Our ministry shares at work for all of God’s creation
November 6, 2023 / By Rev. Corey Turnpenny, Church in the Wild
Editor's Note: The Rev. Corey Turnpenny spoke at the LEAD Conference in Asheville, NC. The LEAD Conference was founded in 2011 in the Desert Southwest Annual Conference in response to leaders of young adult ministries in The United Methodist Church desire to be more effective leaders in ministry with young adults. They're modeled around TED style talks about new and creative ways to engage in young adult ministry in the The UMC. Over the years, the conference has maintained a similar format, however, speaker topics have expanded to a number of ministry areas to starting new churches, self care, creativity, leadership challenges, lay ministry, urban and rural ministries, and more. Click here to watch the YouTube video of Rev. Turnpenny speaking about her passion of planting a wild church network in Upper New York.
Global Ministries, an agency of The United Methodist Church, has been hosting EarthKeepers trainings for over a decade now through Creation Justice Ministries. EarthKeepers is an intensive program meant to equip United Methodists to lead grassroots environmental projects that are action-oriented, antiracist, bold, and entrepreneurial in their communities. I had known about EarthKeepers for a few years now but was not able to attend myself until this year. From Oct. 5-8, I was immersed in the work of Creation Justice with fellow United Methodists from around the connection. At the first in-person training since the pandemic, I gathered with 18 others in Hartford, CT and we were joined by groups gathered in Birmingham, AL and Denver, CO. Each day, all three groups would join together on Zoom to hear from different presenters and learn valuable skills for organizing our projects. We discussed theology, United Methodist resources, community organizing, and anti-racism and then used what we learned to develop an environmental project for our churches and communities. The program is 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. At our site locations we worked in table groups and met with our site trainers to hone our projects in preparation for a formal presentation on the final day.
I have been wanting to attend this training for a few years and was excited to be able to attend and support the first regional gathering, which helped cut down on travel for all the participants. There were several hours of pre-work we did together on the Global Ministries Creation Care Network online. This was the first introduction of many to incredible resources on environmental justice provided by various United Methodist agencies. The Creation Care Network is open to any and all United Methodists interested in this aspect of our faith. I highly recommend joining the online network. You will discover an incredible number of resources and hundreds of fellow United Methodists working to heed our Genesis call to care for the gift of Creation. You will also find their descriptions of every EarthKeepers project and ways you can support it!
I have been passionate about caring for the Earth my entire life and have been living a dream come true the past few years planting and pastoring Church in the Wild, an outdoor worshiping community that seeks to help people connect with and care for Creation. It was from this passion I entered the EarthKeepers training and developed my project around the wild church movement.
Spirit is calling us back out into Creation to do as Job instructs, "Ask the animals what they think—let them teach you; let the birds tell you what’s going on. Put your ear to the earth—learn the basics. Listen—the fish in the ocean will tell you their stories" (Job 12:7-9). John Muir once said, "I'd rather be in the mountains thinking of God than in church thinking about the mountains." Wild Church says, why not do both? My project is to create the United Methodist Wild Church Connection which will include a United Methodist Wild Church database and map, a virtual networking space, and at least two wild church training trainings held on Zoom each year for five years, with the goal of having at least two wild churches in each annual conference. As we connect with God in Creation, we know more people will be motivated to care for Creation.
The next step of my project is already in motion; a Wild Church Interest Meeting will be held on Zoom on Monday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. EST. If you’d like to learn more about Wild Church, click here to sign up to join. You can also help by connecting me with anyone else you know leading outdoor worship on a regular basis (monthly or even seasonally). I would also love to know if there are any other EarthKeepers here in Upper New York! Please reach out to me by email at email@example.com and join us in the newly formed Upper New York Creation Care Team.
Everyone is invited to attend the upcoming Global Ministries EarthKeepers commissioning service online service on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. EST livestreamed at www.facebook.com/GlobalMinistries. This is the seventh year that the EarthKeepers commissioning service has been held online. The online service allows EarthKeepers to participate along with their family, friends, and church community. The service will be led by Bishop Thomas Bickerton, resident bishop of the New York Conference in the Northeastern Jurisdiction, president of the UMCOR board and president of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. He will commission 57 new EarthKeepers in the service that will affirm us in our call to the ministry of creation care and bless our work in our communities. I hope United Methodists of Upper New York can join me in this celebration and that together we can increase our work of environmental and social justice here in Upper New York.