Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina

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. 

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