Creation care, eco-justice, greening the church—these used to be buzzwords for a “certain kind” of congregation or ministry. But we live in a world where temperatures are rising faster than expected, climate change is now accepted as fact by the vast majority of authorities, and economic/social disparities are growing as a result of the changing climate. Environmental justice is no longer a fringe ministry—it is a mandate.
To equip clergy and lay leaders during this time of challenge and opportunity, McCormick Theological Seminary partnered with Faith in Place, a faith-based eco-justice advocacy group in Chicago, to develop a Certificate in Environmental Ministry and Leadership. This is an interactive, cross-disciplinary approach to the intersection of faith and environmental stewardship, providing a unique experience for study and practice. In addition to traditional coursework, students will have the opportunity to explore innovative ministries, make connections with passionate leaders, and gain tools to integrate sustainable and just environmental practices into their ministries.
The course consists of two 3-day intensive sessions—one in the fall and one in the spring—and a capstone project that helps students develop actionable initiatives for their own ministry contexts. During the sessions, students will learn from some of the best minds and hearts in the field. Dr. Ted Hiebert (Dean and Hebrew Bible professor at McCormick Seminary) will help the participants reexamine nature’s place in Scripture and in our faith traditions. Dr. Anna Case Winters (theology professor at McCormick Seminary) will help students explore their theology of human relationships with God and the natural world. Rev. Brian Sauder (ED of Faith in Place) will lead workshops on empowering communities and organizing around ecojustice initiatives. And Veronica Kyle (Outreach Director at Faith in Place) will help the participants connect the eco-justice movement to human rights issues.
Both Faith in Place and McCormick seek to equip ministers of all contexts and experiences, lay and clergy. The program aims to bring together a diverse group of students, from pastors and religious educators who want to learn more about the call to creation care, community leaders committed to working for eco-justice through a faith perspective, to people of faith seeking a greater understanding of the miracle of the natural world and our Christian call to help heal it. The convening of this cohort is also an opportunity to learn from one another’s experiences and traditions, and to build relationships among like-minded people for environmental justice. And if you’re a current seminary student, you can even get course credit!