By: Karla Hovde
Leaders from both the Minnesota Conference’s Youth Ministry and Hopeful EarthKeepers are jointly releasing a four-week study series on creation care for youth. The curriculum includes a bonus lesson on caring for God’s creation at home amid the season of COVID-19.
Entitled “You Are Here: Understanding Creation Care in Everyday Contexts,” this curriculum will guide a youth group or Sunday school class to explore how we relate to God’s creation on a daily basis within our own home environments.
The free curriculum is available for download. Each lesson includes hands-on activities, meaningful discussion prompts, and relevant scripture. For example, the first lesson is about creation care in the kitchen. The lesson includes discussions on food scarcity and food waste, activities to create a food waste tracking booklet and compost bin, and a scripture reading and discussion connecting the story of Joseph and the Pharaoh to famine and modern-day food scarcity.
Also included are daily creation care challenges, with an invitation to participants to share their experience on social media using #CreationCareYouthChallenge.
“This was already the theme before there was any idea that we would all be living and worshipping entirely at home for the foreseeable future!” said Isaiah Friesen, environmental justice organizer for the Minnesota Conference. He added that some of the activities suggested may not be possible to do in this season of online church, but the discussions will be just as applicable. In fact, the lessons may be more applicable because they are based in the spaces we now inhabit more than ever: our kitchens, our bathrooms, our backyard, and our electronics.
Except for Friesen, the team writing the curriculum is composed of youth ministry leaders in congregations across Minnesota, including Youth Ministry Co-Chairs Catie Levenick (Stewartville UMC) and Sami Tierney (Messiah UMC, Plymouth), along with Andrea Langhoff (Grace UMC, Pequot Lakes), Darelle Williams (Park Avenue UMC, Minneapolis), and Rev. Chris Carr (Lake Harriet UMC, Minneapolis).
Williams said that Park Avenue UMC’s youth group members have made changes in how they use the earth’s resources since getting involved in creation care, including switching from disposable plastic to compostable or washable dishes.
“Who knew that ‘bussing suds’ with your group could be so much fun?” said Williams. “Yes, it may take a bit more time for clean-up, but it’s certainly worthwhile; not only are we being responsible with our resources, we’re making connections and building stronger bonds as a group.”
The release of the new creation care curriculum coincides with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which will still be celebrated on April 22, 2020, although many large gatherings have had to change format due to COVID-19.
“Though Earth Day is not officially a Christian holiday,” said Friesen, “it remains a special opportunity for Christians, and particularly young Christians, to reflect on what difference their faith makes in the endeavor to more faithfully and responsibly steward our land, air, water, energy, and homes for future generations.”
“Students can be role models for congregations about social and environmental justice,” added Langhoff. From her work helping to design this curriculum, she believes that it will be “a practical tool that youth leaders can use to start the conversation, to plant seeds among students, and to continue the work of being better stewards of our earth.”
Karla Hovde is the communications specialist for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church