The evangelical creation care movement, though almost invisible to many, has been around for quite a few years. One of its most visible historical markers is probably the founding of Au Sable Institute in 1979, thirty-three years ago now – but well before that date there were many individuals and a few small organizations seeking to promote what was then called ‘Christian environmental stewardship.’ There are many more of us now, and there is a lot of good work going on, but we still fly below the radar in most cases.
So it was enlightening and important that many of the current key players in this movement were on the phone together last week to share what we’re all doing, and perhaps more to the point, what God is doing to continue to foster and strengthen this movement.
Here’s a brief summary with bullet points of the highlights. [If you’d like to hear a recording of the phone call yourself, just call (507) 726-4220 and choose to listen to recording #1.]
These notes are presented in the order on the phone call. I am sure any of these folks would welcome a note from anyone interested in learning more; please write to them through the contact page on each organization’s website. [Tell them Ed sent you!]
Scott Sabin is Director of Plant With Purpose (formerly Floresta for those who are a bit out of date…) This is one of our older organizations, having begun as a development organization in Latin America and now with projects and staff in Latin America, South America, Africa, and Asia. PWP did some important work in Haiti following the recent earthquake. Highlights recently
- They’ve planted 11 million trees. Not sure over what time span, but that doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s a big number.
- Opened a new regional office in Denver (main office is in San Diego).
- Currently involved in a new joint venture not yet public that has the potential link organizations and projects with new sources of funds (if I understood what Scott was describing).
Matthew Sleeth is Director of Blessed Earth, an educational nonprofit based in Asbury, Kentucky. Upcoming highlights shared by Matthew
- A major seminary project is now in progress focused around a covenant seminaries are being asked to sign to commit to ‘live, preach, teach, hold each other accountable’ for creation care and sustainable activities and lifestyle on their campuses. To date Denver, George Fox, Colombia and Asbury have signed on – a number of other major seminaries are in process.
- A year of teaching at and in cooperation with the National Cathedral in Washington DC kicks off on Earth Day (April 22) with a special service and recognition of Wendell Berry.
Joe Sheldon is a faculty member at Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Studies. Pacific Rim is one of the newest arrivals to the movement, but has a long shared history with Au Sable Institute , having been formed just a couple of years ago to take over Au Sable’s 175 acre Whidbey Island campus just north of Seattle. The Institute is close to completing negotiations that will leave them with free and clear ownership of the property. Highlights of the current and projected program…
- Pacfic Rim will continue to host Au Sable students and faculty during the summers;
- Ongoing research and restoration on the largest prairie remnant in Puget Sound, including the introduction of the Golden Paintbrush, a federally listed plant that is now growing 1500 plants strong;
- Partnerships with USFWS, National Park Service and others;
- and ongoing work with local schools and churches.
[Au Sable was to have been represented by new Director Fred Van Dyke, but winter weather in Chicago prevented Fred from joining us. Undergrads in any field with an interest in creation care or environmental studies should be aware that the Au Sable program is available to supplement course offerings at their home campus. Check out their new website.]
Tyler Amy is the new Coordinator for Renewal, a relatively new student-run, student-led, student-focused organization with chapters on a number of Christian college campuses. Think of it like a creation-care version of InterVarsity or Navigators(!). Recent highlights:
- A fall summit (the second one) at Houghton College featured 70+ students from Houghton, Messiah, Eastern, Wheaton, Geneva, and (drum roll….) King’s University College of Alberta.
- Issuance of their second Green Awakenings report, this one focusing on assets and barriers to creation care on Christian college campuses. [You really need to get this report – it is quite amazing what is taking place on Christian college campuses these days.]
Renewal shares organizational ties with two other organizations that are old and well-know partners in the movement. He also reported on
Creation Care Study Program (CCSP), Chris Elisara, Director. Similar to Au Sable and Pacific Rim, but offering semester-length study-abroad programs…
- Have moved into new facilities at their campus in Belize;
- Will be opening a new semester program on Camino Island (also in Puget Sound) focusing on sustainability.
- They also have an established and popular program in New Zealand.
Restoring Eden – Peter Illyn, Director, is known for getting students (and others) involved in visible direct-action efforts. Current plans include
- Spring Break health surveys in coal mining areas of Appalachia – (last yr’s were published in the Journal of Community Health).
- Chapel lectures on campuses, recent trip in Indiana.
Alexei Laushkin is on staff with the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) . Based in Washington, publisher of Creation Care Magazine, EEN has a number of things going on:
- Last year partnered w/Blessed Earth, Eden Vigil,
- Involved in a highly visible ‘Mercury and the Unborn’ campaign with radio ads, television ads and testimony at some high profile Washington hearings, thus adding a strong evangelical voice to the national discussion.
- Held their 2nd Day of Prayer for Creation Care in Wash DC, and…
- Their big upcoming event is the 3rd annual Day of Prayer for Creation Care to be held in Washington on April 26th. Featured speakers will include Dr. Chris Wright (primary author of the Cape Town Commitment), Leith Anderson (NAE), Lon Allison (Billy Graham Center), etc. [Tickets are available for members of the movement – contact Alexei soon!]
Lowell Bliss is founding director of Eden Vigil , an environmental missions initiative operating under the umbrella of Christar, an established and well respected pioneering and church planting mission agency. Eden Vigil’s recent and upcoming highlights include…
- Monthly publication (via email) of the Environmental Missions Prayer Digest. This is a prayer publication unlike any other, and deserves a wider following than it now has (sign up here).
- Lowell has an important book in progress: Environmental Missions: Planting Churches and Trees. Now in the negotiate-with-the-editors-and-rewrite stage.
- A new podcast will be launched any day now. The Agabus Project . Interviews will feature people like Peter Harris, founder of A Rocha, and Joel Salatin, well-known proponent of sustainable farming and eating.
- “Sending Services” – similar to ‘tent-making missions’; Eden Vigil provides supporting services for Christians going to other countries in secular (environmental) jobs who want to go with a “missionary mindset”.
Tom Rowley is director of A Rocha USA, the US chapter of A Rocha (ask Tom how to pronounce it!), the largest and probably oldest international Christian conservation organization, with a presence in about 25 countries now. In the US A Rocha is involved in…
- 3 projects – Linden WA, Santa Barbara, and ‘the Texas hill country’, and several others under development.
- The Texas project is a 7,000 acre ranch, and is working with some new grant money on habitat protection, riparian work, and ultimately the development of a Field Study Center.
- The Rowley family recently relocated from Texas to Bend OR and Tom is developing new opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.
- Grass roots orgs can now join A Rocha as independent affiliates. If you know of a local group that could benefit from a connection with (and the encouragement of) a national organization, contact Tom for more information.
And finally, Ed Brown (myself), Director of Care of Creation… Our emphasis is on the mobilization of the church toward a God-centered response to the environmental crisis. This has us going in a number of different directions:
- A long-established work in Kenya (Care of Creation Kenya) working in tree planting, agriculture (“Farming God’s Way”), and training and discipling church leaders, teachers, pastors and development workers about environmental issues and creation care principles.
- A similar new project will be launched in southern Tanzania this year.
- The Our Father’s World seminar is a weekend seminar for churches, presented around the country and in a number of overseas venues.
- Ed is the point person for a Global Consultation on the Gospel and Creation Care to be held in Jamaica October 29 – November 3 of this year, hosted by Lausanne and the World Evangelical Alliance. Names are now being collected for this invitation only meeting – contact him now if you have people you would like to nominate for participation.
The Creation Care movement is most definitely alive and well. None of these organizations has the resources they need to do the tasks that need to be done – we encourage you to find your favorite one(s) – send them a note thanking them for their work, and perhaps send a donation from time to time!
[Perhaps you can help us spread the word by reposting this in full on any blog you might have or sharing via Twitter or Facebook.]
Report compiled by Ed Brown, Care of Creation.
[Apologies if any important bullet points were left out…]