An online publication of the EcoFaith Network NE-MN Synod with Saint Paul Area Synod Care of Creation
Deborah the Honeybee
by Diane Jacobson

A few days before our fabulous Pollinator Plot Summit, I woke up with a start, remembering that Deborah is the honeybee. “Honeybee” is the meaning of her name.

Knowing that this would not have occurred to most folk - just the few of us who obsess about Hebrew and Scripture - I volunteered to do a Bible study the night before the summit as the worker bees of the summit gathered for a pizza dinner. Some of those who gathered asked if I might share our study
more broadly, so here it is!

I have spent a good deal of time teaching the Book of Judges. It is not an easy book. It is violent to the extreme, with some horrific texts about women in particular. Judges could easily be listed on “most hated book of the Bible” top ten list. I confess to loving this book… not because it is fun, but rather because it is true. Judges tells of tragedy truly.

The first named judge in the Book of Judges is Deborah, the
honeybee. Judges are charismatic leaders who rise up in the time of need.
Deborah, the honeybee, is not just a judge, she is a prophetess. And her main
accomplishment was to call on all the community, all of the tribes of Israel, to
come and join with her in a time of need to fight the enemy, Sisera. She calls
them, and they actually come! The honeybee calls the community to join
together for the good of all.

Read the full reflection here
Celebrating the EcoFaith Summit!
The April 15 EcoFaith Summit, The Pollinator Plot:Cross+Pollination in a Time of Ecological Crisis, was an extraordinary event. 106 from all over Minnesota, Northwest Wisconsin, and northern Illinois gathered at Gloria Dei, Duluth to Cross+pollinate active hope in this time of ecological crisis. Many people also participated in the plot on-line from the whole Midwest and across the continent. 

Throughout the day, with our keynote speaker, six storytellers, four engagement sessions, worship, and lively conversation, we cross+pollinated ideas and relationships --- which we now bring back to pollinate care of creation in the 55 cities and towns, 70 congregations, two seminaries, a campus group, and environmental action organizations from which we came.

In total, we had Cross+Pollinators from 65 cities and towns, 80 congregations, 16 synods, 2 seminaries, one university campus, and 11 partner organizations.

*Recordings from the Summit are now available here!*
Join the No Mow May movement to promote the health of bees!

Early mowing eliminates critical habitat for bees and other pollinators. By delaying mowing until June, pollinators have more of the food that they need at this early point in the season.

Learn more here!
Want to start or restart a pollinator garden but not sure how? Looking for some direction as your garden starts its second year?

Join us for Plotting for Pollinators on Wednesday, May 17th from 6-7pm on Zoom. This gathering is hosted by the Pollinator Project Steering Committee of the EcoFaith Network NE-MN Synod.

Green Blades Rising in Congregations and Synods
NE-MN Synod Assembly 2023
Meeting in assembly, the Northeastern Minnesota Synod voted to adopt two major EcoFaith resolutions. Both were presented on the floor and passed on Sunday morning to applause!
The first resolution commits us to becoming a Pollinator Synod, launching a synodwide effort to create native pollinator habitat, and to commit to becoming pollinators of the care of creation in local settings and in the upper Midwest. 
The second resolution, Responding to the Kairos Moment of the Climate Crisis, renewing its commitment to living God’s call to be stewards of the earth for the sake of the whole creation, and declaring that racial justice, economic justice, and environmental justice, in their distinctiveness and intersectionality, are essential components of witnessing to the gospel of Jesus Christ today. 
Our Savior's Evangelical Lutheran Church 
Native Pollinator Garden Update
by Robert Jenko

OSELC Mission Statement: Serving God, God's people and our community.

In the summer of 2022 and as part of our mission statement of serving our community, OSELC decided to convert a 10' x 60' grass area into a native pollinator garden. The garden includes chokeberry, honeybush, common and swamp milkweed, butterflyweed, coneflower, aster, golden rod, beebalm, hyssop and multiple varieties of sedges. To rainwater collection sites around the area were also installed.  We will also be adding a social gathering area where members of the community can meet and relax within the garden.

To celebrate the start of our second year of the garden, we will be having a celebration on June 4, 2023 at 11AM that will include an outdoor service, soil blessing and potluck as well as some fun for the kids. People can bring soil from their gardens to be blessed or take some of the church's blessed soil home and spread in their garden. We will have pollinator plants that people can take home to start or add to their garden. For additional information or if you have any questions, you can contact Robert Jenko at 218-576-7043 or [email protected].
The Little Team that Could
by Brenda Wagner, Environmental Stewardship Team, St. Andrew's, Mahtomedi

At St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi, MN, the Environmental Stewardship Team is a tiny little team in a very large church.  For many years, we have worked to rid the church of Styrofoam, made it easier to recycle and compost, added rain gardens and bike racks to our campus, brought in guest speakers, sponsored film nights, etc.  We also host an annual Caring for Creation Sunday in the spring.  When we host such a large event, we must enlist the help of many others within the church as well as outside organizations.  Sometimes, people are willing to help with events like this even though they don’t like to attend regular meetings.  :o)

To help with ideas for your own congregations’ celebration of Earth Day and God’s Creation, I thought I’d share some of the information tables we had this year.  I hope this helps you with ideas for hosting your next Creation Care event.  Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about any of the groups. [email protected]

  • Costa Farms talked about CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and how they work.
  • Washington County Master Gardeners’ Milkweed, Monarchs and Pollinator team hosted a table to educate about their importance and actions we can all take to protect them, but also helped any gardener with questions.
  • White Bear Lake’s Bamboo Store had a selection of products to show ways to reduce plastic use in your home.
  • Citizen’s Climate Lobby (CCL) helps people understand how a carbon tax would help mitigate climate change and encourages letter-writing.
  • NE Metro Climate Action hosts monthly speakers on various topics related to climate action.
  • East Metro Water Resource Education Program spoke about Adopt-a-Drain program.
  • Washington County Dept. of Public Health and Environment - Recycle/reuse/repair/reduce. 
  • Sustainable Stillwater works to create and support local initiatives that promote sustainability in our community.
  • Belonging and Inclusion Ministry talked about climate justice issues.

In the gym for the Sunday School kids:

We are lucky to have a renowned naturalist on our team.  Jim Malkowski brings a mini zoo of creatures each year that always captivate the audience.  He has plenty of snakes, turtles, salamanders, and frogs, but one year he even brought a possum loaded with 13 cling-on babies!

Garbage Sort Game to help kids understand which bins to throw waste into
Beekeeper Margot Monson 
“Get the Lead Out” -Minnesota Pollution Control Agency explained the importance of lead-free fishing tackle.
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 Products We Buy: Helping the Pollinators We Depend on for Survival Thrive in Our Fields, Yards and Gardens

Here are Green Tips by Steve Spigarelli, First Lutheran Church, Aitkin

For Your Congregation

Confronting Plastic Armegeddon, handout and powerpoint by Diane and Paul Jacobson

"Responding to Climate Change," a resource from The Christian Century. There are timely articles by top climate experts, a hands-on list of things church members can get involved with to mitigate climate change, and a reading list.
For Eagle's Sake
by Sue Lyback
I wish to thank several involved in efforts to help rescue a bald eagle entangled somehow upside down in a tree yesterday (April 23). I was enroute to Holden Lutheran church where I serve as minister. It was about 8:15 a.m. and I was intent upon getting there early to do necessary preparations. Heading north from Isle, having just passed by Redemption Hill and turning east on 440th Street towards “old 30,” I noticed a large dark mass high in a tree to the right just after leaving Hwy 47. I pulled over, backed up and realized it was a bald eagle flopping upside down, somehow caught in the tree. There were a couple crows diving in and out as the eagle was at their mercy...

I called Tou Vang and then Vivian, to thank whoever had helped. Turns out Tou had made it there with ladders and helpers, as did the sheriff’s office at some point (via Vivian’s efforts to find someone available), but apparently the eagle had already broken free.

We’ll never know what actually happened, how the eagle broke free, or what entangled it in the first place. Was it simply stuck between branches? Was there fishing line wound around talons that got snared? Who knows? And I feel a little foolish to not have snapped photos. But the efforts of all  --  including the Minnesota DNR, Mille Lacs Band leaders, Mille Lacs County and the prayers of a tiny congregation -- are still to be commended. I am thankful for the willingness of all to work together, to rise to the occasion and help this eagle regardless. It was the right thing to do. 

And, as we Lutherans are fond of saying, “Thanks be to God!”

Read the full thank-you here

Do you have a story to share? We want to hear it! Please email Rachel, EcoFaith Network Communication Coordinator, at [email protected].
EcoFaith Network Partner Congregations: Has your congregation become a partner?

The EcoFaith Network thanks the 2023 Partner Congregations for your prayers and your financial commitment (as of April 2023) as we live out God’s call to be stewards of the earth for the sake of the whole creation.

Bethel-Trinity, Bovey $100
Calvary, Mora $200
First, Hibbing $250
Holden, Isle $300
Gloria Dei, $500
Zion WELCA, Grand Rapids, $50

We thank you!  

Help nurture the growing ministry of the EcoFaith Network by becoming an EcoFaith Network Partner Congregation in 2023. Become an EcoFaith Network Partner Congregation in 2023 and make a financial contribution of any amount.  

Learn more and find partner congregation forms here
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 [email protected]
David R. Warner, McGregor, Minnesota
Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 7, 2023

John 14:1-14

The Gospel for this Sunday is John 14: 1-14. In that text, Jesus is on his way to the cross. He is accompanied by his motley band of disciples. As usual, they have difficulty understanding what Jesus is talking about, reflecting the human condition. Jesus reaffirms for the disciples that he is, “I AM”. Given how we usually read this gospel, it does not appear to say anything about our concern for EcoFaith. To hear the ecological echoes and implications of this passage, we need to look with a wider scriptural lens, first, to the creation context of the Gospel of John, and then to the creation account that begins the Bible as a whole. 

Read the whole reflection here
Pastor Liz Davis, Duluth, Minnesota
Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 14, 2023

Acts 17:22-31
Psalm 66:8-20 
1 Peter 3:13-22
John 14:15-21

In Acts, when Paul speaks to the Athenians, he draws on what he has seen around town to help them gain an openness to his (and our) God. This scene shows us that Paul has been paying attention to these people, learning about their values and customs, figuring out how the things that matter to him overlap with the things that matter to them. 
In parenting, as in all relationships, noticing and honoring the individual before you is vital. Our children need different things. When my eldest was a baby, I did a lot of baby-wearing, and she always needed to be close by. My youngest would push away from me when she was done eating or playing and ready to go to sleep. 

Read the whole reflection here
Deacon Colleen Bernu, Fond du Lac/Cloquet, Minnesota
Seventh Sunday of Easter/Ascension Day
May 21, 2023

The story of Christ’s ascension that we read in the book of Acts is a story of near understanding (Acts 1:6), clarifications (Acts 1:7), reassurances and invitations (Acts 1:8), and new beginnings. Just when the disciples thought that their journey with Christ was over (Acts 1:10a), they were reminded that it had simply just begun (Acts 1:11). Without the ascension, the redemptive power of the resurrection could not have been realized. But God would not allow them to simply stand in place with their eyes gazing towards that which was no longer physically with them. God, through God’s representatives, redirected them, refocusing their attention from the heavens towards the land and reconnecting them to the earth through their feet as they walked back to Jerusalem in order to be witnesses there, “in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Connection to land is important. We are spiritual beings living in the power of the Holy Spirit yet existing in human bodies that were derived from the land (Genesis 2:7). We need the land to remind us of who we are. We need the land to keep us humble. We are the land, and the land is us. Perhaps, this is why my great-grandparents chose to build their new home somewhere that reminded them of the place they’d left behind. Perhaps, this is why so many immigrant families relocate to places resembling their homelands. At some point, as followers of the way of Jesus, we all realize that God sends us out to be witnesses to all that God does in this world, and at the center of that witness is the liminal space between the resurrection and the ascension, the intersection of the spiritual and the temporal, the horizon line between the land and sky, that place somewhere East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon. 

Read the full reflection here
Rev. Dr. Benjamin Stewart, Two Harbors, Minnesota
Pentecost Sunday
May 28, 2023

Acts 2:1-121
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b  
John 20:19-23  (alternate: John 7:37-39)

Pentecost is the fiery exclamation point on Easter. The entire season is an uprising: the early church set aside all fifty days from Easter to Pentecost as a season in which there was to be nothing that could look like groveling: no kneeling and no fasting on any day of the week. It is a green-blades-rising season. As the green blades rise at Easter, so too do the sparks and flames of Pentecost.
Both the beginning and end of the fifty days are originally rooted in the earth. (The name of the festival comes from the Greek word for “fifty,” referring to the fifty days after Passover/Easter.) Passover, as we noted in the Easter preaching reflections, is a festival that “has roots in an early barley harvest and in a migration to spring pastures, with both events proclaiming the goodness of the earth both here (barley harvest) and there (migration to spring pastures).” Pentecost, fifty days later, was a wheat-harvest festival, Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, which also commemorated the giving of the law at Sinai. 

Read the whole reflection here
Trying to figure out how Faith and Science work together every week? 

Listen to The Faith and Science Podcast, following the Revised Common Lectionary each week and try to answer that question. It can be found at wherever podcasts are found or at
Applications are now open for 2023 EcoFaith micro-grants!
The EcoFaith Network - NE MN Synod grant program equips God’s people to take specific new initiatives in response to God’s call to be stewards of the earth by providing seed money for specific ministry initiatives.

Grants between $100 and $1,000 are awarded each year for proposals from congregations and other church expressions, primarily in the Northeastern Minnesota Synod.  

If your congregation is awarded a micro-grant, one or two members of the EcoFaith Network will offer support and encouragement, and invite you to share your experience as a way of inspiring other communities of faith.

Click here for a grant application. Please send completed applications to [email protected]
EcoFaith Connections with Lent & Easter 
by Melinda A. Quivik, 
Former professor of worship and preaching
Editor-in-chief of the journal Liturgy
Saint Paul Area Care of Creation

For our first Creation Connections event of 2023, Melinda Quivik prepared beautiful reflections on connections with creation for the seasons of Lent and Easter.

Quivik writes, "Each Sunday in Lent and Easter gives us images that feed our abilities to envision God’s desire for us as creatures who live together with other created life forms. Each Sunday the readings are windows into healthy and whole living."
Read the full reflections here
Connections with Creation

May 7 – Fifth Sunday of Easter

This precious planet is reeling—and we reel with it as we face the threat of social and ecological collapse. Yet Jesus tells us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1). What does this mean when we live in such a troubling time? Today’s gospel gives preachers an opportunity to speak about climate grief and anxiety, encouraging parishioners to recognize that they are not alone. Preachers can recommend practices that prepare and sustain us for faithful climate-justice action, such as spending quiet time in a natural setting and allowing God to speak to us in the wind, water, and trees; engaging in contemplative prayer, as God’s Spirit breathes in us; and creating listening circles in which we share our climate fears and losses and pray for each other and for God’s creation. When we are centered again in Christ, we receive strength to do the works that Christ does.

Read all Connections with Creation for May and June
EcoFaith Book Corner
Through the College of St. Scholastica, Pastor Dave Carlson of Gloria Dei in Duluth facilitates two monthly book discussion groups, to which all are welcome: 

- Earth Harmony, Thursday, May 11 - Freeing Energy by Bill Nussey (2021). Meeting 8:00-9:00 a.m. in person at Chester Creek Cafe in Duluth.

- Religion & Science, Wednesday, May 17 - An Immense World by Ed Yong (2022).

Meeting 8:00-9:00 a.m. via Zoom. Contact Pastor Carlson for the link or for more information, [email protected]
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.