Preaching Watershed Discipleship in Kalamazoo, Michigan

This post first appeared on Churchwork and was titled A great Earth Day sermon. Earth Day sermons are hard. I didn’t preach one this year, even though I was preaching on a Sunday close to Earth Day and care for the earth is close to my heart. It’s just tough to find the words that inspire reflection and action without inducing guilt. But I was absolutely delighted to read the sermon that was preached at St. Martin of Tours Episcopal Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan on April 26th. Michael Stifler, a lay member of the congregation with years of experience in watershed management, was invited by the rector, the Rev. Mary Perrin, to preach that Sunday. His words are a perfect example of faith-based bioregional thinking – the kind of deep-rooted religion that I described in a recent (surprisingly viral!) post. I was honored when he agreed to allow me to share this sermon with you. Before I do, I have to give a shout-out to Ched Myers, whose work inspires both me and Michael. Ched was kind enough to connect us to one another last summer after we discovered him separately. When I read Michael’s words, I was inspired. Without downplaying the seriousness of our ecological situation, he offers faithful and practical ways to think and act for good. Most important, he roots our thinking and acting in the context of the great story of God’s work of redemption and reminds us of the infinite mysteries of the created order. By doing so, he helps us move closer to fulfilling our role in creation. Thank you, Michael Stifler, for the time and care you give to this work. Thank you, Mary Perrin, for recognizing the gifts Michael has to offer for this ministry. And most of all thank you, Lord God, for the inspiration you offer those who seek to conserve your great Creation. Read more

Towards a a collaborative bioregional mission strategy

This post was first published on Churchwork under the title I said what our diocese most needed. Then I realized: nobody knew what I meant.

This Saturday, Episcopalians from greater Grand Rapids, Michigan, gathered with our bishop and staff at St. Mark’s, Grand Rapids for a Bishop’s Town Hall. This is the latest iteration of an annual event begun by our previous bishop. In times past it featured teaching from the bishop in the morning and workshops for vestry education in the afternoon. In those days it was billed as an educational event for new vestry members. Read more