Stewarding Creation as a Congregation
By Kaley Casenhiser, Creation Care Collective.
This is the third post in our series on Science-Engaged Worship. See the rest here.
Creation Care Collective runs a free programme called Growing Together designed for churches to engage congregations in faith-based conversations for practical applications of environmental healing and justice, in church and home contexts. Developed alongside advisors at Yale’s Forum on Religion and Ecology, ECLAS and Oxford University’s Laudato Si’ Institute, the Growing Together Program connects the dots between faith, science, and creation justice. This program is free for all participants and welcomes people from all parts of the Christian family.
The mission of the Growing Together Program is to bridge creation care to the Church’s mission of equity, justice, and love, to restore relationships with God, neighbor, and all of creation.
As such, the program is designed holistically as three consecutive courses: Restoring Us, Restoring Place, and Restoring Community. With fifty-five churches across ten denominations throughout the US, we are presently piloting a preview of Course 1: Restoring Us, with intention of releasing Course 1 in full in Fall 2021.
The pilot program running Jan-May 2021 consists of five sessions, held once a month via Zoom, which cover the following topics:
- Eating: Theology & Science of Food
- Purchasing: Living Simply & Justly
- Recycling: Soil & Compost
- Growing: Pulling it Together
We also facilitated a Faith & Food Justice Forum to engage specific dialogue around food justice and responses in faith-based contexts.
The rhythm of each session is organized around three primary goals:
- Map theology & science of creation care
- Model heart-led conversations about faith, justice & care of creation
- Mobilize actionable steps supported by ongoing community, tools & resources
Each session (60 minutes) focuses on a particular topic featuring leading theologians, scientists, and community organizers, followed by inspiring stories, facilitated small group discussion, and tools for practical implementation. One resource we’ve developed for participants in the program is a living Church Story Map. Adding new layers each month, this story-telling tool draws on the metaphor of mapping to help churches write the story of the land they inhabit and support the development of just, localized, creative creation justice ministry in their communities.
We’ve come to see Growing Together as a funnel which amplifies, organizes, and contextualizes the tremendous work that has already been done at the nexus of religion and environmental justice. To speak at all about the Growing Together Program is to invoke all the scholars, scientists, religious leaders, and grassroots activists who have been and continue to bring scientific and religious communities together to meet the environmental crisis for over fifty years. Without organizations like ECLAS, Yale’s Forum for Religion & Ecology, Earth Charter, Global Catholic Climate Covenant, Interfaith Power & Light, and countless others, imagining a holistic program like Growing Together would not have even been possible. We have immense gratitude for each of these organizations and hope to honor their work as we grow. The heart of the Growing Together Program is to continue co-writing the emerging story of our time, wherein the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor truly resound as one.
If you’d like to learn more about the Growing Together Program and register for forthcoming sessions, you can do so for free here. We also welcome you to join our online community where we regularly connect, share resources, and build community.
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