions to the community and to celebrate them. Use each environmentally-friendly practice that is adopted as a means to educate people generally to the importance of greening your institution. If the seminary buildings and grounds function as laboratory and model for students, then you need to demonstrate the efforts being made. Remember also that the frequent turnover of students in the seminary community makes it is necessary to re-announce seminary actions and efforts each year.
LUTHERANS RESTORING CREATION
Actions Plan Part 3: Transformation through Worship
Policy: We seek to worship throughout the year so that we express our gratitude and praise to God the creator, show gratitude to God for creation, and glorify God together with all creation. In worship, we will celebrate creation, confess our sins against creation, grieve the losses of creation, and commit ourselves to care for the earth.
People: The chaplain, the chapel staff, the worship committee of the seminary, leaders of worship, and the whole worshipping community, as well as the teaching faculty. It will be helpful for the worship leadership to bring everyone on board, seeking guidance and leadership from them and providing resources and training where appropriate.
Goal: To make “care for creation” an integral part of the policies and practices of seminary worship.
Actions: Be creative. Develop resources. Share with other seminaries. Here are some ideas/ resources to carry out these commitments:
A. Incorporate earth-keeping confessions, intercessory prayers, hymns, and sermons into all worship services throughout the year.
1. Lutheran Resources for Worship: to collect and make accessible the Lutheran worship resources already present in our tradition that celebrate creation and express care for creation. To highlight creation themes in the seasons, liturgical resources, lessons, prayers, and occasional services that currently exist for our common worship throughout the three year lectionary cycle.
2. Lectionary Prayers: There are Lutheran care-for-creation petition-prayers by Pastor Dennis Ormson available for each Sunday of the three-year cycle of the church year. Go to www.webofcreation.org and click on Worship under the Green Congregation Program.
3. Preaching Care for Creation Throughout the Three Year Lectionary Cycle: There are two sites that provide care-for-creation reflections for preaching on the lessons of the three-year lectionary cycle. The first, the Christian Ecology Link, is a multi-denominational organization from the United Kingdom for people concerned about the environment. They have provided Ecological Notes on the Common Worship Lectionary by Keith Innes at www.christian-ecology.org.uk/econotes-index.htm#index. The second, the Environmental Stewardship Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota (MEESC), has collected environmental and Earth-centered reflections, sermons, and commentaries on the lectionary readings. These notes can be found at www.env-steward.com/lectnry.htm. For additional sermon resources, go to the sermon collection on the Web of Creation and see Earth and Word: Classic Sermons on Saving the Planet, edited by David Rhoads (New York: Continuum, 2006).
5. Seasons: Find ways to explore the creation themes in relation to the seasons of the church year and means to celebrate the seasons with creation.
4. Other Ecumenical Resources. Many resources for worship are available through diverse websites—liturgies, prayers, hymns, litanies, confessions, intercessions, and so on. [Web of Creation, Season of Creation, Earth Ministry, National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Working Group, among others]
B. Celebrate Optional worship services throughout the church year with a focus on creation.
1. A Season of Creation: Observe an optional four-week Season of Creation available with liturgies, sermons, and scripture focusing on God as Creator. For the relevant three year lectionary materials, go to www.seasonofcreation.com. Celebrate the four weeks together at some point in the year (perhaps at some time during the Trinity/Pentecost season) or adopt/adapt them for worship at points throughout the year. Fortress Press will publish a Proclamation Commentary on the Season of Creation dealing with the alternative lectionary lessons for the twelve weeks of the three year cycle.
2. Blessing of the Animals: At sometime in the year, perhaps around St. Francis Day (October 2), have a Blessing of the Animals for the seminary community. Consider blessing the human animals as well! See liturgies on the Web of Creation.
3. Greening of the Cross: During the Season of Easter or the Season of Lent, have a Greening of the Cross service in which worshippers put greenery on a wooden cross to show how Jesus’ death renews all creation. Find this liturgy on the Web of Creation website.
4. Holy days: See the calendar of Holy Days on the Web of Creation site for other times of commemoration in the church year, such as Rogation Day.
C. Celebrate key worship services in observance of national commemoration days.
1. Earth Day/Week: Observe Earth Day in April with special worship services throughout the week. There are worship materials from the National Council of Churches website with resources from the Eco-Justice Working Group. You will also find an archive with worship and educational materials from previous years.
2. Thanksgiving: An obvious opportunity to express gratitude for all creation.
D. Celebrate services special to the seminary community
1. Covenant with Creation: Near the beginning of the academic year, offer a worship service in which community members have an opportunity to sign a “Covenant with Creation” to establish their commitment to do their part in the Greening of the Seminary and place it as an offering for an example of a “covenant with creation.” See several examples of a “Covenant with Creation” at the Web of Creation site.
2. Planting of trees: Some communities commemorate the death of a member of the community with a planting and dedication of a tree in their honor.
E. Appoint the chapel with appropriate banners, greenery, and art that keeps before the congregation their earth-keeping identity and mission. These appointments make excellent gifts from graduating classes and donors.
1. Plants: Green the worship space with living plants/trees throughout the chapel as a sign that the whole creation is our worshipping community. Where possible, highlight the relation between inside and outside the chapel as a sign that all of Earth is the sanctuary in which we worship. Some plants help to purify the air.
2. Banners: Place banners at the entrance or inside the chapel as a reminder of your commitment to creation, such as “Let all Creation Praise God” or “The Whole Earth is full of God’s Glory.”
3. Art: Place artwork in the chapel that celebrates God the creator and creation. Stained class pieces, for example, may be commissioned with this in mind.
4. Solar-powered light/font: Consider providing an eternal light or running water in the baptismal font that is solar-powered by the natural energy of the sun.
5. Outdoor worship. Consider occasional worship services in an outdoor setting when appropriate.
F. Green your worship practices: Use beeswax candles; place plants instead of cut flowers on the altar; use local wine; provide organic, whole grain communion bread; recycle/reuse or eliminate bulletins; practice intinction or provide reusable glasses (not plastic) for communion (wash with green dishwashing detergent); purchase fair trade palms and paraments.
LUTHERANS RESTORING CREATION
Action Plan Part 4: Discipleship at Home and Office
Policy: We encourage ourselves as individual members of this seminary—students, staff and faculty—to care for creation in our offices and in our living spaces, knowing that our habits and practices are connected to key environmental issues. We seek to foster a closer relationship with nature so that we can live simply and walk lightly upon the earth.
People: Dean of Community Life; Chaplain; faculty in spirituality; spiritual directors; leaders of small group processes; all members of the community—students, faculty, and staff.
Goals: To foster a personal commitment to disciplines that respect Earth community, that seek to restore creation from human degradation, and that enable us to relate closely with nature.
Actions: Here are some ideas to carry out these commitments:
1. Covenant with Creation: Develop a personal “Covenant with Creation” that lists a variety of actions to be taken by the members of your seminary community. Participants check the practices they agree to follow. They give one copy to the Greening Committee and keep another to post in their apartments/homes. You may want to consider making this covenant part of a worship service with a brief liturgy and to give it as an offering.
2. Training: You can hold brief training sessions for students (at orientation), faculty (within regular faculty meetings), and staff (at regular staff meetings) as a means to encourage people to participate in Lutherans Restoring Creation: recycling instructions; paper use guidelines; turning out lights; using natural light; and so on.
3. Promotion: Make a brochure that outlines the personal commitments involved in being part of an LRC seminary. Take into consideration the different circumstances of residential and commuter students. Encourage faculty and staff to participate. Share eco-friendly tips as constant reminders in e-mails and newsletters that go to the community.
4. Support/ interest groups: Seminary students often form together in small groups around an interest or commitment. Support for environmental practices and disciplines can serve as a focus for groups that form. Groups that meet around a meal could learn about food and then practice eco-friendly eating habits as a spiritual discipline.
5. Group Study: Foster the formation of groups around an educational course on Simple Living or the Ecology of Food. Consider the educational materials for small groups available from the Northwest Earth Institute (www.nwei.org). Offer a study/support group using the book Simple Living, Compassionate Living. (a resource from Earth Ministry: www.earthministry.org)
6. Devotional materials: There are devotional materials available for earth-keeping. Consider the booklet, Stewardship of Creation: 30 Days with Nature (www.webofcreation.org) or Earth Gospel: A Guide to Prayer for God’s Creation, by Sam Hamilton-Poore (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2008) or Earth Prayers from around the World, edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991).
7. Witnessing/Sharing: Make use of meetings of the Greening Committee to allow students to share with each other their personal environmental practices and disciplines.
8. Creation-care at home: Provide an environmental guide or checklist (see Web of Creation) for use in the home/apartment to foster restoration of creation around issues such as energy, food, water use, water run-off, lawn maintenance, gardening, recycling, composting, transportation, and so on. Hold training sessions.
9. Get in touch with Nature: Encourage people to appreciate the natural beauty of the seminary property and surrounding areas. Help make it possible for people--especially children—to have access to natural sites that help them fall in love with creation. Plan trips to a local arboretum, gardens, or lake/river area. Hold seminary meetings, retreats, or quiet days at outdoor ministry sites. Where feasible, procure the services of a naturalist. Consider pet policies that encourage love of animals.
10. Honor your Bodies: Encourage reverence for bodies through healthy food choices, reverent eating, hospitality, care for the hungry. Develop mindful practices or prayer and meditation. Encourage exercise. Promote biking, walking, and the use of public transportation. Encourage people to get adequate rest, to honor their bodies’ needs and limits and beauty, and to practice Sabbath. Use ELCA resources for healthy living.
10. Local opportunities: Arrange for members of the community to participate in public efforts to restore a habitat, clean up a beach, rally for clean air, protest pollution, do write-in campaigns for environmental legislation, and so on. Get to know local leaders and groups working in the nearby watershed, native plant restoration efforts, sustainable community emphases. Encourage the seminary to cooperate with national/local environmental agencies.
LUTHERANS RESTORING CREATION
Action Plan Part 5: Public Ministry/ Political Advocacy
Policy: We seek to change the systems that foster the degradation of creation and to rectify the injustices that result from it. We seek to alert our community to environmental legislation that protects creation and to encourage their active participation in the development of public policy. We encourage members to participate in civic activities that foster environmental health. We seek to let our care for creation be known to others.
People: Faculty members engaged in issues of ethics and society; director of publicity; director of admissions; conference organizers; all students, faculty, and staff.
Actions: Here are some suggested actions to take to fulfill these commitments
A. Ecological Justice: Help the community to be aware of the social justice issues involved in environmental degradation, through classes, speakers, and workshops. Encourage those teaching courses in ethics and church-and-society to include such a component in their classes. Promote active involvement in political issues addressing systemic problems of injustice.
1. Action alerts: Provide a mechanism whereby students can receive e-mail action alerts regarding environmental and ecological justice issues, with a suggested letter and the appropriate legislators to contact. These can also be promoted through the internal seminary newsletter.
2. Petitions: Where appropriate, circulate petitions that support legislative actions and policies friendly to the earth.
3. Local actions: There may be local urban or rural issues that arise in the community or city in which the seminary is located, where seminary students can get hands-on experience with community organizers dedicated to resist an action by the government or a corporation or local citizens that degrades the environment and poses a threat to human health and well-being.
4. Displays: The Green Team can sponsor a display of photographs or art depicting the impacts of global warming upon the natural world or portraying some human conditions resulting from our impact on the environment.
5. Green the larger Community: There are many programs designed to assist in greening cities and communities: community supported agriculture, carbon reducing programs, green city designs. Investigate these and cooperate with local officials to green the community in which your seminary is located.
B. Promote care for creation beyond the walls of the seminary.
1. Publicity: Promote your commitment to care for creation through admissions brochures, a section on the seminary website, and articles and reports in seminary publications. It will help to have a name and identity that generate interest, conversation, and perhaps imitation in regard to your commitment to green the seminary.
2. Public events: Hold conferences and sponsor speakers who draw graduates of the seminary, local pastors, and members of the larger community in which the seminary is located. Church and eco-justice would make an important subject for the professional leadership conference held by most seminaries as part of their continuing education programs.
3. Publications/guidebooks: where there are interested faculty and students, prepare workbooks and guides for the greening of congregations. Consider a collective faculty publication with articles on care for creation and ecological justice.
C. Network and cooperate: Locate the environmental organizations in your area, either national ones or local community organizing groups. Network with them, engage them as speakers, cooperate with them to provide field education opportunities for students, and arrange to team-teach with them.
D. Green the Investment Portfolio. Urge the development office to invest seminary endowment and other funds in social justice funds that include environmentally sound corporations and companies that serve the environment as their business. Many funds and agencies now specialize in environmentally oriented investments.
Appendix: Lutherans Restoring Creation
Lutherans are uniquely positioned to address the critical issues of the environment from theological, ethical, and practical perspectives.
Lutherans have a creation-centered theology oriented to celebrate the gifts of creation. We have a deeply incarnation theology which cherishes the presence of God in all reality. The theology of the cross leads us to be in solidarity with the human situation in all its pain and agony. Our affirmation of resurrection offers hope for new life in this world. Our sacramental theology claims that the finite can bear the infinite. Our worship invites us into transforming encounters with God deep in the flesh and in the world. We understand that the church exists for the sake of the world. We do not have an escapist theology. When Luther was asked what he would do if he knew the world would end tomorrow, he replied, “Plant a tree.”
Lutherans have a situational ethic built not on rules that can be confining and enslaving. We are free to address new and complex problems, such as the environmental state of the world. We do so not as ones who dominate and exploit but as servants to our human and non-human neighbors. And we do so not out of fear or guilt or shame or arrogance but out of gratitude and with grace.
Lutherans have a history of social service to the poor, the elderly, the sick, the oppressed, the marginalized—hospitals, homes for the elderly, Lutheran Immigration Service, Lutheran World Relief, and on and on. We extend that commitment to protecting and healing Earth community.
Bishop Mark Hanson has issued statements about our commitment to care for creation. As a denomination, we have had for several decades a fulltime person in environmental/hunger advocacy in Washington. We have others working on these issues in the headquarters in Chicago. Lutheran Public Policy offices address regional issues of advocacy. The ELCA offers grants for environmental projects for seminaries, synods, and congregations.
We have the organization Lutheran Earthkeeping Network of the Synods (LENS). Several synods that have declared themselves to be Green Synods. Many synods have care-for-creation committees and hold lectures, workshops, and conferences on eco-justice subjects. There are many Lutheran congregations across the church with Care for Creation teams that work to incorporate the environmental commitment into parish life—worship, education, building and grounds, discipleship at home and work, and public ministry. Lutherans have spearheaded the Green Congregation Program, the Green Seminary Initiative, and the resources on the Web of Creation (www.webofcreation.org). We have led the way in promoting a Season of Creation in the church year (www.seasonofcreation.com).
Lutheran scholars have written on this subject: Peter Bakken, Terry Fretheim, Norman Habel, Diane Jacobson, James Martin-Schramm, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Larry Rasmussen, David Rhoads, Barbara Rossing, Paul Santmire, Joseph Sittler, George Tinker, among others.
Lutherans are in a critical position to listen to the cry of the poor along with the cry of the Earth and to take leadership in addressing these critical issues of our day.
LOCAL FUNDING FOR SEMINARY PROJECTS
Lutherans Restoring Creation.
LENS is funded to administer the LRC program. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to offer grants to seminaries. We will, however, promote creation-care in ELCA seminaries through the activities and resources of LRC. We will offer networking opportunities among and across seminaries in the sharing of ideas, experiences, and resources. We will provide a website to gather information and reports. We will seek to offer consultation to seminaries in their care for creation efforts.
Local Funding for Seminary Projects
We are eager to help ELCA seminaries in finding support for projects. LRC will work with each seminary in seeking funding from local churches, governmental agencies, religious foundations, environmental organizations, individual donors, and corporations in your area that offer grants and support for environmental work. There are some modest grants available through the ELCA Hunger Program.
We encourage each seminary to make every effort to learn about and to promote the incentive programs in your area offered by energy companies, corporations, and government agencies at the local, state and national levels.
Lutheran Community Foundation.
The Lutherans Restoring Creation program is supported by a grant from the Lutheran Community Foundation, a faith-based community foundation working nationally to help people give where they find their strongest connections. To learn more about the Foundation, please visit www.TheLCF.org.