Welcome to FBC’s Earthworks: The Psalm 8 Collective. First Baptist has embraced a new model of creation care based on the words of Psalm 8: “O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!…I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers.” The Psalmist reminds us of the beauty of God’s creation and our role to be stewards of it. To that end, we have created a six-team collective, inviting the congregation to participate in the shared work of Psalm 8. Here we highlight the different teams, using the metaphor of a room with six doors—six ways to enter. Pray and consider how God might be inviting you to participate! Contact the church office, or the team leader, to sign up for one or more teams, or keep an eye out for events and jump in where you like.
The six “doors” to this model of creation care
The first door into this room of Creation Care is the door of Worship. We’ll call them Team Yellow. It is appropriate, given the fact that we started with Psalm 8, a song of worship, designed to be sung in the Temple, thanking God for the blessings of earth and land. Worship teaches us to care for creation, in the songs that we sing and the Scriptures we read. Standing at the door to that room is a familiar face to many: Anne Munsterman. Anne has been involved in worship for a long time here at First Baptist, and wants to find ways to open that door to new folks. We are thinking big: not only anthems and hymns and sermons that speak of creation care, but considering how our church grounds could be made to inspire worship, even organizing special outdoor worship services including a blessing of the animals service. Other churches have integrated what they call a liturgical “Season of Creation” (the four Sundays in September prior to St Francis of Assisi Day October 4th.) Anne is holding the door open for you and maybe you are ready to walk through it via the way of worship.
The second door into this room of Creation Care is the way of Scholars, or Team Purple. There are those who might enter the room of creation care through this scholarship: intellectual, theological understandings of creation care. Some might be interested in hearing and understanding the philosophical and intellectual ideas of creation care, including land sustainability, use of chemicals and pollution, species protection, global racism and the impact on the Global South, and climate change. This group might consider bringing in a speaker, panel, discussion group, or movie and conversation. Caleb Robbins, who has been attending the 8:30 service regularly with his wife Ashley for the last few months, jumped at the chance to help when I told him about some of these ideas. Dr. Robbins is a stream ecologist here in Lawrence doing post-doc work. He has taught in former churches about the theology of creation care, and he is a wonderful example of the Scholarly door. Caleb is holding the door open for you and maybe you are ready to walk through it by the way of scholarship.
The third door–Team Green—is who we might call the “Re-sourcers.” There are some folks that believe that simple changes in the way we live can make a big difference: “Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.” This group lives by the mantra “Be green to save green,” because they know that changing light bulbs, windows, and switching to alternative energy and energy-saving practices are less expensive AND better for the environment. Churches across the country are working to make these changes, as they have seen them as a key component to caring for God’s creation. Holding the door for the Green Team is Marylee Southard. Marylee is interested in working to make these practical changes at church and help people make them at home. Recycling efforts, work days or training events, in-home energy audits, and hosting outside energy consultants to reduce the carbon footprint of the church…these are all ideas for Team Green. Marylee is holding the door open for you and maybe you are ready to walk through it by the way of the “Re-sourcers.”
A fourth door is what we are calling Sustenance. We’ll call them Team Orange. These are folks who pay close attention to the food they eat and the water they drink. They think about the ways that we care for our natural resources. Advocates for natural/organic/local food. Public health professionals and advocates. Water conservationists. And often folks who are simply label readers, watching closely what is in their food or the food of their family. Inviting you in the orange door are Joanna and Brandon Gillette. They are already thinking about how we might be more thoughtful of these issues and how we might learn more about our food and water. Cooking a church meal together to reduce waste. Bringing in a speaker to teach us about where our food comes from. Partnering with the Presbyterians on our shared food pantry garden. The way of the sustainers is open; the Gillettes are holding open the door.
The fifth door is near and dear to Pastor Matt’s heart—as seen in many of his sabbatical photos—this is the way of the Nature-Lovers. Team Blue. Folks who enter through this door want to do more than save the environment for theoretical reasons, these folks want to save it because of their passion for being in nature. Camping. Hiking. Bike rides. Backpacking. Mountain-climbing. Trail running. Stream or park clean-up. Birdwatching. Nature photography. Even fishing and hunting. We have two door-holders for this door: Steve Yoder and Bryan Miller, and they have some goals for the Blue Team:
- For FBC members to experience God’s awesome and majestic creation by participating in events and activities in nature. “O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1)
- To provide a variety of events and activities so that all FBC members, regardless of experience, fitness, and gear, can find an event/activity they can access and enjoy.
- To share our experiences in God’s creation with the whole congregation (through photographs, videos, storytelling, etc.).
If this sounds like something you’d like to try, Steve and Bryan are holding the door for you! Walk on in! (or run or hike or bike or paddle…)
One final door. The Red Door. The door of Advocacy. Team Red are the folks inspired by the prophet Habakkuk. In 2.17, he writes, “For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you; the destruction of the animals will terrify you—because of human bloodshed and violence to the earth, to cities and all who live in them.” Out of the prophetic tradition of Habakkuk and other prophets who have cried out for justice on behalf of the earth, this group will be more likely to be involved in direct action for the benefit of a healthy environment for all. In the vein of the prophetic advocates of old, they might include letter-writing campaigns, organizing of petitions, public appearances, or even nonviolent protests. After Pastor Matt preached this sermon in November, Chad Johnston realized that this might be what God has been calling him to. In recent years, concern over what we are doing to the environment has led him to ask what God might be calling us to do about it. Perhaps you would join Chad in asking that question, ready to be a Habakkuk.