2016 Seattle, Washington: Creativity and Power: Theological Reflection and Action on Climate Change
In 2016, the Eco-Stewards traveled to Seattle where we met with environmental groups, kayaktivists and Lummi tribe members to learn how they are creatively and peacefully resisting fossil fuel transport and export projects in the Pacific Northwest. We also took time to read and reflect on Pope Francis’ call for environmental stewardship in his encyclical Laudato Si. And we shared our eco-faith journeys in a coffee house-style storytelling event. There was even time for kayaking in Elliott Bay beneath the Seattle skyline. Read more about our Seattle trip here.
2015 Montana: Visioning the Future of The Eco-Stewards Program
Our June 2015 Eco-Stewards Visioning Retreat in Big Sky Country attracted 20 participants from around the country in an effort to brainstorm the next steps for The Eco-Stewards Program. Attendees included past Eco-Stewards alumni, program leaders, community hosts as well as YAVs and representatives from Environmental Ministries PC(USA), Camp and Conference Ministries PC(USA) and Presbyterians for Earth Care. Workshops were held at Luccock Park Camp outside Yellowstone and Greenwood Farm near Hardin, MT. Together we worshiped, prayed, hiked, and engaged in many workshop discussions about our organizational structure, fundraising and recruiting efforts and future trip programming. The end of our gathering simulated a typical Eco-Stewards trip as we listened to stories from elders who live on the neighboring Crow Reservation, toured the newly-established Big Horn Valley Health Center, milked goats at the organic farm, and shared our eco-faith journeys.
2014 Gainesville, Florida: Food and Faith–Uniting Together in a Southern Foodshed
This place-based program explored the connection of communities to the land as we looked at how Gainesville, Florida utilizes its surrounding natural resources to build life-giving, meaningful relationships. Our time focused primarily on the interconnected food and water webs of North Central Florida. Our trip included discussions on local food, faith, nutrition, workers’ rights, intentional Christian communities, sustainability, and the ever-pressing water issues faced by much of this region. The week consisted of service, community dialogue, and an exploration of local areas including but not limited to community gardens producing food for homeless shelters, a local micro-farm rethinking the food system, a house of hospitality, nearby springs, and the Ichetucknee River. Throughout our program, we reflected on and shared our own Eco-Faith journeys.
2013 Portland, Oregon: Connectional Urban Living as Creative Response
During this place-based program, we considered how people of faith in the Portland area were responding in creative ways to environmental challenges such as climate change, food inequality and urban sprawl. We spent the week exploring the city by foot, bike and public transport as we visited farmer’s markets, ecumenical partnerships, co-housing communities, food cooperatives and farms. Along the way, we met with community organizers, city planners, church leaders and environmental activists to discuss how they are laying connectional roots to build a sustainable urban community. During the week, we also took time to reflect on our individual eco-faith journeys while staying at Menucha Retreat & Conference Center and hiking and recreating in the Columbia River Gorge and foothills of Mt. Hood in the Cascades.
2012 Vermont & Boston: Climate Change & Christian Activism
This place-based learning program for young adults focused on Climate Change & Christian Activism in light of the surge in protest movements from Occupy Wall Street to Tar Sands Action to 350.org. We started in Boston, meeting with Occupy Boston’s spiritual leaders and visiting Walden Pond to discuss climate-related research from Henry David Thoreau’s notebooks on leaf out dates of trees. Then it was on to Vermont, where we helped with Hurricane Irene relief projects; talked with author and climate change activist Bill McKibben and his 350.org’s grassroots organizers; and discussed our individual eco-faith journeys while hiking in the Green Mountains and biking around Lake Champlain.
2011 Montana: Sustainability and Reconciliation through Agriculture, Health and Green Building on the Crow Reservation
In June 2011, the Eco-Stewards Program journeyed through southeastern Montana, where we explored the connections between faith and environmental stewardship in the context of sustainable agriculture, health and green building on the Crow Reservation and in Big Sky country. Twelve Eco-Stewards from around the country joined us for a week of community meals, cross-cultural conversations, prairie walks, worship services, vocational discernment, eco-faith journeys and hands-on construction and cleaning projects. We spent half the week sleeping in tents and tepees at Greenwood Farm, where we were fed delicious, locally-sourced meals. A string of hot, dry weather allowed us to camp at the farm and explore the reservation despite major flooding that had affected the area in late May. The end of our week provided some sabbath time in the peaceful, mountain setting of Luccock Park Camp, a Methodist camp outside Yellowstone National Park. The main lodge with its wood stoves and majestic views kept us cozy during a day of steady rain. We returned to Billings, where we toured the greenest building in Montana (the Northern Plains Resource Council) and a community garden and labyrinth at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church. Our program ended with a community meal at First Presbyterian Church in Billings, which graciously housed the Eco-Stewards for two nights, allowing quick access to the airport. To see a slideshow of the week, click here.
Three of our young adults spent the summer as Eco-Stewards interns who put their eco-stewardship skills into action at Greenwood Farm in Montana and Krislund Camp in central Pennsylvania.
2010 West Virginia: Living with and from the Land
In 2010, The Eco-Stewards Program traveled to West Virginia, where we delved into the complex environmental issues surrounding mountains, coal, land use, and sustainability in beautiful southern West Virginia. The program was designed for 20-30 year-olds. We considered how these issues invite us to deepen our relationship with God and with each other — to live more simply, to consume less, and to join in a dynamic Christian movement to care for the earth. The program examined the faith response to environmental degradation in the West Virginia context. We explored some of the complexities surrounding mountaintop removal coal mining. The Eco-Stewards participated in a local restoration project, toured mountaintop removal sites with those who are dedicating their lives to protecting the mountains, and conversed about the theological underpinnings of land stewardship. We took time to breathe deeply and recognize the beauty and wonder of God’s creation as we walked in the woods, floated down the New River, and learned about West Virginia’s traditions of living with and from the land.
Our week-long program concluded with a wonderful, three-day community event at Bluestone Camp & Retreat in Hinton, WV. This “Stewardship of the Land Conference” featured keynote speaker Joel Salatin, a Christian farmer who runs Polyface, Inc.
Three Eco-Stewards interns stayed in West Virginia to apply their eco-stewardship skills at West Virginia Ministry of Advocacy and Work Camps, Bluestone Presbyterian Camp & Retreat, and Fayetteville Presbyterian Church.
2008 New York & Pennsylvania: Studying Urban Ecology
2007 California: Building the Eco-Stewards Program