Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina

BOOK STUDY- All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis

CCA is excited to host an “All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis”  Circle series for those seeking to discover, explore and participate in meaningful conversation about climate change and climate action.   The All We Can Save anthology offers a range of perspectives on understanding and responding to the climate crisis from the unique vantage point of a diverse collection  of women authors.  Over a six week period, we will meet via ZOOM and discuss selected works from this exceptional anthology.  We hope that you will join us for this opportunity for conversation, connection, and collaboration. 

We will meet on 6 Thursdays April 8, 15, 22, 29, May 6 and 13th from 7-8pm Eastern Time. 

Book Study is Full-  Try joining our Earth Day Vigil or an Eco Grief Circle if that is of interest.  Let us know if you would like to be on a waiting list. 

Creation Care Symposium Set for January 28-29

Sacred Lands, Sacred Bodies; Faithfully Caring for People and Place. 
 
Thursday, January 28 – Friday, January 29
Morning and afternoon ZOOM sessions will be offered each day with times and details to be announced soon
 
Our time together will include some connection with like minded neighbors, lay leaders and clergy, prayer and ritual, stories of creation care and resilience from congregations practicing right relationship and practical steps for caring for our neighbors and the earth. We will include time for regionally based brainstorming and discussion.  Whether you’re new to creation care or a long-time advocate, you’ll gain new language and tools to inspire your congregation to care for the environment and each other, interwoven with space for relationship, and prayer.
Workshops will include: 
Solar 101 for Congregations
Sarah Ogletree, NC Interfaith Power and Light and Eliza Stokes, MountainTrue
Sacred Lands (food, trees, land and faith)
Emma Childs, Christmount Conference Center, Rev. Anna Shine, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Justin Goldstein, Yesod Farm+Kitchen,  Rev. Laura Beach Byrch, Boone United Methodist Church, Bob Gale, MountainTrue Public Lands Director, Lianna Costantino, Cherokee Story teller, Medic and Teacher
Next Steps in Creation Care
Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri, Creation Care Alliance
Eco-Justice/Eco Racism
Jacqui Patterson, Environmental and Climate Justice Director, NAACP
Climate Change 101
Deke Arndt and Rev. Kevin Bates
Eco/Climate Grief Circles
Connie Burns, Sacred Paths Counseling and Sarah Ogletree, NC Interfaith Power and Light
Our part of the Covenant: Congregations, Disasters and the Climate Crisis
Rev. Carol Divine, Green Chalice, Rev. Caroline Hamilton-Arnold, Week of Compassion and Rev. John Frey Hewlett Packard Enterprises
Seeds for Congregational Action- Conversation with Green Teams and congregations doing creation care in Western North Carolina.  
 
Cost:  $20 Per person OR $15 per person if registering with a group of 4 or more from the same congregation or organization. Your registration fee will give you access to multiple workshops, plenary sessions, accompanying resources and the wisdom of your colleagues.
If you would prefer to pay with a check, please contact Susan Bean at susan@mountaintrue.org or call 828-252-8671.
Scholarship or reduced cost registrations are available, contact Scott@creationcarealliance.org to inquire.

Register here https://secure.everyaction.com/3EXokT2WB0iPPS2q_bLKGQ2

Mountain Sabbath Option: If you would like to take a night or two away to make more space for yourself and/or your team consider going somewhere outside of your home, office, school or care.  If you are able you may want to stay in the woods somewhere, ZOOM with us for a few hours a day and take the rest of the day to hike, rest or rejuvenate.

Christmount Conference Center in Black Mountain, NC has offered lodging at a discounted nightly rate for those interested. Lodging at Christmount in the Guest House Rooms

$60 / night–Each room has 2 queen beds, private bath, microwave, and a mini fridge.

To reserve a room or ask questions call 828-669-8977         check it out online at www.christmount.org
 
CCA Symposium Speakers 2021

Winter Eco-Grief Circle Dates Announced

REGISTER FOR THE FREE ONLINE 7-WEEK EXPERIENCE BELOW  
Register for Winter Eco Grief Circle on Thursdays at noon. (Starts 1/14/21)
Register for Winter Eco Grief Circle on Fridays at noon. (Starts 1/15/21)

Read more about our work with Eco-Grief in Western North Carolina HERE. 

Join us for an Eco Grief Circle this Winter. This Seven-week Online experience will be offered in sessions that last about 1 hour and fifteen minutes. Together we will explore grief and sorrow, anxiety and fear, guilt and shame, anger, and despair. This is designed to offer mutual support, healing, insight, and love but this is not a grief therapy experience. Past participants expressed profound gratitude for being among people who could talk honestly about grief, suffering, and the ecological and social challenges of our time. The leadership team includes counselors, pastors, and environmental advocates. Two Eco-Grief circles will be offered in the Winter beginning in Mid-January with one being offered on Thursdays at noon and the other being offered Fridays at noon. All times are Eastern time. There is limited space for this online experience. Please sign up here for Friday’s at 12 pm to save your spot. Sign up below to let us know you are interested in joining us.

Facing our common suffering with courage and compassion will grow resilience and our capacity for loving action. The Guardian News Organization ran a recent article about the rising number of children experiencing eco anxiety.    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/20/half-of-child-psychiatrists-surveyed-say-patients-have-environment-anxiety

REGISTER FOR THE FREE ONLINE 7-WEEK EXPERIENCE BELOW  

Register for Winter Eco Grief Circle on Thursdays at noon. (Starts 1/14/21)

Register for Winter Eco Grief Circle on Fridays at noon. (Starts 1/15/21)

Read more about our work with Eco-Grief in Western North Carolina HERE. 

 We will have limited space available in these initial classes, but let us know if you are interested in participating in the future by emailing scott@creationcarealliance.org

Articles for further reading. 

Children and Eco Anxiety,  The Guardian, Nov., 2020

Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: American Psychological Assoc. and Eco America, March 2017
Majority of US Adults Believe Climate Change Is Most Important Issue: American Psychological Association, Feb. 2020

Ecological grief as a mental health response to climate change-related loss: Nature Magazine-April 2018 

How scientists are coping with ‘ecological grief’-The Guardian, Jan. 2020

Hope and mourning in the Anthropocene: Understanding ecological grief – The Conversation, April 2018 

Ecological Mourning Is a Unique Form of Grief- Psychology Today, March 2019 

Embracing Pain- 3 minute video by Joanna Macy, 2012

 

Preaching Advent and Creation Care

On Oct. 29 people from 14 states representing 7 denominations came together to explore the Christian Season of Advent as it intersects with creation care and social justice.  See full video below.

The meeting included  15-minute teachings & exegesis on each of the Advent 2020 Year B texts for sermon & worship preparation. You can find the links for the Advent B Lectionary Readings here.

Our Lectionary presenters were:

Advent 1-Rev. Derrick Weston, HopeSprings and Food and Faith Podcast

Advent 2-Rev. Anna Woofenden, Protestant Chaplain at Amherst College Find Informational Slides Here.  Advent 2 Creation Presentation

Advent 3- Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship Lexington Theological Seminary Find Informational Slides Here.   Advent 3, Year B, preaching through a green lens

Advent 4– Rev. Dr. Wilson Dickinson, Director of D.Min Program at Lexington Theological Seminary, Find Informational Slides Here. Advent 4 and Environmental Justice

This was a free offering for ordained or commissioned Clergy from Green Chalice of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the Creation Care Alliance.  

Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade is Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky.  An ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 2000, Leah has written three books focusing on environment and faith.  She has served as an anti-fracking and climate activist, community organizer, and advocate for environmental justice issues, and is the “EcoPreacher” blogger for Patheos.com: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/ecopreacher/.

Rev. Dr. Wilson Dickinson is the Director of the Green Good News and teaches theology and is Director of the Doctor of Ministry and Continuing Education Programs at Lexington Theological Seminary.

Rev. Anna Woofenden is the author of “This is God’s Table: Finding Church Beyond the Walls.” She is the Protestant Chaplain at Amherst College and the interim pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Pittsfield, MA.

Derrick Weston is the director of programs and partnerships for HopeSprings, a faith-based organization serving those living with HIV in the city of Baltimore. He also manages the Rockrose community farm on the city’s east end. Derrick received his Masters of Divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary and is the co-host of the Food and Faith Podcast.   Derrick and his wife, Rev. Shannon Meacham, have four children.

Advent Hearts and Minds: Preaching and Self Care with Creation Care in Mind. 

A conversation for and with clergy people. Oct. 29, 4-5:30 PM Eastern Time   Register Here. 

We wait. We are in the midst of deep challenges globally and locally as our congregations face the division associated with an upcoming election as well as systemic racism, COVID-19, and the climate crisis. You are leader in this particular time and place.  The burden is heavy.  Our hope is that you might find some seeds of inspiration to help with Advent worship planning and sermon preparation.  More than that we hope you will find a few minutes of connection, care, prayer and support in our breakout rooms.

The meeting will include:  15-minute teachings & exegesis on each of the Advent 2020 Year B texts for sermon & worship preparation and Clergy self-care through contemplative practice, prayer, and connection 

Our Lectionary presenters will be:

Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship Lexington Theological Seminary
Rev. Dr. Wilson Dickinson, Director of D.Min Program at Lexington Theological Seminary
Rev. Derrick Weston, Faith and Leadership
Rev. Anna Woofenden, Pastor of the Garden Church, San Pedro, CA

This is a free offering for ordained or commissioned Clergy from Green Chalice of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the Creation Care Alliance.  

You can find the links for the Advent B Lectionary Readings here.

Space is limited so please register soon.   SIGN UP HERE

Voting your Faith Values

Voting your Faith Values in 2020

The election of 2020 is the most important election in our lifetime and will determine the future of life on this earth. Make sure that your vote gets counted. The Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina offers this voting information to help you make the best voting choice during this pandemic.  As you consider your vote you might imagine that you are offering a vote for those who are often voiceless. As you cast your one vote you might consider the needs of: 1)the most vulnerable among us; the poor, sick, and oppressed, 2) the young and future generations who will face the brunt of our current and past environmental and social sins, and 3) creation itself; the animals, trees, oceans, birds and rivers that will never get a vote but will feel the impact of our policies and practices.  

You may vote in-person early (October 15 – 31) or on Election Day (November 3). Also, all voters in North Carolina are eligible to vote absentee this year.

Check your Registration OR Register to Vote

Confirm that you are registered to vote. If you are not registered or need to change your address you can do it online. The deadline to register is October 9. You can also register in-person at early voting sites.  

To Request and Return an Absentee Ballot

  1. Request your absentee ballot.There are two ways to request your ballot:

OR

  1. Submit your request.If you are not using the online portal, submit your  North Carolina Absentee Ballot Request Formby email, fax, mail or in person to your county board of elections. The deadline to submit a request for the November 3, 2020 general election is 5 p.m. Tuesday, October 27.
  2. Complete and sign your absentee ballot. Complete your absentee ballot in the presence of one witness and insert the ballot into the return envelope. Sign the outside of the ballot return envelope. Have your witness complete and sign the witness certification.
  3. Return your absentee ballot to your county board of elections.

 

“Mustard Seeds and Good Yeast” Eco-Justice in the time of COVID-19

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it?  It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

Luke 13:18-21, From the Christian New Testament

Our week long Eco-Justice Conference was helped shaped by several poems, scriptures and prayers.  The parables of Jesus offered above are found in the Christian New Testament and seem to point toward our common work of caring for earth and one another.  

The mustard seed idea of an eco-justice camp has continued to offer branches for rest and wisdom at Christmount with Green Chalice of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina.

The 40 of us began with a sense of resilience as we were forced to gather for the Eco Justice Conference online instead of going with our original plans to gather in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains at Christmount Conference Center.  While the virtual space confined us in some ways with less creeks, trees, and mountain air, God was still present and the new format allowed for participants to join from all across the country.  Preachers and teachers spoke to us with passionate hearts and wise minds to challenge us to seek wholeness in our social systems and health for ecological systems.  The church and our people were invited to participate with God to bring about a more just world.

Each of our four days included an online creek laden video devotional, Scriptures, poems, small group sharing and powerful preaching and teaching.

Many of us found an enlivened curiosity seeking out the interconnections across issues of poverty, racism, climate change, pollution, food, and spirituality.  We discovered new connections with one another and with God.  We learned new ways to creatively do this work.  Pizza making was a tangible skill I picked up as I learned more about yeast and dough and the mighty impact of even the small things when kneaded well.  As we faithfully face climate change, racism, and disease we have an opportunity to sprinkle the yeast of God’s love into the greater church and into our communities and to plant seeds of compassionate action even while not knowing if or how our actions will grow.  May we plant and knead together. 

Eco-Justice Conference speakers and leaders included:
Deke Arndt- Climate Scientist, St. Eugene Catholic Church
Rev. Phyllis Byrd-Global Ministries, Organization of Africa Instituted Churches
Emma Childs-Christmount Conference Center
Rev. Dr. David Daniels III -McCormick Theological Seminary
Rev. Carol Devine-Green Chalice
Wendy Davidson-Disciples Peace Fellowship Intern
Rev. Wilson Dickinson-Lexington Theological Seminary
Dargan Gilmore-Toward Zero Waste
Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri-Creation Care Alliance, Green Chalice
Rev. Sandhya Jha-Oakland Peace Center
Rev. Rob Morris-Christmount Conference Center
Rev. Erica Williams-Poor People’s Campaign

 

Blessed are those who Mourn: Congregational support for Eco-Grief

Faith communities have a complicated history when it comes to mental health and wholeness. In some ways faith communities have failed by ignoring mental health challenges that are present within our communities and among clergy people.  Oftentimes the stigma that has been placed upon the shoulders of those who are experiencing a variety of temporary and chronic mental health challenges has been ignored and even increased by communities and people of faith.   REGISTER FOR SUMMER 2021 ECO GRIEF CIRCLES

At our best, faith communities have encouraged people to face suffering and loss with heart, mind, and body by using rituals, encouraging conversation, and honoring sacred stories from ancestors and community members. I am encouraged to see more and more clergy seeking professional mental health care, and more congregations offering opportunities to not only express and explore experiences of grief but to engage in caring for those with mental health challenges.

The climate crisis offers yet another opportunity to be our best, and to lovingly accompany one another in the midst of suffering and grief. In my work at the Creation Care Alliance I have seen a recent increase in the ways that climate change and ecological degradation has impacted emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

Over the past six years I have had the opportunity to listen to people of faith as they grapple with the realities of our changing climate.  I have heard the fear of the threats made to God’s good creation, felt the anger of those standing against a fossil fueled future, seen the tears of grandparents on behalf of their grandchildren.  

This is not new – the reality is that ecological destruction in Western North Carolina has been impacting our community for many years. For many, these stories are intertwined with stories of blatant racism, economic oppression, and food insecurity. Ecological grief is not a new experience, however climate anxiety and eco-grief are being more widely recognized as another component of climate change.  

Back in the 1950s, environmentalist Aldo Leopold described environmental grief when he said “one of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” More recently, Dr. Glenn Albrecht coined the term “solastalgia” to describe mental distress caused by environmental change, a kind of “homesickness” without leaving home that we feel as our common home becomes more unrecognizable.

We see grief showing up in a variety of ways. One way is for people to be experiencing grief and suffering due to past or current eco-challenges. These mental health concerns are the results of climate phenomena like increased heat indexes, displacement due to flooding or storms, increased stress due to illness and food insecurity. This kind of grief would be a natural response to well water being rendered toxic, beloved forests being burned, or generational farmland drying to dust.  

Another way that grief shows up is in anxiety about a future that is inhospitable to people and creatures. As people learn more and more about the climate crisis and see the decade- long predictions from scientists beginning to come to fruition, we become increasingly aware of the fragility of our common future. With this awareness comes anxiety and even despair.   

After hearing story after story of these (and other) kinds of grief, people within the Creation Care Alliance network – two counselors, two pastors, and a chaplain – began to plan ways for people to care about one another in their grief. The result was a pilot project called the Eco-Grief Circle. 

This six-week experience offered hour-long sessions that explored grief and sorrow, anxiety and fear, guilt and shame, anger and despair. The pilot project included 16 people who were connected with environmental and justice work. This was not a grief therapy experience, yet healing, insight, and love were present. Participants expressed the profound gratitude of being among people who could talk honestly about grief, suffering and the ecological and social challenges of our time. In the particular six weeks that we gathered, we not only faced the climate change challenge but also grappled with the pandemic and the deep brokenness of racism in our society. It was a powerful six weeks to be sure.  

The leadership team will launch two more eco-grief circles in mid-September, and is currently finalizing the curriculum and receiving inquiries from a variety of people and faith communities that are interested.  We will have limited space available in these initial classes, but let us know if you are interested in participating in the future by emailing scott@creationcarealliance.org

Articles for further reading. 

Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: American Psychological Assoc. and Eco America, March 2017
Majority of US Adults Believe Climate Change Is Most Important Issue: American Psychological Association, Feb. 2020

Ecological grief as a mental health response to climate change-related loss: Nature Magazine-April 2018 

How scientists are coping with ‘ecological grief’-The Guardian, Jan. 2020

Hope and mourning in the Anthropocene: Understanding ecological grief – The Conversation, April 2018 

Ecological Mourning Is a Unique Form of Grief- Psychology Today, March 2019 

Embracing Pain- 3 minute video by Joanna Macy, 2012

 

BLACKBURN’S CHAPEL: A Rural Community of Creation By: Brooklynn Reardon, Duke Divinity School

 

As someone born and raised in Los Angeles County, my experiences with ‘small’ and ‘rural’ are far and few.  Furthermore, when I read books on sustainability and agriculture, I typically pick up books written in universities by professors who spend their lives writing, researching, and teaching indoors in a classroom. While there is certainly great content in books like these, perhaps a better place to learn about sustainability and agriculture is in a community that practices it. Although Los Angeles can teach us many things about culture and diversity, the mountains of western North Carolina is one place we can learn about the intersection of eco-justice and faith. Blackburn’s Chapel is a very small community of people in a town called Todd. Todd is a stretch of land that sits on the line between Ashe and Watauga county. This area is so small, there are about 4 buildings that form the center of town. One of these buildings is the local church, Blackburn’s Chapel. On most Sundays, the church has about 20-30 members who join together in worship. Although Blackburn’s is small in number, when it comes to caring for God’s creation, they are mighty. Read More

Help Solar in Buncombe July 21

A Historic Vote On Solar July 21

Share your faith and passion for a clean energy future.  Learn more here.  On July 21, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will vote on whether or not to move forward with a plan to install solar panels at 40 sites of county government, city and public school and community college properties. The project is the equivalent of powering 677 homes entirely with solar. The solar energy systems will save county taxpayers $27 million by reducing electricity payments to Duke Energy over the next 30 years. This vote is a huge opportunity to move our county forward to a renewable energy future. In addition, the prices offered to install these solar projects are millions of dollars cheaper than expected, and the energy savings from the solar panels would actually save the county and schools money. 

To make this happen, we need at least 4 out of 7 County Commissioners to vote YES to this proposal on July 21. We are asking people who value renewable energy to write personalized letters to the County Commissioners to encourage them to vote yes. 

Could you write a personalized message to Commissioners asking them to vote yes to this proposal here?  

Sharing how your faith or spiritual life informs your beliefs about clean energy and creation care is a unique and helpful way to communicate values that we all hold dear regardless of political affiliation.  You can also spread the word to your friends and family about the need to make your voice heard before this vote.

Submit a public comment to be read at Tuesday’s Commission meeting before the vote by emailing comment@buncombecounty.org.

 

 

Eco-Justice Online Conference

Green Chalice, the Creation Care Alliance of WNC, and Christmount invite you to join us virtually (with limited on-site options) in the rich Southern Appalachian Mountain ecosystem to explore profound connection between our spirituality and our care for all of creation! Through interactive Zoom meetings and workshops with dynamic speakers, participants will explore complex sustainability challenges and meet churches, organizations, and individuals engaged in justice in their own communities.   Sign up here. 
 
This journey is about listening to stories and reflecting on empowerment in tangible ways while unpacking systems thinking. We will engage across topics of poverty, food & faith, climate change, pollution, health, anti-racism, equity, and reconciliation.
Speakers include
Deke Arndt- Climate Scientist, St. Eugene Catholic Church
Rev. Phyllis Byrd-Global Ministries, Organization of Africa Instituted Churches
Emma Childs-Christmount Conference Center
Wendy Davidson-Disciples Peace Fellowship Intern
Rev. Wilson Dickinson-Lexington Theological Seminary
Dargan Gilmore-Toward Zero Waste
Tyrone Greenlee-Christians for a United Community
Rev. Sandhya Jha-Oakland Peace Center
Rev. Erica Williams-Poor People’s Campaign

Geared for high-school students, young adults, and adults, we invite you to seek shalom with us, joining other groups/families in stimulating discussion, prayer, and brainstorming about how they are turning challenges into opportunities, how to re-frame our daily lived practices, and how to foster a fuller imagination for our world!  We want this experience to meet you where you are, so if attending all the sessions is not a possibility, let’s be in touch about creative alternatives! Sliding scale registration can be found at: https://christmount.brushfire.com/events/471401Eco-Justice2020Schedule-page-001

Climate Ambassador Training with CCA, Blessed Tomorrow and Green Chalice

As we witness and experience impacts on our health, livelihoods, and communities, we are increasingly looking for guidance on solutions from leaders in our daily lives — health, faith, and community.
 
Blessed Tomorrow’s work aims to support major faith institutions and faith leaders with training on the links between climate and faith, the spectrum of solutions, how to speak effectively on the topic of climate change, and opportunities to act and advocate.
The Climate Ambassador training equips people of faith with the knowledge, hands-on experience, and resources to speak and act confidently on climate change and solutions. Faith leaders will be empowered to inspire their colleagues, associations, laity, the public, and policymakers to be empowered in making a change on climate solutions that help care for creation, protect our neighbors and communities, and ensure a prosperous, just, and secure future for all.

The Format

The full training will include a 4-hour time slot facilitated by Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri and Rev. Carol Devine.
  • Section 1: Introduction, Faith and Climate Change Overview, Climate Impacts on Ministry
  • Section 2: Climate Solutions and Benefits (National, State, Local, Congregational, and Personal)
  • Section 3: Advocacy and Engagement: Communicating on Climate in Faith (language guidance, creating a personalized climate message)
Upon completion of the full training, leaders within BT partner denominations will be given Blessed Tomorrow Ambassador designation. These leaders will be invited to be listed on their affiliated faith institution or organization website, and the Blessed Tomorrow website, as trained leaders who can be scheduled to present on climate.  Register for the Training Here. 

Climate Interactive – May 12th

Join us to experience what it’s like to negotiate a climate deal to address one of the greatest human and environmental challenges of this century. The Climate Action Simulation is a highly interactive, role-playing game. It uses the En-ROADS simulation model to engage a wide range of participants in exploring key technology and policy solutions for addressing climate change. The game is conducted as a simulated emergency summit organized by the United Nations that convenes global stakeholders. In the game, it’s our job to establish a concrete plan that limits global warming to Paris Agreement goals.

This two-hour workshop hosted by Climate Interactive allows you to do a deep dive into the decisions that have to made to create a world that meets Paris Climate Agreement goals. You’ll have the opportunity to negotiate over factors such as decreasing deforestation worldwide, improving building efficient, or increasing oil taxes and watch as the models respond to your decisions.

You may join as an individual or invite your congregation’s creation care team. If you’ve joined us previously for the Climate Interactive experience, we are using a new version that was released recently, so the experience will be different than previous ones.

Please RSVP here to let us know that you’re attending.

Earth Day Vigil April 26- 50th Anniversary

Earth Day Vigil Register Here.  
Although we are unable to gather in person this year, we are excited to host a virtual Earth Day Vigil in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. The vigil will be focused around the idea of “Seeing with New Eyes” and will include readings, prayers, songs, and information about creation care from speakers from throughout Western North Carolina. Following the vigil, we will host a “reception” where we invite you to grab your dinner or favorite beverage and join us for a discussion and reflection. The vigil will run from 6-7:30pm and the reception will begin directly after it ends. We welcome you to join us for as long as you are able.The vigil will be hosted over Zoom, and you will receive a link to join the Zoom meeting after signing up. When you join for the vigil, you will be muted and your video will be turned off. For the reception, there will be more opportunities for interaction. You may join from your computer or your phone.Speakers:
Rev. Kevin Bates, United Methodist Church in Black Mountain, NC
Rev. Tamara Franks, High Country United Church of Christ in Vilas, NC
Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri, Director of the Creation Care Alliance
Jenna Lindbo, Land of the Sky United Church of Christ
Rev. Naomi Tutu, Cathedral of All Souls
Rev. Wil Posey, First United Methodist Church in Murphy, NC
Rabbi Phil Bentley, Hendersonville
Rev. Laura Collins, Asheville, NC

Screen Shot 2020-04-25 at 10.30.14 AM

Scavenger Hunt: Neighborhood Natives and Meditation.

What do Oaks, Violets, Native Bees and Robins have in common?  They are native species in Western North Carolina and they are part of the CCA Neighborhood Natives Scavenger Hunt. While we are caring for our human neighbors by maintaining social distance, this can be a wonderful time to get to know some of our other neighbors- our local botanical and animal friends!  The next time you’re out for a stroll, consider taking this guide with you and seeing if you can identify some of these common urban and suburban dwellers.  Then if you like, try one of the mindfulness activities.  We are so impressed and excited to try and find these ten neighbors and deepen our spiritual lives in the process.  Many thanks to Rhys Burns, Kevin Bates and Emma Childs for this inspirational work.  

Find it here: CCA Neighborhood Natives Scavenger Hunt

Congregations with Online Worship/Prayer

Several faith communities are offering worship and prayer services online- click the links below to learn more.  Let us know if you would like us to add your congregation to the list by filling out this form.   Photo Credit to Land of the Sky UCC.

AVL Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church- Daily Devotional, Worship at 10:45

Grace Episcopal Church in the Mountains, Waynesville

AVL- Land of the Sky UCC, Worship at 9:30am

AVL- First Baptist Church of Asheville, Worship at 11 or anytime

AVL-New Hope Presbyterian Church, Worship at 11am

AVL First Presbyterian, Asheville PC(USA), Worship at 11am

AVL- Jubliee Community, Asheville, Non-denominational Worship at 9:45am

AVL- St. George’s Episcopal Church, Worship at 11am

AVL- St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Worship at 10am

AVL- Warren Wilson Presbyterian Church 

Black Mountain Presbyterian, Worship at 11am

Black Mountain First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Worship at 9:45 am

The Congregational Church, Tryon, NC (United Church of Christ), Worship at 10:30

Unity of the Blue Ridge, Mills River, NC, Worship at 11am

High Country UCC, VILAS, NC, UCC

Hayesville First United Methodist Church, Worship at 8:30 and 10:55am

HVL- First Congregational Church UCC Hendersonville, Worship at 10am

HVL-Trinity Presbyterian Church, Hendersonville, Worship at 11am

Weaverville-First Baptist Church Weaverville

Waynesville- First United Methodist Church, Worship  8:30 Trad, 8:40 Contemporary

Looking for words of hope in these challenging times? Chalice Press is offering this FREE ebook, an inspiring compilation of excerpts from our books, offering hope, comfort, inspiration, and creative ideas for weathering the storms! Get it here: https://bit.ly/2QsIBB2

		
	
	

CCA Doing Justice and Loving Kindness- A Director Farewell

“God has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?”

― Micah 6:8  (Hebrew Scriptures)

Today as I step out of my role as Director I am reminded of Micah 6:8 from the Hebrew scriptures and the ways you have helped me and one another see this passage come alive over the years.

You are doing justice:

  • Planting seeds of tomatoes, trees, and wisdom for neighbors in need and for generations to come.
  • Embracing the interconnectedness of all creatures as expressions of the sacred.
  • Resisting dominion theologies and practice as well as the insidious cousins, racism and unbridled consumption.
  • Facing the challenges created by a changing climate with courageous sermons, steeples surrounded by solar panels, and spiritual care for all those impacted by climate change weather. Whether caring for families fleeing drought or storm or caring for children and adults swimming in eco-anxiety or depression, you are offering hope with its sleeves rolled up.

You show loving kindness:

You are teaching one another with your attractive ways bringing people from within your congregations and your communities into this good work. While you are honest about injustice and systemic challenges, you seek transformation without shame and a healing that is driven by love.

You walk humbly:

CCA congregations see the good created by hands, hearts, and resources and then you talk about it, not because there is a sense of competition, that your creation care is somehow better than the church up the street, but because after a while when you’re doing a good thing you simply cannot contain the light.  It is not your place to stifle the light.

As I have served as the director of Creation Care Alliance, your stories and our connections have deepened my understanding of Micah 6:8 and your work as people of faith and conscience. Your light has revealed much in the world and within my own heart. Thank you.

The CCA Steering Team and MountainTrue Staff are continuing this light-bearing work even as the search for a new Director moves ahead. In the interim please feel free to reach out to the Steering Team and/or MountainTrue Co-Director Bob Wagner at wagner@mountaintrue.org.

May you keep doing justice, seeking kindness and offering your light with humility. The challenges and your responses can be soul-crushing, You cannot do it alone. May you continue to find one another, hear your name as beloved, and find places of rest.

Grace and Peace,

Scott

You can find me at shardinnieri@gmail.com in the future if needed.

Summer Eco-Grief Circles are Open- Featured in the Mountain Xpress

Join us for an Eco Grief Circle this May Thursday, May 13-June 24, at noon ET. Sign up here.  You can read more about Eco-Grief Here.

This Seven-week Online experience will be offered in sessions that last about 1 hour and fifteen minutes. Together we will explore grief and sorrow, anxiety and fear, guilt and shame, anger, and despair. This is designed to offer mutual support, healing, insight, and love but this is not a grief therapy experience. Past participants expressed profound gratitude for being among people who could talk honestly about grief, suffering, and the ecological and social challenges of our time. The leadership team includes counselors, pastors, and environmental advocates. All times are Eastern time. There is limited space for this online experience.  Sign up below to let us know you are interested in joining us.   Read about this Climate Change and Mental Health in the Mountain Xpress Sustainability Issue here.

Sign up here:  https://secure.everyaction.com/IQFZFznWbkyVJzESdATkag2

Read more about Eco Grief here.  

 

Creation Care Alliance featured in the Guardian “US pastor using scripture to mobilize climate action”

We are excited to share the article written by Mélissa Godin in the Guardian on behalf of Earth Day 2021.

“across the US, there is a growing movement of religious leaders who are trying to deploy faith as a vehicle for climate action. And Hardin-Nieri’s own journey toward climate activism began when he lived in Monteverde, Costa Rica, and witnessed how different faith communities – from Catholics to Quakers – came together to fight climate change. “It wasn’t a Republican or Democrat issue,” he says. “It was a life issue.”

Read More in the Guardian here. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/20/the-rev-scott-hardin-nieri-north-carolina-climate-action

 

Image of Scott Hardin-Nieri and Solar panels at the First Christian church in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Photograph: Mike Belleme/The Guardian

Easter’s fertile promise: Composting as parable of faith formation- Guest Blog from Ken Sehested

Easter’s fertile promise
Composting as parable of faith formation

I’ve never had a green thumb. My wife tends indoor plants and outside flowers. I’ve never had the urge to garden, though I wish I had.

But I’ve enjoyed making dirt for over 30 years. Soil, I should say. Dark, fertile, nutrition rich soil that growing things need to thrive, filled with nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and a dozen other nutrients and organic matter.

I keep three compost stashes going. A two-gallon bucket next to the kitchen sink, where I deposit scraps from meal preparation, certain dinner leftovers, coffee grounds, napkins, and shredded paper. Once every week or so, when it’s full, I take it outside and empty it in a 96-gallon compost container, next to a mound of “brown” material—leaves and grass clippings—for covering each deposit. I’m not in a hurry, so I don’t turn the compost, which would speed up the process; I just let the weather and worms do their work.

Once each year I empty the composter and cover it with a layer of brown material, where it will sit, undisturbed. After “cooking” for a year, it’s ready to do its magic. So I shovel it into cardboard boxes, careful to remove the weed roots that encroached over the past year. The load comes to about a half-yard, filling my pickup bed for transport to our kiddos’ house up the street. My son-in-law, Rich, tends a large garden. It’s down payment for a bountiful harvest of vegetables and berries to come.

This is my substitute for an Easter sunrise service. (I’m not an early riser.)

Most of the brown material comes from my own yard. But if the leaf harvest in late fall is smaller than normal, I’ll patrol my neighborhood streets and collect bagged leaves set out for the city to pick up.

Composting isn’t hard, but it’s not convenient, either. It takes some work and persistent attention.

Sometimes the labor of spiritual formation is, in fact, hard. Grace sometimes takes us to places we would otherwise not be inclined to go; or be with people we’d otherwise avoid; or pay attention to news that we’d just as soon ignore.

Sometimes spiritual growth is like an earthquake, unsettling things we thought would always be certain and secured. Sometimes it’s a big screen drama, brimming with a scary storyline, and heroic gestures and heart-pounding action, with valor in the dark and near-catastrophes and undeserved affliction.

All the saints have scars and bruises and limps and even missing limbs. All had, like us, scrap material: peelings, bruised spots, wilted and other gone-bad produce, indigestible trimmings, rinds and seeds. The promise of compost, like Easter, is that nothing is wasted. Part of resurrection’s exultation is knowing God wants all of us. In one of his poems, Steve Garnaas-Holmes has this striking metaphor, “God licks the spoon of us.”

Spiritual formation can be wearisome, can place you in a storm-tossed boat, can demand more than you think you can bear. It is almost never convenient and can be unnerving. It is not risk-averse.

But most of the time, spiritual formation is much like composting. It requires persistent attention, intentional choices, and locating yourself in a community where some bring nitrogen, some phosphorous, some potassium and the like. Mostly there are no fireworks or theatrics, much less headline news, and almost never fame nor fortune.

Spiritual formation is quotidian work. In ordinary circumstances. Sweating the small stuff; showing up; giving attention, without the need for billboards, to the needs on the streets whose names you know. It requires constructing a custom-made rhythm of work and rest; of action and reflection; of listening and speaking; and making a nest with others—ordinary, non-saintly, sometimes eccentric others—who are attempting the same.

There is work to be done (not to mention merriment and sweet treats). But sustainability is not ours to engineer. There is a fecund Presence in Creation we can count on.

Dominion is not up to us. But cultivating is. Don’t mind the sweat and don’t neglect your gloves; but don’t postpone joy.

As Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, in his say-it-slant way, God longs to “easter in us.” Join your will to that Way.

Ken Sehested
Easter Sunday, 4 April 2021

Letter from Scott regarding moving into a new role and building on the foundations of compassionate climate action

The CCA Director is moving into a new role.

And the Creation Care Alliance is building on the foundations of compassionate climate action.

Dear friends and supporters,

After 6 years of wonderful work collaborating with individuals and congregations in Western North Carolina, it is with a mix of excitement but also sadness that I share the news that I will be leaving my role as Director of the Creation Care Alliance to accept a call into a position with The Bethany Fellowship to accompany congregations as they discern and act faithfully in these times.  I will serve as director until April 30, 2021, allowing me some time to finish up current projects and help with the transition. Our family will remain in Asheville. MountainTrue and the Creation Care Alliance are also my family, and I plan to volunteer and be involved with y’all in the future.

Over the past six years, the Creation Care Alliance has grown to become a vital program within the MountainTrue community. CCA and MountainTrue, working together,  are unique in their ability to combine science, faith, policy, economics, spirituality, justice, technology, and theology. We took risks partnering a faith-based program with an environmental advocacy organization, and those risks are paying off.

I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together. We currently work with over seventy congregations representing twelve denominations in about twenty different locations across Western North Carolina. Through the passion and dedication of the CCA Steering Team, MountainTrue Staff and our network of congregations and collaborators we have been able to offer transformative experiences like our Earth Day Vigils, Path to Paris Pilgrimages, and Creation Care Retreats; tangible results reflected in the hundreds of solar panels, LED lights and gardens installed at congregations throughout our region; and vital tools and resources through our Creation Care Guide, Eco-Grief Circles and Eco Justice Camps. Together we have accompanied congregations as they have addressed climate change and ecological destruction but equally important we have deepened the capacity for compassion, right relationship, and love in the midst of crises. This unique blend of mitigation, adaptation, and compassion is a hallmark of our work together and will continue to flourish in the months and years to come.

I’m excited at what CCA has planned for the future as well. Even as I prepare for my new job, I’ve been working with MountainTrue and the Creation Care Alliance Steering Team on a strategic plan for the next 10 years. We’re planning now to bring the good work of Creation Care to more congregations and communities throughout our mountain region, to shepherd more faith groups through the process of accomplishing zero-carbon footprints, and to train more leaders to take our movement of love and compassion to the broader public. I look forward to passing the baton to the next CCA director. We’ve posted a job description on the MountainTrue and Creation Care Alliance of WNC websites, and we are accepting applications now. The deadline to apply is May 5.

As supporters and partners with the Creation Care Alliance, you serve as vital parts of this ongoing work toward a more sustainable and just future. The needs in our communities are great and whoever steps into this work will be lucky to be walking with such a powerful collective of staff and volunteers.

It’s been an honor to work with you all for justice, our communities, and a better planet. I leave this position with a note of deep gratitude and a determination to continue this work together in the future. See you soon!

With Gratitude and Hope,

Now Hiring: Director, Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina

MountainTrue is a non-profit organization that works with communities across 26 mountain counties in Western North Carolina and North Georgia on issues that matter most to sustaining our natural heritage. We focus on a core set of issues – sensible land use, restoring public forests, protecting water quality, and clean energy – that have a high impact on the environmental health and long-term prosperity of our region. For more information: mountaintrue.org.

Creation Care Alliance of WNC
The Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina (CCA), a program of MountainTrue, is a network of people of faith and congregations who have united around a moral and spiritual call to preserve the integrity, beauty and health of God’s creation. We work to bring practical and hopeful solutions to our congregations and broader secular communities by engaging hearts and minds through inspiration, education, service and advocacy. Our work has included climate advocacy, renewable energy education, energy efficiency, solar energy, food justice, eco-grief work, and is an expression of our love of God and God’s love for the earth and all life. For more information: creationcarealliace.org.

The Position
Reporting to the MountainTrue Co-Director the Creation Care Alliance Director is responsible for providing overall direction and faith-based leadership toward attaining the program’s mission, annual goals, and funding. They work closely with the CCA Steering Team and coordinate with MountainTrue staff to accomplish program goals. This position serves as an important bridge across faith, science, nonprofit, and secular organizations by connecting environmental and justice work. A major focus of this role in the coming years is expanding the program’s footprint across MountainTrue’s service area (26 counties) as well as deepening engagement in historically marginalized communities.

Roles and Responsibilities:

Leadership and Management

  • Leads and collaborates with the Steering Team and MountainTrue staff to establish strategic goals, develop programs/events, and manage ongoing operations.
  • Identifies new leaders, maintains relationships and builds trust within the Steering Team representing a variety of denominations, watersheds and communities across Western North Carolina.
  • Serves as an educator and thought-leader in the community, speaking at CCA functions and communities of faith, and coordinating eco-justice efforts among various communities.
  • Communicates the stories, mission, programs, events and accomplishments of the program to all relevant stakeholders. In coordination with the MountainTrue Engagement and Communications staff maintains the website, writes newsletters and coordinates social media.
  • In coordination with MountainTrue Development Director and CCA Steering Team, plans and implements fundraising goals including work with major donors, congregations, and foundations.
  • Recommends yearly budget for Steering Team approval and responsibly manages the program’s resources.

Program

  • Ensures programmatic excellence and program evaluation.
  • Begins new and nurtures ongoing relationships with congregations, individual members and prospective supporters, with a particular focus on historically marginalized communities.
  • Provides the services and resources needed to strengthen and expand the CCA network.
  • Promotes active and broad participation by volunteers.
  • Leads advocacy efforts, aware of and involved in regional, national and global environmental eco-justice issues that are of interest to communities of faith. Represents CCA, along with CCA volunteers, at public hearings, with elected officials, and in other advocacy opportunities as appropriate.
  • Cultivates partnerships that advance the goals of CCA.
  • Helps to select, coordinate and supervise student interns from divinity schools and other appropriate educational institutions.


Preferred Qualifications

Faith-based leadership and environmental knowledge

  • ordination with good standing and/or experience in faith-based leadership
  • knowledge of and sensitivity/openness to different faith communities
  • current and continuously updated knowledge of environmental issues and Earth stewardship
  • a passion for Creation and caring for it and a commitment to ecological justice
  • demonstrated commitment to anti-racism work and fighting other manifestations of oppression
  • an understanding of the unique land use issues, complex Appalachian history and diversity of thought and practice across mountain counties and urban centers.

Non-profit management experience

  • a minimum of 5 years non-profit or faith community management experience
  • fundraising and membership development experience
  • experience in volunteer recruitment and management
  • prior experience organizing advocacy campaigns
  • leadership position on a board or steering Team.

Interpersonal, communication and project management skills

  • strong communication skills, both speaking and writing
  • effective and compassionate listener with experience eliciting dialogue
  • proficiency in computer skills including social media
  • ability to work both independently and as part of a multigenerational team
  • proven ability to work on several projects at once, set measurable objectives, maintain attention to details, meet deadlines, and report results in a timely fashion.

Compensation and Benefits

  • Salary for this position is $50,000 – $55,000, depending on experience
  • 20 vacation days per year, Sick leave, Sabbatical after 5 years
  • Health insurance
  • 403(b) retirement contribution up to 3% of salary, upon employee contribution of 3% or more
  • Professional development and networking opportunities

MountainTrue values and respects all types of diversity and strongly encourages applicants from traditionally marginalized groups to apply. We prohibit discrimination and harassment and provide equal employment opportunity without regard to, and not limited to, ethnicity, religion, race, national origin, abilities, gender identity, age or genetic information. We are committed to recruiting, hiring and promoting those from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups.

How to Apply:
You may submit an application by email to Bob Wagner at wagner@mountaintrue.org. Your application should include: 1) a response to the questions below; 2) your resume; and 3) three references. Please include “Creation Care Alliance, Director position” in the subject line. Do not include any other documents.

In the email please answer the following questions using no more than 400 words per response:

  1. What does creation care mean to you?
  2. Why are you interested in the position, and in this region, and why would you be a good fit?
  3. What strategies might you use to expand the program across the region especially in underserved communities?

Application deadline: May 5, 2021

Earth Day Vigil- Save the Date—

Join us via ZOOM on Sunday, April 25, 6pm.  

Although we are unable to gather in person again this year, we are excited to host a virtual Earth Day Vigil in celebration of Earth Day. The vigil will be focused around the idea of loving people and place and will include readings, prayers, songs, and information about creation care from speakers from throughout Western North Carolina. The vigil will run from 6-7:15pm and regional breakout rooms will begin directly after it ends. We welcome you to join us for as long as you are able.The vigil will be hosted over Zoom, and you will receive a link to join the Zoom meeting after signing up. When you join for the vigil, you will be muted and your video will be turned off. For the reception, there will be more opportunities for interaction. You may join from your computer or your phone.