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November 22, 2008

Mennonite Creation Care Network

Creation Care Council

“Virtual” Meeting Agenda

November 22, 2008

Oregon, Manitoba, Indiana and Pennsylvania


1. Opening – Luke Gascho
Luke led us in a reflectionPsalm 85. This Psalm begins with the sentence, “Lord, you were favorable to your land,” and reflects on God’s promise of a peace that includes fertile land. Luke emphasized the need to broaden our understanding of peace to include peace with the land.


We also reflected on a Peter Sawtell essay entitled “Dull, Deaf and Blind.” Sawtell discusses the need to help people build conceptual frameworks that will enable them hear and understand creation care messages.



2. Reviews/Updates
A. We reviewed the May 2008 minutes.
B. Joanne, Dave N. and Dave HW filled us in on the Winnipeg Summit July 08.
· Joanne described the event’s use of the Green Guidelines. The most significant accomplishment was that food waste was composted. A youth group adopted this as its summer service project. The youth stood by receptacles at each meal and ably directed people on where to put compost vs trash. Garbage cans were ¼ full at the end of meals; compost bins were full.With Magazine asked the group to write up their experiences. Jennifer will acquire this piece for our web site. There was very little interest from participants in pursuing green transportation options. How can we help people think about this critical part of a conference’s ecological footprint?

· The Daves reviewed the workshops offered. They were an ecological prayer walk, an Anabaptist Creation Care Challenge seeking feedback and participation from the audience and a seminar on the Spiritual Significance of Water including input from First Nations people. All went well and attenderswere very engaged. For complete information on this, see Joanne’s document entitled, Summit Workshop Report, sent in a Nov. 3, 2008 email.

Additional comments:


  • People requested prayers and structure from the ecological prayer walk. Perhaps we could post it on the web. Doing so requires attention to copywrite issues.
  • Greg expressed interest in borrowing from the ecological prayer walk to develop a ritual to use at Hope Farm near Vernfield, PA where he is involved.
  • Joanne will share the Ecological Prayer walk materials with the council.
  • Dave N.  noted that the involvement of aboriginal leaders in the workshop on the Spiritual Significance of Land and Water broke some new ground and cross-fertilized with a 50th anniversary of Native Ministries also taking place.




A. Web Design
Jennifer walked the council through the new web site. She demonstrated the interface with blogging software that allows us to categorize and archive all of our stories very easily. The software also enables people to leave comments on our stories. Overall, the group affirmed the design and felt it moved MCCN forward. Discussion centered around how to name and emphasize the tabs on the 5 audiences. Jennifer hopes to have the site live and located at our “real” url by mid-December.
Questions and suggestions from both group at large and working group: 


- How can we draw more attention to the 5 audiences pages that are the core of our web site. What pithy phrase best describes them?

- rollover color could be different.

- add space with heading

- heading suggestions included: interactivity, communities in action, spheres of influence, audiences, …

- we did not settle on a label, but Greg suggested we just try something and see if the audience gets it.

- What images best express what each page is about?

- Need more pictures of people in nature.

- Need pictures of people interacting with nature in an economic way, such as farming, fishing.

- Do we only want happy, beautiful images on our pages or are signs of distress appropriate?

- Is it possible to allow viewers to chat with each other instead of just leave comments?

- Watch what is visible as one “screenful” for people with modest monitors. Home page may need smaller picture, tag line higher.

- Keep navigation bar the same on all pages. Name of current page should light up, not disappear.

- Hotlink dove to MC USA; Hotlink quotes to Confession of Faith.

- “Join us” form is invasive for first contact. Gathering additional information for the directory should be a second contact, second step.

- How should we use the photo blog? Why would people go there?

- Newsletters and press releases should be under About Us, not Resources.

- Note to self: Need spot for Action Steps.


 B. Green Guidelines for Events


Green guidelines should be available in .html   Dave N. will ask his son to work on shifting .pdf to html so we can edit it.


We need to get people to stop handing out bags of stuff. If you want swag, go to the booths. Nobody needs another one of these bags, no matter how recycled they are. (Dave N) This was done very effectively at a farming conference Greg attended even though it involved 20,000 people. Everything had to be experiential, such as making bicycle-powered seed pellets.  (?) However, MC USA planners do not necessarily control what individual orgs. want to do in exchange for their financial investment.


Eco prayer walk at Columbus 09 could be both inside and out.

- Inside: pray for various ministries and their relationship to creation; stop at trees that will be given to Habitat for Humanity.

- Outside, could get people in touch with local ecosystems


Another thing that can happen: Planning for the next convention. Gather ideas, get people’s responses for zero handouts. Can’t change that this time.

Working far enough in advance to influence conferences is a perennial difficulty.—At some point we have to take a just-do-it attitude.


Dave HW prepared and sent a memo to MC USA conference planners. It included a travel survey and the recommendation that people be asked to fill it out when they register; also a request to include green tips in youth sponsor booklet. See Requests to MCUSA document.


C. Resources for Greening Churches

- Dave N recommended Keepers of the Earth, chp. 11

- Dave N shared feedback from the Creation Care Challenge workshop at Winnipeg. See Summit Workshop Report, bottom p. 1.

- There are 24 records in our Resource Library that address this topic.

- More work required here. Hopefully a functioning web site with searchable database will help people find what they need in the meantime.



3. Membership in MCCN

A. Sense of Benefit and willingness to pay for it

- Members need to sense they are receiving something. Four newsletters a year important.

- We need to ask people to donate.

- We need a donate button on the home page. This can be done through the MC USA web site.

- Main ideas for the pitch: If you pay, you help make what is already happening happen. Support an expanding evangelical movement. Engaging the faith an important aspect.

- We did not discuss making this a prerequisite for membership, so I assume people do not want to go there.


B. Asking people to commit to creation care actions

- Joanne showed us the Million Acts of Green web site which does something similar, but anonymously

- Greg suggested that the first contact should merely ask people for first name, email, zip code. This pool of people could then be asked if they want to be in the directory.

- We did not reach a decision about whether to actually ask directory members for commitments.


C. Offering congregational membership as well as individual membership.

- Dave HW researched how other Christian groups handle this. He did not find any examples of congregational memberships. However, the council seemed favorably disposed to this idea.

- At the Winnipeg Creation Care Challenge Workshop, people were asking for ways to link to all the churches that have some kind of creation-related group or members interested in sustainability. Get members that way.  (Joanne)


D. Privacy:

It is important to ask people what information they are willing to have included in the directory. It is also important to post a privacy policy at the bottom of our web page.


E. Identify prospective members: 

  - Jennifer suggested we all gather lists of people who ought to be personally invited to join MCCN; share the lists and choose the contacts we know best. 

 - Dave N.: We need a sub list of environmental professionals. How do we reach out to people who work in education, government, business…This deserves its own planning.


4. Anabaptist Creation Care Project:

Luke prepared a draft document proposing that we gather articles written by Mennonites to post on our web site and listed potential themes, elements. Writing would be lively, accessible. Writers would be selected, invited, paid a stipend.



- This could be a way to build our network and bring in another set of people.

- It would be good to involve a mix of activists and theologians, as at the Enviro Task Force summit in 1995. 

 - We could also garner summaries and link to work already produced.

- It would be helpful to compile a list of Anabaptist/Mennos who have already written on creation care.

- Jennifer has begun querying faculty at Mennonite institutions for the Resource Library, but has received little response.


5. MCCN Ads

- We have funding available to run some ads in Mennonite periodicals.

- Jim worked on some ideas. See Ads11-08 document. We will invite Ruth Leonard to design them.


6. Art Meyer Award

- Dave N. proposed that we nix this idea: it has not generated any interest. No one argued.The purpose was to make creation care stories visible, but we now have many more opportunities to do that using the web.

- Web site could include a collection of stories about mentors such as the Meyers.


7. New member to replace Amy:

- We said goodbye to Amy Thut and expressed appreciation for all she has done.

- Possible replacements include: Karla Stoltzfus, IA…Anita Amstutz, NM…

- Greg emphasized importance of minority representation. Dave HW suggested Nekeisha Alexis-Baker, Elkhart, IN.


8. Next meeting date:

We are pursuing the weekend of March 14, 2009 for a face-to-face weekend. Date still to be confirmed.


Appendix: Documents generated or reviewed


- Letter to Convention Planners 08.doc          (Dave HW)

- MCCN travel survey                                                (Joanne, Dave HW)

- Meyer profile                                                (Greg)

- ad ideas—MCCN.doc                                  (Jim)

- Farm Conferences at Camps.doc                  (Greg)

- Summit Workshop Report: on Winnipeg workshops and feedback from Creation Care Challenge                                                                       (Dave, Joanne)

- memo to churches re: Creation Care involvements     (Joanne)

- MCCN annual report 2008                                       (Joanne)

- MCCN History for web site                                     (Joanne)

- Anabaptist Creation Care Project                             (Luke)


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