[MCCN Recent News]

Friends of Woods and Wetlands Nurture Retirement Home Ecosystems

As stewards of their surroundings, Landis Homes Retirement Community in Lititz, Pa., has grown to cherish its natural resources. This community, which relates to a number of Mennonite groups, believes that its environmentally sensitive areas and rural, character-defining features must be conserved in order for its facilities and the broader community to flourish in the future.

Many residents at Landis Homes not only support these efforts, they bring it upon themselves to participate. Recently a resident group formed on campus called the "Friends of Woods and Wetlands." This group is an informal organization of residents who volunteer time, talent, expertise and effort on behalf of the flora and fauna associated with the Landis Homes campus.

Colombian Congregation Opposes Gold Mine

Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Ibagué, located in Tolima, Colombia, requests prayer regarding mining activities in their region. They are opposing an open pit gold mining operation that is awaiting approval. Secondly, they are hoping that a referendum enabling the citizens of their city to vote for or against large scale multinational mining activities will go forward. The mines threaten their community's water source and agriculture. 

NASA Scientist Challenges Mennonite Churches to Move Toward Net Zero Energy

We at Mennonite Creation Care Network are pleased to announce that in late April, we received a check from one of our members with the instructions to get it onto a congregation’s roof as quickly as possible. Thus began the Pam De Young Net Zero Energy Fund. 

The new energy fund is focused on solar panels and electric car charging stations. It is provided by the generosity of Russell De Young, Newport News, Va., in memory of his wife, Pam De Young. Pam’s compassion, her delight in the natural world and her attention to household habits such as recycling made her a shining example of what creation care looks like on a daily basis.

The purpose of the fund is to inspire congregations to lead their communities toward a net zero energy future. Properties are described as net zero energy when they are able to generate renewable energy equivalent to their needs for electricity, heating and cooling. While net zero communities are rare at this point, Russell points out that the drop in the cost of solar panels makes this an attainable goal.

Russell’s concern about climate change grows out of his work as a NASA scientist. His job description has included both designing instruments that measure gases in the atmosphere and helping his institution adapt to climate change. Hence, he is well aware of the harm caused by carbon-based fuels and the urgent need to move toward renewable energy.

About $9,000 will be awarded annually to assist Mennonite Church USA congregations who are installing solar panels. About $1800 can be awarded to congregations installing electric car charging stations. A subcommittee of MCCN’s Creation Care Council will administer the fund and select recipients.

Applicants will be required to show that their request is part of a larger creation care plan that includes exceptional energy conservation, engages many members and is a public witness to the community. Instructions will be posted on MCCN’s website by July 1 and applications will be accepted from August 1 to October 31. The committee will announce recipients before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, drop us a line at mccn@goshen.edu if you think your congregation might be interested in either grant. Your questions will help us shape the process and we will then send you the application materials.

Caring for God's Good Creation: A national, church-wide consultation on living out our calling

The Service, Peace and Justice Committee of Mennonite Church British Columbia is planning a one-day gathering on the above topic, Sunday, July 10, following Mennonite Church Canada's 2016 Assembly, Saskatoon.

Featured speakers and topics are as follows:

  • Mark Bigland-Pritchard, Changing the Political Landscape
  • Dan Epp-Tiessen, Psalm 104: Creation Care Rooted in Celebrating God’s Creation
  • David Henry, Is It Hopeless? What Specific, Practical Actions Can We Take Against Climate Change?
  • Joanne Moyer, Faith-based Creation Care Activities: Mennonite Creation Care Network and Beyond
  • Christine Penner Polle, Responding to the Ethical/Justice Issues of Climate Change by Listening to the Cry of the Earth, the Cry of the Poor.

More information here.

[Resource] Care for God's Creatures

Every Earth Day, Creation Justice Ministries puts out a new Christian Education resource. This year's material explores how we learn from God's creatures, and considers the meaning of our Genesis call to dominion over all creatures. You will also find sermon starters and liturgical ideas for a Blessing of the Animals ceremony and a creature-themed worship service. Find Care for God's Creatures here.

Mennonites, Land and the Environment: A Global History Conference

October 28 and 29, 2016

This academic and community education conference focuses on the environmental history of Mennonite farm communities around the world. It explores the historic relationship between Mennonites and the land and is concerned with changing ideas on food production, sustainability and natural beauty. The event is hosted by the Center for Transnational Mennonite Studies and the Chair in Mennonite Studies at University of Winnipeg. The event takes place at the University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Eckhardt Gramatté Hall, Centennial Building. The conference program says:

"Mennonites have had a particular experience on the land.  As a people disproportionately rural and committed to relative simplicity, they had been more active in agriculture than many other faith-based communities.  For this reason Mennonites have often gathered to consider ways their rootedness in the soil.  They have pondered the intersection of ‘Anabaptist’ teachings on community cohesiveness, on nonviolence and on service with a healthy interaction with the land. 

Infant Forest Church Seeks Connections

The Psalms speak of all of creation praising God. The Forest Church movement joins that choir of praise by worshipping outdoors. Wendy Janzen, a pastor for missions and youth ministry at St. Jacob's Mennonite Church, St. Jacobs, Ontario, has been exploring Forest Church for a bit over a year. She writes:

"I came across the concept of Forest Church during a sabbatical in the fall of 2014. I have now led St. Jacobs Mennonite Church in one Forest Church service and in several outdoor nature sessions for the junior Sunday school children. I am also working on organizing regular, monthly Forest Church services with friends and neighbours in my community who are a mix of church types together with those on the margins of church or who are post-church. It is amazing how gathering together in nature to experience God's presence is less threatening than entering a building.

[Resource] Wild Ways

Filmmaker Martin Ostrow wrote to alert us of a conservation documentary due to air on the PBS program, Nova, on April 20. You may have seen his work in Renewal, a documentary about diverse people of faith standing up for the environment.