You recently visited Fuller Theological Seminary with Dr. Matthew Sleeth. What was the purpose of your visit?
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.
This is a great step forward in Gordon-Conwell implementing their stewardship plan that they devised under the instruction of Blessed Earth. This energy audit will help the Gordon-Conwell campus become more energy efficient while playing a seminal role in exposing future leaders of the church how they can make a worthwhile investment to both save money, while also fulfilling the Biblical mandate to care for creation.]]>
In the coming semesters, LTSG is continuing their Ecotheology tradition with the following course offerings:
EcoTheology in Northern Appalachia
Northern Appalachia is home to deeply-rooted local cultures in a beautiful landscape. Conflicts defined by environmental and economic issues are fierce for both communities and churches. This seminar will give students an inside look and an opportunity to strategize for dealing with conflict in and around ministry. The environmental history of the landscape’s use and abuse, the shape of human cultures, and the history of tightly held religious traditions, will frame discussions with religious, environmental and industrial leaders from the region. The course meets at Lutherlyn in Butler, PA, and makes day trips in the region.
View the 2.5 minute video featuring last year’s course:
Ecology and Religion in Global and Interfaith Perspective
The course is an introduction to religious and theological approaches to ecology, with practical applications for faith and ministry. Participants gain a theological approach to ecological issues that will also orient them for other issues of public concern. The course explores greening of religious institutions, interfaith public advocacy for ecojustice, and outdoor faith.
Is your seminary offering any innovative courses in creation care? Let us know!
Brunner is currently writing full-time as a Research Scholar at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research in Minnesota. Through his research Brunner’s eyes have been opened to the breadth and depth of the environmental issues we face today, while maintaining hope that the millions of Christians throughout the world can make a difference. Indeed, Brunner has learned that while Christianity is often seen as anti-creation, this is not necessarily true historically. Martin Luther and John Calvin in particular wrote extensively on how God speaks through nature.
The book looks at Ecotheology through a wide array of lenses, including history, scripture, anthropology, spirituality, and eschatology. In addition, it is specifically written to engage Evangelicals, with a focus on scripture, Christology, activism, and conversion. Ultimately, Brunner hopes the textbook will be adopted in a number of settings, particularly Christian colleges and seminaries.
Mr. Cook’s work as Sustainability Coordinator is broad in its approach. In addition to assisting the Facilities Director in performing an energy audit, Cook is also working to equip Fuller graduates to go into their various ministries with sensitivity to the stewardship of creation. The Stewardship team at Fuller is looking for both curricular and co-curricular ways of integrating care for creation in innovative ways. Ultimately, their goal is to foster a long-standing institutional commitment to apply the Christian principles of stewardship to our society’s policies for the protection of our environment and to support the call for simpler lifestyles which reflect care in the use of all the earth’s resources.
Currently the action team is encouraging workshops and events that are both related to greening campus and individual lives and organized around matters of student interest. A budding student group is meeting every other week around a lunch table and planning to offer roughly one workshop each month. These workshops partner with local organizations on topics such as edible school gardens, energy consumption and alternative energy sources, composting, clothing repair and modification, and cooking with whole foods.
Scripture portrays God as a gardener, farmer, and shepherd. It describes Jesus as “the bread of life” who invites people to the Lord’s table so they can learn to feed his sheep. It is hard to read the Bible and not see that God cares deeply about food and agriculture.
Join plenary speakers Ellen F. Davis, Joel Salatin, Scott Cairns, and Matthew Sleeth, and 12 workshop leaders, as we explore multiple connections between food, farming, and the life of faith. Discover how a concern for food and agriculture can deepen faith and heal our lands and communities.
To learn more, visit the conference website.
Founding SSA partner Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has received LEED Gold certification for the renovation of Loder Hall. “In the design, construction, maintenance and operations of Loder Hall, we sought to use less energy, reduce carbon emissions and contribute to a healthier environment for students, employees and the larger community,” says Garrett-Evangelical President Philip Amerson. “Our hope is that this environmentally-conscious building inspires students to live fully as stewards of God’s creation.”
The building received updated plumbing, lighting, heating, and air-conditioning, and was renovated using ecologically-friendly building materials. It is now a multi-functional building with a residence hall, dining facilities, laundry facilities, two chapels, classrooms, and a community area.
To read about more creation care efforts that Garrett is undertaking, including the formation of their stewardship team, please read this excellent article by Dr. Timothy Eberhart, SSA Liaison:
Cutting Edges: Remember That You are Dust, and to Dust You Shall Return
To read more about the renovated Loder hall, click here.]]>
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a founding SSA partner, is hosting a creation care series entitled “Unavoidable Global Realities: Creation Care” from February 26-28. Blessed Earth’s Matthew Sleeth will be speaking on four occasions during his visit:
What does the Bible say?”
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
12:15 – 1:30pm
“Serving God, Saving the Planet”
Tuesday, February 26
“Soul Care for the Planet: Shabbat, Shalom for an Ailing Planet”
Wednesday, February 27
“Answering the Call for Creation”
Thursday, February 28
Lutheran Theology Seminary at Gettysburg is co-sponsoring a one-week, 3 credit hour immersion course titled “EcoTheology in Northern Appalachia”. Taught by Gettysburg professor and GreenFaith Fellow Dr. Gilson Waldkoenig, the course is available to all graduate students of ATS-accredited seminaries. Students spend a week in the Appalachian region of Pennsylvania, and time will be devoted to learning, worship, and exploration. The course is co-sponsored by AMERC (Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center).
The next immersion will be June 10-14 2013.
For photos and more information, see the video below:
EcoTheology in Northern Appalachia from Gil Waldkoenig on Vimeo.]]>
ASBURY THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY RECEIVES $18,000 GRANT FROM THE DORA TES BASILEAS FOUNDATION FOR A COMMUNITY GARDEN
WILMORE, Ky. (December 11, 2012) – Asbury Theological Seminary has been awarded a two-year $18,000 grant by the Dora Tes Basileas Foundation to establish a community garden on its Kentucky campus. Slated to begin in spring 2013, the raised bed community garden will feature 10-15 large common plots surrounded by 25 smaller individual plots that will be tended by members of the seminary community, including students, faculty and staff.
The community garden is an initiative of the Office of Global Community Formation, under the leadership of Dr. Marilyn Elliott, Vice President for Spiritual Formation. Through the community garden, the Office of Global Community Formation and the Creation Care Community will teach gardening, composting, recycling, and bee handling as practical ways to steward God’s creation. Additionally, the community garden will serve as a living laboratory to teach spiritual principles of personal devotion, discipleship and multicultural community building.
The Dora Tes Basileas Foundation was established in 2006 to support Protestant agencies and churches and theological education. Since its founding, the Foundation has contributed more than $136,000 to Asbury Seminary to support student scholarships and other initiatives.
About Asbury Theological Seminary:
With multiple campuses, Asbury Theological Seminary is an interdenominational graduate school of theology committed to teaching the unchanging truth of historic Wesleyan Christianity through the most dynamic means available. Asbury Seminary offers a variety of degrees, including the master of arts, master of divinity, master of theology, doctor of ministry and doctor of philosophy in intercultural studies, biblical studies. Total current enrollment nears 1,600 students, representing 91 denominations and 44 countries. For more information, please visit asburyseminary.edu.]]>