Where Are You? Start There!

By Tom Rowley, A Rocha USA Executive Director

On the heels of an Earth Day observed with growing gloom and corporate cooptation, reasons for hope abound. In recent weeks, I’ve had a slew of conversations with people caring for God’s creation right where they live. The efforts may be small, but they are meaningful. And connected together, they look very much like a movement building.

Grace Chapel in Farmington Hills, Michigan, is in its third year of community gardening on their property—inviting everyone with a 3-mile radius of the church to come plant, water, weed and eat. Pastor Doug Walker not only preaches on the subject of creation care (a recent sermon series gives a nod to the forthcoming book by A Rocha USA Board member and pastor Robert Campbell: You Are There: Following Jesus All the Way Down to the Dirt), he also is studying permaculture in his spare time and hoping to move some of the church’s 15 acres into that use. All as its worshipful response to the Creator and as its mission to the neighborhood, the region and the world.

Across the state (Michigan is a hotbed!), Rev. Nurya Love Parish is demonstrating her love for God’s creation in many ways, not least by helping lead a nascent Christian Food Movement, which stems from three questions: 1) How can we re-imagine food systems in a way that more clearly reflects God’s reign? 2) Where are the Christians working for a better food system, and how can I join them? 3) Are there existing Christian food projects that I could replicate or adapt in my context? Get a copy of the guide she’s written and learn more about her leading efforts.

In North Carolina, Seth Bible and Mark Liederbach at Southeastern Baptist Seminary, direct the growing Seminary Stewardship Alliance, founded by friend and former A Rocha USA Director Matthew Sleeth. The Alliance and its 30+ member schools are working together to inspire and equip seminarians in the work of the whole gospel—the one that includes all of creation, while also helping craft strategies for on-campus stewardship.

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, last week I had the pleasure of speaking to and meeting with some 80 people convened by Kim Honeycutt and The Camp House church. Kim’s passion and impetus for the event stemmed from her work as a board member of the Tennessee Aquarium and the desire to see more Christians enjoying, learning from and supporting that fine institution. And by the looks of the event—not only the number of people who attended, but also the fact that so many came ready to roll up their sleeves and identify ways to get involved—Christians in Chattanooga will soon be cleaning streams, volunteering at the Aquarium, teaching A Rocha’s Creation Care Camp and more.

Interestingly, these efforts vary in focus, geography and denomination (Evangelical Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Baptist and Anglican), which shows just how much opportunity there is for all of us to join in the sacred task of tending the Earth. How will you join in? We’d love to hear and help.

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