By Jennifer Halteman Schrock
Lately I’ve been spying on Mennonite churches from the air and hoping that Google Earth counts as a form of prayer, not an invasion of privacy. During a single lunch break, from the computer I use for my work with Mennonite Creation Care Network (MCCN), I can visit a dozen or more congregations via the Google Earth view.
At my home congregation, Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship in Goshen, IN, I notice how much farmland would be included if we were to draw a radius circle around our congregation. As I hover over Seattle Mennonite Church, over 2,000 miles to the west of us, I wonder what those folks I’ve never met are doing with their stormwater in this urban area.
The aerial view does not do justice to the lush, rolling hills I remember from the times I visited Zion Mennonite Church in Broadway, Virginia, but one can still see that this is a very rural area. I zoom in on Mountain Lake, MN, where Iglesia Menonita Agape resides and wonder what the industries are that I’m seeing to the east of them.
Most of all, I am struck by how rarely we, the Church, look at ourselves from this angle. I don’t just mean hovering up in a hot air balloon, electronic or otherwise; I mean as bodies embedded within our ecological and neighborhood contexts. From Google Earth, it is so patently clear that we are part of a much broader human community than what is contained within our sanctuaries. It is clear that we are part of the broader creation. It is clear that our contexts are all so different. And sometimes, it is clear that our local communities need us.
Every Creature Singing is an adult curriculum prepared by Mennonite Creation Care Network. It was written in response to the creation care resolution that delegates passed at Phoenix 2013, calling for each congregation to study creation care within its own context. It addresses an important and often neglected part of what it means to follow Christ and be the Church in the 21st century. Every Creature Singing is one avenue that congregations might use to fulfill a commitment that the delegates made on their behalf at Phoenix.
We don’t all live in the country, but we all depend on the broader ecosystems around us. Many of us find these outdoor places healing. What would happen if every congregation in the Mennonite Church USA went on a holiday in its own watershed? Mennonite Creation Care Network has a field guide that can help you discover yours. The Every Creature Singing curriculum is available free online. Enjoy!