“We join our work to Heaven’s gift, our hope to what is left…” 1)

By EarthKeeper J. P. Smith, Red Mountain UMC, Desert Southwest Conference.

Great opportunities to serve our Lord and mankind are awaiting your answer to the question: Is EarthKeepers right for me? Global Ministries is reaching out to United Methodist laity and clergy who recognize the imperative we face together to protect God’s gift of the Earth and all that lives on it. One needn’t be a scientist or a pastor to benefit from the training and heartfelt comradery of other trainees. One just needs the passion and desire to make a positive change in your church, in your community, your Nation.

My story began by being a middle child on an Indiana farm, I was left to entertain myself on 80 acres of farmland and woods. The days were filled with the wonder of discovery as I wandered the woods, creek, and barn. I became an observer of flora, fauna and the actions of farm animals. As I grew and changed in the mid-20th century, the environment did not. A publication named The Farmer’s Almanac counted on the same annual dates for frost, planting, rain, and harvesting. We were blissfully ignorant of the beginnings of the warming Earth.

There was the usual 1 thru 12th grade education years, college and careers. In college, we began to become aware that the environment along with the flora and fauna were indeed changing. In some cases, with devastating effect. But there were meetings, children to raise, business trips to make. Still using my observation skills, we noted infestations of budworm on the Colorado fir trees. As the winters became dryer and warmer we saw the results of bark beetle attacks on Ponderosa pines and even Cedars. Endless acres of gray, dead forests flow across the mountains. We are blessed with 2 grandchildren. They rightly expect the parents/grandparents to keep them safe- to protect their world. It is not enough to teach them about Jesus. We must also teach them about how we failed to take care of God’s gift to mankind; what needs to be done now to live sustainably.

That is where EarthKeepers comes in. We are much stronger together. We can move the church toward positive solutions with the tools we are provided by the instructors. We can model sustainable living for children. They, in turn, will show EarthKeepers how to be even more effective. We are very fortunate to have at least 2 training opportunities:

  • Global Ministries Headquarters, Atlanta, GA, May 17-20, (application by 4/26.)
  • Wasatch Retreat Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov 1-4, (application by 10/11.)

Global Ministries EarthKeepers equips United Methodist laity and clergy to develop or deepen environmental initiatives in their communities. This is a great opportunity for United Methodists who:

  • Feel a deep sense of God’s call to care for the environment, recognize the urgency of the environmental crisis, and are ready to take bold action;
  • Need to strengthen their organizing skills and deepen their theological resources to support the development or growth of an environmental project or initiative in their churches and/or communities;
  • Want to join a broader community of United Methodists who are engaged in environmental ministries;
  • Have some previous experience with environmental issues and/or ministry.

Training Topics

  • Eco-theology basics
  • How to discuss challenging issues
  • Intersectionality—how experiences of environmental issues are influenced by social factors
  • Strategies for social change
  • United Methodist entry points for engagement

Cost and Logistics

There is no fee for this training. Global Ministries will provide lodging and vegetarian meals for participants. Lodging in Atlanta will be single occupancy; lodging in Salt Lake City will be double occupancy. Participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from the training site before and after the training.


Participants must complete five hours of homework in the month prior to the training. They should plan to commit 10 hours/month to their projects for at least six months following the training. Participants may join or be invited to help form a regional or online cohort group following their training.


Participants will either develop a new project or build on a project on which they are already working. Applicants will be asked to describe their idea for a project in their applications. All ideas are welcome! The project should be an expression of the participant’s faith in response to a creation care need in their church and/or community.

Save the date that works best for you, and if you or others would like to be added to the mailing list, please email Lawanda Gooch, Sustainable Development Unit Program Assistant at lgooch@umcor.org.

1) The Clearing Rests in Song and Shade, Wendell Berry, 1999.

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Author: DSC Communications

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