LRC Twin Cities Training Workshop Notes

LRC Twin Cities Synodical Training Workshop

Minneapolis Synod and St. Paul Synod

March 3, 2012

Report of the Workshop

Alycia Ashburn, Facilitator
Director, Creation Care Campaign  | 202-745-4653
SOJOURNERS - - 3333 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010


Planners: Alycia Ashburn, Kris Grangaard, Jillian Emery, Dennis Ormseth, Mark Peters.



LCPPM (Mark P)

Calgary, Wilmar (Ron)

Holy Trinity (Kathy, Jay, Dave, Dennis, Sean, Julie)

Faith United (Candy, Kreil, Bob)

Christ the King, New Brighton (Jon)

Christ Capitol Hill (Gary)

Mt. Olivet (Carrie)

Pilgrim (Kris)

Calvary, Mpls (Brad, Don, Dan)

River of Life (Stefan)

Bethlehem (Amy)

St. Andrew’s (Jim, Mike)

Resurrection (Rebecca)

LCCR (Dorothy)


1.              Welcome, Announcements, Prayer

2.              History of Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC). Creator, Dr. David Rhoads


Most attendees reported that they were familiar with LRC and with the LRC Manual, so history was brief:  Dr. Rhoads had been consulting with congregations frequently and came up with strategies that worked for him.  He and Alycia compiled them into a manual which tackled 5 Areas of Action.


The intent is to integrate “green” decision-making strategies in all of the church’s decisions and actions.  With a grant from the Lutheran Community Foundation (LCF):

  • LRC wants to take the manual to congregations by training people who have already used it.  They will hold workshops and start other congregations on their way.
  • Celebrate what is already being done, through publicity in journals and magazines.
  • Make the LRC website usable for congregations, synods, groups like Lutheran Social Services, and individuals.
  • They started by training people to take the message to congregations in their own synods.  Started with 5 across the country, doing train-the-trainer workshops.


Question:  Is there anything that makes MN a special place for this?  Unique?

 It has more individual congregations concentrating on their strategies.


Question:  Are all the synods that have been trained supportive of individual congregations? 

It varies.  Finances and staff are stretched; there can be issue burnout at the synod level (e.g., hunger/poverty) that’s why it’s good to connect all the issues.


Question:  What makes a congregation a “green” congregation?  Something like a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) acknowledgement in individual congregations?   Will be discussed more during the day...


3.             Introductions—Prompt:  What have you done (checklist)? What do you look forward to doing?  What do you have the time and energy for?  Metaphor: Model of seedàsproutàsaplingàetc. (Online Dropbox—


Holy Trinity (200 each Sunday between two services.  Officially 1000 members.  8 members here.)

Pastor Jay Carlson, Kathy Hollander, Rev. Dennis Ormseth, Julie Wright, Sue Roberts, Sean Gosiewski, Dave Moe

·         Many champions but not a “green team.”  Looking for ways to integrate.  Then again, each filled out the LRC checklist and they were reminded about how much they do accomplish!

·         Peace with Justice Committee sponsors lot of education and some dialogue events, talking groups.

·         Church needs a new boiler, so this has become a discussion with peace & justice researching how to integrate solar.

·         Should large outdoor green space be used for community gardens or outdoor worship space?  Use it as a way to work with Sr. Center across the street?  These cause tension while opening dialogue.  Need team to talk through things ex – tree fell in storm.  Better to replant team or use new sunny space for community garden?

·         Talk about being example in the community with solar or other, even when it doesn’t necessarily make financial sense.

·         Congregational book read of Eaarth by Bill McKibben

·         Thinking intentionally about structure of governance of congregation – decentralizing and therefore more attention given to interfaces among committees.  4 times per year, committee chairs meet to share.  This was used as the forum for completing the LRC checklists.


St. Andrew’s Mahtomedi     (1500 – 2000 people for Sunday. Membership= 8000.)  40-acre campus

Jim Malkowski, Mike Nevala, Mary Blanchard

·         2007 green team emerged after historical tension prior

·         10-person steering team (Env Stewardship Council) and took almost 3 years of expressing concerns to get pastor assigned to their team.  Some concern not relevant until pastor assigned.

·         Attended 2010 LRC Workshop.

·         Then consultant hired to look at building remodeling and this team was left out again – so appealed to be included in decision making.

·         Have announced desire to have one committee member on church council and included in a 3-year plan.  Have created the 3-year plan as a demonstration to the senior pastor their seriousness and commitment and ability to do so.  Really want a member on the church council; not a person who will “push this agenda, but someone who will advocate for it, among other things.

·         We need more outside support to demonstrate to those inside that this is a bigger and ongoing effort other than those on the committee.  When someone recognized regionally or nationally says same thing as committee, makes a big difference in giving credence to committee.   Affirming.  Supportive.

·         3 years of caring for creation Sunday (4th in a couple of months)  Music, sermon, earth fair

·         Integrated green cleaning products

·         Along Gateway trail – had biking, animals, nature observation. 

·         Partnered with high school on wind turbine.

·         Also Unitarian church nearby has hosted many speakers. 

·         1500 cups per Sunday so currently Styrofoam—goal is to reduce. 

·         Buildings and grounds is one of biggest challenges. 

·         Family camp has environmental component. 

·         Have rain garden, small community garden 

·         Will Steger came in Nov 2006 with at least 900 people attending.

·         Now needing to sustain and expand.  Same people have been working very hard, but need to keep them even with attracting new people.  Greatest need is how to generate greatest impact on congregation at large. 

Question:  Some ask, what are we doing this in church for?  That is another hurdle.


Faith United,  Iron, MN

Pastor Krehl Stringer (new pastor), Candice and Bob Maki

·         Church is also involved in creation care task force at synod and congregations caring for the earth – ecumenical group on the iron range.  Interfaith worship service last October.  Part of all three.

·         Integrating Season of Creation – 5 weeks starting 1st Sunday in Sept leading up to St. Francis of Assisi day in Oct.  Well received in previous as well as this congregation.  Season of Creation was first priority to introduce in new congregation.

·         Don’t have green team yet, but would like to have one.  Learning from reading.  Sixty miles from the PolyMet site.


Calvary Lutheran,  Minneapolis   (50 confirmed members.  Daily 80 or 90 attendance)

Dan Huff, Pastor Brad Froslee, Joanne Shepherd,  Steve Glass, Joette, Don Rudrud, Dick Piek

·         Congregation pretty much in agreement.  Doing a lot because small. 

·         Capicity and money is biggest issue in addition to things like food shelf, etc. 

·         Water heater went out yesterday which may require half of facility budget, but will be high efficiency. 

·         Have rain garden and bike rack, green cleaning products, reusable cups and mugs.

·         Started this 10 or so years ago and passed resolution then to not use Styrofoam cups.  About 3 years ago started representation from all committees to report back and improve communication.  Amazed how many things on the checklist we have already been doing.

·         You will find people with passions about this in your community!  Found someone with an electric car who started telling others about this.  Dan is an authority on Global Warming and preached on this – very moving for key people in the congregation.

·         Dan works for the city of Mpls in environmental issues.  Sermon on climate change – trained by Al Gore in giving inconvenient truth presentation.  Very much a social justice issue.  Showing the impact on real people and how as Christians we need to respond to this.  Used projector and large images that are unusual for the congregation.

·         Try to keep in personal contact with team!  Hard to get together because all involved in life of community so also rely on email quite a bit.  Can do this without having a monthly meeting.

Question: How do you get to larger issues when we have done low hanging fruit?  How to find finances?  Windows?  Asbestos removal, etc.?


Bethlehem Lutheran, Minneapolis, 41st & Lyndale  (About 3000 members, 800-1000 each Sunday)

Amy Rimington

·         About 5 of us working about 1 year with limited resources and time

·         Frustrated with lack of progress.  Feel a little lost as a team.

·         Gardening and composting classes.  Community screening of “Fresh.”  Open street event was on Lyndale right in front of church – with City of Minneapolis.


Mount Olivet, Minneapolis, (13,600 members—known as one of the largest churches)

Carrie Sandgren

·         Exciting because in a big congregation, one thing can be a huge impact. 

·         Starting organics recycling. 

·         Support from administrative staff.  Still not sure how to get green team started.  We are a seed- just getting started.  Carrie was personally motivated and took Hennepin County Master Recycling program.


Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer, So. Mpls. (About 100 people every week for service)

Dorothy Rossing

·         Very liberal congregation.  Most parishioners are on board with truthfulness of climate change.  Few people to do many things--often very involved in peace and justice initiatives such as immigration, etc.

·          Don’t have green team.  Do have Peace and Justice Committee. 

·         Use reusable coffee cups. 

·         Don’t have any land – just parking lot.  4 Sundays to honor earth.  Going along without calling it care for creation but getting things done.


Calvary Lutheran, Willmar (2500 member congregation)

Pastor Ron Hanson.  Also serves on SW MN synod, workshop to introduce other congregations

·         Potential seed stage, not even planted yet.  Here to learn how to plant the seeds. 

·         Now part-time associate pastor with this as a calling.  Had vacation bible school that used materials with adult education “Earthbound” video series in the evenings. This series helps make the connection between faith and environmental concerns.  Older members came that were interested.  Hoping to do it again this year.  How to put this all together.  How to fit it in and get it moving?


Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Roseville (about the size of Calvary Minneapolis although suburban)

Rebecca Westermeyer

·         Started Creation Care team – now part of mission and ministry. 

·         Looking to start a community garden. 

·         Collecting plastic recyclables that can’t be picked up curbside.  Make gift bags around the holidays. 

·         Have Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer. 

·         Signed covenant with MN IPL – encourage others to do the same.  A lot of us are doing things but may not always recognize it as creation care.


Christ the King, New Brighton (700 per Sunday, 2000 confirmed members)

Jon Jacobson

·         Creation Care group a few years ago as part of Wed night adult education with Dennis Ormseth.  Casual discussion group turned into committee.  Spent lots of time in thinking. 

·         Sensitivity of naming the group was an issue for them in the discussion phase, so were very cautious at the beginning to work on things all agree on first.

·          First step: how much plastic are we throwing out?  Brought bag to a meeting for one week as an illustration

·         Tried 10 years ago to get rid of Styrofoam cups.  More recently, did one-question survey in fellowship lounge, which listed multiple alternatives including Styrofoam.  92% said reusable cups.  Searched for cups and discovered most made in China.  Found one made in USA and only one that guaranteed non-lead.

·         Began publicizing use of fair trade coffee.

·         Property committee started asking how they can be more environmental what would work in their budget.

·         Collecting plastic bottle caps – got kids involved.  Looking for more ways to involve youth. 

·         Lots of members 60, 70, 80.  Great to see young actions. 

·         About to have 3rd creation Sunday – annual event and has been fun and highlighting work of creation care committee (has not been seen as official committee).  Set up small chapel as creation photography exhibit with creation oriented liturgy that day.  Discovered many marvelous nature photographers in the church and someone who ran the art show at state fair – great success!  So popular we had to do it again and discovered other artists in community who do nature painting and sculpture.  Awareness, appreciation, stewardship.


Christ Lutheran, on Capitol Hill

Pastor Gary Guyer

·         Don’t really have anything going on.  In MN looks like there will be 3 constitutional amendments that will all restrict freedom – a lot of energy around that right now.  Also lots of energy around ISAIAH.  Maybe after elections in the fall will be more energy?.  Lutherans Concerned with Public Policy in MN (LCPPM) gives reminders to include creation care…



Alycia: Creation care team could be made up of facilities, worship, social justice, building and grounds, etc leaders so that it’s not a new initiative, but a place to talk about how this is part of church life and part of what already doing. (Bethel in Northfield is a poster congregation for the integration.)


Mark: Words like “green” can be a barrier, especially for non-urban congregations.  Environment and environmental may also create barriers.  This is based on polling.  Stick to faith grounding with “Lutherans Restoring Creation.”


Synod LTI

Gatherings of synod leaders – bishops helped identify leaders in their synod – for a training workshop in LRC and train the trainer.

Each of these leaders led workshops in their home synods for 4-6 new congregations to get congregational teams going.  Then created a networking event of 6 new and 6 active and working congregations (seeds to trees).

Today we have both Synod leaders and congregation teams here together and are doing some of that networking right now.

Where do we go in MN?  Should we work to do more in training synod leaders or more work networking congregations?

Synod resolutions already call for a team to be formed – if we build it they will come.



Lutheran Community Foundation – connected but independent from Thrivent Financial

Donor-advised funds; assisting them in distributing those funds.

International disaster, family violence, creation care are key funds that many contribute to and distribute in designated areas.  Rebecca Westermeyer works with the Creation Care fund.  Really want congregations to reduce their carbon footprint – behavior changes.  LRC is one who receives funding from the Creation Care fund.  Committed to 3-years of $25,000 to LRC.  Will be at ELCA youth gathering in New Orleans to engage youth.


Creation Care magazine is another good resource.


START THROUGH THE MANUAL--OVERVIEW, since so many are familiar:



·         Involvement of the pastor is vital to the success of the program.  Tell the pastor what you want him/her to commit to.  Provide assistance in planning for worship services for different times of the year.  Don’t give up too soon. (Sometimes pastor is very supportive and has been preaching on it for a long time, but does not come to committee meetings.  Depends on what is right for the congregation.)

·         Often also want the church council president. 

·         Getting committees involved is also important.

·         A key part to understand is this is not an add-on, but a value-add for worship.  Committee is there to accompany the pastor and other committees.  How can we help them do their work?  Grounds crew: Can we come help with some of the work and not just ask them to do something.  Get support from fellow team members – do one project at a time and work as a team.  Then take time to celebrate before moving on to next level.  This also gives time to make the congregation aware of what is happening.

·         Some congregations are small enough they don’t need a formal a structure of involving people from all areas on team – just side conversations with lead person in an area (eg. Building & Grounds) is all that is needed to make a change with enough support. Need to identify who is responsible/accountable in order to really get things done.  Synod leaders can be helpful in this way to gather stories and successes from congregations then are able to point to different congregations that have done particular actions that are helpful to others – inspiration and examples.

·         In some cases church secretary and facilities manager should be on the committee.  Example of one congregation where facilities was not listening to ideas of more environmental way to remodel.  Then did a presentation to the Women of the ELCA about the ethics of why this was important.  The women proved far more influential in going to the church council to make the right decision on the environment when considering their remodeling.

·         Often the youth will lead.  Example of gathering with Will Steger in Princeton. 250 people, 1/3 were kids – the congregation class.  These youth will inspire others.

·         Important for us to know that it’s not just what we do as a congregation but also what members are doing in own homes or other communities they’re involved in.  These members can be a examples and resources.

·         There are Ready Benches for different issues around advocacy. Bishop Jon Anderson of SW synod is Ready Bench on Creation Care.

(This is one way of attracting new and younger members to the church at a time when some churches are losing members.)



·         Holds the committee accountable.  How high should they go?  Sometimes might want to take plan to the synod level to show what is being done.

·         Can also give credibility to the committee to show that you have an action plan that can then be brought to the church council.  When the council then approves it, they will hold the committee accountable.

·         Can include some things that have already been done to help in demonstrating achievements – especially if it the process is long-term to get approval of the plan.

Need to identify who is responsible/accountable in order to really get things done.  Synod leaders can be helpful in this way to gather stories and successes from congregations then are able to point to different congregations that have done particular actions that are helpful to others – inspiration and examples.



·         Background by Rev. Krehl Stringer: It started in Lutheran Church of Australia; later US, broken down into 4-5 week season. Permission granted to print off and use the resources provided there.  Hold up against the liturgy that your congregation typically uses – incorporate what makes sense to introduce creation care into regular worship service.  Past themes have been Wilderness, Sky, River, Mountain, Planet Earth, Humanity, World Communion. 

·         Congregation could add on a blessing of the animals. (Rev. Stringer’s church does.)

·         Some have included more of creation care theology: dominion and domination, etc.  A new book, ____________ incorporates Pentecost change into Season of Creation.

·         Presbyterian minister in Steven’s Point WI has people bring rocks up for offering,  and other enhancements.


Worship questions might be differing levels of commitment/difficulty. 

First level might be a tree planting or trash cleanup.

 Second level might be Season of Creation.

 Third level is integrating creation into worship every Sunday.


·         On LRC website there is commentary on the text for every Sunday, many written by Dennis Ormseth.  If your congregation has communion every Sunday (probably puts more emphasis on the sacraments, bread and wine to Eucharist, water to Baptism), then it’s probably easier.  Participation in these two re-orients us to creation at this basic level of elements of creation used as God wants them to be used.  Can’t baptize a baby in polluted water, can you?  We don’t feed people with poison!  All creation joins in the Feast.  At least one prayer petition should reference creation.


·         One pastor writes the Confession of Sins himself. Admission that we are not using God’s Creation in the way God intended is one element of this.

Why lift up creation?  Bearing witness to a Trinitarian faith.  Christ and Spirit emphasized in most seasons of the church – where is Creator in regular church year?

·                     Some enjoy using Fall Harvest as a theme especially in rural areas – using feed buckets for offering plates, blessing combines.

Question:  Are we talking only about natural creation or also man-made creation?  If you go back to Jewish roots, human and non-human are one in the same.  Lutherans have often separated humans from non-humans.  ‘Created items from humans’ is a good topic for discussion; how they are or are not incorporated.



·         Church on Earth – Grounding Community in a Sense of Place by Jeff Wild and Peter Bakken (WI IPL) from Madison congregation.  Adult and children curricula, Kid Garden

·         Your Place Matters


·         Sacred Waters  Beth Norcross, a 5-week adult education course


·         National Council of Churches has many resources – downloadable just for creating a sign-in on their website.


·         Awakening to God’s Call – Earthkeeping:  Winchell, also available on-line or


·         Earthbound – Created + Called to Care for Creation (several Lutheran theologians participated) 6 part video series of 25-30 minutes each.  $80.00  (Bethlehem Lutheran and Calvary, Wilmer congregation both have and are willing to lend to others)

·         Ben Stewart  The watered garden


·         Offering a series of nature hikes that could include mention

·         Every 5th Tuesday entire staff meets to receive education – creation group will offer one of these

·         Offering bible studies and groups for people to study together is another way to strengthen relationships between people in congregation – strengthen community – deep dialogue.

·         Small group discussions offered by Northwest Earth Institute.


·         The Environmental Guide for Buildings and Grounds – manual also available on-line LRC.  Includes theological reference at beginning of each section and then ties to social justice in addition to practical steps.


·         Would like to have an interactive spreadsheet of congregation accomplishments.  Be prepared to share what your congregation has done – this is really important to helping one another!



·         Energy Audits--But be careful.  Xcel energy was not very valuable to every congregation

·         RETAP does free audits


·         MNIPL can give ideas of other resources.  Contact Mindy at

·         Alycia put you in touch:


Justin (may have better idea of what congregations are doing, but copy both on any question)




·         LCPPM loves to partner with congregations – call Mark Peters to come work with you.  Just a few advocates are just fine—letters and phone calls.

·         Every congregation is different – different things work and don’t work.

·         Mug racks are a public ministry that is transformational.

·         All actions (rain gardens, saving energy, behavior change) are all important, but not sufficient.  To be sufficient must include advocacy.

·         Important to be engaged in public policy.

·         Read: Minnesota’s Long Tradition of Earthcare - Metro Lutheran Jan 2012

·         2007 Next Generation Energy Act was bi-partisan and signed by then Gov. Pawlenty.  We have gone backwards since then to now be very polarized on these issues.

·         Resolutions from all the synods on climate change available on LCPPM website.

·         Government is a tool – it is not inherently good or evil.  We must use it for good.

To see Sen. Klobuchar’s speech, go to and click on Thank You Sen. Klobuchar under What’s New.



·         Mike: Environmental Scientist working on sewage treatment,

Know your watershed – where do you live?

What is your sewage shed?  Something to think about – where does your waste go?

Look at our daily impact on the built environment as well as the natural world – where does your power come from?  Where does your natural gas come from?  Where does your garbage go?  All part of environmental stewardship.


·         Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast: A project of NEREM (New England Regional Environmental Ministries)

·         EcoFaith Recovery Network

·         RethinkRecycling website has a program about Buy Less




How did you start? 


St. Andrew’s: Got support of pastor.  Ministry Sunday had a table and people signed up at Will Steger event.  Earthkeeping workshop a couple months later with a soup supper, then monthly meetings.  Don’t get a lot of adult participation for education hour on Sunday.

Look for those who might be doing this professionally that are part of congregation and could be recruited to help.  Sometimes the right person can be key – a balance to others working on this (educator vs. scientist, environmentalist vs. skeptic).

Do an asset scan or map – what skills or passions are already present in congregation? 

Example:  Christ the King Lutheran, New Brighton with their nature art exhibit.  Could submit up to three pieces and guarantee will display at least one if there are too many submissions to display all.  There have been many ripple effects.  Also included plants the first year and discovered a member who is a bonsai expert.

Involve youth – youth retreat at the church could use an energy meter to look for “energy vampires” in the church at midnight after a presentation from CERTs.

Similar to setting up a non-profit: do what you need to do to get the organization/committee organized

Invite people to come to a meeting to talk about possibilities of what could happen.


Holy Trinity:

Form a team. 

Adult Education Hour to discuss Eaarth

How to interface with existing structure and committees…

Talking to Adult Education team to include Creation Care as a theme for some of next year


Faith United:

Organic formation of team

Celebrate past/current creation care efforts and use that to leverage interest

Use newsletter to include information about Season of Creation and little tidbits to make people more aware on a weekly basis


NE Synod has earthcare blog

Bethlehem  Focus on why we are doing this – recruited people to write a few paragraphs on “Why I care about Earth keeping” to print in newsletters


River of Life Lutheran Stefan Pomrenke:

Half of congregation is from Liberia.  Trying to re-engage the stories of how they lived in Liberia and reframing that in a creation care light and holding up those values.

Burnt Blessing in the Metro Lutheran.

We also have chickens (at home) that get organic food – Liberians ask why, since they would feed their chickens rice and leftovers.


19 million Lutherans in Tanzania vs 9 million Lutherans in the US


Documentary suggestions:

Everything’s Cool – DVD - 4 part series

Dirt (showing at St. Joan of Arc at 7pm on Friday, March 9)

End of the Line

Food Inc

Sea Change – ocean acidification

Our Daily Bread



Bag It

White Water Black Gold

Taking Root: The life of Wangari Maathai

Journey of the Universe


Synod/Regional/State Goals

(Synod leader reports in Dropbox file)

Ways to communicate, mobilize—

·                     Community television

·                     Living Lutheran video contest last year à Creation Care video contest (first within synod then winners compete against other synods) – Facebook LRC Award.  E.g., What is your congregation already doing?  How cool is your congregation?

·                     Creation Care Award for Synod Assemblies

·                     Slogan--God’s Work Our Hands à God’s World Our Hands

·                     Make this workshop an annual event – sharing stories between experienced congregations and those just getting started.  Need a steering committee to promote this year round.

·                     Accountability, Recognition, Community

·                     Get 15 already-active congregations together for more cross-pollination

·                     Steering committee volunteers to continue talking: Mark P., Jim M., Dennis O., Stefan P.

·                     St. Andrew’s will look into hosting – suggested time Nov 2012 (Pilgrim might be a backup site)


·                     May also need mentors/ambassadors:


LCPPM (Mark P) will call Calgary, Wilmar (Ron)

Holy Trinity (Kathy, Jay, Dave, Dennis, Sean, Julie) will call Faith United (Candy, Kreil, Bob)

Christ the King, New Brighton (Jon) with Christ Capitol Hill (Gary)

Mt. Olivet (Carrie) with Pilgrim (Kris)

Calvary, Mpls (Brad, Don, Dan) with River of Life (Stefan)

Bethlehem (Amy) with St. Andrew’s (Jim, Mike)

Resurrection (Rebecca) with LCCR (Dorothy)