Seven Signs You Need Time Off

By Bishop Michael Rinehart

It may not seem like rocket science at first, but most of us don’t recognize right away when we need a break. We just think a problem is impossible. A person is unreasonable. exasperatedWe find ourselves frustrated and angry. It doesn’t occur to us right away that the problems aren’t any worse, nor are the people any more unreasonable than usual. It’s just that our capacity to engage them creatively has been depleted. We desperately need sabbath.

Church staff often sprint from Christmas to Easter. There is a lot going on. Much of it is joyful, life-giving, and fun. Even the good stuff is exhausting though. We pour ourselves out. Then one day we realize we are out of steam. There is a deficit in our emotional bank account. If we don’t get rest, we might overheat the engine and ruin things. Choose an analogy. Pick a symptom: You snap at a colleague. Take things too personally. Approach burn out. Eat too much. Drink too much. Maybe become in danger of a boundary violation of some sort. Your health is at risk.

By the time you realize you’re crispy, it might be too late. The damage is done. You can’t catch your breath. Like dehydration or heat stroke, by the time you realize you’re shaky and chilled, you could be in trouble.

So, look for the signs in advance. When the sky and sea change, be aware a storm could be brewing. If you’re experiencing one of the signs below, it’s probably no big deal. If you’re experiencing several, it’s probably time to get outta Dodge. If you’re experiencing all of them, take some time off immediately.

Time off may look like vacation. It may look like some fun, engaging continuing education. It might be a sabbatical, which takes some planning. The best thing is often a combination of vacation and continuing education, for a couple of weeks. One week won’t do it.

So go. Read. Play. Sing. Walk. Swim. Wander. Waste time. Find yourself. Restore your soul.

You’re irritable or vulnerable. Even the slightest comment irritates you or hurts your feelings. Stuff that doesn’t usually bother you does. You’ve snapped at a staff member, spouse or friend.

You feel overwhelmed. Ministry is hard. We deal with birth and death, marriage and divorce. These are challenging times for churches. It’s not easy. Most of the time you’re energized by the challenge. The last few weeks you’ve felt like giving up. It may or may not be time for a new call, but one thing’s for sure: You won’t know for sure without some liminal space to gain a fresh perspective. After some time away, most likely you will be energized for a new season of ministry. If not, you can make big decisions from a healthier place.

You’re eating of drinking too much. Maybe you’ve gained weight. Are you burning the candle at both ends? Perhaps you’re responding to the emotional toll by eating. Do you need a few days in Florida to take your mind off things? Are you working too hard to make time for exercise? Time to re-calibrate your life. Make space in your life to reconnect with healthy, life-giving practices of prayer, walking, family, friends and mindful eating.

Mistakes feel catastrophic. We all make mistakes. Most often we apologize and move on. Other times we feel the slightest mistake is a disaster. Our careers and futures seem in utter jeopardy. Most mistakes are salvageable. When a reversible, forgivable mistake feels irreversible, it’s often our perspective that needs work. Your over-extension may have even led to the gaffe in the first place. Now it makes you feel hopeless. Time to get away.

relaxing in poolPeople tell you to take a vacation. This should be the obvious hint, but sometimes we ignore it. When people start asking you when you’re going to take time off, they’re sending you a meta-message: Go away and recharge. It might be subtle: “So, taking any vacation this summer?” It may be more blunt: “You really should take some time off.” It might be coming from a church member or a family member. In any case, when you hear this, receive it as grace, not judgment.

Things feel hopeless. You can’t see a way forward. The future looks bleak. Fair enough. It’s possible you’re at that juncture, but you’re not in a place to decide right now. Things seem impossible when we are exhausted. Have you ever gotten up in the morning and suddenly seen a solution to a problem that had you stuck the night before? Certainly, sometimes we need more than a good night’s sleep. Sometimes we need a fortnight. Make space to disconnect for a much longer time.

You’re exhausted. You wake up tired. Thinking of work makes you depressed. You dread going into the office. Look, if you’re having these feelings, you must take some time away. You’re going to hurt someone. Ministry is hard, but it isn’t a drudgery. Go someplace where you can rediscover the joy that led you into ministry. Pray. Listen. Go for a walk in the woods. Stand on the beach and feel the wind of the Spirit. Where is it blowing in your life?

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
~Psalm 23:1-3

Lisa’s Pieces:  Creation Care Tips from the Synod Lutherans Restoring Creation Team

Lutherans Restoring Creation

The mission of Lutherans Restoring Creation is to promote incorporation of care for creation into the full life and mission of the church, working in five areas:  worship, education, discipleship, building & grounds, and public ministry/advocacy.  For some timely tips in these areas, see below:

Worship Respond to Creation Justice Ministries’ call for 1000 sermons in solidarity with youth who have taken the federal government to court over climate change. These 17 ways to be an eco-preacher may help. Here are some prayers  honoring God in creation. Consider these seasonal creation-focused prayers for Pentecost in year B. Creation-focused commentaries on the lectionary are available.

Education Still looking for VBS materials? Consider The Water of Life. Here’s a book for your kids’ library: How Abad and Shamar Became Gardeners.  The online Sunday Evening Conversations on Creation on June 17, Going Green for Home Building/Remodeling Projects, and on July 29, Houston’s Green Building Resource Center, educate on practical creation care.  The Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston offers a talk on Walk Gently on Earth, the interfaith climate declaration, on June 10. Plan now to attend All Earth is Waiting – An Advent Retreat on Nov. 30 – Dec. 1.

Discipleship:  Make use of the “Bulletin blurb” eco-tips (+ verses & quotes) on the synod leaders Facebook page each week. Help members to go green for summer barbeques.  Assist members to act as stewards in vehicle purchases with this emissions app. Offer this 10-step spiritual discipline or this video meditation for members’ home use.

Building & Grounds Need to replace the church van? Consider vehicle lifecycle emissions.  For  Global Wind Day (June 15), consider renewable options from your electricity provider. Can’t switch electricity plans now?  Consider carbon offsets for emissions. In this first year of the Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development, reduce your water consumption.  Some ways are:  install faucet aerators, toilet tummys, a rain barrel to harvest rainwater, or moisture sensors on your irrigation system.

Public Ministry/Advocacy:  The weekly Opportunities to Care for, Learn About, and Enjoy God’s Good Creation features volunteer events in the greater Houston area (see upcoming opportunities link). For World Sea Turtle Day (June 16), consider assisting TX sea turtle facilities (Upper TX Coast Sea Turtle Patrol, Padre Island National Seashore or NOAA’ s Galveston lab). While you can’t plant trees in Africa to combat desertification for World Day to Combat Desertification (June 17),  a fundraiser to support an organization that does, such as Plant with Purpose, is possible. Join Interfaith Power & Light in their advocacy campaign to support a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Petition the EPA not to weaken Clean Water Act protections for ground water.

For more information on any of the above, or for creation care assistance/information, contact the synod Lutherans Restoring Creation Team by writing to Lisa at The team is seeking additional members.  If you would be willing to serve, please contact us.

Sunday Evening Conversations on Creation Continue

The synod Lutherans Restoring Creation Team invites you to a monthly environmental education web meeting series whose theme in 2018 is Stewardship.

Houston’s Green Building Resource Center
Sunday, July  29, at 6 p.m. 

Steve Stelzer
Steve Stelzer, Program Director, Green Building Resource Center

In July, we welcome Steve Stelzer, Program Director for Houston’s Green Building Resource Center.  Steve is an architect with 30 years experience who is focused on making Houston a greener place to live and work. He will discuss the center’s work to educate the public on healthy and energy, water, and material-conserving design and construction.  This mission is accomplished in a number of ways:  a showroom highlighting building components, water conservation, site, and energy efficiency,  monthly educational seminars on a wide variety of topics, and plan review services to suggest strategies to conserve energy and water, save money, and create a healthier building environment.

The center also hosts a green book discussion group, holds periodic rain barrel and composter sales, offers Master Composter classes, educates on Drawdown (ways to combat climate change), how to achieve zero waste, and many other green living topics.

Come learn how the center can help you to go green not only with building design and construction, but also operations and maintenance, whether for a residential or commercial property.  Get all your green building questions answered! Please register for this talk, and you will receive an invitation to the web meeting.  Contact Lisa Brenskelle at with any questions.

All Earth is Waiting – An Advent Retreat

Friday evening, Nov. 30 – Saturday evening, Dec. 1

Escape from the frenzy of the start of the “Christmas shopping season” on an intimate, 24-hour retreat in the beauty of God’s good creation at the Cramer Retreat Center in Spring.  This retreat invites you to get ready for the coming of Christ by exploring familiar Advent themes: hope, preparation, joy and peace, with the reconciliation of heaven and earth in mind. Consider how all creation longs for the coming of Christ, and how we are called to witness the Incarnation in our care of all God’s created world and all God’s creatures.  Enjoy a time of renewal, reflection, recreation, and restoration on this retreat.  The retreat is open to adults, and to youth 10+, when accompanied by an adult. Plan now to participate!   Retreat cost is $60 (+ ticketing fees), which covers three meals on Saturday, overnight lodging and a reception on Friday evening.

Space is limited, so please register early. For more information, contact Lisa Brenskelle at

World Environment Day / El Dia Mundial del Medio Ambiente

environment dayWorld Environment Day is June 5, 2018. The goal of World Environment Day, since 1974 has been to raise awareness, and encourage action on behalf of the environment. This year’s theme is Beat Plastic Pollution. 1 million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute. These bottles wash up on the shores of countries around the world, and form large floatillas that smother coral reefs and threaten marine life.

This year, the pastors of our companion synod, the Lutheran Church of Peru, asked if we would be willing to have a sermon exchange. We agreed. The sermons can be found below, in English and in Spanish. Consider reading through these sermons, and preparing one of your own for Sunday, June 3, 2018.

Here are some texts that might be used…

Genesis 1 – Seven days of creation. It is good.
Genesis 2 – Adam and Eve in the garden.
Isaiah 55 – The mountains and hills burst forth in song. The trees of the field clap their hands.
Job 38 – Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

Psalm 24 – The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.
Psalm 19 – The heavens declare the glory of God.
Psalm 104:14-30 – O Lord, how manifold are your works.

Romans 1:20 – Creation reveals God.
Romans 8:19-25 – Creation aches to be set free from bondage and decay.
Colossians 1:15-20 – Christ, the firstborn of all creation, died to reconcile all things in heaven and on earth.

Matthew 6:25-34 – Consider the lilies.
John 1:1-5 – In the beginning was the Word.

A Call to a “Theo-cosmological” Way of Being
Pastor Emmanuel Jackson, Living Word Lutheran Church, Katy Texas

Like a Mustard Seed
Pastor Ofelia Dávila, St. John Way of Hope Lutheran Church, Lima Peru

Lessons from the Flowers and Birds
Pastor Diane Roth, Grace Lutheran Church, Conroe, Texas

House of God, Gift of Love
Rev. Irene Poncé, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Breña, Lima, Peru

The New Creation
Pastor Ashley Dellagiacoma, Kindred Lutheran Church, Houston, Texas
Meditation: A New Consciousness of God’s Creation

Stewards of God’s Creation
Pastor Alan D. Kethan, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Columbus, Texas

Creation is Revelation
Bishop Michael Rinehart, TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod

El Dia Mundial del Medio Ambiente

El Día Mundial del Medio Ambiente es el 5 de junio de 2018. El objetivo del Día Mundial del Medio Ambiente, desde 1974, ha sido crear conciencia y fomentar acciones en favor del medio ambiente. El tema de este año es Vencer Polución Plastico. Se compran 1 millón de botellas de plástico por minuto. Estas botellas se filtran en las costas de países de todo el mundo y forman grandes flotillas que sofocan los arrecifes de coral y amenazan la vida marina.

Este año, los pastores de nuestro sínodo compañero, la Iglesia Luterana de Perú, preguntaron si estaríamos dispuestos a tener un intercambio de sermones. Acordamos. Los sermones se pueden encontrar a continuación, en inglés y en español. Considere leer estos sermones y preparar uno propio el domingo 3 de junio de 2018.

Aquí hay algunos textos que podrían usarse …

Génesis 1 – Siete días de creación. Es bueno.
Génesis 2 – Adán y Eva en el jardín.
Isaías 55 – Las montañas y las colinas estallan en canto. Los árboles del campo aplauden sus manos.
Job 38 – ¿Dónde estabas tú cuando puse los cimientos de la tierra?

Salmo 24 – La tierra es del Señor y su plenitud.
Salmo 19 – Los cielos declaran la gloria de Dios.
Salmo 104: 14-30 – ¡Oh Señor! ¡Cuán variadas son tus obras!

Romanos 1:20 – La creación revela a Dios.
Romanos 8: 19-25 – La creación duele para liberarse de la esclavitud y la decadencia.
Colosenses 1: 15-20 – Cristo, el primogénito de toda la creación, murió para reconciliar todas las cosas en el cielo y en la tierra.

Mateo 6: 25-34 – Considera los lirios.
Juan 1: 1-5 – En el principio era El Verbo.

Una Llamada a Una Forma de ser “Teo-cosmológica”
Rev. Emmanuel Jackson, Iglesia Luterana Palabra Viva, Katy, Texa

Como una semilla de mostaza
Rev. Ofelia Dávila, Iglesia Luterana San Juan Camino de Esperanza, Lima, Peru

Lecciónes de los Flores y Pájaros
Rev. Diane Roth, Iglesia Luterana Gracia, Conroe

La Casa Dios, Regalo de Amor
Rev. Irene Poncé, Iglesia Luterana Belén, Breña, Lima, Peru

La Nueva Creación
Rev. Ashley Dellagiacoma, Kindred, Houston, Texas

Mayordomos de la creación de Dios
Rev. Alan D. Kethan, Igelsia Luterana San Pablo, Columbus, Texas

Creación es Revelación
Obispo Miguel Rinehart, El Sínodo de la TX-LA Costa del Golfo


The Diligent Church Leader’s Checklist

By Bishop Michael Rinehart

church membersA leader of a church is like a ship’s captain. An effective captain knows the destination and has plotted out a route. The captain motivates and organizes the crew to work together to accomplish the mission. Church leaders are no different. There are basics to leadership that are common to most disciplines. Some like to make fun of leadership and business books, as if they have nothing to learn. The church needs people who know how to lead organizations, large and small, those with 300+ employees and those with five.

In this spirit, below is a checklist of 25 best practices for church leaders. Take a look:

  1. Mission: Do we have a mission statement that is known by most of the congregation? Do I preach this mission regularly?
  2. Vision: What is my ten-year vision for this congregation? Have I discussed this with church leadership? Have I preached this vision in a sermon to the congregation in the past year?
  3. Core Values: Do we have 4 to 8 written core values that clearly describe the kind of community God is calling us to be? Have they been approved by the congregation? Have I preached core values in the last year?
  4. Strategic Plan: What is our three-year plan? Did we develop this plan with a thorough listening to God, to the congregation, into the wider community?
  5. Annual Roadmap: Have we developed our annual roadmap for this year? Was this develop my leadership team? Was it shared with the congregation?
  6. Faithful Metrics: Have we developed faithful metrics that help us know if we are bearing the fruit we hoped for in the above planning? Is the leadership team tracking these metrics weekly or monthly?
  7. Simplicity: Have we simplified the basic tasks of ministry so we have clarity of purpose?
  8. Organizational Chart: Do we have an organizational chart that clarifies rolls and accountability?
  9. Meetings: Does my staff meet weekly, with participatory meetings and a clear agenda?
  10. Staff: Do we have the right staff? Are they all on the right seat of the bus?
  11. Annual Review: Did we review all staff this year, on the basis of clear job descriptions, last year’s goals, and our core values? Does every staff person have 3 to 4 goals?
  12. Giving: Am I tithing? Do I preach about giving?
  13. Sermon: Have I set aside 6-8 hours every week to prepare inspiring and engaging sermons?
  14. Worship: Do we have a team that is creatively planning worship weekly?
  15. Evangelism: Do we have a system to invite, welcome and follow up with visitors?
  16. Faith Formation: Have we a strategy for faith formation among young and old? Have I arranged for the home bound to be visited and communed monthly?
  17. Bishop’s Report: Did I fill out my Pastor’s or Deacon’s Report to the Bishop by February 15?
  18. Congregational Report: Did the congregation complete its Congregational Report by February 15?
  19. Council: Do we have the right sized leadership team and an organizational structure that drives the mission? Do we have a plan to get there?
  20. Constitution: Do we have a clear Constitution and bylaws, that has been updated in the last 3 years?
  21. Mutual Ministry: Do we have a Mutual Ministry or Staff Support Team?
  22. Finance: Do we have a budget?
  23. Audit: Have we done an audit this year?
  24. Insurance: Do we have adequate liability and malpractice insurance?
  25. Policy: Do we have clear policies in place?
    1. Safe haven policy that requires background checks for everyone who works with children or youth
    2. Staff/personnel policies
    3. Conflict of interest policy
    4. Sexual-harassment policy
    5. Building use policy
    6. Handling offerings and finances policy
    7. Expense reimbursement policy
    8. Windfall gifts policy
    9. Wedding Policy
    10. Funeral Policy

checklistDon’t try to get these all done at once. It takes years and patience to set up a healthy organization. Start by scoring yourself 1 (low) to 4 (high) on each item. Then go to work on a few of the deficits. If you need help, give us a call. We have resources in all these areas. Rescore the checklist in 6 months or so and you’ll see improvement.

Church is a team effort. Don’t go it alone. Set up your teams. Establish a clear mission, destination and route. Keep clear boundaries, roles and responsibilities. When all the parts of the body are working together, good stuff happens.

Without a vision the people perish…
Proverbs 29:18

Who builds a tower without first sitting down and counting the cost?
Luke 14:28


Our Work Together: Domestic Mission

By Chris Markert, Assistant to the Bishop – Mission Catalyst

This past week I had the opportunity to gather with the entire Domestic Mission Unit staff of the Evangelical Lutheran in America.
Domestic Mission 1.png

For those who are new to the churchwide organization: our churchwide work is primarily organized into three “units”: Domestic Mission, Global Mission, and Mission Advancement, with administrative support through the Office of the Presiding Bishop, Office of the Treasurer, and Office of the Secretary.

The Domestic Mission Unit’s purpose is to use “the diverse strengths, leadership, skills, perspectives and experiences” of our members, congregations, synods, and other partners to accomplish God’s work in the United States and the Caribbean.

The work of the Domestic Mission Unit includes:

  • Congregational Mission (New Missions, Redevelopment, Faith Formation, etc.)
  • ELCA Youth Gathering
  • Advocacy
  • Ethnic Specific and Multicultural Ministries
  • Campus Ministry, Outdoor Ministry and Children, Youth and Young Adult Ministry
  • Leadership Ministries and Support (Candidacy, Seminaries, etc.)
  • Poverty and Justice Ministries
  • The Directors for Evangelical Mission

Over the past couple of years, the Domestic Mission Unit has been re-imagining our work together, with a renewed focus on congregational vitality.  And what has emerged is a new, unified understanding of our work together, which is:

To grow Communities of Jesus that nurture life-changing relationships with God, one another, and the world.

Domestic Mission 2Notice that we are shifting language away from “congregations” to “Communities of Jesus.” This is intentional, as we see new emerging models of mission that do not look like traditional congregations: pub-churches, food truck missions, street churches, religious orders, house churches, farm co-ops, academic-related ministries, prison ministries, retreat centers and camps, etc.

One of the important parts of this re-imagining is how we measure vitality. In the past, we have often focused almost exclusively on “butts and bucks” (worship attendance and offering).  We are expanding these common metrics to include measuring ministry in terms of how it connects people and communities with God, each other and the world.

I give thanks to God for the work we do together as church beyond our local setting. I invite you and your Community of Jesus to regularly pray for Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and the three Units of our churchwide organization as we together seek to share the Good News, domestically and globally.

Wunderlick Intermediate School Opens Aquaponic Garden with help from Kinsmen Lutheran Church

An exciting joint project between Kinsmen Lutheran Church and Wunderlich Intermediate School has come to fruition after six years of planning and hard work.

In 2015 Kinsmen was conducting a capital campaign for needed improvements at the church. They wanted to tithe from that money by giving a portion to other organizations in the community. And when they reached out to Wunderlich Intermediate School, just a few blocks from the church, the idea of an aquaponic garden came up.

Kinsmen tours aquaponic garden
Staff from Kinsmen Lutheran Church tour the new aquaponic garden at Wunderlich Intermediate School, which the church helped fund. From left are Pastor Mark England; Senior Pastor Beth Warpmaeker; Coach Matt Maudlin; Matthew Braud of Sustainable Harvesters; Valerie Cisne, Science Specialist at Wunderlich; Principal Christopher Ruggerio; Assistant Principal Cary Goemans; Maria Sanchez, Parent Liaison at Wunderlich; and Lynnae Schatz, Director of Congregational Life at Kinsmen.

Kinsmen decided to support that idea, among others, with a gift of $8,000—and from there the idea grew even more. It became part of a Klein ISD bond in 2015, providing additional funds to expand the garden project and its learning opportunities. To develop and build the garden, the school partnered with Matthew Braud of Sustainable Harvesters in Hockley, whose aquaponic farm grows about 7,000 heads of lettuce each week.

Wunderlich’s garden is now complete, and the Kinsmen congregation will have an opportunity to visit it after each worship service on Sunday, April 22.

“We were just so impressed with the visionary  leadership at the school in dreaming up this idea,” said the Rev. Dr. Beth Warpmaeker, senior pastor of Kinsmen Lutheran Church. “There are so many educational and practical benefits to this garden. Supporting this project fits with our desire to be ‘In the Community…for Good.’”

Built within a 30’ x 40’ greenhouse, the closed loop, water-based system starts with about 50 male tilapia fish. Waste from the fish creates nutrient-rich water in which the plants can flourish. The water is filtered first through two media beds, which will eventually be used to grow plants like carrots and potatoes that need to dig down into soil. Next it moves to six grow beds where leafy greens and herbs grow in about 12 inches of water. From there the water is pumped back into the fish tank to begin the process all over again.

The garden will be used to teach students from throughout the school in a variety of subjects. For example, science classes will be able to observe the life cycle of lettuce from seed to harvest in about six weeks. Math classes will chart growth rates; visual arts classes can draw or photograph the plants; special education students can feed and care for the fish, and so on.

“Eventually it will be a school-wide, cross-curricular program,” said Matt Maudlin, a health teacher and coach at Wunderlich who has been part of the project from the beginning.

Beyond academic lessons, food from the garden will also help meet the nutritional needs of students at Wunderlich. Seven years ago the school opened its own food pantry to help families in need who are served by the school. Through the aquaponic garden, fresh lettuce, vegetables, and perhaps even fish will be harvested and distributed to families who utilize the food pantry.

Kinsmen logo“Kinsmen Lutheran, and their congregation, has played an integral role in bringing the aquaponics garden and the hands-on opportunities that come with it to Wunderlich Intermediate,” said Christopher Ruggerio, principal of the school. “The support allows not only instructional value, but allows the campus to provide outreach to the community that supports it. We appreciate the kindness and continued support of our community and students.”

Kinsmen Lutheran Church is a congregation that strives to be rooted in faith and relevant to life. For more information, please visit or call (281) 444-3126.

Sunday Evening Conversations on Creation Continue…

Sunday, June 17, at 6 p.m.

Going Green for Home Building/Remodeling Projects

The synod Lutherans Restoring Creation Team invites you to a monthly environmental education web meeting series whose theme in 2018 is Stewardship.

Caroline Kostak
Caroline Kostak, secretary, Texas Gulf Coast Region, U.S. Green Building Council

At the June web meeting, we welcome Caroline Kostak, secretary of the Texas Gulf Coast Region chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and owner of Greenhouse Integration. Greenhouse Integration is green building problem-solving and education company.  In this talk, you will learn easy and cost-effective ways to make your home building or remodeling project more environmentally-friendly.

Get an expert’s input on how to go green for home building & remodeling!  After Caroline’s talk, there will be time for Q&A.

Please register for this talk, and you will receive an invitation to the web meeting.  Contact Lisa Brenskelle at with any questions.

Lisa’s Pieces:  Creation Care Tips from the Synod Lutherans Restoring Creation Team

By Lisa Brenskelle

Lutherans Restoring Creation

The mission of Lutherans Restoring Creation is to promote incorporation of care for creation into the full life and mission of the church, working in five areas:  worship, education, discipleship, building & grounds, and public ministry/advocacy.  For some timely tips in these areas, see below:

Worship In May, hold a Blessing of the Bicycles for National Bike Month or observe Endangered Species Day on May 18 with these liturgical resources. Here is a creation series in year B in Pentecost from an Episcopal source. Don’t forget World Environment Day on June 5. Consider these creation-focused prayers for Easter and Pentecost in year B. Creation-focused commentaries on the lectionary are available.

Education Thinking ahead to VBS? Consider this creation-themed VBS. Include the informational bulletin insert for Endangered Species Day.  The online Sunday Evening Conversations on Creation on May 20, Care and Stewardship of the Wildlife & EcoSystems in Our Communities, and on June 17, Going Green for Home Building/Remodeling Projects, educate on practical creation care.  The Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston offers a talk to help houses of worship go green on June 10.

Discipleship:  Make use of the “Bulletin blurb” eco-tips (+ verses & quotes) on the synod leaders Facebook page each week. The Endangered Species bulletin insert includes discipleship information.  Promote biking by highlighting National Bike Month or wildlife-friendly gardening during National Pollinator Week in June.  Make members aware of how to buy a cleaner, greener car using the EPA’s Smart Way certification.

Building & Grounds Need to replace the church van? Find a Smart Way certified replacement.  Add plants that support pollinators to your church landscape during National Pollinator Week in June.  There are easy, no cost ways to save on your electricity bill. Be sure that staff shut down computers/printers & turn out lights when leaving for the day.  Better yet, connect electronics to a power strip and turn off power at the power strip after shutting electronics down. On hot days, close blinds/curtains to reduce radiant energy entering the buildings.  Speaking of hot days, replacing air filters in the HVAC system regularly saves on energy.

Public Ministry/Advocacy:  The weekly Opportunities to Care for, Learn About, and Enjoy God’s Good Creation features volunteer events in the greater Houston area (see upcoming opportunities link). In June, plant pollinator plants during National Pollinator Week , do a beach clean-up for World Oceans Day, or simply get connected to nature on World Environment Day. Petition Congress to stop attacks on public lands.

For more information on any of the above, or for creation care assistance/information, contact the synod Lutherans Restoring Creation Team by writing to Lisa at The team is seeking additional members.  If you would be willing to serve, please contact us.