If you find the notion of caring for and healing creation formidable—or even hopeless—Mennonite Creation Care Network has a resource that just might change your perspective.
With an accessible approach that draws upon science and faith, the Network has shaped a special 13-week creation-care curriculum around biblical teachings. The original edition of Every Creature Singing was directed towards an American audience, but with support from the Network and Mennonite Central Committee Canada, Mennonite Church Canada has adapted it for Canadians.
Every Creature Singing emerged in response to a Mennonite Church U.S.A. resolution passed in July 2013, to study creation care within American ecological and social contexts.
“We didn’t just want to pass another statement; we wanted to call people to a personal response,” says Jennifer Schrock, who developed and wrote the original curriculum. “And so we proposed that Mennonite churches study creation care within their own context. The resolution passed, and therefore we took the responsibility to develop a curriculum.”
Every Creature Singing isn’t strongly prescriptive, so congregations or study groups can shape sessions to meet their needs and their resources, and pick and choose from among them. Each session has four components:
- “Ecological lens” questions enabling a closer look at creation care through biblical texts.
- A local ecosystem focus to familiarize participants with the environment in their local community.
- Suggested spiritual practices such as prayers, meditations and Bible studies.
- Suggested household practices that range from learning where food comes from to reducing consumption and replenishing natural habitats.
“Jennifer did an amazing job with this curriculum,” says Deborah Froese, MC Canada’s director of news services, who oversaw the Canadian adaptation. “It’s rooted in biblical perspectives of creation and supported with biblical stories. It approaches the topic of creation care with an attitude that embraces social justice and faith, and, at the same time, incorporates a can-do attitude. This is encouraging, uplifting study material.”
Matthew Veith, designer for the Canadian edition, says the task of inviting people into the environmental stewardship conversation can be daunting, but the curriculum provides a variety of practical ways for people to respond. One of the biggest challenges he faced in the design process was incorporating the digital elements in a way that would reflect “readability and engagement, not trend and kitsch.”
“I’m confident that more people will use the curriculum because of its added accessibility,” Veith says, “and I’m hopeful they will find it easy to navigate and easy on the eyes as well.”
“I think this is such a wonderful resource,” says Joanne Moyer, assistant professor of environmental studies and geography at the King’s University in Edmonton and a member of the Network’s council. She commends Schrock for weaving Anabaptist theology and peace commitments together with new ideas about watershed discipleship and caring for creation.
“I am so pleased to see a version of this curriculum that speaks specifically to the Canadian context,” says Schrock. “I hope the curriculum helps people encounter the Spirit of Jesus Christ and experience God’s love of all creation.”
Every Creature Singing is available for download at commonword.ca/go/1054.