The Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina has launched the Guide to Cultivating Care for Creation – a new resource for churches, spiritual communities and people of faith looking for tangible ways they can act on behalf of our neighbors and Creation. The Guide was featured in an article in Blue Ridge Now.
The Guide to Cultivating Care for Creation was put together with the help of local members of WNC’s faith communities and is a culmination of congregational wisdom, science, sustainability, prayer, educational theory, and ecology. CCA intern Holly Cunningham has been working to compile this wisdom and create a toolkit which can be used by anyone wishing to go deeper into the work of loving their neighbors by caring for the earth. Her passion for sustainability and environmental justice, guided by the CCA and MountainTrue team, fueled this project and helped bring it to fruition.
“The Guide to Cultivating Care for Creation is designed specifically for churches, spiritual communities, and people of faith,” explains Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri. “Like an active spiritual life, this is more than a static ‘to do’ list; we hope this resource will be a dynamic guidebook that will point your congregation toward next steps, future ideas, and innovations to living in right relationship as a community.” The guide serves as a spiritually grounded discernment tool — or decision-making tool — to allow the unique DNA of each congregational community to flourish.
The guide is available for free online at https://creationcarealliance.org/toolkit/ where visitors can navigate through strategies within different categories of action: Sustainability Practices, Spirituality & Worship, Education, Buildings & Grounds, Fellowship & Outreach, and Advocacy & Finance. For each strategy, the guide provides three levels of action under the headings of Planting Seeds, Nurturing Growth, and Deepening Roots to help the user increase their commitment to caring for Creation.
“It’s great because you can find things you and your community are already doing, and then see strategies that allow you to grow in your depth of engagement,” says Holly Cunningham. “There are meaningful ways for all communities to plug in and make a difference, and this guide makes it easy to find what works best for you.” There is also a handy pdf guide to top-line recommendations that you can download and print.
ORGANIZATIONS AND COMMUNITIES WHO ARE ALREADY USING THE GUIDE:
First Baptist Church – a historic landmark and influential congregation in Asheville – has deep theological roots and more than a decade of experience in faith-based environmental work. Their creation care team was an inspirational partner in the development of the Guide to Cultivating Care for Creation with Brenda Denton, Rev. Tommy Bratton and Marian Arledge helping to create momentum and content. The process has encouraged action at First Baptist like the hosting of the Earth Day Vigil, exploring energy efficiency of their buildings, and most recently hosting a four-week community forum called “Shalom in the Time of Climate Change.
While First Baptist has been on this path for quite some time the Guide to Cultivating Care for Creation is also perfect for groups and individuals that are just getting started. “I find this toolkit to be a useful guide because it offers entry points for all kinds of congregational participation,” says Brenda Denton, “beginning with those who have no experience with creation care as a faith practice to those who are already actively engaged. Of particular value are the very practical step-by-step suggestions and the listing of a myriad of additional resources for both reading and for involvement.”
Tommy Bratton, says caring for creation is something that is a shared responsibility: “We are all entrusted with the responsibility to model how to enjoy and care for creation. We may choose lives of voluntary simplicity, rejecting habits of wasteful consumption and making thoughtful choices for living justly. We may become examples and provide leadership and advocacy in our local community for the wise stewardship of natural resources. We may recycle, clean trash from roadsides and rivers, and enjoy the beauty of nature through hiking, biking, and kayaking. This guide gives us ideas for action, both simple and challenging, to attend to the beauty of and care for God’s creation.”