“Blessing the Waters of Life” conference set for Oregon, September 24-29, 2017

Presbyterians for Earth Care invite all those interested to join them for a watershed discipleship-focused conference, “Blessing the Waters of Life: Justice & Healing for Our Watersheds,” this September along the Columbia River in Oregon. The conference will be held at Menucha Retreat & Conference Center.

A pre-conference gathering from September 24-26 will include a session by Ilarion (Larry) Merculieff on “Native Ways of Being & Knowing.” Merculieff is  a passionate advocate for indigenous rights/wisdom, and a member of the last generation of Aleuts raised in a traditional way.

Ilarion (Larry) Merculieff

Rev. Dr. Barbara Rossing will serve as the keynote speaker for the conference, which will run September 26-29. Rossing is Professor of New Testament at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Her research focuses on the book of Revelation, ecology, and liberation.

Rev. Dr. Barbara Rossing

The conference will will focus on water issues at the nexus of climate change and indigenous people, with particular focus on environmental justice, the impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery, the scriptural call to care for creation, and hands on outdoor experiences. Conference-goers can choose from nature experiences such as exploring the Columbia River Gorge, caring for the land at Menucha Retreat Center, birding hikes, and opportunities to search the stars with a telescope.

See the conference program for further details and fee options. Register by June 30 for the best rate. There is a young adult discounted rate, and scholarships are available.

To learn more, we spoke with the conference coordinator, Jenny Holmes, who adds:

If you are not able to attend the whole conference, September 26-29, consider joining the September 24-26 pre-conference event as a commuter. On Sunday, Sept. 24, from 7:00-9:00 pm, there is a special presentation at Menucha with the author, educator, and environmentalist Larry Merculieff on “Native Ways of Being and Knowing.” The cost is $20. The two-day sessions focused on Columbia River tribes and environmental justice is $55 for commuters. Organized in partnership with members of Columbia River tribes and local community and environmental organizations, “Spirit of the Salmon – Water, Culture, and Justice in the Columbia Watershed” is a two-day exploration of the environmental justice issues affecting the tribes of the Columbia River Watershed. Participants will learn about tribal culture and spirituality, see first-hand how climate change and pollution are affecting the Columbia River and tribal life-ways and treaties, and experience hopeful models for healthy communities and watersheds.

We begin on Monday, September 25, at Menucha, where we will learn from tribal members about tribal sovereignty, treaties, and how historic neglect and wrongs are being addressed. We then travel to Bonneville Dam to learn about hydropower, water quality, and the ethical issues of the Columbia River Treaty. After a brief stop at the site of Oregon’s first oil train spill, we visit Celilo Park near the now silenced Celilo Falls and engage in dialogue with Oregon’s Poet Laureate, Elizabeth Woody, a member of the Warm Springs Tribe, and other members of the Columbia River Tribes.

The second day starts with an interfaith panel and dialogue on the “Doctrine of Discovery” focused on what repudiating this 15th-century justification for the subjugation of non-Christian people has meant for current day relationships with Native Americans. We then journey to Cascades Locks where we will view tribal fishing platforms, view spawning salmon, and hear how tribal leaders have prevented the extinction of salmon runs. A rally and prayer vigil will demonstrate solidarity with the Columbia River Tribes, and their issues will cap the day. To register as a commuter, register online with Presbyterians for Earth Care at http://presbyearthcare.org/events/. For lodging and meals, register at http://www.menucha.org/programs/pec.

RePlacing Church Podcast Interviews Ched Myers on Watershed Discipleship

Ched Myers appears on RePlacing Church Podcast

Ben Katt of the RePlacing Church Podcast recently interviewed Ched Myers on the topic of watershed discipleship. They discussed the definition of a watershed, the importance of care for one’s watershed as an act of Christian faithfulness, Myers’ own work in the Ventura River Watershed north of Los Angeles, CA, and other topics related to the social-ecological history of the United States. He invites us to “reimagine the landscape in terms of the real.” If you’re looking for a resource that accessibly explains watershed discipleship to interested friends and church members, suggest they give this a listen.

You may be interested in some of the other sessions on the RePlacing Church Podcast while you’re there.

Eco-Stewards Program June 5-10

The Eco-Stewards Program will focus its June gathering on watershed discipleship. This gathering for young adults (ages 20-30) in Richmond, VA will explore the James River Watershed through meeting farmers, conservationists, faith leaders, and scholars, reading from Watershed Discipleship: Reinhabiting Bioregional Faith & Practice, visiting a power plant, space to be in nature, and telling stories connecting faith and the environment.

With the theme, “Water is Life: Journeying Toward Justice Along the James River,” the June 5-10, 2017 gathering will center around what we have learned from the non-violent, fierce love displayed at Standing Rock to show that water is sacred. Our lives depend on it, and our morality and faith demand we must steward it well if we are to love our neighbors. In the light of climate change and racial injustice, communities along the James River in and around Richmond, VA are actively living out this love both up and downstream in the spirit of revolutionary eco-justice. The program leaders invite you to join the journey, and to find inspiration, faith, and creative visions as stewards of water and neighbor.

Application Deadline: May 1, 2017

Cost: $375 (need-based scholarships available)

More info: https://ecostewardsprogram.wordpress.com/2017-program/

Book review: Watershed Discipleship by Cherice Bock

In 2017 Cherice Bock is uwdndertaking a project which will include assisting us to revamp this website. She has recently had a review of Watershed Discipleship: Reinhabiting Bioregional Faith & Practice published by Sojourners (in the April 2017 issue). Her full review of Watershed Discipleship: Reinhabiting Bioregional Faith & Practice is available here: https://chericebock.com/2017/03/09/book-review-published-watershed-discipleship/

Amongst many other things, Cherice Bock, lives in Oregon where she teaches at George Fox University and its seminary, and serves as the community garden coordinator.  Cherice edits the environmental studies journal Whole Terrain, and is a regional editor for Christ & Cascadia, an online journal exploring theology and culture in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.


Watershed Discipleship: Reinhabiting Bioregional Faith and Practice

wdAvailable now is the new anthology publication: Watershed Discipleship: Reinhabiting Bioregional Faith and Practice, EDITED BY  Ched Myers, Cascade Books (Fall 2016).

The much anticipated “Watershed Anthology” is now available. With over a dozen contributes, this anthology introduces and explores “watershed discipleship” as a critical, contextual, and constructive approach to ecological theology and practice.

More details here, or purchase your own copy today here.

CONTRIBUTORS: Introduction and Afterword by Ched Myers; Poetry by Rose Berger, Foreword by Denis Nadeau.  Chapters by: Sasha Adkins, Jay Beck, Tevyn East, Erinn Fahey, Katarina Friesen, Matt Humphrey, Vickie Machado, Jonathan McRay, Sarah Nolan, Reyna Ortega, Dave Pritchett, Erynn Smith, Sarah Thompson, Lydia Wylie-Kellermann.



Coming into the Watershed – Facebook roundup 11/17

Interesting recent posts from the Coming Into the Watershed Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/watersheddiscipleship/):

Mike Little posted about Potawatomi and Indigenous peoples are taking the lead in addressing climate change: http://www.potawatomi.org/news/top-stories/1855-potawatomi-and-indigenous-peoples-take-the-lead-in-addressing-climate-change

Bill Wylie-Kellermann let us know about Ryan Camero who is working with Restore the Delta, a grassroots group committed to restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta:


Here is a great example of neighborhood based organizing around ecojustice and watershed work posted by Dave Pritchett – “Eastwick in the Middle: Organizing for Environmental Justice” by Media Mobilizing Project TV:


-Chris Wight

Watershed Now NC

Rev. Stuart Taylor is a longtime friend; he collaborated with me on “Say to This Mountain: Mark’s Story of Discipleship” (Orbis, 1994). A year and a half ago he participated in a week long workshop I led in Asheville, NC, not far from where he is based as a Presbyterian minister. He really drank the Kool Aid on watershed discipleship, and has since done magnificent organizing in and about his watershed. See the website below. Exemplary stuff! – Ched


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.

April 26, 2015 Earth Day Sermon by Michael Stifler

Almighty God, you made the universe with all its marvelous order, its atoms, worlds, galaxies and the infinite complexity of living creatures:  Grant that, as we probe the mysteries of your creation, we may come to know you more truly, and more surely fulfill our role in your eternal purpose.  Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, page 827)

I would like us to open with an antiphonal reading of Psalm 65, which can be found on page 672 of the Book of Common Prayer.  We will start with verse 5 and read through verse 14.

Awesome things will you show us in your righteousness, O God of our salvation, * O Hope of all the ends of the earth and of the seas that are far away. Continue reading

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.

But this year, our new-ish bishop changed it up. He decided to use the morning portion to lead us in prayerful discernment. After a brief introduction and review of his work with us thus far, he invited us into a time of silent prayer for God’s vision and dream for our diocese. (He warned us ahead of time that the silence would be long enough that we might become uncomfortable.) When the silence was done, he led us through a series of questions for common reflection. Every comment was recorded.

We talked; our bishop listened. (Have I mentioned how grateful I am for my bishop?)


I honestly don’t remember all the questions he asked. But I do remember one, because when I responded, it seemed like nobody understood what I was saying.

Continue reading