Wartburg Theological Seminary

This grant supported the teaching of two courses at Wartburg Theological Seminary, a public event of the rural ministry conference, and five mini-grant projects in the seminary community.

The first course, MN 396 Ecojustice, was able to include two instructors with expertise on climate change to co-teach, Dr. Lisa Dahill and Dr. Larry Rasmussen, published scholars in the field. This course explored biblical, theological, ethical, and scientific perspectives that inform and analyze the contemporary crisis in creation, including the urgency of rectifying climate change. Due to the pandemic, this intensive course was held through digital technology on Zoom.

There were five course objectives:

  • To explore the biblical and theological foundations for a theology of creation ethics (practice of biblical and theological wisdom).
  • To become more deeply informed by science for the church’s deliberation of ecojustice (practice of complex analysis).
  • To examine the theological and ethical responsibilities facing the church in advocating for the integrity of creation in local places (practice of personal faith and integrity).
  • To participate in worship and devotions that accent our interdependence with creation (practice of missio dei in Word and Sacrament).
  • To claim one’s own theological voice in articulating an ethics of creation (practice of pastoral concern).

The second course, MN 255 Being Body of Christ (required of all second-year students), due to the grant was able to include a special focus on the challenges of climate change. The readings and speakers engaged the class in matters related to advocating for earth, sky, waters, and all creatures under threat in this era of the Anthropocene. Students were required to read two texts (Sallie McFague, A New Climate for Christology: Kenosis, Climate Change, and Befriending Nature and Bill McKibben, Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?). Four group projects each were based on additional readings (Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, Elizabeth A. Johnson, Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love, Kiara A. Jorgenson and Alan G. Padgett, editors, Ecotheology: A Christian Conversation, and James B. Martin-Schramm, Climate Justice: Ethics, Energy and Public Policy). Four speakers made presentations on climate change from their different perspectives as plenary sessions: Dr. Frederick Ware, Dr. Jessica Moerman, Dr. James Martin-Schramm, and Dr. Larry Rasmussen. The syllabus for the course is also provided for further reference.

The Rural Ministry Conference, held March 6-8, 2022, was focused on the theme of climate change: “Creation Stewardship and Ministry in a Time of Climate Change.” The event description reads:

Climate Change is impacting our world, especially rural areas, in many different ways. This conference will explore climate change’s impacts in rural America as well as how often rural areas become victims to injustice in how climate and creation stewardship are addressed in the United States. Grounded in biblical and theological understandings, emphasis will be on practical ways for rural congregations, leaders, and communities to think about creation stewardship in a time of climate change.

Finally, students, staff, and faculty members were supported in completing five eco-projects within the WTS community. These included:

  • Seed packets for native wildlife pollination: Purchased and distributed seed packets for native wildflowers that support pollinators like bees and butterflies. Worked with several Wartburg staff members to get lists and addresses of students. The Sustainability Taskforce invited people to plant these seeds and be intentional about supporting pollinators. Live plants were also provided for the campus community. Words of thanks and appreciation were received from several members of the community.
  • Education about a theology of food: Led a bread baking workshop for the seminary community. Supported book reviewers for titles related to food theology. Taught a course on food theology. Will lead a workshop on food theology at the 2023 Rostered Minister’s Gathering of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
  • Teaching materials on regenerative agriculture and climate change: Supported a faculty member developing teaching material related to regenerative agriculture, including for a course on Rural Ecosystems and Ministry. Regenerative agriculture is an old concept that has taken on a new importance in response to the impacts of climate change.
  • Food waste recycling at the seminary: Food waste bins were assigned to housing units and instructions for their use provided to those residents. Laminated sheets with instructions for composting and food waste recycling were placed on display in the residential units. Food waste bins were well-received and residents with bins took part in food waste composting. Some residents in duplexes also participated by placing their food waste in bins when space was available.
  • A presentation on eco-wonders in the Pacific Northwest. This was held as part of the Rural Ministry Conference and led by one of the Ecojustice students.

To view syllabi in the climate grant cohort, CLICK HERE.

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In furtherance of the AAAS mission of advancing science in service to society, AAAS|DoSER’s role in the Science for Seminaries project is to support efforts to integrate science into seminary education. AAAS|DoSER does not advise on or endorse the theological content of the participating seminaries.