Introduction:

The Oregon Synod of the ELCA, along with EcoFaith Recovery, and several Oregon Lutheran congregations have entered into a partnership with Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC) for the purpose of conducting pilot trainings of ELCA congregations interested in a Biblically and theologically grounded process of gracefully greening every area of our ministries. Oregon has been selected as one of five synods to take part in this pilot project. The first trainings were held on November 20th, 2010 in Beaverton at St Andrew Lutheran Church, and on March 5th, 2011 in McMinnville at McMinnville Cooperative Ministries. Since then two other trainings took place on September 24th, 2011 in Cheshire at Camp Lutherwood and on October 8th, 2011 in Pendleton at Peace Lutheran Church.

As of April 2015 125 people among 18 different ELCA congregations have been trained! The training and all materials trainings are being provided by a $500 grant from the Lutherans Restoring Creation’s funder, the Lutheran Community Foundation. Staff time to coordinate the trainings are provided by EcoFaith Recovery. Trainers are donating their own time to learn the process and offer the training to others.

The Training:
Ideally, a team of 3 – 8 people would be sent from each participating congregation, however, one or two individuals from any faith community are also welcome to receive the training so they may then share this information with their congregation. Each registered individual will be provided with a binder of materials which will include the full Care for Creation manual from LRC.

Ongoing Support and Networking:
After you are trained and are putting that training into practice, you may access our ongoing support by a developing Oregon network via EcoFaith Recovery. Additional resources from congregations nationwide is being provided by Lutherans Restoring Creation via their website.

Background:
Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC) is a grass-roots organization designed to encourage the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to incorporate care for creation into its full life and mission at all levels. Through a grant from the Lutheran Community Foundation, LRC is inviting the ELCA to become partners in these efforts at the congregational, synodical, seminary, and national levels. The goal is to incorporate care for creation into the organizational patterns, worship life, educational programs, care for buildings and grounds, members–lifestyle, and public ministry of all these institutions–so that Earth-keeping and justice for the global Earth community become an integral component to the identity and purpose of our churches.

LRC is inspired by the work of Dr. David Rhoads, Emeritus Professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Dr. Rhoads has been working for over two decades to develop an approach to care for creation that is based in scripture, shaped by Lutheran theology, and grounded in the life of the Church. For congregations, LRC recommends that a team be formed to serve as leaven. The team is not to do all or even most of the “care for creation” activities but to help inspire existing ministries and committees to green the congregation as a whole. Rather than creating one more committee, the team functions as a catalyst to lead other committees and employees of the church to incorporate care for creation into every arena of responsibility. In this way, everyone participates and takes ownership at different levels and in different ways. The team serves the whole congregation, such that care for creation becomes part of the congregation’s whole life and mission.

LRC believes that Lutherans are well positioned to provide leadership in care for creation as a missional practice. This is based on our evident gifts: a theology of creation that discerns the incarnation of the divine in all of life; a theology of the cross that leads us to identify with the most vulnerable; an understanding of justification that empowers us to act out of gratitude and grace; a realistic ethic that enables us to respond creatively to new challenges; an ecclesiology which says that the church exists for the sake of the world; a tradition of commitment to social ministry and public advocacy for justice; and our affirmation of a future that is in God’s hands.

LRC has made the following commitments to the Oregon Synod as a result of our bishop’s acceptance of the invitation that our synod serve in this pilot project:

1. To provide a framework for congregations to develop programs and actions that advance care for creation in their local context.

2. To promote LRC across the church, develop a nationwide registration program, keep track of what participant groups are doing, and assess results.

3. To offer ready resources in areas of worship, education, property maintenance, discipleship at home and work, and public ministry/political advocacy.

4. To encourage congregations to be creative in their efforts and to provide networking places for mutual encouragement, instruction, and inspiration.

5. To provide resources in Bible, theology, ethics, and ministry practices as means to undergird our common efforts with strong Lutheran theological foundations.

The LRC-Oregon training team members are: Mr. Doug Boleyn, Pastor Brian Brandt, Seminarian Katherine Brick, Pastor Aimee Bruno, Ms. JillMichelle Cosart, Pastor Matthew Eagan, Pastor Robyn Hartwig, Mr. Steve Lebahn, Ms. Robin Fladebo, and Mr. Brent Young. Bishop Dave Brauer-Rieke is providing guidance for the training efforts. Brief bios for our training team members are available here.

Click here to register for Care for Creation training (when they are offered use the link to the right)

Photos from the November 20th and March 5th training events are included below.

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