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First EarthKeeper Commissioned in the Missouri Conference


By Cheryl Y. Marcum

The Center for Mission Innovation at the General Board of Global Ministries launched the innovative EarthKeepers program in 2016. It nurtures and equips United Methodists, who discern a call from God to a vocation of caring for God’s creation, to lead projects to change our way of being in the world, one community at a time.

As a member of Stockton UMC, I attended the six-day EarthKeepers training in August 2017; at Mount Sequoyah Retreat and Conference Center, Fayetteville, Arkansas. Through prayerful discernment, each EarthKeeper-in-training chooses and designs a creation care project as a follow-up application to her or his week of training and commits 10 hours per month to accomplish the project.
My class of 17 EarthKeepers, including nine clergy, was commissioned January 22, 2018, in a live-streamed e-commissioning service. The commissioned EarthKeepers briefly described their wide ranging, diverse projects, including: establishing community farms to strengthen food security (Arizona and Oklahoma); launching a conference creation care ministry (Georgia); designing and building a low-emission church building (Wisconsin); authoring a book on African-American nature spirituality (Pennsylvania).
Marcum’s project, southwest Missouri climate crisis campaign, extends God’s call on her heart to speak boldly and act decisively to disrupt our global climate crisis based on this scriptural premise. God made us in God’s image and dedicated us, human beings, to care for — to help renew — his “good” creation (Genesis 1:26-31; 2:15). God requires us to do justice, love kindness  and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). Our faith and actions work together; our actions make our faith complete (James 2:22). Jesus instructed us to let our light shine before others, so they will see our good actions and praise God (Matthew 5:16). Yet, how many United Methodists act decisively to reduce carbon dioxide emissions? How many United Methodist churches in our Missouri Conference present themselves to their community as God’s stewards for renewing his good creation as disciples committed to climate justice?

My EarthKeeper project goals focus on the Southwest District: 
Share my personal climate crisis witness with people in 10 churches in my district.

Each of 10 churches in my district enacts one new ongoing climate action by December 31, 2018. 
A climate action is any ongoing church behavioral change that reduces carbon dioxide emissions — that transforms culturally acceptable, environmentally irresponsible choices into creation-respecting choices. 

Some examples:
  • Turn lights off when not in use; post signs on church switches to remind people.
  • Replace incandescent and compact florescent bulbs with LED bulbs; publicize it. 
  • Reduce church phantom load by unplugging electronics that draw current when plugged in and turned off; post signs to remind people.
  • Establish a recycling center where the community can conveniently recycle items they cannot otherwise recycle in your community; post signs and publicize it.
  • Host an annual dead electronics and appliances recycling drive; publicize it. 
  • Refuse single-use plastic bags, molded foam cups and food containers; take your own or choose reusable dishware. 
  • Schedule a church energy audit, and invest in the top three recommendations.

About Cheryl Y. Marcum

Marcum leads the creation care ministry at Stockton United Methodist Church. She led climate justice studies at the 2016-2017 United Methodist Women’s Mission u. She led climate justice issue forums at the 2018 United Methodist Women’s Legislative Training Event. She serves as Stockton Solar Gardener, leading the city mayor’s initiative to bring local, affordable solar energy to all categories of energy consumers in Stockton, currently not allowed by Missouri utility statutes. 

She lives with her husband Mitch Ross, Southwest District lay leader, in a “net-zero” energy PLUS home in rural Cedar County. Their solar system generates enough clean energy to power their energy efficient, passive solar, all-electric home over the course of a year PLUS power her Chevy Volt, their electric farm cart and heat their passive solar guinea house during frigid weather. For climate crisis action resources, contact her at or (417) 955-2885.


Global Ministries EarthKeepers Training Opportunities

Salt Lake City, Utah
November 1-4
Applications Due by October 11

EarthKeepers equips United Methodist laity and clergy to develop or deepen environmental initiatives in their churches and communities, and it connects them with a broader community of United Methodists who are active in creation care. Training topics will include eco-theology, intersectionality, strategies for social change and United Methodist resources. Participants will leave the training with a plan to develop a project.

The Salt Lake City training, November 1-4, will include a component on climate change as it relates to disaster mitigation, relief and recovery, a meeting with Brian Diggs, Associate Director of the UMCOR West Depot, and a visit and volunteer experience at the Depot. 

Apply Today

More information about the training, cost, commitment and more