by Karla Stoltzfus Detweiler

The event described below is one of three climate change trainings for Christian leaders sponsored by Creation Justice Ministries this year in partnership with the Anabaptist Climate Collaborative. The next retreat will take place October 16 to 18, 2023, more info here.

Pastoral Care for Climate: Weaving Science and Theology for Justice took place in May on the beautiful grounds of Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin. The sisters there have given great care to the land,  and the property included restored prairies as well as a lake. The meals served were delicious, featuring ingredients grown on the property.

I appreciated the “weaving” of science and faith. Climate scientists shared some of the realities of climate change with us, including how devastating heat waves are in urban areas. The Chicago heat wave of 1995 which resulted in over 700 deaths is one example. As people of faith and leaders of faith communities, the call is to care for those who are vulnerable to suffering due to climate change, as well as to encourage changes (personal, systemic, legislative) that will help mitigate climate change.

Connection with a place

One of the memorable moments (among many) for me was when Rick Lindroth, a professor of ecology at the University of Wisconsin Madison, led us on an ecology walk on the monastery grounds. He paused to offer a 17-word sermon: “Climate change is real. It’s bad. It will get worse. But there’s hope if we act now.” He went on to say that connection is the first step. A relationship of connection with a place/with the land is what people need to be motivated to act in ways that care for creation and curb climate change.

Victoria Loorz, author of Church of the Wild: How Nature Invites Us into the Sacred, led us in two Wild Church worship times. She described this connection as falling in love: with the land, with creation.

I was not the only Mennonite present. Suzanne Ford, pastor of Christ Community Mennonite Church, Schaumburg, Ill.; Brian Sauder, director of Faith in Place, Chicago, Ill., and Doug Kaufman of the Anabaptist Climate Collaborative also attended. The latter two were coordinators of the event.