EarthKeepers Commissioned via Virtual Service
In the first event of its kind, Global Ministries and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) commissioned a class of EarthKeepers—United Methodists committed to the ministry of creation care—via an online service on January 22, 2018.
The commissioning affirmed members of the EarthKeepers Arkansas class of 2017 in their understandings of God’s call to the ministry of creation care, and commissioned them to lead creation care projects in their communities. The EarthKeepers participated in the service via videoconference from their homes and churches. The service was livestreamed from a production studio at the Atlanta headquarters of Global Ministries. Bishop Larry Goodpaster, Thomas Kemper, general secretary of Global Ministries, Rev. Jenny Phillips, UMCOR Creation Care program manager, and the Rev. Dr. Jerome Sahabandhu, Global Ministries mission theologian, led the service.
Watch commissioning video.
During the online event, Kemper noted that using videoconferencing and livestreaming for the service reduced the environmental burden of emissions created by travel, and was “a wonderful virtual expression of our global connection.”
EarthKeepers is a training program of Global Ministries and UMCOR, and is designed to equip United Methodist clergy and laity to lead their communities in environmental stewardship. The program is in its second year, and has trained 85 EarthKeepers at events in Atlanta, Georgia, Fayetteville, Arkansas, and St. Cloud, Minnesota. During the training, participants are immersed in discussions on theology, United Methodist resources for creation care, and community organizing.
EarthKeepers commit to spend 10 hours per month working on creation care projects in their communities. During the service, the EarthKeepers shared information about the creation-care projects, which include recycling programs, sustainable gardens, creation-care curriculum development, green building, renewable energy initiatives, and the cultivation of “green teams”—teams of United Methodists working on environmental initiatives in their local churches.
EarthKeepers Arkansas Class of 2017 includes:
• Michael Black, North Georgia Conference
• Nathan Brasfield, Memphis Conference
• Rev. Mel Caraway, North Texas Conference
• Rev. Sarah Fernsler, Eastern Pennsylvania Conference
• Dave Herber, Baltimore-Washington Conference
• Rev. Dianne Glave, Western Pennsylvania Conference
• Becky Harp, Northwest Texas Conference
• Cheryl Marcum, Missouri Conference
• Brenda Nickels, Oklahoma Conference
• Rev. Jeff Potter, Great Plains Conference
• Kim Richmond, Western North Carolina Conference
• Rev. Keith Sexton, North Carolina Conference
• Rev. Tracy Sexton, North Carolina Conference
• J.P. Smith, Desert Southwest Conference
• Terry Tremwel, Arkansas Conference
• Rev. Rebecca Voss, Wisconsin Conference
• Rev. Lisa Weidman, Illinois Great Rivers Conference
EarthKeeper training dates for 2018 will be announced soon. Those wishing to be notified when dates are announced should email Lawanda Gooch, UMCOR Sustainable Development Program assistant at firstname.lastname@example.org.