Innovative Program Aims to Commission 500 EarthKeepers
EarthKeepers is a new program of Global Ministries that trains and commissions laity and clergy for the work of caring for God’s creation. EarthKeepers are United Methodists who work within their communities:
- Lifting up the importance of caring for God’s creation at the heart of our Christian faith
- Responding creatively to climate change and other environmental challenges
- Working for justice so that all communities have access to clean water, air, energy, fresh food and green space
The first EarthKeeper training event in the South Central Jurisdiction will be held August 1-6 at Mount Sequoyah Retreat & Conference Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Through worship, instruction and dialogue, EarthKeepers develop a greater understanding of their calling to care for God’s creation, the theological basis for that work, and practical skills and strategies for community organizing. Applications are now being accepted online at http://centerformissioninnovation.org/event/earthkeepers-training.
Members of the planning team for this training each have unique stories of how they have been called to the work of an EarthKeeper. Jeff Potter credits his job as a zookeeper in high school with teaching him about the importance of caring for and preserving living things. Now the pastor of Harveyville UMC, Potter feels called to advocate for the care of all creation for the sake of creation, not only so far as it benefits humankind. Terry Tremwel, chair of the board of a solar company and adjunct instructor at the University of Arkansas, says that his whole adult life has been leading him toward this calling to care for creation. He would like to see the church participate in the Godly work of restoring the right relationship between land and our fellow humans, preserving the intended mutual sustaining of earth and humanity.
In 2002, Cheryl Marcum answered God’s big audacious call to build an award-winning energy efficient solar home on the farm in rural southwest Missouri where she grew up. She leads an active creation care ministry at Stockton UMC, and she senses another audacious call to more strongly advocate for urgent climate action. Mel Caraway, a retired elder from the North Texas Conference has testified at multiple EPA and Texas Legislative Committee hearings, primarily on the health-related aspects of pollution. He envisions continuing this work focusing on the health aspects of neglecting to care for all of God’s creation. Christine Potter is the Associate Minister of Emporia First UMC in Kansas. She says, “Care of creation is central to my call to be a disciple of Jesus Christ as it forms the foundation of gratitude, respect and humility that I seek in every relationship I have – with people, animals, rocks and every element that shares in the gift of life.”
Read more about the first 45 EarthKeepers commissioned last November in Atlanta at http://www. umcmission.org/learn-about-us/news-and-stories/2016/december/1202firstclassofearthkeepers. Do you think God may be calling you to the ministry of an EarthKeeper? Find out more and apply online at http://centerformissioninnovation.org/event/earthkeepers-training.