The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg adjoins the Gettysburg National Military Park, attracting over two million visitors each year. In an effort to reach
out to the surrounding community and visitors, the Seminary is renovating its Seminary Ridge Museum, which is expected to attract 70,000 visitors each year.
The Seminary doesn’t simply want visitors to stop in the museum. Instead, it wants to draw them throughout the picturesque 52-acre campus. By doing this, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg hopes to showcase the great strides it has taken in greening its campus. One of the most visible of these initiatives is the Campus Habitat Project.
The seminary began its Campus Habitat Project several years ago by hiring a local naturalist to conduct a species inventory on the campus. The naturalist noted that the campus housed quite a few species
of concern. This raised the idea that the campus is more than a seminary or a former battlefield, but also an ecological habitat. Gettysburg followed up the study by installing a walking path through the campus.
The next step in the Campus Habitat Project is to install rain gardens in the wet places throughout the campus. These rain gardens will allow for drainage and will attract greater diversity of wildlife. They will also provide a safe area for the “species of concern” to dwell. The main supporters of this project are Rev. John Spangler and Dr. Gil Waldkoenig, who are also the Seminary’s representatives in the Seminary Stewardship Alliance. Dr. Gil Waldkoening says, “You have to give creation space to be there and breathe.” He also points out that most “greening” efforts are human centered: gardens, recycling, food systems. This project differs in that it allows the seminary’s non-human neighbors to have their place as well.
The habitat stewardship on seminary ridge will provide a living laboratory for seminary courses such as “Ecology and Stewardship,” “Ecology and Religion in Global and Interfaith Perspective,” and related offerings. With Rural Sociology in the curriculum since 1926, Gettysburg Seminary has become a destination for church leaders who want to engage the public theology, spirituality and ethics of their context and environment.