I will serve my God’s Creation

By Luke Baine, board member of Care of Creation.  Luke, his wife Katie, and their dog live in Tennessee. 

from left to right: Care of Creation Director Ed Brown, Professor Emeritus Dr. Calvin DeWitt, and Care of Creation board member Luke Baine.
from left to right: Care of Creation Director Ed Brown, Professor Emeritus Dr. Calvin DeWitt, and Care of Creation board member Luke Baine.

It has been an honor to be a supporter of and involved with Care of Creation for the past few years. This past weekend they celebrated 10 years of service to God’s Kingdom. Care of Creation is an organization that loves the Lord and seeks to do His will by serving His Creation. This means both fishing for men and cleaning the tank!

crowd in sanctuary
Thank you to all the friends and partners of Care of Creation who were able to celebrate with us.

It was great to see the Staff who work tirelessly day to day and their fearless leader, Ed Brown. It was also encouraging to mingle among the many supporters who braved a perfect spring evening in Madison to celebrate 10 years of environmental missions and listen to the modern day father of Christian environmentalism, Cal DeWitt. As the sun set over Lake Mendota we were treated to videos from the two missionary families serving abroad, Craig & Tracy Sorely and Erik & Rachel Ness. Both families have experienced their share of struggle and success. It was a joy to learn more about their service to the Lord and His Creation. Cal then began to speak about how he came to be involved in environmental stewardship, and how we are called to “con” serve the Creation of our Father. He challenged us to serve the garden as we serve the Lord.

I believe that “Creation Care” is as much a secular issue as a Christian one. However, to call yourself a Christian, a Disciple of Jesus Christ, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit means that you are called to serve God, His Will, and His Creation. This means that environmental issues our planet is facing are every Christian’s responsibility. It is not about being preachy or feeling morally superior but humbly loving and serving God’s Creation.

ed, stacey, susanna
Stacey Gluck receives an award for her and her husband Fredric for their sacrificial service and dedication to the mission of Care of Creation.

My wife and I had a wonderful time in beautiful Madison, WI. Many thanks to Ed & Susanna Brown, Stacey & Fred Gluck, Brittany Ederer, Andrea Ebley, David Fine, and Kermit Hovey for putting on a wonderful evening.

With service, I look forward to the next 10 years of Care of Creation!

How do you pray about an oil spill?

Today is the 45th celebration of Earth Day.  Monday of this week was the fifth anniversary of the worst environmental disaster in US history, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The damage to the Gulf was more severe and longer lasting than even the pessimists predicted:

Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of Gulf Restoration Network, says that after five years, there are more questions than answers about what the lingering impact of the spill means.

“Dolphin deaths continue, oil is still on the bottom of the ocean, tar balls keep coming up,” she says. “And nobody really is able to say what we may find in five years, 10 years. It’s really distressing to me.”

Sarthou says there’s no certainty the spill won’t be a problem for generations to come. (NPR)

So, five years after this disaster, and 45 years after the nation started trying to do something about this kind of thing, we ask again, “How long?”   Below is a repost of one of our original commentaries on the oil spill from May 20, 2010.  The oil well had been gushing for a month already, and we asked:

How do you pray about an oil spill?

It’s a legitimate question:  The news is getting worse by the day for those of us many miles away, and no doubt by the hour for those living in the area of impact.  This morning we learned that some experts believe the amount of oil leaking may be much more than even the revised estimate of 5,000 barrels per day. More worrisome than that, there is now real concern that the oil may join the Gulf stream ocean current, which would send it around the tip of Florida and all the way up the East Coast of the United States, staining beaches and killing wildlife as it goes. Continue reading

What Role Does Faith Play? God Draws Straight with Crooked Lines…

Kermit Hovey pausing during a bike ride through a forested path in 2013.
Kermit Hovey pausing during a bike ride through a forested path in 2013.

“What role does faith play in you discovering and living your purpose?”  Last year I met Sterling Lynk, strategist and coach, at the Madison Non-Profit Day conference. He chose to interview me about that question and the particulars of my story of faith, purpose and work at Care of Creation.

In his article at www.mightypurpose.me, Sterling introduces the topic before sharing both an invitation to Care of Creation’s April 18th Tenth Anniversary Celebration and his interview with me.  A partial excerpt follows:

“Sterling Lynk: Tell us a little about Continue reading

A Better Earth Day?

Originally posted April 23rd, 2010.  We’re coming up on another Earth Day…how will you celebrate it?


courtesy Thomas Schneider
courtesy Thomas Schneider

Pastor Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing MI has posted some comments on how Christians can celebrate Earth Day “better”  over at his blog. This is a response to that post.

While I appreciate Pastor DeYoung’s sincere desire to “build a Christian foundation” (his very good image) under the concept of Earth Day, the ‘bricks’ he is using to build that foundation, most of which were purchased somewhat uncritically from Jay Richard’s Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition, could have been baked a little longer.

Here are his ‘bricks’ and my thoughts in response: Continue reading

The Examen and the Earth

Guest post by Lowell Bliss.

This bench looks like the perfect spot for an examen, a prayerful review of one’s conscience and day. CC Licensed photo.

The Lenten season has come and gone, but the ancient spiritual practice of Examen is certainly not limited to a specific forty days of the liturgical year.  There is great health, we are taught, in regularly lifting our consciences up to the Holy Spirit with the prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;” (Ps 139:23).

Recently I’ve encountered two proposals for The Examen which involve an ecological twist.  The first is in a book, The Light is On For You, by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington.  The book is a heartfelt appeal for Catholics to re-embrace the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the sweet freedom of absolution received in “going to confession.” Appendix D is a longer, quite systematic, examination of conscience and has been formulated anew by U.S. bishops.  Cardinal Wuerl also includes a section for “Examination of Conscience based on Catholic Social Teaching.”  Among questions derived from “Life and Dignity of the Human Person” or “Option for the Poor and Vulnerable” are these four suggested questions for “Care of God’s Creation:”

  • Do I live out my responsibility to care for God’s creation?
  • Do I see my care for creation as connected to my concern for poor persons, who are most at risk from environmental problems?
  • Do I litter?  Live wastefully? Use energy too freely?  Are there ways I could reduce consumption in my life?
  • Are there ways I could change my daily practices and those of my family, school, workplace, or community to better conserve the earth’s resources for future generation?

St. Ignatius Loyola is perhaps most associated with the Examen as a discipline, and in the Ignatian Exercises, examen is more than just documentary prep work for a visit to the confessional.  Jesuit writers speak of it as “a method of reviewing your day in the presence of God. It’s actually an attitude more than a method, a time set aside for thankful reflection on where God is in your everyday life.”  Jim Manney in A Simple Life-Changing Prayer has formulated these modern five-steps:

  1. Ask God for light: I want to look at my day with God’s eyes, not merely my own.
  2. Give thanks: The day I have just lived is a gift from God.  Be grateful for it.
  3. Review the day: I carefully look back on the day just completed, being guided by the Holy Spirit.
  4. Face your shortcomings: I face up to what is wrong—in my life and in me.
  5. Look toward the day to come: I ask where I need God in the day to come.

And then here is how Joseph Carver S.J. has brought this exercise to bear on creation care:

  • All creation reflects the beauty and blessing of God’s image. Where was I most aware of this today?
  • Can I identify and pinpoint how I made a conscious effort to care for God’s creation during this day?
  • What challenges or joys do I experience as I recall my care for creation?
  • How can I repair breaks in my relationship with creation, in my unspoken sense of superiority?
  • As I imagine tomorrow, I ask for the grace to see the Incarnate Christ in the dynamic interconnections of all Creation.
What have I planted and watered today?  CC Licensed photo.
What have I planted and watered today? CC Licensed photo.

While this blog post is reproducing list, here’s one final one of my own: “What I, as an evangelical Protestant, like about this discovery of not one, but two, ecologically oriented examens:

  1. I like that creation care can be more than just a part of my ministry (and certainly more than just of my hobbies).  I like that creation care can touch upon my spirituality, my walk with God.
  2. I like that creation care can be more than just a part of my ministry (and certainly more than just of my hobbies). I like that creation care can touch upon my spirituality, my walk with God.
  3. I like that violations of creation care are taken seriously enough to rise to the level of sin requiring confession and transformed lifestyle.
  4. I like that a Christian of Cardinal Wuerl’s stature has adopted the language of creation care. We are singing the same tune in the same key, even using the same words.
  5. It makes me excited for Pope Francis’s upcoming encyclical on the care of creation, due to be issued in June or July.

Lowell Bliss is the director of Eden Vigil and the author of Environmental Missions: Planting Churches and Trees. He lives with his wife Robynn and three kids.

Insects: A Climate Change solution?

Too cute to eat?

One UW-Madison grad student was not just driven buggy by the climate change crisis, she was driven to bugs for a solution. My interview with Valerie Stull about her and Rachel Bergmann’s mighty MIGHTi project (Mission to Improve Global Health Through Insects)aired on WORT-FM March 17, 2015. Their unconventional idea brings a small solution – insects – to help with two big problems: hunger and climate change. As Stull explains, meal worms provide a highly efficient source of edible protein requiring 1/5th the feed per pound than beef. Additionally, meal worms produce none of the potent green house gas methane that beef cattle does.  Listen here (about 4 minutes).

By Mnolf (Photo taken in Rum, Tirol, Austria) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Larvae of the meal worm beetle (Tenebrio molitor), before (dark) and after skinning (light)
How does raising meal worms and other insects equal a “win-win-win?” In their own words,

“Insects can feed people, serve as an inexpensive feed source for poultry as well as fish, and are relatively easy to raise. Farming insects is also climate smart, as they require less energy to produce and emit fewer greenhouse gases than other livestock. They can even recycle agricultural waste products, not edible for people. In areas where food is not always available and protein sources are scarce, insect farming offers an inexpensive, environmentally friendly option. (1)

What creative problem-solving!  UW Madison’s Climate Quest competition awarded Stull and Bergmann top prize for their project’s creative potential to impact climate change in 2015. It may even have more potential than those of us acculturated  in the industrialized west may give it credit for.

In case you’re still skeptical about eating bugs, remember that John the Baptist did just fine on a diet of locusts and honey (Mark 1:6 ; Matthew 3:4 ).  For more examples of insect eating (called “entomophagy”) throughout history, check out National Geographic’s “Bugs As Food: Humans Bite Back” and“For Most People, Eating Bugs is only Natural”.

(a version of this post by Kermit Hovey originally appeared at www.climatechangehope.wordpress.com )

A Conversation about God, His Creation and Our Role in Creation