The following is an exclusive interview with SSA Executive Director, Will Samson, conducted by Blessed Earth staff.
We met with the Just Peacemaking Initiative, a group committed to integrating issues of peace and justice into the life of Fuller Seminary. Dr. Sleeth also spoke to Dr. Tommy Givens’ class and addressed the Fuller chapel. We both presided at an evening panel. We were so excited about everything that’s happening on campus in regards to creation care. There’s a great group of students working on these issues, and they see the relationship between caring for creation and peacemaking, which is a critical link for people to understand.
How are Fuller students involved in the sustainability conversation?
The outgoing president, Dr. Richard Mouw, and Dr. Mark Labberton, the incoming president, have given the student body great latitude to come up with creative ways of moving Fuller toward sustainable practices. Dr. Labberton wants to integrate creation care into the whole of Fuller’s culture. Doctoral student Jacob Cook and SSA liaison Dr. Tommy Givens have both been instrumental in moving the conversation forward. They are working with the administration on real and specific projects that will advance sustainability on Fuller’s campus. For example, they are in the process of approving a community garden, and their aesthetics community will make sure it is beautiful. Students are working on basic initiatives like getting rid of disposal plates and silverware from food service. The seminary is bringing in speakers such as Jim Wallis and Ellen Davis to be in conversation with Fuller faculty and students on a broad range of issues related to both justice and creation care.
We are wrapping up the historic first year of the Seminary Stewardship Alliance. What are some positive changes that you have seen among the member schools so far?
Almost all of our schools now have two liaisons to promote sustainability on their campuses. We’ve had great representation from each seminary or divinity school on our monthly calls. It is truly wonderful to see a rich network of friendships building up between the schools, and to see the mutual support for those who are working on creation care. We’ve also seen great results from the seed grants we’ve provided.
What’s next for the SSA?
We are welcoming a new class of schools into the SSA this fall. Our Summoned Toward Wholeness conference, about the relationship between food and faith, is scheduled for September 2013. It’s co-sponsored with two of our schools, Duke Divinity School and Wake Forest University School of Divinity. We are also gearing up for the second SSA conference, in October. It will be hosted at Asbury Theological Seminary. As always, we look forward to sharing these stories and more resources here on the SSA website.