This spring Dr. Tyler Mayfield and I have been leading a seminary class at my home in Henryville called Faith and Creation. Every Monday afternoon we gather 15 students to learn with us about a different environmental topic. The students first spend about 10 minutes checking on their chosen tree, to observe its changes as the spring progresses, and to look, listen, smell, and feel all the life that surrounds them. Then we meet for Bible study and discussion. Last, we get our hands in the soil. We’ve talked about being part of (not apart from) creation, about the sources of human alienation from the natural world, about consumerism, food systems and agriculture, climate change, and the various ways faith leaders can make a real difference.
We’ve hosted wonderful guest speakers, and some have hosted us:
- Dr. Sajal Sthapit from the Land Institute, who also happens to be my son-in-law, talking to us about agriculture and agribusiness);
- The Rev. Rebecca Barnes from the PCUSA Hunger Program, talking about environmental justice;
- Jessica Maudlin, who resources Earth Care Congregations at the PCUSA,
- The Rev. Don Summerfield and Beth Snyder, sharing about the energy conservation changes and solar arrays at First Presbyterian Church in Jeffersonville,
- The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, talking about eco-preaching,
- And this week Kyle Kramer, executive director of the Earth & Spirit Center in Louisville, sharing about their environmental and mindfulness educational programs.
Besides these stimulating discussions, we’ve started and potted up spring greens and summer vegetables, composted and spread manure, planted onions, potatoes, and trees, grown sweet potato slips from last year’s crop, weeded gardens, cleared space for pollinator gardens, and generally enjoyed playing in the soil.
For Earth Week at Louisville Seminary, the students led worship, hosted a community lunch, and offered activities like journal making, Electric Vehicle drives, and microgreens growing, giving the rest of the seminary community a taste of our adventures this spring.
The students have found the class enlightening and encouraging. I’ve been so grateful for Tyler Mayfield‘s leadership and his faithful photo-documentation of our Mondays.