I am committed to helping people learn how to do their part to care for God’s Creation and support eco-justice issues. We need to put in place the strongest protections possible to defend public health, the fragile atmosphere of our planet, and the communities that will bear the costs and suffering from our addiction to fossil fuels and greenhouse gases.
As a homilitician, I realize that preaching “good news” in the face of environmental devastation, the climate crisis and extreme energy extraction can be overwhelming for pastors and congregations alike. The temptation is to either preach legalistically about “saving the earth” or to wait passively for a messianic solution. I seek to navigate through this double-bind by proposing ways to preach sermons that address environmental issues with forthrightness and imagination. I’m interested in discovering how to interweave both a prophetic and a pastoral voice on behalf of the ecological crises of our time, all the while proclaiming God’s activity of redeeming, restoring, and resurrecting the Earth community.
At the same time, I am committed to living into the public theology of the church to be a moral and ethical voice at the table of community discernment. In my advocacy and activism, I believe that the issue of the climate-crisis will bring us together across lines of religion, culture, race, gender, politics, age, and economic level. When we creatively discern the vision of hope together, and follow through with the work that needs to be done, there is great potential for healing and new life.
Links I have found helpful
- The Last Hours. This is a “must watch” mini-documentary on climate change, extreme weather events, and the 6th global extinction.
- The One Video to Shut Down All of the Climate-Change Deniers: Weather experts explain why you’re freezing in the polar vortex—and what it means for global warming.
- Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard professor, argues that fossil fuels can’t solve the problems created by fossil fuels. See Wishful Thinking About Natural Gas.
“Believers, Sympathizers and Skeptics: Why Americans are conflicted about climate change, environmental policy, and science.” Findings from the Public Religion Research Institute/American Academy of Religion survey on religion, values and climate change. Substantive data supporting the suspicion that religious affiliation affects your view on climate change.
- A Bishops’ Letter about the Climate, Church of Sweden, Bishops’ Conference, Uppsala, 2014The Bishops of the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden have recently published a 100-page “Bishops’ Letter about the Climate”. Since climate change probably is the biggest common challenge ever faced by humanity, “it is time for science, politics, business, culture and religion, everything that is an expression of human dignity, to work together,” the bishops state. After giving an account of the facts and uncertainties, the letter traces some historical developments that have contributed to current views of nature and economy. A third chapter discusses the human situation between threat and hope, with pastoral attention to the needs of adults and the young. The fourth chapter, The Earth, hope and the future – how can we have faith? outlines a theology and anthropology that encourages appropriate action, grounded in wonder, grace and hope. The last chapter presents ways forward and is followed by challenges to the Church, citizens, political and public leaders, companies and organizations, member states of the UNFCCC as well as religious leaders worldwide.
- Charles Mann tries to answer the question: “Do we hurt our own cause by the way we talk about climate change?” Environmentalists warn us that apocalypse awaits. Economists tell us that minimal fixes will get us through. Here’s how we can move beyond the impasse.
- Bill Moyers’ interview with Anthony Leiserowitz on Making People Care About Climate Change. A climate change communication expert describes his efforts to galvanize communities over what’s arguably the greatest single threat facing humanity. Scientist Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.
- A helpful fact sheet on climate change including impacts and solutions from Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in PA (LAMPa).
The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, Ph.D. is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America serving as the Pastor of United in Christ Lutheran Church in Lewisburg, PA, in the Upper Susquehanna Synod (USS). She earned her doctorate from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (where she received her Master of Divinity in 2000), having completed her dissertation focusing on homiletics (preaching) and ecological theology (caring for God’s creation). Her new book, Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecological Theology and Homiletics (Chalice Press, 2015) is available at Chalice Press. Dr. Schade is an adjunct religion and philosophy instructor at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA, and Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA, teaching courses on ethics, religion, gender and ecology. Samples of her sermons, book and film reviews and other writings can be found on her blog: Ecopreacher. She is also a professional harpist and her CD, Shall We Gather, is available at CD Baby. She and her husband Jim live in Milton, PA, with their children Rachel (age 12) and Benjamin (age 8).