A Short Tour of www.Eco-Justice.org
Welcome to the website of Eco-Justice Ministries! This tour is designed to help you learn about our unique programming with churches, and to help you identify some of the most important resources that are available to you through our agency. We hope that this page will be a useful guide as you start to explore the website.
Rev. Peter Sawtell, Executive Director
Why should churches be involved in caring for God's creation?
The why? question has several different answers. It is essential to faithful ministry. It is essential to healing the Earth community. It can strengthen the church. [ read more ... ]
Where are we coming from?
The information and resources you'll find on this site are grounded in some firm beliefs and perspectives. Eco-Justice Ministries' insistence on transformational ministry as a way of addressing the ecological crisis (and as a way of strengthening churches) grow from beliefs about the crisis and about faithful ministry.
- Locating the Problem
We see the many environmental and social justice issues as symptoms and expressions of a single, deeper problem: that humans are living in a distorted and destructive relationship with the rest of creation, and with God. A short article (excepted from my chapter in a recent Sierra Club book) discusses how we understand the ecological crisis as a human problem, and why churches are important in addressing that problem.
The importance of correctly "locating the problem" -- for any situation -- is spelled out in an issue of Eco-Justice Notes from 2006.
- Four Theological Affirmations
Many, many books and articles have been written to develop theologies and ethics that are attentive to care for God's creation. We've boiled that down to four statements (and just 12 sentences) that get to the heart of our beliefs. Each of the four provides a hopeful affirmation, and gives direction for how to live and act.
Language both expresses and shapes our beliefs and worldviews. A short lexicon gives defintions for several key terms. It explains why, for example, we tend to refer to "the creation" instead of "nature" or "the environment" (both of which tend to separate humans from the rest of creation).
Major Resources and Programs
- Eco-Justice Notes
Every week, we send out a short commentary that helps explain or develop some aspect of an eco-justice perspective on the church and the world. These weekly newsletters are sort of like the sermons in a church -- they are a proclamation and an education about how our beliefs connect with daily life. You can read the most recent issue of Notes, and browse through the ever-growing archive of back issues. Subscriptions to Notes are free, and we encourage our readers to forward issues to their friends and church leaders. [ Read more about Notes, and subscribe. ]
- Greening Your Church guidelines
Eco-Justice Ministries encourages and supports churches as they bring care for all of God's creation -- humans and other-than-human -- into many parts of their program and ministry. We have found it helpful to look at three different aspects or phases of the greening process, which we refer to as Getting Started & Doing the Basics, Leadership & Action, and Transformational Ministry. Each of these aspects of the greening process address different problems, and require different strategies to be effective.
The best place to start is with the overview page, which sketches out the goals and distinctions in more detail, and has a menu leadinf to details on each of the three aspects.
- Congregational Assessment
We're very aware that each church is unique, and will have its own strengths and limitations about how to act in caring for God's creation. We are developing an extensive set of tools to help congregational leaders look at their church and community, and start making decisions about where they can be most effective. An on-line version of our congregational assessment form is available on the website as a do-it-yourself guide to an in-depth analysis of the opportunities and roadblocks that you might find in your congregation. The assessment guide dovetails with all of our Greening Your Church resources.
- Curriculum Reviews
Education is one of the very important ways that churches can make a difference in their congregation and community. For educational programs to work well, curriculum resources need to be selected that are appropriate to the theology and style of the church, and to the characteristics of the class participants.
Eco-Justice Ministries has compiled a list of of over 90 church-based curricula which deal with the environment or eco-justice. A pool of volunteer reviewers -- many of them professional educators and pastors -- have provided in-depth descriptions and evaluations about these materials.
This is a "self-serve" tool for researching educational materials. You can browse through the whole list of curriculum titles, and then select displays of short or long format reviews on any title. You can also limit the list based on age ranges, or the number of course sessions.
- Resources for Worship and Education
Eco-Justice Ministries has developed significant resources to help churches in their most significant areas of programming: worship and religious education. Our index pages for worship and for education provide links to our materials, and to other important resources and websites.
- Helpful Links
We maintain a list of major Protestant denominations, with information about staff and websites dedicated to environmental themes. Another page has links to leading agencies in the faith-based environmental movement.
- Quotation Database
Sometimes, church leaders need to find a wonderful, pithy saying to make a point -- in a sermon or class, a newsletter or the Sunday bulletin. We've assembled hundreds of good quotations, (and some that may not be good, but are fun!) and put them into a searchable database. See what we've listed most recently, search on a key word or phrase, look up by the author, or just ask for a random selection. We're always happy to receive suggustions for new quotations, too!
About Eco-Justice Ministries
Eco-Justice Ministries is an independent, ecumenical agency that helps churches answer the call to care for all of God's creation, and develop ministries that are faithful, relevant and effective in working toward social justice and environmental sustainability. (So says our mission statement!)
Our primary emphasis is to work with churches, to help congregations and denominations develop their remarkable gifts and opportunities as agents of personal and social transformation. We want churches to be faithful (rooted in Christian faith, spirituality, theology and ethics), relevant (dealing with the most important issues of this day), and effective (actually making a difference in the lives of their members and communities).
We invite you to read more about our projects and accomplishments as a leader in the faith-based environmental movement since 2000. We also invite you to make a financial contribution to support our important work.
Rev. Peter Sawtell, Executive Director
Eco-Justice Ministries * 400 S Williams St, Denver, CO 80209 * 303.715.3873
Home Page: www.eco-justice.org *