At the beginning of October, I had the opportunity to attend an EarthKeepers training in Birmingham, Alabama.
Global Ministries EarthKeepers is a training program through the General Board of Global Ministries that equips United Methodists in the United States for environmental stewardship. I have long enjoyed being in nature, but after serving as a missionary in Mozambique, I was motivated to better care for our planet. People in Mozambique may face financial poverty, but it does not stop them from caring for God’s creation. Their lifestyles have very small environmental impacts, yet their communities have faced significant environmental destruction due to extreme weather events in recent years. If being a better steward of natural resources in this country can reduce environmental destruction and improve the lives of folks in Mozambique and worldwide, I want to be part of that. EarthKeepers felt like a natural step.
At the training, I was joined by several people from the South Eastern Jurisdiction, and there were simultaneous trainings going on in Connecticut and Colorado with people from all over the US. We were from different places, but all shared a love for God’s creation and a desire to steward it as a faithful response to God’s gifts. We discussed the Biblical basis for Creation Care, United Methodist resources, community organizing, and anti-racism. We all came with specific environmental project ideas in mind and were able to develop those ideas through mutual learning and conversation with our group. It was inspiring to hear the variety of projects each person was planning, everything from community gardens to supplement wholesome nutrition for children to leading a conference in efforts to improve energy efficiency in churches that are in financial need. There were also fellow EarthKeepers doing the work of organizing Creation Care or Green Teams as a way to collaborate with other folks to move towards impactful change for their churches and communities.
My project is to help coordinate the South Central Jurisdiction’s network of the Creation Justice Movement. The Creation Justice Movement is a grassroots movement meant to connect and support various groups within the UMC for the work of creation care, justice, and regeneration. (Visit www.umcreationjustice.org to learn more.) We, as United Methodists, have achieved so much through collaborative action, and this movement came from a desire to build those synergies around caring for God’s creation. Our SCJ group has been meeting for several months to discuss our work in creation care and learning together. We look forward to developing our collaborative work so that we can highlight Creation Care as a priority in the jurisdiction.
Anyone is welcome to join our monthly Zoom gatherings on the second Tuesday of each month at 3 p.m. CST. (Please email me at email@example.com if you are interested.)
The experience of the EarthKeepers training was inspiring, and I thought of the many possibilities within the Arkansas Conference where our family resides. Arkansas is the Natural State, and I know there are United Methodists who want to engage in Creation Care or already are but perhaps feel disconnected. We are in a great season to join together and see how God can use all of our gifts and passions to take care of this beautiful state.
The next EarthKeepers training will be fully online on March 1, 8, and 16, 2024. If you would like more information about this program or would like to recommend others, visit https://umcmission.org/EarthKeepers/ or contact the Rev. Jenny Phillips, director of Environmental Sustainability for Global Ministries, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rev. Angie Gage and I would love to have more EarthKeepers in Arkansas. If you want to connect with other United Methodist Arkansans interested in Creation Care, please email me at email@example.com or Rev. Gage at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabeth McCormick is a missionary of the UMC serving as Mission Advocate for Global Ministries in the South Central Jurisdiction. She moved from Mozambique, Africa, to Central Arkansas in 2018 with her family after narrowing their options on Google Maps.