What can a chaplain at a social ministry organization do to nurture care for creation in the organization and among those to whom you minister?
Here are some areas for consideration.
1. Be a model of one who talks about care for creation in words and who expresses it in actions. Be a voice for the natural world when decisions are being made.
2. Start a green team or encourage the agency to establish a green team who will make suggestions about ways to bring care for creation into the life of the organization.
3. Encourage efforts to emphasize the beauty of the surrounding nature.
4. Seek to connect those to whom you minister with nature around them--indoor plants and flowers, pets, window scenes, time outside, opportunities to garden with flowers or vegetables, time in the sunlight, trips to parks or conservatories or zoos, and other opportunities available in your area. For more information on this, see the resources on "The Healing Power of Nature" in this subsection of the LRC site.
5. Incorporate celebration of and concern for creation in worship--invocations, confessions, petitions, blessings.
6. Preach about our place in creation and our responsibility for creation. Tell stories about our human relationship with nature.
7. Encourage such practices as conservation of water, recycling, and less use of electricity as important spiritual disciplines that patients and clients can carry out in limited but meaningful ways.
8. Council people to see nature as a means of healing and caring for nature as a means of healing. Consider Howard Clinebell, Eco-Therapy (Fortress Press, 1996).
9. Encourage other staff members and employees to make their own covenant with creation so as to take it upon themselves to practice Earth-care at work and at home. See the suggestions under "Nurturing Creation Care among the Staff" in this subsection of the LRC site.
10. Be a chaplain to the whole Earth Community--all living things--that reside together on your property!!
We invite suggestions and stories from your experience about the ways in which chaplains can be leaven in an institution to nurture love and care for God's creation.