When the Mennonite Church USA delegates gather in Phoenix July 1 to 6, a creation care resolution will be among the topics they discuss.
MCCN has prepared a resolution calling all Mennonite congregations to reflect on a series of open-ended questions related to creation care during the next two years. The resolution was approved by the Constituency Leadership Council and the Executive Board of the Mennonite Church USA on April 10. It is now on its way to delegates.
The questions in the resolution are organized under three themes: Exploring Biblical and Theological Foundations, Choosing a Simple Lifestyle and Pursuing Justice and Peace. Many of the questions will result in localized answers unique to each congregation. For example, “What are the creation care issues within 25 miles of our congregation?” and “How can we practice sharing of goods in our church communities?” could generate very different answers depending on the context.
While the resolution does not mandate a particular response, MCCN council members hope that the process the resolution outlines may lead to clarity on particular positions or actions that the Mennonite Church USA may wish to pursue at the 2015 MCUSA convention.
Several groups provided input for the MCCN resolution: the MCCN Creation Care Council, a local gathering of MCCN members in Goshen, Ind., and the Waterford Mennonite Church, Goshen, Ind.
Luke Gascho, who was the primary architect of the resolution, says he was careful to connect the resolution to the Purposeful Plan, adopted by MCUSA in Pittsburgh. The Purposeful Plan mentions environmental disasters and calls the church to an increased commitment to creation care in its section on stewardship, but it does not spell out what that might entail.
While the questions proposed in the resolution offer a preliminary curriculum for congregations, more in-depth curricula will be needed if the resolution is adopted.
Getting Ready for Convention: We Need Your Help!
In early April, members of the Mennonite Creation Care Network’s Creation Care Council gathered for their yearly face-to-face meeting. One of the major events on the horizon is the Mennonite Church USA Convention in Phoenix coming up in early July. MCCN will have a booth where passersby can learn more about what we do.
The council spent time brainstorming creative ways to raise awareness and get the word out about the great work of MCCN. We are very excited to share the diverse ways 100 Shades of Green congregations are working at creation care, and in order to do that...
We need your help! We would like to gather a few things from each of your congregations, to possibly use in our booth display at convention:
1. One or two big, nice quality pictures of recent Creation Care activities or events in your congregation.
2. A sentence or two about what your congregation has been doing lately to care for God's good creation.
3. An answer to the question: “What are the environmental issues within 25 miles of your congregation?”
We also ask that 100 Shades of Green liaisons craft and polish their individual congregational pages linked to our website. We expect more traffic to these pages in the coming months, and we want to make sure each congregation is represented well on our website. It will only take a few minutes to at least describe your congregation’s setting and its creation care team, if you have one. Better yet, use photos and stories to let other Mennonites know what you have been up to. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help or have any questions.
Additionally, don't forget to "like" the MCCN facebook page . Please feel free to post pictures or ideas of what you or your congregation have been up to lately. We would love to see lively conversations on our page leading up to convention this year.
Thanks in advance for your participation and responses. We so appreciate the work you do to advance the work of caring for creation in the Mennonite Church.
Photo Caption:Members of the Creation Care Council are: (back. left to right) Luke Gascho of Goshen, IN, Jennifer Schrock of Goshen, IN, Greg Bowman of Goshen, IN, Dave Hockman-Wert of Corvallis, OR, (front, left to right) Marlisa Yoder-Bontrager of Lancaster, PA, Jim Smith of Goshen, IN, Joanne Moyer of Toronto, Ontario, Janie Beck Kreider of Goshen, IN.
Peak Oil Weekend
John Gray is a member of Mennonite Creation Care Network who pastors at East Peoria Mennonite Church, East Peoria, IL. In the article posted on our web site, Gray reflects on how cheap fossil fuels have shaped his rural community and wonders what preparations might be necessary in order to prepare for a post-oil future.
If you and your congregation would like to think together about these issues, Gray has presentations prepared to share in faith-based settings. Gray’s tentative outline for a weekend includes the film, What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire, worship, discussion and two presentations. Consider bringing his prophetic voice to your congregation. Contact John Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eco-Justice Notes Provides Gathering Point for Northern Indiana MCCN Members
MCCN members in the Goshen/Elkhart area have begun gathering quarterly to support each other. So far, they’ve contributed ideas for the MCCN resolution, shared ideas for congregational life and formed a smaller discussion group that reads Peter Sawtell’s weekly column, Eco-justice Notes.
This ready-made discussion starter never fails to provoke thought. For example, during Lent, Sawtell did a series reflecting on environmentally relevant worship, pursuing themes like lament, confession, imagination and joy. This would be a great resource for a group planning a special series, or a worship commission wanting to include environmental justice and creation care in its services more frequently.
Photo caption:Connections form at a meeting of MCCN members in the Goshen-Elkhart area. Pictured, left to right, are Danile Martens, Ned Kauffmann, Larry Yoder and Roberta Miller.
Second Mile Curriculum: Creation Care
According to Doug Krehbiel who helped develop these materials, Second Mile is “not a curriculum, it’s a change process. It’s a journey, not a destination.” Marlisa Yoder-Bontrager, profiled below, would probably agree, since she credits Second Mile with helping her congregation to form a creation care committee and voluntary gas tax group. The peace materials were a joint project between the Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Church USA, Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Central Committee. The six-session creation care series is available through Menno Media.
Welcoming the newest member of the Creation Care Council: Marlisa Yoder-Bontrager
Meet Marlisa Yoder-Bontrager, the newest addition to the Creation Care Council. We welcomed her to the table for the first time at the annual MCCN council meeting, where she shared about her decades-long commitment to sustainable living and creation care. Her interests evolved “from wonder at the beauty of flowers combined with a sense that the wealthy are living beyond the means of the whole world into a full-fledged desire to do as much as possible to take care of God's creation.”
A member of East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church in Lancaster, PA, Yoder-Bontrager was part of a Christian education class that focused on care of the environment, using Second Mile materials, a peace curriculum developed by several Anabaptist denominations and published by Faith and Life Press This class eventually led to the development of a Creation Care Committee at East Chestnut working to promote the idea of a voluntary gas tax for church members. The committee uses these voluntary funds to do things like install better insulation into the church and subsidize the cost of planting trees for neighbors of the church.
Yoder-Bontrager lives with her husband in a four-unit apartment building in the city of Lancaster where she enjoys the challenge of making a small city yard both look beautiful and produce food. She has discovered that a row house lot can provide a whole freezer full of food by the end of a summer. Setting up a hoop house in the fall has provided fresh salad greens all through the Pennsylvania winter. An array of solar panels on the building's roof gives enough energy to power their home plus channeling about two thirds more back into the electric grid. She feels privileged to live in a medium sized city where she can walk or bike most places. See photos of the Yoder-Bontrager's lush urban jungle.
Marlisa is a nurse whose day job is working with low-income first-time mothers for up to two years of their baby's life as they learn to be good mothers. She likes working with mothers who have migrated to Lancaster from all parts of the world. Along with her husband and two children, she lived in Latin America for almost nine years. and continues to enjoy good Latin music, merengue dancing and food from a variety of countries.
Yoder-Bontrager’s experience, insight and energy were a welcome addition to the Creation Care Council meetings. This year marked the end of two council members’s terms. Karla Stoltzfus Detweiler of Iowa City, who served on the council since 2009, ended her term over the winter with the arrival of a new baby. Emily Dueck, who served as a Canadian representative since 2012, ended her term this Spring in order to pursue graduate studies.