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Creation Care at Mennonite Church of Normal Includes Raingarden!

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Read this amazing story about Mennonite Church of Normal’s creation care activity.

Also, check out the wonderful slideshow at the bottom of the story.

Finally, share it!

To see story, click here.

From EMU: University students enjoy fruits of labor

Monday, August 1st, 2011

By Mike Zucconi (EMU), July 19, 2011.  Photo from EMU.

HARRISONBURG, VA. – Future Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) students will not have to go far to enjoy an apple, pear or fig on their way to class.

Will Hairston, EMU grounds supervisor, and his team, have worked throughout the summer to cultivate and maintain edible gardens on campus.

“A few of the trees are already bearing fruit and we hope to have more plants producing shortly,” said Hairston.

“When these plants reach maturity and are producing, we hope to supply the cafeteria and have student groups harvesting them,” added Hairston.

Edible gardens have been around campus for years, according to Hairston, and will become more prominent thanks to a grant from the student group Earthkeepers. Hairston was able to buy more than 1,000 plants for landscaping around the Elmwood dormitory, turf field and Suter Science Center.

“We have apple and pear trees along the hill behind Roselawn dormitory and persimmon and pau pau trees around the EMU turf field.”

In addition, Hairston also maintains fig and crab apple trees, grape vines and cornelian cherry and black raspberry bushes.

Aly Zimmerman, a junior from Staunton, Va., said the push for edible landscapes around EMU began with the on-campus showing of the film “Food Inc.” The film focuses on the industrialized food system and its effect on environment, health, economy and workers’ rights.

“Almost immediately after see the movie Earthkeepers met and decided we needed to do something,” said Zimmerman.

Earthkeepers began using what they learned in “Food Inc.” to make changes around campus, including expanding the edible gardens. In addition to the fruit trees and plants that already existed they planted asparagus beds around the Elmwood dormitory and the Science Center. Asparagus can be harvested in March and April, so students will have ample opportunity to enjoy the vegetable before the end of the spring semester.

“We want to raise awareness to the availability and health benefits that these plants can provide,” said Zimmerman. ”EMU is an environmentally aware university and we hope to attract more students to science and environmental sustainability through our work.”

Tyler Groff, a senior from Lancaster, Pa., adds that the edible garden landscapes around campus will also benefit from increased use of technology, specifically Google Docs.

“We will be able to schedule watering cycles for all plants to make sure that none are missed,” Groff said.

“We hope to build an interactive display that can showcase where each plant is on campus and how they can be best utilized,” he continued.

Groff, like Zimmerman and Hairston, notes additional benefits to edible gardens.

“Edible gardens can provide enjoyment and add a new experience to campus. Hopefully, this will get people thinking about other ways they can make an impact while they enjoy something grown right here on campus.”

Kraybill Mennonite School has solar panels

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

This informative article from Lancaster Online discusses Kraybill Mennonite School’s recent purchase of 385 solar panels.  They are the first school to use solar panels in Lancaster County.  In addition to the economic and environmental reasons for using solar energy, another main reason Kraybill Mennonite installed solar panels was to model their faith through care for creation.  Read more.

Bluffton Breaks Ground for Health and Fitness Education Center

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

From Bluffton University PR, with permission

Bluffton University took a major step toward new, enhanced facilities for both academics and athletics on Tuesday, July 12, breaking ground for its planned Health and Fitness Education Center.

(2-minute video)

“This is the next big development in Bluffton’s ongoing commitment to deliver a total educational program of the highest quality,” said President Dr. James M. Harder. “A Bluffton education includes excellent teaching and learning in the classroom and through a variety of co-curricular programs, including health and fitness for all students and competitive facilities for our NCAA student-athletes. This new building will meet the needs of Bluffton students for many years to come.”

The 60,000-square-foot complex, to be located north of Marbeck Center on campus, will house space for the academic department of health, fitness and sport science; a weight and fitness center for all students; a new arena for intercollegiate basketball and volleyball; a sports medicine center; athletics offices; and practice, intramural and multipurpose facilities.
Expected to open by late 2012, the building will also be the first on campus to be certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system. Among the key elements in that certification are commitments to an environmentally sustainable site, energy efficiency—such as use of natural light in at least 90 percent of the center’s regularly occupied spaces—and to recycling, including 75 percent or more of construction waste.

Funds for the $14 million project have been contributed by Bluffton alumni and friends as part of Extending Our Reach—The Campaign for Bluffton, through which the university has raised more than $30 million in cash and pledges to support academic programs, student scholarships, endowment and the building project.
“Bluffton deeply appreciates the commitment of many alumni and friends who chose to invest in the university’s future during a time of economic uncertainty,” said Dr. Hans Houshower, vice president for advancement. “Bluffton’s donors have truly extended their reach to make this day possible.”

A Health and Fitness Education Center was identified as the top priority for new facilities in the university’s current master plan. Designed by nationally renowned architects Sasaki Associates of Boston, Mass.—also the architects for Bluffton’s Centennial Hall academic building—the center will replace 60-year-old Founders Hall as the home of Beavers basketball and volleyball. Since Founders was built, the university’s enrollment has more than tripled, and with one-third of current traditional students participating in intercollegiate athletics and many more in intramural sports, campus capacity for performance, practice and intramural space has been stretched.

The new arena will seat more than 1,500 and also include two practice courts and a walking/jogging track. The weight and fitness center, meanwhile, will be a 5,000-square-foot space for all students—with separate areas for aerobic fitness and free weights—and the sports medicine center will feature an exam room and offices for physicians and trainers; rehabilitation space, including a hydrotherapy room; and dedicated areas for treatment and taping. Another multipurpose space, with an elevated view of the arena, will be used for classes, meetings and special events.

The general contractor is Thomas & Marker Construction of Bellefontaine, Ohio, whose many building projects at Bluffton have included Centennial Hall and, most recently, summer 2010 improvements to College Hall, Musselman Library and the Burcky Gym locker complex.


Bluffton public relations, 7/12/11

Modern ‘Dawdy Haus’ Young to Old Help Each Other

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Reprinted from EMU’s Crossroads magazine with permission

By Andrew Jenner, June 9, 2011

Sarah Myers (left) and Herb Myers ‘66 (center) are building onto the home of son-in-law Jason ‘99 and Janelle ‘01 Myers-Benner and granddaughter kali. Sarah, who formerly directed a non-profit, and Herb, a psychiatrist, are moving as retirees from Pennsylvania to Virginia.

Upon their graduation from EMU, Jason ’99 and Janelle ’01 Myers-Benner knew that living sustainably would be an overarching priority in their lives. In the decade-plus since, this desire has grown into “a vast and consuming project … engaging and energizing, even while exhausting,” Jason writes.

The Myers-Benners minimize their travel by vehicle, heat their house entirely with its passive solar design and backup wood stove, and try to grow, raise or gather as much of their food as possible from their land in Keezletown, Virginia.

Intertwined and inseparable elements of their approach to sustainability are the Myers-Benner’s significant emphasis on community and connection. They live out these values, in part, by homeschooling their 7-year-old daughter, Kali, building relationships with their neighbors and investing in nurturing, caring interactions across multiple generations. (Janelle works 30 hours per week as academic program coordinator at EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.)

As Janelle’s parents, Herb ’66 and Sarah (class of ’67) Myers, began planning for their retirement, the family saw an opportunity to further develop its commitment to multi-generational living. In 2010, Herb and Sarah began building a 900-square-foot addition to Janelle and Jason’s house. The two living quarters are separated by a shared laundry room, utility room bathroom, and office. Their addition includes a rainwater cistern, a solar water heater, and other features intended to maximize the structure’s energy efficiency.

The new arrangement – a modern twist on the traditional Amish dawdy haus for aging parents – will make it easy for the family to share appliances, vehicles, tools and other household items. Moreover, Sarah writes, moving in beside Janelle and Jason will allow them all to share in the work of trying to live sustainably: tending the garden, harvesting and preserving food, caring for livestock, gathering wood and more.

Herb and Sarah’s addition also anticipates the physical challenges of aging by building all the main rooms to accommodate wheelchair access. That feature will make life easier both for them and their family caregivers next door.
“This building project … [will not] render our lives perfectly ‘sustainable,’” Sarah writes. “But for us it seems to be an opportunity worth taking for the health of our planet and for our own sense of wholeness.”

Green MCUSA Workshops

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Greening the Church Experience

Luke Gascho

Thursday, 10:30 – 11:25, Room 329

Creation care practices in our congregations should affirm and teach that everything belongs to God.  This biblical-based seminar will encourage holistic stewardship in the daily life of the congregation.

What Does “Sustainable Living” Mean for People of Faith?

Luke Gascho

Thursday, 1:00 – 1:55, Room 329

Simple living has been a common theme in our church’s history. As we live in a consumer-driven society, we are enticed to leave the commitment to living simply and joyfully. The seminar will examine options and practices that honor the call to live within the bounds of enough. The discussion will help form a new definition of sustainable living for the church today.

How Might the Church Respond to Climate Change?

Luke Gascho

Wednesday, 2:15 – 3:10, Room 329

Friday, 2:15 – 3:10, Room 330

Rather than falling into a polarized political response to this issue, the church can bring a biblically-based message of hope. The seminar will explore the meanings of “For God so loved the world” and the Good Samaritan story as frameworks for responding to climate change in the global context. Our Christian way of living as passionate stewards of the earth brings an action-filled message of peace and hope.

It’s Not Easy Being “Green”

Kristen Mast and panel

Wednesday, 2:15 – 3:10, Room 323

Thursday, 2:15 – 3:10, Room 328

Everyone likes to talk about living simply, buying locally and being green. What do these things actually mean? Is it for everyone or just a select liberal few? Is there a magic formula that you can follow to make sure that you are doing it “right”? Come join us as we hear different people’s perspectives on how they choose to apply these values to their lives.

Creation care practices in our congregations should affirm and teach that everything belongs to God.  This biblical-based seminar will encourage holistic stewardship in the daily life of the congregation.

Mennonite Credit Union Adds Solar Panels, Creation Care Loans

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Creation care loans are a new feature now available to the 17,600 members of the Waterloo County community that Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (MSCU) serves. Loans with favorable terms are available to members who want to install solar panels, geothermal heating systems or energy efficiency upgrades.  The credit union offers the loans in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee’s Initiative for Solar Energy (MISE).
Meanwhile, Mennonite Savings and Credit Union is also working with Vigor Clean Tech, a Waterloo based company and MSCU member, to install a 7.1 kW (kilowatt) solar rooftop system in their Waterloo branch. The amount of energy being produced will be on display in the branch and online for members and visitors to view. The branch will also start an energy monitoring program to see what consumption reductions are possible. Darren Kropf, Creation Care Coordinator at Mennonite Central Committee Ontario, says, “MSCU’s adoption of solar energy will visually remind its members to make decisions to care for creation everyday. Congratulations for demonstrating strong leadership in environmental stewardship!” (more…)

MCCN Annual Report, 2008

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009


Caring for God’s creation has been a part of the Mennonite Church’s official agenda since 1977, when it passed a resolution on Christian Stewardship of Energy Resources.
In 2005, MC Canada and MC USA appointed representatives to the Mennonite Creation Care Network.

The vision statement of MCCN is as follows: Christ, who created the world in peace and sustains all things, calls us to be stewards of the earth and to bring rest and renewal to the land and everything that lives on it. In response to this call, we will equip lay people and leaders with tools, resources and models that will educate, encourage, and inspire the church to care for creation, which is an expression of God’s love.

MCCN is a network for Mennonite people and agencies actively engaged in the care and restoration of God’s creation. Its goals are to encourage the Church to:

• Claim our biblical and theological foundation regarding the care of God’s Creation.
• Discover the ties that link all created beings to each other and to God.
• Confess the harm we have caused the natural world and our neighbors.
• Act faithfully to restore the earth.

This bi-national council of volunteers meets twice per year. Staff from the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College and from MMA (Mennonite Mutual Aid) provide continuity between meetings and manage a web-site for MCCN. With its stewardship emphasis, MMA is a natural partner. MC Canada and MCC Canada help defray travel costs of the two Canadian members.

The Mennonite Creation Care Network promotes environmental stewardship activities with regional grassroots groups and institutional agencies as a way of inspiring people to be agents of change at home and in the global context. MCCN’s current activities include: developing communications materials, collecting stories of Mennonite’s who care about the environment, building a network among those in our constituency for whom the environment is an ongoing concern, and recognizing and encouraging faithful stewardship through an annual creation care award.

Canadian members – David Neufeld (Winnipeg, MB), Joanne Moyer (Winnipeg, MB)
USA members – Greg Bowman (Bally, PA), Luke Gascho (Goshen, IN), Jennifer Halteman Schrock (Goshen, IN), Dave Hockman-Wert (Corvallis, OR), Jim Smith (Goshen, IN), Amy Thut (Goshen, IN).

To join the growing network or get more information:


• Virtual meeting: For the first couple of years, the Creation Care Council met face-to-face in Goshen twice per year. In recognition of the environmental and monetary costs of travelling for these meetings, for the fall 2008 meeting, we experimented with a virtual meeting, setting aside one day in our respective cities to work on MCCN projects. We connected by conference call, Skype, e-mail and the “Go To Meeting” program.

• Green Guidelines for Conferences: In response to a resolution passed at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly in Abbotsford, July 2007, MCCN prepared a set of green guidelines for conference planners. These were used for the first time at Assembly and People’s Summit in Winnipeg, July 2008. MCCN members served as auditors for the conference planners, evaluating six categories in six areas: Transportation, Shelter, Food, Water, Communications and Worship/Teaching . Go to for a copy of the green guidelines and the results.

• Winnipeg Summit Workshops: MCCN presented four workshops at the Promise and Peril Summit in Winnipeg, July 2008:

1. Anabaptist Creation Care Challenge
• Attendance: 36 participants
• Notes: The workshop began with a brief introduction to MCCN: the group, its history, and its activities. The bulk of the workshop was spent in a group exercise: the participants divided into small groups and were asked to reflect on a series of questions to help guide MCCN’s activities, particularly with respect to our visionary outcome for congregations. See below for results of this exercise.

2. Ecological Prayer Walk (presented twice)
• Attendance: 11 participants (Wednesday); 26 participants (Thursday)
• Prepared and presented in collaboration with Lisa Enns-Bogoya, Associate Pastor of Bethel Mennonite Church, Winnipeg.
• Notes: The workshop began inside with two brief presentations explaining the concept of the ecological footprint and the spiritual practice of the labyrinth. Participants were then taken outside to walk to the Ecological Prayer Walk, a labyrinth mowed into a section of lawn with signs at intervals that repeated some of the ecological footprint information and with prayers and poems to inspire both confession and rejoicing and hope in God’s creation. On the second day, half the participants walked to outer boundary of CMU’s north campus (the size of a North American footprint) before entering the labyrinth.

3. Spiritual Significance of Land and Water
• Attendance: 30 participants
• Prepared and presented in collaboration with Neill and Edith von Gunten, co-directors of Native Ministries for Mennonite Church Canada.
• Notes: Norman Meade (a Metis elder originally from Manigotagan, MB, who is currently the Aboriginal Neighbours staff person for MCC Manitoba) provided an introduction. The first presentation was by Metis elder, Mae Louise Campbell, from St. Laurent, MB, who shared an Aboriginal woman’s perspective on the spiritual significance of land and water. She emphasized the importance of relationships. Then Greg McIvor, a First Nation trapper and conservation advocate, originally from Waboden and Cross Lake, MB, shared about the effects of hydro dam diversions on the land and traditional lifestyle.

• Website Redesign: In the fall of 2008, MCCN transferred its web site to new software, requiring a re-design of the site. The new site should be live by mid-December and includes blogging software that enables us to easily archive creation care stories. This is a big step forward for us. Goals for 2009 include a web-searchable resource library by February and a web-searchable member directory by March.

• Art and Jocele Meyer Award: The award program was cancelled because it has not succeeded in generating interest. We now have ways to tell creation care stories on the web that were not available when the award was originally conceived.

• Anabaptist Creation Care Project: MCCN plans to invite Mennonite/Anabaptist authors to contribute articles for our web site on a variety of creation care topics. We are also attempting to catalog all that has already been written in our Creation Care Resource Library.

Biodigesters provide green energy in Brazil

Monday, March 30th, 2009

The March 16, 2009 issue of Mennonite Weekly Review reports on a Mennonite Central Committee worker’s progress with biodigesters in Monteiro, Brazil. A biodigester is a container that captures methane from decomposing organic material and pipes it to a kitchen to be used for cooking gas. Biodigesters cut down on the need for firewood, which prevents deforestation and illness from household smoke. read more

March 13-14, 2009

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

March 13-14, 2009

Face-to-Face Meeting in Goshen, IN


Present: Luke Gascho (chair), Nekeisha Alexis-Baker, Dave Hockman-Wert, Joanne Moyer, Dave Neufeld, Jennifer Schrock, Jim Smith, Karla Stoltzfus


Friday Evening:

We devoted most of this time to getting to know each other, as our group includes two new members: Karla and Nekeisha. We introduced ourselves using drawings. Among other things, we learned that Karla is preaching on Moses’ serpent lifted up in the desert next week and that Nekeisha is a Christian anarchist.


We also each shared a scripture passage that had creation care significance for us. These included the book of Job, Noah’s rainbow, the cursing of the fig tree, God speaking to the fish in Genesis 1, the beautiful feet passage, related to ecological footprint, Deut. 22 on sparing mother birds, beholding God’s face in creation (Psalm 17), God’s healing in Numbers 20, the heavens declaring the glory of God in Psalm 19.




1. Devotional: Luke Gascho offered a devotional reflecting on a phrase from the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective (1995): “The peace God intends for humanity and creation was revealed most fully in Jesus Christ.” He also showed a slide of Rembrandt’s Christ and St. Mary Magdalene at the Tomb, which portrays Jesus as a gardener, and shared two quotes from Walter Brueggemann’s book, Living Toward a Vision:


“Shalom is the substance of the biblical vision of one community embracing all of creation.”


“…the most staggering expression of the vision is that all persons are children of a single family, members of a single tribe, heirs of a single hope, and bearers of a single destiny, namely, the care and management of all of God’s creation.”


Luke contrasted creation care as “an issue” that has little to do with faith with an understanding of Christ as “gardener;” a second Adam with care of all the earth central to his identity.



- What does it mean to think about caring for creation if this is who Christ is?

- Do we understand what creation is? Polar bears yes; farm animals, skunks, not so much.

- Do we adequately understand ourselves as a part of creation, rather than a separate community?

- For traditional farmers whose faith is tied up in a particular way of farming, words that challenge that can be bridges—or landmines.



2. Overview: We briefly reviewed MCCN’s history and relationships for the benefit of new members. In this version of the story, Mel Schmidt triggered the birth of MCCN by asking if he should throw out his Environmental Task Force files. A Mennonite Weekly Review article announcing the demise of the ETF also jolted concerned people into action.

- The initial steering committee working on a vision for MCCN discussed whether the organization should work within Mennonite institutions or function as radicals and gadflies. They chose the former route.

- Currently our strongest agency connection is with Mennonite Mutual Aid due to mutual interests in stewardship. MMA funds MCCN with fraternal benefits money. Jim Smith is our liaison. MCC Canada and MC Canada also provide some funds.


Relationship with MMA:

· MMA is undergoing a lot of change right now due to a new president, a revised corporate structure and the current global economic recession.

· MMA has re-examined its commitment to MCCN and remains committed to an understanding of stewardship of creation. This year, they are providing $15,700 for MCCN out of $20,000 requested.

· MMA has also demonstrated a commitment to creation care by pursuing LEED certification at the gold level for their new building and by publishing Luke’s curriculum, Creation Care: Keepers of the Earth.

· Jim S. is still the liaison between MMA and MCCN. He is now under corporate services, so is doing less church relations than he had under the old structure. He still manages advocates and regional chapters.

· MMA typically wants organizations they are funding to get beyond an umbilical cord relationship within 3 to 5 years. What can we do to help the Church begin to take ownership of MCCN’s vision?


3. The network at work:

Beginning a relationship with the Peace and Justice Partnership Council.

This group includes representative executives from Mennonite agencies such as Mennonite Mission Network, Mennonite Publishing House, the African-American Mennonite Association and the Peace and Justice Support Network of MC USA.  Jennifer spent a fruitful hour meeting with this group at their last gathering on March 11.

· Rich Meyer, representing Christian Peacemaker Teams, challenged MCCN to make peacemaking a clearer priority, as war is one of the most ecologically devastating activities there is.

· The group also encouraged us to talk about the interrelatedness of racism, poverty and ecological destruction.

· Ron Beyeler suggested MCCN produce some green guidelines for corporate offices, as we have for conferences.

· The group hopes to take the following actions:

-          discuss creation care with their boards

-          make a list of the top five things they are already doing for the sake of the earth and identify one priority to work on in the future.

-          appoint someone within each agency to advocate for creation care.

How can this planning group be a model for our organization? We hope to learn more as the relationship progresses.


Farming Conferences:
Karla, Dave HW and Dave N reported on their experiences with the sustainable foods workshops that Mennonite camps were encouraged to hold this year.

· Karla attended and was part of the planning committee for Living from Holy Ground: Growing in Harmony, Eating in Faith at Crooked Creek Christian Camp, Washington, IA. Gary Guthrie was the keynote speaker, and the event drew 70 people, exceeding the camp’s expectations. The menu included stored apples, local milk and dairy, greens and sprouts, pastured poultry, winter squash. A blessing where people put earth in each other’s hands was particularly meaningful.

· Dave HW reported that an event did not take place at Drift Creek Camp in Oregon’s Siuslaw National Forest, despite the director’s interest and Dave’s encouragement. The local food message has already been pitched strongly in Oregon, and Drift Creek is not near a population center. Mennonites involved in farming in OR do not have the same energy for this as in some other areas. The camp is pursuing other creation care activities, including a new nature center and Bioblitzes.

· Dave N. reported that Camp Assiniboia, Cartier, Manitoba, is on top of the faith and farming theme, which is strong in Manitoba. There have been multiple conferences and spearheaded by different people.


Creation Care in Academia

· A friend of Dave HW’s is teaching a spring term course on creation care & economics at [where was that, Dave?]

· Luke reported that the dean of AMBS has given the go-ahead for a 3-hour course at AMBS related to Merry Lea’s annual autumn hope conference.


Creation Care at other Mennonite Institutions

· Mennonite Central Committee has a Creation Care Task Force which invested $30,000 to hire a consultant to study all of the MCC offices and analyze its carbon and other ecological footprint. The 96-page report just came out. 

· Luke is doing a workshop for Mennonite Health Assembly on greening health facilities. He will use MCC’s report, which is one example of sharing information through network.

· Mennonite Publishing Network is launching a Simply Sustainable Project which they expect will produce a book parallel to Living More with Less.  Joanne and Luke are part of this effort.


4. Suggestions for the MCCN web site:


· About Donations:

-          Add intermediary page between donor button and MCUSA donation page explaining what the money will be used for.

-          Add note on donor link saying this will take you to an external site.

-          It is not clear how donating will work for Canadians. Will the MCUSA donation site take Canadian dollars?  Will Canadians get tax receipts they can use? Joanne and Dave N. will research this.

·  About the resource library:

-          Needs a “back” button or needs to open in a new window.

-          Would be a lot more helpful with annotations. This is a good job for a student intern.

·  RSS feeds: Need to get one working and have a sign-up on the home page.


5. Dreams for MCCN:

Luke asked us to each list several dreams for MCCN on Post-it notes. We put them on the wall and discussed how best to organize them.



- JS      Raise 10K in donations

- LG     MCCN intern annually

- NAB  Make connections with AMBS peace and justice program and Mission Network service programs to see what support volunteers we can find.

- DN    Link sponsors to specific projects

- JHS ¼ time staff immediately; ½ time within 5 years.

- JHS    Nurture voluntary gas tax movement and tap revenue stream.


Network Growth

- JHS    Annotated directory of individuals, congregational reps, agency/school reps

- JM     Solicit needs and interests from constituency

GB       Regional sub-network by foodshed

JM       Vibrant broader network

DHW   Learn how to empower network action

GB       Empower Weaver to create synergy: “matchmakers”

JHS      Identify priority projects that people can plug into immediately

DH       Be a complex self-organizing system

DN       More visible connections to congregations

GB       Active mentoring of new advocates, linked via web

DN       Designated champions in many Anabaptist orgs


Communication & Ecological Formation


JS         Create a church/pastor resources packet for sermons and worship

JS         Develop champion packets

JS         Define intern/associates in all colleges and seminaries: connections between students in classes and MCCN. For example, ADNet has associates in different colleges.

DHW   Speak directly to economic crisis: consumer behavior, job security, economic alternatives.

NAB    Resources/awareness around environmentalism in urban spaces; less rural focus

NAB    Make sure the image/language we use, stories we post reflect urban and rura perspectives

GB       Robust list of conversion stories

JM       Bryan’s Music Project

KJS      Art builds bridges: Mennofolk, poetry, visual arts

JS         Web site training for 10 Easy Steps to Green


Prophetic Voice/Ecojustice

LG       Peace leading to ecological restoration: study/praxis

LG       Creation Care integrated into curriculum, Mennonite Education Agency

JM        - high schools, elementary, post-secondary, camps, Sunday school, VBS

NAB    Develop resources, articles, guides written by people of color that talk about ecojustice/environment

LG       Anabaptist Creation Care Project

JHS      Well-written thought pieces focus our efforts; make MCCN second only to TEDS site

KJS      Stories of elders: people who have lived on land a long time

KJS      Ecojustice service opportunities  (MVS, youth groups, etc.)

KJS      Ecojustice, connecting welfare of the earth and the poor.

GB       Start foodshed work with Damascus Road anti-racism training

NAB    More interaction with people of color related to the environment, eco-justice.

NAB    Willingness to speak prophetically on crucial issues: vegetarianism, factory   farming.

KJS      Balance prophetic voice and invitational voice.



6. Strategic Planning:

We discussed our role as a network, our relationships to the various nodes in the network, and identified two priorities: a functioning directory and a congregational commitment plan. This conversation was a bit difficult to record accurately, as were the various diagrams drawn.


Nekeisha suggested the following diagram to describe MCCN’s mission:






Connect                       Communicate                          Educate





                        Christ’s shalom for all creation

                        Ecojustice for all God’s people


Joanne described “a wheel in a wheel” with connect, communicate, educate as the spokes; peace, ecojustice the outer wheel revolving around them…support coming down from the top, praxis coming up from the bottom.

We are a network, not a classic non-profit. We need to build our network, not take on projects.

· LG: What is flowing around in the network? What makes it Menno? What makes it Creation Care?

·  JM We put on our agency hat when we get requests for services.

· DHW: Need to generate multiple hubs that do the sparking, run with projects.

· LG: Examples of hubs include the MCC Sustainable project, MPH Simply Sustainable

·  JM: Even Arocha is a tenuous hub.

· LG: How do we empower a network?

· What are the nodes that we want to be part of this network?

                        - other agencies            - church conferences

                        - congregations            - schools

                        - camps

                        regionally based environmental groups w/ Anab-Menno connections. If you add Faith and Farming groups, there are many.

· Where does the council fit into this picture? Are we in the center or off on the edge? The Creation Care Council and network are not the same thing.


· What nodes are currently linked to MCCN?

-          MMA: different from any other linkage we have at this point.

-          MCCN presence helps sustain green investing policies at MMA

-          Luke’s book

-          Camps and Menno Camping Association

-          through farming events

-          MCA reportedly appreciated the nudge to coordinate programming which they had not done before the sustainable farming events.

-          MCC sustainable project

-          MPH Simply Sustainable project

-          MC Canada: Requested Green Guidelines

                       -      Peace & Justice Partnership Council: requested meeting

                       -      Merry Lea, via Luke and Jennifer

                       -     Braintree by virtue of Dave N and Joanne being on board.

                      -      Conferences?: Have worked with Indiana-Michigan Conference; some others have requested information about what happened there.

            - Facebook group—MCCN individual members


·  Need a contact person w/in each regional conference.

· NAB   Maybe we need to strengthen these relationships rather than adding a whole bunch of new ones.

· People need to be relating to each other, not just us.

· JM How do we respond to others when they come to us, looking for a form of involvement?

· JS Let’s work at targeting one node…then target another node…

· Connections can happen without us even knowing.

·  JS: What if we focused out energy in the next 18 months just on our members?

· JM: and finding people who should be members

· Get members to tell us their stories. Then we send it out to all the members.

· Assign CCC members to members in their region.

· DHW: Are we going to build all links to ourselves or are we trying to facilitate interconnections between these nodes?

· The network will work best the less we have to manage ourselves.

· Next: Relate tasks, priorities sheet to list of nodes sheet.

______________________________________________________________________________7. Priority: A Congregational Commitment Plan


· The goal is 100 active linked congregations by March 2010. Given the number of people in our database, this number seems doable. See for an example of a member directory that lists congregations. They have 22 congregations that have earned the status of greening congregation and 57 that give money.

· One step toward committed congregations was the brochure and cover letter that will appear in the Equipping Packet going to all pastors this April. Someone noted that the Goshen council members should have circulated the message sent to the Equipping Packet among all council members.

· Next steps: Send MCCN members an email or online survey to find out what their roles are within their congregations. Ask: Will you be the contact person for your church, or will you find one? Could use survey monkey. Drops right into a database.            

                        - Could use survey monkey. Drops right into a database.       

                        - Send survey out to Facebook list.
Publish list of churches and contacts on our web site.

                        - Congregations need to be doing at least 3 things from pages 147 – 151 in MMA’s Keepers of the Earth curriculum to be counted.

                        - Need to renew yearly.

                        - Could give an incentive for completing the survey: MMA’s Creation Care curriculum? Share Dave and Joanne’s guide that cross-references the Creation Care curriculum and Earth Trek?

                        - Want to capture both people on the margins and people that are good representatives of their churches. Capture what is happening out there.


8. Priority: A Functioning Directory

· Directory needs detailed profiles of members showing how they are involved in creation care, their affiliations, skills.

· Directory needs ability to connect various interest groups.

· Directory needs to protect privacy of members.

· Directory can be used to issue specific invitations, such as to the 350 campaign or the voluntary gas tax movement.

· Once we have a directory of individuals and congregations, we can send out directed requests to agencies, schools, to join us.

· Dave N: can people be in directory without being members? Maybe the question is do you want to be listed, share your expertise? Semantics.


Directory breaks into several software pieces:

            1. Database: Rodale’s farmer locator is one example.

            - web accessible, searchable

            2. Listserve to enable conversation between members: use Google or Yahoo Group

            3. Invigorate Facebook:

            NAB: AMBS has found that a Facebook page works well for them.

            Add a google address that goes straight to the listserv.


Next steps:

- Look at Sustainable Table

- Nekeisha will make contact with Greg’s friends at Sustainable Table. This is an example of [what?] that may be useful for us.

- Set up a Google listserv and jump-start conversation there.

- Facebook: you can require a permission to be a part of the group. This enables us to gather information. Periodically will invite people to join the directory, once directory is set up. Send congregational survey out to Facebook List.

- Dave HW, Joanne and Jennifer are administrators on the Facebook page and will coordinate updating, invigorating.

- Make a note on Facebook wall with link when new stories go up. Put everything on the Facebook page.

 9. Assembly happenings and suggestions:

· Luke is leading 3 workshops at Columbus 09; Jennifer is leading one workshop on churches going green. Dave HW, Jim and Karla will also attend. [Karla, is that right? Were you doing a workshop?]

· JM: Need to ask our members to take our display to meetings they attend.

· MC Canada Assembly should have a display. Find someone in Saskatoon and have them put it up.

· Suggestions for MCCN booth at MC USA’s assembly in Columbus:

            - DN: Have a computer where people can enter themselves directly into the   database.

            - Printed version of online survey

            - Children’s books are a good draw. Also candies.


10. Broader observations about today’s work:


· Our commitment to eco-justice, peace is better stated than it has been before.

· Financial support for staffing keeps coming up. We need to act on this. We have not used the email to ask for money yet. Is it time? Pursue internship idea immediately.

· Print ads in Menno media can now go out, in light of today’s work focusing our priorities.

· Need to relate environmental issues and the present economic reality.


11. Ideas for acting on the observations in #10:


a good way to help youth grow in the understanding that the church cares    about these issues.

· Post on job boards of Menno colleges.

· Get in touch with environmental science, peace/justice deptartments of colleges and AMBS. MCC has experience with internships as well.

· Luke will talk to Ted Koontz at AMBS; Joanne will check with CMU.



· Greg is seeking successful stories of people going through an anti-racism process     to help understand how this might work related to food & farming. [Greg,     feel free to elaborate if it would be helpful. Not sure I “got it.”]

· We need stories about praxis as well as theological commitments to help us work at eco-justice. Pursue story about the mega-shredder in Elkhart. Contact Andrew Kreider, Jason Shenk who works at La Casa. Have someone from the neighborhood share their story as well.

· Post/link to Andrew Klause’s article in The Mennonite.

· Eco-justice essays and other thought pieces need an easy-to-access home on the web site with a catchy title.


Environmental Concerns and the Economy

· We need an economic future based in ecological realities. Is anything in the church bringing people together to talk about the environment and the economy and how they are interrelated?

· Jerrell Richer is one example of an ecological economist.

· Are we looking for prophetic voices or conventional voices in this?

· NAB: Avoid “technology can save us;” we need to think about consumerism. 


11. Next meeting: A virtual meeting, Saturday, October 17, 2009



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