The April 1st deadline for Eco-Stewards Seattle is quickly approaching and we need your help recruiting some young adult leaders (ages 20-30) to participate in this amazing program that will focus on creativity, climate change and theological reflection on Pope Francis’ encyclical on caring for the environment. Applications are due April 1 and some financial aid is available to help with travel expenses. Better yet, help us by sponsoring a young adult to attend the program! Download the the 2016 application. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Sometimes, upon waking, the weight of a wounded planet is palpable. We are beset by extreme weather events that continue to raise high the warning flags of the new normal that is climate chaos—and by a shamefully decreased political will to be the least bit prophetic (or at least responsive). It is enough to stymie even the most hopeful person who claims faith in the Author of Hope. And often, even the best efforts from forward thinking churches, who regularly weave in all-things eco, don’t seem to be enough to curb the tides of depressed inactivity.
We are overwhelmed into inertia.
This is why I wear an Eco-Stewards bracelet year-round.This simple shock cord, given to each participant in the program, reminds me there are people engaged in moments (if not movements) of creative resistance. It reminds me that the antidote to this inertia is regular exposure to stories of creative, alternative, grace-laced community resistance to the broadly accepted myth of consumption paradise and fossil fuel inevitability. These stories point to simple moments of localized change we can believe in—and begin to embody. Sharing such stories should become a valued spiritual discipline.
Since its humble yet energized inception in 2006, the Eco-Stewards Program has been striving to create such forums for a growing community of shock-chord bracelet-ed souls. And it remains a true antidote against cynical stagnation for me: a fluid, constructed theology of grace that encourages engagement.
Here are the basics: the Eco-Stewards Program is a Christian community responding to God’s call through applied eco-stewardship. It seeks to educate, train, and inspire young adults (ages 20–30) in the ways of eco-stewardship within the wider context of Christian faith. The program shares roots in and draws partial support from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Environmental Ministries, Presbyterians for Earth Care, and the Presbyterian Camp and Conference Association (PCCCA). The overarching goal of this grass-roots initiative is to help young adults connect and share their passions for faith and environmental stewardship through participation in place-based learning programs that explore how faith communities are responding to challenges from climate change to mountaintop coal removal. During these week-long programs, eco-stewards spend time reflecting upon and sharing personal eco-faith journeys, taking part in a hands on eco-project, exploring the outdoors, playing music, and experiencing worship together. Paid summer internships are also offered. Composting toilets and used tire earth-ships have been built; urban gardens have been visited; and numerous conversations with eco-faith-practitioners have been enjoyed…
Greetings to all! We are excited to announce specific plans for our June 2013 Eco-Stewards Program in Portland, Oregon: Connectional Urban Living as Creative Response. We are eager to recruit a new crop of Eco-Stewards (Ages 20-30), so please help us spread the word by sharing the link to this blogpost with any young adults who care deeply about faith and environmental stewardship. You can find more information about the program below:
Connectional Urban Living as Creative Response
Portland, Oregon: June 1-8, 2013
This place-based learning program for young adults (ages ~20-30) will consider how people of faith in the Portland area are responding in creative ways to environmental challenges such as climate change (Oregon coal export controversy), food inequality and urban sprawl. We will spend the week exploring the city by foot, bike and public transport as we visit farmer’s markets, ecumenical partnerships, co-housing communities, food cooperatives and farms. Along the way, we’ll meet 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 will also take 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. For more information, contact Rev. Rob Mark: email@example.com
Application Deadline: Applications still being accepted this week, so apply ASAP. (Rolling admission).
Thanks to everyone who took time to take our program evaluation survey! We got some incredible feedback about previous weeklong programs and internships. We’ve included just a few of the great responses below, and it gives anyone, past participants or newly interested applicants, insight into this meaningful and transformative program.
“I received some much-needed encouragement. I somehow manage to find myself in situations where people do not see the connections between earth and faith that I see–or situations where people simply don’t care about the earth. It is easy to let the loneliness turn into an impediment. The Eco-Stewards program & the internship, too, helped me not just realize, but experience that I am part of a larger network of people trying to make a difference around them in small ways and large ways. That experience still keeps me going, two years later.” Response to: Was your personal faith or religious belief(s) changed or impacted during the week? If so, in what way(s)?
“I think my desire to integrate faith with environmental concern was greatly supported by this program and the participants in it during a critical time. Hearing the stories of others and seeing the variety of ways in which people were engaging this subjects was deeply encouraging as well as thought and action provoking.” Response to: Was your personal faith or religious belief(s) changed or impacted during the week? If so, in what way(s)?
“The time spent listening to each others’ stories, working in small and large groups, making music. So good to hear the perspectives from such a diverse group of people.” Response to: Of all the activities and experiences you encountered during your week, what was the most meaningful part for you? Why?
“Your actions and choices have an impact. Your care for the earth is right and just. Applying and sharing what you learned is the ripple in the pond that will make change. Prayer is important in all of these issues.” Response to: “What was the most important idea you took away from your Eco-Stewards experience?”
“I found the welcoming and ecumenical nature of the eco-stewards program to be particularly relevant to the current needs of our often divided society. I also found the presenters to be thoughtful and insightful as they engaged a variety of topics. The focus at the end on discerning one’s own specific calling in relation to faith and the environment was a particularly good way to integrate the activities of the week with the specific context of one’s life.” Response to: Any additional comments?
Applications are now available for our June 2-9, 2012 Eco-Stewards Program in Vermont and Boston. Spread the word! This program for young adults (age 20-30) will focus on Climate Change & Christian Activism in light of the recent surge in protest movements from Occupy Wall Street to Tar Sands Action to 350.org. Join us in Boston as we meet with Occupy Boston’s spiritual leaders and visit Walden Pond to discuss Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. In Vermont, we will help with Hurricane Irene relief projects in Vermont, talk with author and climate change activist Bill McKibben and his 350.org’s grassroots organizers, and discuss our individual eco-faith journeys while hiking in the Green Mountains or paddling the Connecticut River. Questions? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org