Focus on Workshops

Each week, we will highlight some of the wonderful workshops we will have at that 2016 National Gathering in Atlanta February 22-24. Check out all of the workshop offerings here.

Eventbrite - 2016 NEXT National Gathering

f3 Men’s Bootcamp

Special morning event: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 7:30-8:15 am

f3 is a growing ministry for men in communities throughout the country. The three f’s stand for fitness, fellowship and faith. It is a non-denominational, cost-free community that individuals can create in their towns. It has served to reach unchurched and churched men who need any of the three elements in their life. It is a good avenue back into church and has proven to change lives. Come ready to workout!

Kyle Hite is the Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Greenwood, South Carolina. He uses his certification by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) to help people live a healthier lifestyle.

Arts & Worship

Offered Monday in Workshop Block 1 and Tuesday in Workshop Block 2

Come explore visual and creative possibilities for worship. This workshop dives into ways worship can nourish our visual and kinesthetic sensibilities, and how congregations can explore theological themes artfully on a low budget. Participants will create art that will become part of the visual installations for the conference. All are welcome, especially those who proclaim they have no “artistic” abilities.

Lisle Gwynn Garrity is a recent graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta. As a “pastorist” (pastor/artist), she uses visual art to help churches explore and express faith. Learn more at www.sanctifiedart.com or www.facebook.com/sanctifiedart.

Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love

Offered Tuesday in Workshop Block 2

Conflict has always been a part of religious communities. It is something every congregation, whether just beginning or centuries into its life, experiences. These disagreements can be forces for creation or destruction and navigating that balance is challenging. Come hear about strategies to disagree in love and to join in conversation about how conflict is changing and how we can, as a community of faith, creatively address it in our different contexts.

Andrew Plocher is the new pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Gwinn, Michigan, and a minister member of National Capital Presbytery. He has a decade of experience working with conflicted congregations and non-profit organizations. He is also working on finishing his D.Min. in pastoral counseling at Louisville Seminary.

Eventbrite - 2016 NEXT National Gathering

Meet Allan Boesak

Allan Aubrey Boesak was born in Kakamas, Northern Cape, South Africa in 1946, the second youngest of eight children. He grew up and finished high school in Somerset West, studied at the University of the Western Cape and received his PhD in Theology from the Protestant Theological University in Kampen, the Netherlands in 1976.

Allan Boesak1976 also marks the Soweto Uprisings and Allan Boesak’s entry into public life in South Africa. Dr. Boesak served the church and the ecumenical movement in various senior capacities since 1978, including as President of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the first person from the global South and youngest ever to be elected into that position. Under his leadership this world body adopted the “apartheid is a heresy” declaration and suspended the two Dutch Reformed Churches from membership for their theological and moral support for and justification of the apartheid system. In 1983 Allan Boesak called for the formation of the United Democratic Front, which became the largest organised, non-racial, nonviolent anti-apartheid movement in the history of the country. Allan Boesak became its most visible leader and spokesperson until its closure by the ANC in 1991. Dr. Boesak is a preacher and teacher, and remains deeply and passionately involved in global struggles for human rights, social, economic and ecological justice, gender and sexual justice across the world.

Allan Boesak is the author of 20 books, co-author and editor of five. Allan Boesak’s 2005 Afrikaans work, Die Vlug van Gods Verbeelding, Bybelverhale van die Onderkant, (“The Flight of God’s Imagination: Biblical Narratives from the Underside”), received the Andrew Murray/Desmond Tutu Prize, South Africa’s highest award for theological publications. His most recent publication, Kairos, Crisis, and Global Apartheid, the Challenge for Prophetic Resistance, was published by Palgrave McMillan, 2015. Boesak is recipient of numerous awards including the Robert Kennedy Human Rights Award, the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Award, and the King Hintsa Bravery Award from the Royal Xhosa House. He is also the recipient of fourteen honorary degrees from such institutions as Yale University, Morehouse College and the University of Geneva.

Dr. Boesak is the first holder of the Desmond Tutu Chair for Peace, Global Justice and Reconciliation Studies, and founding director of the Desmond Tutu Centre for Reconciliation and Global Justice at Christian Theological Seminary and Butler University in Indianapolis, Honorary Research fellow at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Dean’s Research Associate, Faculty of Theology, Pretoria University.

Allan Boesak will give a keynote address on Monday night at the 2016 NEXT Church National Gathering in Atlanta!

Eventbrite - 2016 NEXT National Gathering

Book Review: Inhabiting Eden: Christians, the Bible and the Ecological Crisis

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. During September, Leanne Pearce Reed is curating a month of blog posts exploring stewardship of all creation. Join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

by Walter Canter

Patricia Tull’s book Inhabiting Eden searches the wisdom of the Old Testament for a way of ideal relationship with God and creation. Tull ends up in Genesis and Isaiah (along with a supporting cast of plenty other texts from across the OT and gospels) basing her approach to the ecological crisis in humanity’s identity and prophetic call.

Photo from: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Gtu0Wp1TL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Tull begins with a broad assessment of human relationship with God and creation—she finds that the relationship we have isn’t the ideal depicted in Scripture. After the broad overview, Tull assesses the implications of this less than ideal relationship in regards to commerce, food, animal life, and human rights. Inhabiting Eden ends with a hopeful prophetic call to renewed relationship with God and creation through living within the planet’s means.

Throughout Inhabiting Eden, Tull challenges contemporary understandings of ‘environment.’ Environment, to Tull, is not isolated to the nearest wetland, national park or forest. The environment that needs our care and respect in Eden is everywhere. All humans live in an environment and human action affects both the immediate environment as well as the beautiful places of wilderness. The story of creation includes everything, no part of this world is out of God’s reach and all parts of this world are loving gifts from its Creator. Using this all-encompassing definition of environment, Tull develops a theology of gratitude.

Within the ordered and fundamentally good creation, humans have the vocation of caretakers. God provides what we need, and in response to that providing, human beings have the task of preserving these gifts. In Tull’s words, “We were intended to draw sustenance from creation’s bounty. With each breath, we take in God’s provision of air; with each drink, the precious water supply; with each bit of bread, the manna for one more day of love and service. We can begin to uphold the world that upholds us by recognizing these gifts with gratitude, especially our place in an ordered world that is full and fundamentally good, and our vocation to preserve the goodness and health of this living, teeming, exuberant world” (30).

Tull, along with the biblical prophets, shapes her call for justice around an understanding of change in the world. The ecological crisis comes out of dangerous change, but hope comes out of an acknowledgement that just as change in human behavior brought danger, a new change in human behavior can overcome that danger.

Tull’s writing style and structure is accessible; she dives into current ecological issues and scriptural study with clear and concise language. Tull’s accessibility makes it tempting to read quickly, but the depth, poignancy, and relevance of the information often left me pausing to assess my own handling of these sacred texts in relation to my everyday activity. There were even a few moments in Inhabiting Eden where I paused mid paragraph to google things like, “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” hoping that Tull’s description of our planet’s state was hyperbolic (it wasn’t… and ew).

Inhabiting Eden is an excellent read that reminds the reader of the timeless power of Scripture as it challenges the reader to see these old texts in a new light.


Provided by: Walter Canter

Rev. Walter Canter is pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church of Big Lick in Crossville, TN. He’s an avid soccer fan and enjoys hiking with his wife (and occasionally his dog). Contact him at canterjw@gmail.com.

Save the Date! February 22-24, 2016

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Faith at the Crossroads

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Earth Care: Responding to Pope Francis’ Call

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. During September, Leanne Pearce Reed is curating a month of blog posts exploring stewardship of all creation. Join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

“We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” Pope Francis, Laudato Si, Chapter 4, paragraph 139

September 24, 2015.

kepley1I live in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC, which can sometimes be both a blessing and a curse. Yesterday, when Pope Francis addressed Congress, it was a huge blessing! My wife and I joined a number of our friends from Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, an interfaith group in Fairfax County, VA, and the National Capital Presbytery Earth Care Network, a group of 10 churches in the National Capital Presbytery dedicated to earth care, to hear what the pontiff had to say on the National Mall. Oh sure, we could have watched it at home on TV, but being there in-person among an incredibly diverse crowd of people who are passionate about the environment was electrifying! After much speechifying and good music, we got to see and hear His Holiness on a jumbo-tron. Pope Francis did for Congress and the American people what pastors from before Jesus’ time have always tried to do – discern God’s Word for our time and place. The crowd on the grass all around us cheered wildly, as if we were in the chamber. But as my pastor once said to our congregation: “What are you going to do after the cheering stops?”

That brings me to the second event that I attended that day. It was an interfaith gathering at the National Cathedral entitled, Coming Together in Faith on Climate. It included faith leaders from about a dozen different faith traditions from Jewish to Muslim to Episcopalian, Catholic, Evangelical Christian, and AME.   It even included a sitting US Senator, Sheldon Whitehorse of RI. Imam Ebrahim Rasool summed the prevailing sentiment best telling us that the current ecological/social crisis was so threatening to our world that we needed to put aside our religious differences, as Pope Francis had said earlier in the day, and work together to address the situation. The imam reminded us that this is a moral issue with deep theological roots in all of the major world religions, be they Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu. These faith leaders then called on all people of faith everywhere to adopt this five-point strategy “to lead by example.”

  1. Engage: Engage our Congregations and Communities for Climate Solutions. Beginning today, we’re asking every person of faith to go to their house of worship as soon as possible, and speak from their heart to their clergy or spiritual leaders. We’re asking the same of clergy and spiritual leaders – to speak personally, from your heart, to your congregation. Tell them you agree with Pope Francis and a wide array of multi-faith leaders that we have a moral obligation to take action today on climate change and build a sustainable future for our children. Tell them you will lead by example to build support for climate solutions by engaging and inspiring others and take actions that will help restore a healthy atmosphere, and you hope that will lead by example too. And make sure to take this personal pledge: blessedtomorrow.org/join
  2. Energize: Form or Join a Clean Energy Group in our Faith Communities. Thousands of congregations already have active climate- and environment-oriented groups leading the way in switching to clean, renewable energy. But we need thousands more. At the site below, you’ll find links to the amazing organizations that are doing wonderful work helping congregations and individuals energize, so you can (a) maximize energy efficiency; (b) switch to clean, renewable energy for your community of faith, your home, and your neighborhood; and (c) so you can energize your people to push for needed political action. interfaithpowerandlight.org
  3. Divest/Invest: Clean up our Personal and Congregational Investments. Denominations, universities, and seminaries are divesting from fossil fuels, and investing in clean, renewable energy. Now, it’s possible for us as individuals to do so as well – transferring our personal savings, IRA’s, and other investments into companies that are part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Make your personal pledge at idivestinvest.org
  4. Vote: Make Climate One of our Top Three Issues When (Not If) We Vote. We’re asking you to demand needed action from every candidate and elected leader in every election. We’ll provide you with resources to help you learn which candidates are supporting climate change solutions, and which are ignoring or opposing them. faithinpubliclife.org
  5. Educate: Stay Informed and Educate Others. Through your social media and in-person networks, you can become a trusted source of information and inspiration for others. To stay informed and keep learning, sign up for Common Good News for regular updates: convergenceus.org/common-good-news.html

I hope you cheered the Pope’s words, but now that the cheering has died down, what are you going to do about it?


 

David Kepley

Ruling Elder and Deacon

Providence Presbyterian Church

Fairfax, VA

Kepley.david@gmail.com

Corporate Agriculture Says It Will Feed the World–Sustainably. Really?

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. During September, Leanne Pearce Reed is curating a month of blog posts exploring stewardship of all creation. Join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

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Tracking Energy Savings with Portfolio Manager

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. During September, Leanne Pearce Reed is curating a month of blog posts exploring stewardship of all creation. Join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter! Read more