"Now the green blade rises from the buried grain"
An online publication of the EcoFaith Network NE-MN Synod with Saint Paul Area Synod Care of Creation
Become a 2023 EcoFaith Network Partner Congregation

Many congregations such as yours are doing EcoFaith ministry. They pray regularly for the creation and the movement to care for it, God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven. They seek to integrate stewardship of the earth into every faith practice and facet of ministry.

We invite you to help us nurture this growing ministry by becoming an EcoFaith Network Partner Congregation in 2023. The EcoFaith Network NE MN Synod is financially supported primarily by congregational and individual donations.  Please consider becoming an EcoFaith Partner Congregation in 2023 and make a financial contribution of any amount.

Thank you for considering becoming a partner congregation!
Learn more and find partner congregation forms here
Coming in the New Year:
Creation Care Connections Seasonal Zoom Gatherings
The EcoFaith Accompaniment Outreach Team will host seasonal Zoom gatherings in 2023! Join us for new and ongoing ideas, ways to get started and engage others, prayerful support during challenges, and a place to celebrate times of joy and hope.

Register here for the first event on Thursday, January 12th, which focuses on solar power in churches. Special guests include Bret Pence and Melinda Quivik.

Dates will be January 12, April 13, July 13 and October 12, 2023 from 7-8 pm. Please contact ecofaith@nemnsynod.org with questions!
Save the Date!
2023 EcoFaith Summit
The Pollinator Plot:
Cross+ Pollination in a Time of Ecological Crisis
Saturday, April 15, at Gloria Dei in Duluth (with virtual access)
Green Blades Rising in Congregations and Synods
Pollinator Pilot Project Update
by Tom Uecker, Chair of the Pollinator Steering Team, EcoFaith Network NE-MN

Year 1 of the project is now in the books. The six pilot congregations have put their gardens to rest. Plants are dormant and preparing to reappear in a bigger and bolder fashion in the Spring.   
 
The six pilot congregations are: French River in French River, Our Saviors in Outing, Bethesda in Malmo, St. Andrew in Grand Rapids, Bethlehem in Twig, Our Redeemer in Pine City. Preparing each site showed a lot of interesting thinking and variations from these six pilots. 

Other churches in the NE MN ELCA Synod have joined in the fun. Some already had pollinator/native gardens, and some are just beginning to consider how they can get involved...

Read the full update here
Solar is a Winner!

Saint Paul Area Care of Creation
By Retired Pastor Vern Rice,
Christ the King Lutheran Church, New Brighton

With an almost unanimous congregational vote last year, Christ the King Lutheran Church, New Brighton, MN, decided to put solar panels on its roof. 239 panels are now installed.

Christ the King is glad to be known as an environmentally friendly church. Besides our solar panels, we have a flourishing community garden and are planning a pollinator flower bed. Five young adults have joined our Caring for Creation Team. One of them is an environmental philosopher!

The Property Committee did a lot of research and met with many people to plan the project. Motivated by care for God’s creation, they also found that solar installations are successful investments:

Read the whole article here
Local Renewable Efficient Energy — What is an Energy District?

by Carol Tack, Citizen's Climate Lobby, and Jim Martin-Schramm
NE-Iowa Synod

An Energy District is a local institution that leads, implements, and accelerates the locally-owned, inclusive, clean energy transition. The Winneshiek Energy District pioneered the energy district model in 2010. Today, there are nine established Energy Districts in Iowa, two in Wisconsin, and more in the planning stages.  

Modeled after the soil and water conservation districts that were created after the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, the goal of each energy district is to provide expert technical assistance so that homeowners, businesses, and farmers can make wise investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy.  

These investments produce energy cost savings and also stimulate the local economy.  In the process, Energy Districts create local jobs and retain and grow wealth (the green of energy prosperity), and simultaneously reduce carbon emissions and air pollution (the green of climate stewardship).  

Energy Districts are geographically and socioeconomically inclusive, independent, and nonpartisan. They create change through principal strategies of energy planning, market transformation, public engagement, advocacy, and readiness. As the flywheel of momentum builds, tipping points of energy efficiency and locally-owned renewable energy are crossed, community clean energy identity grows, and the transition becomes unstoppable.

Learn more here


Do you have a story to share? We want to hear it! Please email Rachel, EcoFaith Network Communication Coordinator, at ecofaith@nemnsynod.org.
Green Blades Preaching Roundtable
The Green Blades Preaching Roundtable weekly reflections by a variety of preaching writers on the ecological implications of each Sunday’s lectionary. 

To inquire about writing for the Green Blades Preaching Roundtable, or to receive these reflections on a weekly basis, contact Kristin Foster, editor, at revkristinfoster@gmail.com
David Ackerson, Spiritual Director and Retired Judge
Baptism of Our Lord, Mountain Iron, MN
January 8, 2023

Matt. 3:13-17
Isa. 42:1-9
Ps. 29
Acts 10:34-43

The Ecofaith imagery of the “green blade rising” draws our focus to the land, the solid earth from which our own bodies spring, the land we live on.  With the Baptism Gospel, during the season of Epiphany, we have Word that more naturally calls us to focus on water, the flowing waters from which we emerge as Baptized beloved children of God.  While our identity, who we see ourselves to be, seems to be more easily connected to the land from which we and our ancestors arose, let us take a look at our identities as beloved children of God flowing from the Baptism of Jesus through the lens of water.

Read the full reflection here
Kristin Peterson, Synodically Authorized Minister, rural Hermantown, MN
The Second Sunday after Epiphany 
Commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday
January 15, 2023

Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalm 40:1-11
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1: 29-42

The challenge for the preacher who intends to preach for the whole creation on this Sunday is heightened by the various options of the lectionary texts, along with the opportunity to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.  In an effort to wade into this challenge, I ask you to consider the image of a three-legged stool. I came across this image when I was gathering background information for a new course that I would be teaching at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, “Introduction to Sustainability.” In order to create sustainability, one needs to find a way to balance Economy, Equality, and the Environment. Let’s look at what unfolds when we present all three “legs” in the context of a sermon for this Sunday. 


Read the whole reflection here
Rachel Wyffels, Luther Seminary Student, St. Paul, MN
Third Sunday after Epiphany
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
January 22, 2023

Matthew 4:12-23
Isaiah 9:1-4
Psalm 27:1, 4-9
1 Corinthians 1:10-18

I am drawn to thinking about how our practice during this week of prayer for Christian unity might draw us closer in our relationship with the whole body of Christ, including all creation.

Too often we think of unity in the context of singularity, in setting aside some parts of our traditions for a general sense of agreement and camaraderie. It is true that there are disagreements that can and should be set aside in the life of the church and the work of the Kingdom of God. Yet at the same time, I suggest that a general sense of unity is not what this week is about. Instead of concentrating solely on our role as unifier, we are invited this week to realize our identity as the unified. We are made new creation in the body of Christ, unified and made whole with the holy interdependence that underlies all creation. As the writers of the ecumenical liturgy suggest, our “personal and ancestral history” as living stone are unified with “the ground upon which many generations have stood.”

For us on this week, our identity as the unified celebrates our embodied relationship with all creation and renews our spirits as we work in the body of Christ for justice and health for all the world. 

Read the whole reflection here
Luke Pederson, SAM, Strum, WI
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
January 29th, 2023

Micah 6:1-8
Psalm15-1
Corinthians 1:18-31
Matthew 5:1-12

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaims a message of transformation, a message that turns our notions of being successful and blessed upside down. From the mountaintop, Jesus brings us the vision of the Kingdom of God that has come to Earth, the kingdom that continues to be revealed to us. Jesus speaks to a crowd that has lived under the rule of the Roman Empire-an empire of conquest colonization, and expansion, an empire that subjugates and enslaves, that keeps the peace by the point of the sword. An empire that saw the world as something to be conquered, controlled, and shaped to serve human needs and desires. 

In its expansion, Rome left in its wake lands damaged and degraded through deforestation, overgrazing, and intensive agriculture. Are we still stuck on that same road today? Topsoil continues to wash off the fields, reducing fertility and damaging streams, rivers, and lakes. Aquifers are depleting faster than they can recharge, wildlife habitats continue to diminish, and the ever-growing demands for fossil fuels degrade land in extracting them and alter the global climate as they are consumed.

Read the whole reflection here
Connections with Creation
January

January 6 – Epiphany of Our Lord

The Orthodox celebration of Epiphany includes a procession outdoors to local bodies of water to commemorate the baptism of Christ in the Jordan. The blessing often involves a festive plunge into the water as if every body of water has become the promised river of life. (Do an internet image search for “Orthodox Epiphany water” for some stunning photos of the rite from around the world.) Martin Luther may well have drawn on this Orthodox all-water-becomes-holy-water theology when he wrote in his Flood Prayer that through the baptism of Christ, God “has sanctified and set apart the Jordan and all water for a saving flood.” Traditionally on this day the entire Orthodox assembly would drink from the local stream or lake to celebrate its blessedness. Today, such an act—perhaps undertaken by a deacon or a priest—might be a poignant critique against the poisoning of God’s free gift of water.

Read all Connections with Creation for January and February
EcoFaith Book Corner
As Long as Grass Grows
by Dina Gilio-Whitaker
Review by Larry Johnson

Dina Gilio-Whitaker takes the reader on an historical journey of injustices which she calls environmental injustices that resulted in genocide. She contrasts the indigenous point of view which focuses on being in relationship with the environment rather than the western view of exploiting it at the expense of Indians, people of color, and others living in areas of poverty. 

This book is the best example I have read which clearly reveals the intersection of racism and the environment regarding First Nations people. Broken treaties are not just an old historical fact but a current reality as treaties continue to be broken. A primary goal of the book is to provide “a broad overview about what environmental injustice is for American Indians, describing what justice looks like, and proposing avenues to get there.”

Read the whole review here
The (Un)Common Good: How the Gospel Brings Hope to a World Divided
by Rev. Dr. James E. Wallis, Jr.
Review by Doug Jacobson
"Do not go left. Do not go right. Go deeper."

Wallis writes in the preface, “I believe the prerequisite for solving the deepest problems this country and the world now face is a commitment to an ancient idea whose time has urgently come: the ‘common good.’”  In defining the common good, he writes, “(T)he common good is a vision drawn from the heart of our religious traditions that allows us to make our faith public but not narrowly partisan…. Fighting for political ideology and self-interest has replaced finding solutions to problems or practicing the ethics of public service…  (T)he public discussion we must have about the common good concerns not just politics but all decisions we make in our personal, familial, vocational, financial, congregational, communal, and yes, public lives. 

While the mid-term elections are behind us, the call to promote the “common good” still rings loudly.  As Wallis writes, “Do not go left.  Do not go right.  Go deeper.”

Read the whole review here
This Month's Green Tips

Use these in your congregation's bulletins, Facebook pages, websites, or newsletters!

Here are Laura Raedeke's Green Tips from Lutheran Church of the Cross, Nisswa

The New Climate Bill: Hope for Transitioning to Electric Vehicles and Greener Electric Car Batteries

Read. Watch. Listen. Share!
The EcoFaith Network NEMN Synod 
Living out God's call to be stewards of the earth for the sake of the whole creation. 
SPAS Care of Creation
We are called to care for God's creation as a central part of our Christian faith and identity.