Lutherans in Minnesota

Congregations develop plans to care for creation

Many Lutheran congregations in the Twin Cities have stewardship, worship,
and Christian Education committees. Increasingly these congregations also
have “green teams,” official groups with the task of informing congregants
about opportunities to care for the earth, as well as ways for the church
building to be more earth friendly.

These congregations are increasingly working together to maximize their
impact, according to David Rhoads, a professor emeritus at Lutheran School
of Theology in Chicago and developer of the Green Congregation Program. In
Minnesota the newly formed Lutheran Environmental Network of the Synods
(LENS) is coordinating this activity.

“In this era, creation will be at the forefront of our experience on this planet
together,” Rhoads told a gathering of 150 individuals from 70 congregations
in the Twin Cities area. “We as Christians have to show leadership on
environmental stewardship.”

Rhoads advocates “unilateral acts of care” for the creation. “Churches provide
an alternative for society and are visionary by nature,” Rhoads adds. “People
are eager to embrace this, and see it as a matter of faith” he explains.

All of our individual actions, and all of our individual actions collectively, are
significant, but the urgency and scope of solutions needed require a swift
response,” says Mark Peters, director of the Lutheran Coalition for Public
Policy in Minnesota (LCPPM). “Individual actions are significant, but not
sufficient,” he says when urging people to engage elected officials on public
policy.

“Minnesota does a better job of addressing policy solutions than anywhere
else,” claims Alycia Ashburn, a graduate student in entomology at University
of Wisconsin—Madision and former congregational organizer for LCPPM.
“Minnesota leads the nation in mercury reduction, renewable energy, and
global warming solutions. And people around the country see the faith
community here as a significant contributor.”

At the Twin Cities meeting, members of each green team worked on a
congregational plan. St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi has
progressed significantly in making the congregation environmentally friendly.
Plans range from recycling to advocacy.

Lynette Kaderlik, chair of the Justice for Creation group at Prince of Peace
Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Burnsville said that the group started with an
invitation in the church bulletin. “Now we have an audit team that includes
our property people, our worship leader, and people who are engineers in
their vocational life,” she explains. “We started by simply doing recycling, and
now we are undergoing an energy audit — electric, gas, and insulation.”

In meetings across the state, LENS convened 400 people from 176
congregations to deepen their commitment in five regional meetings this
summer. As people were leaving one gathering, a participant said she would
ask her congregation members, “Where would Jesus put it?”