Resources for Worship, Preaching and Education
Resources for Worship, Preaching and Education
Worship and Preaching
Worship offers a variety of opportunities to include environmental themes from Sunday morning to special services like Thanksgiving or a Blessing of Animals for the feast of Francis of Assisi or rituals to mark the changing of the season at the solstice and equinox.
Worship with Rev. Dr. Jim Antal NEW! Combine worship, preaching and study with the Rev. Dr. Jim Antal. Find more information on how to access his sermon and zoom discussion of his book, Climate Church, Climate World.
Season of Creation Add a new liturgical season to your church calendar in the fall. The Season of Creation is an optional season for the church year. While caring for creation can be a vital dimension of every worship service, for centuries, our theology, our ethics, and our worship have been oriented in two dimensions: our relationship with God and our human relationships with one another. The Season of Creation is a time to turn our attention to God’s relationship with all creation and with our relationship with creation (and with God through creation).
God’s Good Earth: Praise and Prayer for Creation by Jeffrey and Anna Rowthorn is a collection of 52 prayer services, each around a specific theme, drawing from a rich variety of ecumenical resources: psalms and other responsive readings, Scripture, hymns, prayers, and reflections from the world's most engaging nature writers and interpreters of the social and cultural landscape. Each section can be used in full, or the user may select smaller sections; permission is granted to the purchaser to reproduce for use in public prayer.
Let All Creation Praise: Care for Creation Sermons ~ An ecumenical resource
“Feeling and Pain and Prayer” ~ Article on praying through the grief evoked by a changing climate by Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care for both the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and the Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ.
A Passion for the Planet ~ An hour-long oratorio scored for chorus of mixed voices, children’s chorus, soprano and baritone soloists, and a 12-person instrumental ensemble. The libretto blends scientific prose, poetry, and sacred texts. A Passion for the Planet traces a musical journey from gratitude, through the darker truths of the climate crisis, before emerging into hope. In the finale, performers and audience join together to sing a simple chorale tune. Watch the performance here.
Links to Sermons, Prayers, Liturgy, Poetry
Resources for the Blessing of the Animals
Consider regularly incorporating a First Announcement into worship. A First Announcement invites those who have taken some action in the past week to promote sustainability to stand and receive the applause of the congregation. It only takes a moment!
A regular First Announcement invitation can grow the number those interested in getting involved with environmental issues in the congregation. It also gives kids and youth an opportunity to stand and be recognized for their actions. A First Announcement keeps the climate emergency visible to the congregation and encourages individual Creation care testimonies.
You can also adapt this First Announcement to match one of the steps on which you are working, e.g. invite those who have committed to “Ten Things You Can Do to Fight Climate Change” or to another sustainability or advocacy action to stand and be recognized.
The First Announcement promotes energy around environmental action because people see that others are stepping up. It counteracts the bias that the climate is either too distant or too overwhelming to take action. It also generates great conversation in coffee hour about the projects with which people are engaged!
For another way to adapt the First Announcement, you can read more in Climate Church, Climate World by Jim Antal (pages 104-105)
To reflect upon how your church can live out its commitment to care for God’s creation, here are four things your church can do to celebrate Earth Day and live out your commitment to care for God’s creation:
- Launch a Book Group! Use Earth Sunday as an opportunity to launch a book group to read Cathedral on Fire!: A Church Handbook for the Climate Crisis. Each chapter includes discussion questions along with suggested actions that have been tested and proven.
- Focus Your Worship! The United Church of Christ has partnered with Creation Justice Ministries to produce thematic worship resources and educational materials for Earth Sunday. The 2021 theme is “A New Heaven and a New Earth: Health, Environmental Racism, and Eco-Justice.”
- Make a Call for Action! Just as one calls the fire department to put out a fire, one of the best actions we can take as people of faith is to call upon congress to act as the present situation demands. On Earth Sunday, encourage members of your church to call their elected officials the very next day in order to share why their faith compels them to seek just, equitable, and ambitious environmental policies. For the love of creation, for the love of our neighbors, and for the love of our children, we need our government to reflect our values.
More Links to Earth Day Resources:
How to Talk About the Climate Crisis
One of the most important things that we can do to take action is to talk about the climate emergency not by spouting facts but by connecting over shared values like family, community and religion. Finding common ground can prompt people to realize that they already actually care about a changing climate.
Here are some other resources for effective communication strategies to engage people in conversation and collaboration:
Resources for Bible and Adult Study
Creation Care Bible Study (Search under “Sermons, Bible Studies and Discussion Starters")
Climate Change Sabbath Toolkit (Search under “Climate Change Toolkit" and download)
Invite your congregation join hundreds of congregations and read Jim Antal’s
book, Climate Church, Climate World. It was featured on Earth Day in the Chicago Tribune (2018). Consider combining worship, preaching and study. Click here for more information on how to schedule his sermon and zoom discussion of his book for your congregation.
Offer an adult study on Cathedral on Fire!: A Church Handbook for the Climate Crisis by Brooks Berndt and discover what it means to commit as a congregation to care for God’s creation as our first calling. Discuss the scriptural basis in pursuing justice for a planet and its people, the moral foundation for understanding the climate crisis as an inequality crisis and discover a powerful, sacred language for articulating what fundamentally motivates people to act. Each chapter includes discussion questions along with suggested actions that have been tested and proven.
This collection of essays by twenty-one faith leaders, scientists, community organizers, theologians, and grassroots climate activists is edited by Leah Schade and Margaret Bullit-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and the Southern New England Conference. The essays, introductory sections, and discussion questions provide opportunities for a study group to engage an interfaith perspective on the climate crisis as well as spiritual practices and perspectives to support action.
Environmental Racism Study
Consider using these reports to explore locations in your region where toxic wastes have been situated with their primary impact on environmental justice communities:
In 1987, the UCC’s Commission for Racial Justice published the first report to comprehensively demonstrate environmental racism across the nation with its report Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States. A 20th anniversary report took that research further in demonstrating that when facilities were clustered together in an area the likelihood of racial and economic disparities increased.
In 2020, a report entitled “Breath to the People: Sacred Air and Toxic Pollution” added another dimension of research by focusing on the children who live near polluting facilities and are particularly vulnerable toxic emissions.
Gonna Trouble the Water: Ecojustice, Water and Environmental Racism by Miguel de la Torre (Pilgrim Press) de-centers the concept of water as a commodity in order to consider the sacred nature of water and the ways in which it is weaponized against non-white communities. With compelling contributions from scholars and activists, politicians and theologians.
Low Carbon Diet: A 30 Day Program to Lose 5000 Pounds An accessible, easy to use workbook that shows how to dramatically reduce CO2 output in your household. Makes for a good 4 week series. Available from Empowerment Institute.
Check out the kid-friendly version, too: Journey for the Planet. Also available Green Living Handbook: A 6 Step Program to Create an Environmentally Sustainable Lifestyle.
- Environmental racism study
- Film Recommendations PDF download
- Books about Climate Change, Environmental Justice and Creation Care PDF download
Bible and Adult Study Websites
Arrange to screen the documentary Kiss the Ground and explore the resources on this website.
Explore the Good News Gardens – a project of 2 dioceses in Massachusetts. Spreading the good news through gardening by 1) growing and sharing healthy food; 2) reflecting on connections between scripture, faith, food and gardening; and 3) learnings about and influence food systems and policies that affect society as a whole. spread the good news through gardening.
Here are some additional links:
The Story of Stuff, a range of short, animated videos on topics from micro-plastics to cosmetics to bottled water, microfibers, water, shopping etc.
Screen Plastic Ocean (available on Netflix)
Creation Care as a Spiritual Discipline
Green Sabbath Project. Take a weekly day of rest. Make it a real sabbath. For you. For the earth. Don’t drive. Don’t shop. Don’t build. Take a walk. Feast with friends. Play or read with your kids. Sing. Meditate. Celebrate contentment.
UCC Ecumenical Advocacy Days Annually in April in Washington, DC
Advocacy 101 for Young Adults - download under “advocacy resources”
Environmental Books for Young People PDF download