“For Christians, care of the Earth is not an “environmental cause.” Rather, it is central to our holy calling to treasure the Earth and to care for it as our common home, fully integrating creation-care into our love of God and neighbor.” - Rev. David Rhoads, “Why Lutherans Care for Creation” The current sustainability projects aim to demonstrate and carryout our love of God and neighbor.
Photo of sphere hanging from the ceiling in large meeting area at COP 26 in Glasgow. The hanging design depicts a green, blue and white marbled sphere that resembles the earth’s continents and oceans, where climate change has no geographical boundaries. (Credit: Chuck Moore/Random Snaps Photography for Living Lutheran /ELCA.)
COP 27 photo indicating interconnectivity between all elements of the environment. (Credit: Chuck Moore/Random Snaps Photography for Living Lutheran /ELCA)
The ministry of the ELCA bears witness to the love of God in Christ Jesus in word and deed, through worship and acts of service with and for your neighbors near and far. This work is a movement of ministries in another form of witness in the face of the growing threat to our common home — climate change.
Because we are called to love our neighbor and steward the gifts of creation, the ELCA is embarking on a path of creation stewardship to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, starting with a 50% reduction over 2005 levels by 2030. No matter where your ministry is on this path, we would like the entire ELCA to consider joining us in taking the next steps together and to invite others, whether they be ELCA congregations, camps, colleges or social ministry organizations.
ELCA World Hunger and Witness in Society are partnering to accompany people and communities on the journey to a livable future in which no one is left behind, starting with support for ministries in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Interested ministries will receive a baseline assessment of their emissions, as well as site-specific proposals informed by their ministry priorities. Depending upon the ministry site, the proposals may cover energy efficiency, water use, waste reduction, transportation and land use/farming.
Proposals for each ministry will offer guidance and resources for deliberation and action, including possible sources of savings and funding. Each participant will also be invited to collaborate, learning from and sharing your learning with others in Pennsylvania, elsewhere in the United States, and around the globe. We hope that our communal discernment will enable us to equip the church for action in our communities and in our daily discipleship.
Energy efficiency simply means using less energy to get the same task or amount of work done. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in its statements about the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (a private-public initiative to create a sustainable, aggressive national commitment to energy efficiency) …such a commitment can take advantage of large opportunities in U.S. homes, buildings, and schools to reduce energy use, save billions on customer energy bills, and reduce the need for new power supplies. The Energy and Creation Stewardship Project explores avenues for ELCA facilities to reduce its energy usage.
Water efficiency demonstration at COP 27 in the Green Zone. (Credit: Chuck Moore/Random Snaps Photography for Living Lutheran/ELCA)
Energy and water efficiency are powerful tools that can drastically cut short-term and long-term operating costs. At least 25% energy savings can occur by implementing little to no-cost actions and energy management practices. Places of worship can leverage the opportunity created by utility efficiency upgrades to put in place building upgrades and practices that enhance the health and quality of the facility’s environment. Some examples would include improved ventilation systems, moisture control, integrated pest management practices, and removal of PCB containing lighting ballasts and building materials from the facilities. The Energy and Creation Stewardship Project explores avenues for ELCA facilities to reduce its water usage.
Waste reduction is another key factor in reducing carbon footprint. Using recycled products is important in waste minimization. (Credit: Chuck Moore/Random Snaps Photography for Living Lutheran/ELCA)
Waste reduction is another valuable cost savings tool for places of worship is waste reduction. Reusing or recycling materials can save money in the short term and encourage environmentally conscious behavior among congregants. Simple tasks like composting food or yard waste and reusing supplies can help conserve valuable funds.
Photo of Envision Racing’s new race look unveiled at COP 26. Credit: Chuck Moore/Random Snaps Photography for Living Lutheran/ELCA
Energy and creation care stewardship in transportation can have significant impact on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. According to the USEPA transportation was the largest sector contributor to greenhouse gas emissions at 29%. The Energy and Creation Stewardship Project explores avenues for ELCA facilities to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in transportation.
Display at COP 27 depicting we are all community together here on earth. (Credit: Chuck Moore/Random Snaps Photography for Living Lutheran/ELCA)
Earth is our common home. Though we undertake this journey as church together, we are beginning in a focused way in Pennsylvania. As a partner here, the Pennsylvania ministries will help shape the assessment tools, ministry conversations, resources and relationships in ways that will guide our work together moving forward through the rest of the ELCA, our communities and partnering with our global partners.
Beyond Apology examines the impact of racism sustainability. "The Church that pursues justice will face and address difficult social, political, and economic problems such as: how racism must be confronted in order to build a society where diversity is truly valued; how race and ethnicity figure in political decisions on immigration, crime, and environmental pollution…" (A Social Statement on Freed In Christ: Race, Ethnicity, And Culture) Racism limits the participation of all people in society, even preventing those who are the perpetrators from realizing their full potential. Thus, racism is a cancer that attacks the body of the whole, stymying societal efforts toward sustainable development – impeding sustainability adversely impacting the present day most vulnerable and marginalized.
The ELCA in its Social Statement on Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice states “we will examine how environmental damage is influenced by racism, sexism, and classism, and how the environmental crisis in turn exacerbates racial, gender, and class discrimination. …[The] church will favor proposals and actions that address environmental issues in a manner consistent with the principles of participation, solidarity, sufficiency, and sustainability. These proposals and actions will address: excessive consumption and human population pressures; international development, trade, and debt; ozone depletion; and climate change. They will seek: to protect species and their habitats; to protect and assure proper use of marine species; and to protect portions of the planet that are held in common, including the oceans and the atmosphere.”
This video from ecoAmerica’s Let’s Talk Climate webcast Beyond Apology: We Need Climate Action Now, features a conversation with Vance Blackfox, Desk Director for American Indian Alaska Native Tribal Nations, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Tracey DePasquale, Director, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania; Ruth M Ivory-Moore, Program Director, Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and Larry Ryan, Member, Delaware-Maryland Synod, ELCA Creation Care Ministry Team – all discussing how ELCA recognizes the importance of deploying concrete steps to understand and address racism on all fronts.