Above photo: Jonathan Brenneman and Sarah (Thompson) Nahar with their grandmothers on their wedding day in 2018, standing in front of the Jordan River. © Peter Ringenberg, 2018
by Jonathan Brenneman
My name is Jonathan. I am a Mennonite Christian Palestinian US American. My dual identities as a Palestinian and as a white US American offer me insight to Christianity both as an indigenous wisdom tradition, and as a religion serving as a tool of global imperialism. I write each entry of this two-part blog post from the first person, as a Palestinian Christian and as a Western Christian.
The Jordan River plays a huge part in Christian mythology: the river crossed by the Israelites, the river Elijah and Elisha performed miracles in, the river in which John performed baptisms, the river whose watershed hosts all of Jesus’s ministry.
The Jordan is one of the most significant natural or ecological characters in the Bible, so it’s natural that those who practice watershed discipleship connect deeply to the mythology of the Jordan River, diving into its metaphors and finding the confluence between our own watersheds and that of Jesus. But the river isn’t merely mythical. It did not dry up after the canon was chosen. It is a real river! And it is still flowing…barely. Read More
An exciting new resource is available for use in congregations and interfaith groups interested in caring for the environment: Rev. Dr. Nancy Wright and Richard Butz, MFA, have created a Congregational Watershed Discipleship Manual in partnership with Vermont Interfaith Power & Light and Voices of Water for Climate.
They created two manuals: one with a Christian emphasis, Congregational Watershed Discipleship Manual: Faith Communities as Stewards of the World’s Waters (1st Christian edition), and another with an interreligious emphasis, Congregational Watershed Manual: Religious Communities as Stewards of the World’s Waters (1st Interreligious edition).
The manuals combine teachings around the spiritual and theological importance of water in Christianity and other faith traditions with practical ideas Read More
In addition to the Bartimaeus Cooperative Minitries podcast or “Bartcast,” we wanted to let you know about some podcasts related to watershed discipleship topics and featuring some people in the watershed discipleship network recently.
There’s a new podcast called “Shifting Climates,” which has featured some fabulous people in its so-far 6 episodes: Randy Woodley (who will be a speaker at the upcoming Bartimaeus Kinsler Institute in February 2019; he’s also featured on the December 31, 2018 Bartcast), and a number of other theologians, climatologists, farmers, and activists. This podcast is created by Michaela Mast, Harrison Horst, and Sarah Longnecker. Here’s a little bit about the story of how they came to create this podcast.
The Food & Faith podcast started last August with an episode chatting with Nurya Love Parish, a member of our watershed discipleship community who started the Christian Food Movement website (we posted an interview with Nurya on our blog last year). In this first season of the Food & Faith podcast, they’ve tackled topics like mental health, inclusion, food deserts, “queering the table,” “toxic charity,” all in relation to food and faith. A collaborative project with Wake Forest School of Divinity’s Food, Health, and Ecological Wellbeing Program, Plainsong Farm, The Keep & Till, and The Garden Church, it is hosted by Anna Woofenden and Sam Chamelin.
Bonus: Even though it’s not connected to the watershed discipleship community and it’s not technically a podcast, if you haven’t already been following Katharine Hayhoe’s series of short videos about climate change, Global Weirding, it is really great! As an evangelical climatologist, she sometimes talks about issues related to faith in this series (and definitely in other places where she talks/writes), and answers a lot of questions and false claims about climate change.
Feel free to send us suggestions of the podcasts you host and/or listen to that relate to watershed discipleship themes!
by O’neil Van Horn
It’s been three years since I moved from California, my beautiful, beloved home state, to New Jersey. I know… “Why?” (No, I did not lose a bet—a question I’ve been asked on more than one occasion.) This seemingly irrational decision has what might be considered an even more irrational reason behind it: to pursue a master’s and doctorate in philosophical and theological studies. (Please pray for me.)
After the whole “why?” ordeal has been resolved, folks then typically ask me how I am enjoying New Jersey. Sometimes this question is sincere, others sarcastic. (I’ll just assume then that you’d like to know, too.) I almost inevitably respond with some mixture of seriousness and whimsy: “I quite like New Jersey. The seasons are interesting, and there’s water.” I usually get at least a chuckle, sometimes more when my timing is on point.
Watching my beloved California become regularly engulfed in flames, larger and deadlier each year, I am thinking more about water than ever before. Read More
[Artwork: Wowasake kin slolyapo wowahwala he e: Know the Power of Peace, Diptych icon of Black Elk by Robert Two Bulls, artist-in-residence at this year’s Bartimaeus Kinsler Institute.]
This year’s Bartimaeus Kinsler Institute will consider the topic, “Indigenous Justice & Christian Faith: Land, Law, Language.” Held February 18–22, 2019 at Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries (BCM) in Oak View, CA (unceded Chumash Territory, Ventura River Watershed). Regular registration is open through January 27, and late registration will be available through February 3 (with a 10% extra fee).
by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
One hot afternoon, my kids and I headed for Belle Isle, dressed in swim suits and looking for relief in the waters of the Detroit River. Cedar, who is now 2, immediately lay down at water’s edge, tummy in the water, and kept saying, “Thank you, water.” He said it over and over again with joy beaming from him. Where does he get it? Yes, indeed, he is right: thank you water.
After that, the kids both started digging a hole that the waves would fill. Isaac would lean his ear close to the water and say, “Water, what do you need? Oh, you want us to dig you a hole with a path for you to have as a home. Ok.” And he would start digging. Water became the third playmate. It had ideas and needs and there was real intimacy. I sat back and just listened. I would hear things like, “Ok, water, we will help you,” or, “The water says it loves it,” or, “I love you, water.” Read More
Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart, IN will hold its fourth annual Rooted & Grounded conference September 27–29, 2018. With keynote speakers Karenna Gore on Thursday, Valerie Bridgeman on Friday, and Randy Woodley on Saturday, the conference will be filled with conversations at the intersection of creation care and social justice. The AMBS campus is closely connected with Goshen College’s Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center, which includes a sustainable farm and areas for research and native species habitat.
The conference will bring together academic, practitioner, and justice lenses, and will provide opportunities for networking with other ministers interested in creation care.
The full conference costs $110 for regular attendees or $35 for students, and single day rates are also available.
Register soon! The deadline is July 16.
Photos and article by Tim Nafziger, Watershed Discipleship Editorial Team Member
Incorporating quotes curated by Jay Beck, Carnival de Resistance
Much of the landscape of America has been shaped by big brands. A strip mall in Boston is little different from one in Houston. McDonald’s has displaced the greasy spoon. Target has replaced the local clothing store. And in everyone’s hand is a smart phone from Apple or Samsung or Google.
This homogenization has warped our faith as well. Kelly Brown Douglas in “Black Christ” looks at how “slaveholder Christianity” become dominant among white evangelicals in the US through the 1700s and 1800s and has persisted long after the end of slavery. The focus on right belief (orthodoxy) over right practice (orthopraxy) began at least 1300 years ago when the emperor Constantine decided things would work better for the Roman empire if there was one “correct” line of belief rather than a variety of Christianities. Read More
by Sara Wolcott
“Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?”
— Matthew 8:18, King James Version
So much has been disMembered in our current United States society that when we come to the process of ReMembering, it can feel like a bit of a surprise. Even overwhelming. We come to see the world around us differently. We hear words or songs differently. Everything changes even as it all stays the same. Except it is not the same. At least that is my experience of ReMembering.
I capitalize the words because I want to differentiate it from the rest of the English language — try to jar it a bit, create a bit of dissonance in a world of so much noise that sometimes it is uncertain if anyone hears anything, if we ever have. Read More