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We envision a “watershed discipleship alliance”
promoting and nurturing three main areas of transformation:
1) Ecological Readings of Scripture.
The Bible is an ally, not an adversary, in the task of re-learning how to care for creation.
The prophets in both testaments call out to us, rousing us from our ecocidal slumber.
The reflective poems, warning tales, grand sagas and radical histories of scripture summon us to remember our origins and the ways of our ancestors; they invite us to imagine and work for a restorative future; and they call us to liberate and heal ourselves and our home places.
To “see” these themes in scripture requires learning how to re-reading our sacred texts, and developing a capacity to research, teach and publish new perspectives.
2) “Re-placed” Theology, Spirituality, and Practices.
Recycling, reducing energy use, and shopping responsibly are important, but much more is needed.
The work of the church is to nurture critical theological reflection at all levels.
This prompts personal healing and recovery work, Sabbath Economics (including life-skills training in sustainability such as gardening, canning, and foraging), and political organizing efforts grounded in the local watershed and impacting wider issues of social, food, and environmental justice.
For an exercise in re-placed theological imagination go here; for further reflection on this concept go here.
3) Watershed Ecclesiology.
Be the church in your region by becoming a center for learning and loving local places as well as defending and restoring them.
All churchly practices, from prayer to liturgy and from Word to deed, help us deconstruct habits that objectify and exploit, and reconstruct our identity around connecting with God in this place and this time.
A watershed discipleship alliance can focus, amplify, and help build capacity for a Christian discipleship defined by commitment to healing our world by restoring the health of our respective watersheds. If we can “do our work” around these issues, we can not only recover the soul of our tradition, but will also make an enormous contribution to the wider historic struggle to reverse our ecological catastrophe.
Six Ways to Get Started
1. Connect Christian faith and the environment in the church and academy:
- Develop awareness of ecological themes and other parts of creation as you read the Bible
- Prophetically disturb unsustainable cultural assumptions and practices (in and outside of faith communities)
- Hold worship services outside
- Host a local prayer walk or hike
- Call for repentance and renewal
2. Practical training:
- Get to know your watershed and bioregion ecologically: Locate Your Watershed
- 25/75/100 Bioregional Food Covenant: by 2025, source 75% of your food and products from within 100 miles
- Find out about the environmental and restorative justice concerns in your region, and build relationships with Indigenous communities, and people of other races and socioeconomic backgrounds. Find out how environmental concerns impact other communities in your region.
- Take a Master Gardener or Permaculture course
- Work toward a GreenFaith Shield in water or energy, GreenFaith certification of your sanctuary, or Green Seminiaries Initiative certification for your seminary
3. Build partnerships to conserve, restore, organize in, and advocate for your region:
- Watershed restoration and conservation groups
- 350.org and other fossil fuel divestment advocacy groups
- Write letters, sign petitions, and attend marches related to regional climate policy and other environmental matters
4. Partner with other faith communities:
- Seek out other churches or interfaith partnerships with faith communities working on environmental concerns in your region
- Join your local chapter of Interfaith Power & Light
- Emphasize common values such as social justice, peacemaking, and environmental care
5. Online presence emphasizing environmental care:
- List environmentally focused projects on church or organization website
- Utilize your personal or organizational blog and social media to educate and organize around environmental topics
- Network with other organizations such as GreenFaith, Interfaith Power & Light, and your denomination so your work is multiplied nationally and globally
6. Conferences, retreats, workshops, and work days connecting environmental concerns and faith:
- Contemplative retreats focused on connecting to God in nature
- Focused time to learn about biblical themes of creation care
- Activism training
- Work days to help clean and restore a local river or park