By Will Samson, Director of Advancement and Institutional Relations, Blessed Earth
(This article appears in the April, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)
Blessed Earth is an educational nonprofit that brings the message of environmental stewardship to faith-based institutions of higher learning. The group was founded by Matthew and Nancy Sleeth. A decade ago, Matthew Sleeth, author of Serve God, Save the Planet and the Introduction to The Green Bible, was a successful ER physician and chief of the hospital’s medical staff. After an environmental and spiritual conversion experience, he and his family cut back their energy use by more than two-thirds and trash production by nine-tenths. Together the Sleeths now help lead national efforts to teach churches and seminaries how integrate the values of environmental stewardship into their practices and their curriculum.Most recently they announced an initiative entitled the Seminary Stewardship Alliance (SSA). The goal of the alliance is “for member seminaries to teach, preach, live, inspire, and hold each other accountable for good stewardship practices.” They do this by catalyzing sustainable practices in seminaries, advancing scholarship on Christian models of environmental care and nourishing dialog within and among seminaries. Already on board are some of the largest and most notable seminaries and divinity schools, including Asbury Theological Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Duke Divinity School.
The SSA will be formally announced this Earth Day, April 22nd, at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Matthew Sleeth, the founder and Executive Director of Blessed Earth, will be speaking at both the 8:45 and 11:15 services. In between he will be hosting a Q & A with distinguished author and noted environmentalist Wendell Berry. The following day, Berry is giving the Jefferson Lecture at the Kennedy Center, the highest honor given by the Federal government in the Humanities. Tickets have long been gone for that event, but the Earth Day service and forum at the Cathedral are free and open to the public.
Earth Day is also the launch of an historic new partnership between Blessed Earth and the National Cathedral. Together, they will be offering a full year of lectures, sermons, forums, and panels on environmental issues, as seen through the lens of faith. Blessed Earth director Matthew Sleeth will be delivering monthly sermons on the scriptural call to care for the earth and hosting forums with internationally renowned authors and thought leaders.
For more information about Blessed Earth, including how to invite Matthew or Nancy to your campus to speak, check out the Blessed Earth website: http://www.blessedearth.org/