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Global Ministries Commissions New Earthkeepers

Posted: November 20 2019 at 09:10 AM

Clergy and laity participate in the Global Ministries' Earthkeepers training held at Euclid Avenue UMC in Oak Park, Ill. in October 2019.

Global Ministries commissioned 67 new EarthKeepers from 23 conferences, including 10 from Northern Illinois, in an online service on November 19, 2019. The service affirmed the EarthKeepers in their call to the ministry of creation care and will bless their work in their communities.

Commissioning online creates the opportunity for all three classes of EarthKeepers trained in 2019 to be commissioned together while minimizing the carbon footprint of the service. It also allows EarthKeepers to participate with family, friends and church community alongside them. Bishop Larry Goodpaster of the Southeast Jurisdiction, Roland Fernandes, Global Ministries COO and UMCOR Executive Director, and Rev. Jenny Phillips, Creation Care Program Manager, led the service.

EarthKeepers is a training program to equip United Methodists in the United States for environmental stewardship.
Participants spend three and a half days immersed in discussions on theology, United Methodist resources, community
organizing, and anti-racism, and then use what they learn to develop an environmental project for their churches and
communities. It serves as both a launchpad for people looking to turn an idea into action and an incubator for people
who want to deepen an existing ministry. Participants develop plans in conversation with their peers, troubleshooting
ideas and sharing strategies.

This year’s participants range in age from 13 to 83 and are from annual conferences in every United States Jurisdiction.
Trainings were held in Philadelphia, PA, Austin, TX and Chicago, IL. The Northern Illinois Conference training was held at Euclid Avenue UMC in Oak Park, which is powered by solar and geothermal energy.


Participants in the Earthkeepers training tour the rooftop at Euclid Avenue UMC in Oak Park to view the 99 solar panels that provide 27% of the electricity needed for the church.

“Creation is in crisis. Global Ministries EarthKeepers recognize the many ways in which the Bible calls people to
participate in the health and flourishing of Creation,” said Rev. Jenny Phillips, Creation Care Program Manager.
“EarthKeepers are empowered to turn big ideas into powerful action by developing projects that address urgent
environmental concerns in their communities.”

Upon completion of the training, EarthKeepers are expected to launch an environmental project in their communities
and can apply for UMCOR grants to support their work. This year’s projects include community gardens, green building
programs, waste-management initiatives, and more.

The EarthKeepers from the Northern Illinois Conference are Richard Alton, Rev. Nancy Blade, Edwin Mencias, Rev. Jane Cheema, Rev. Larry Dunlap-Berg, Jill Graham, Judith Horsley, Michael Horsley, Margaret Meiser, and Phyllis Tholin. 

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