Listening and responding to Earth’s voices

June 23-29 event at Ghost Ranch explores ‘earth-honoring faith’

April 14, 2014


What are Earth’s voices saying to us? How do we listen? And how do we respond so as to celebrate life, embrace hope, and work together for Earth care and self-care on an endangered planet?

These questions and more will be explored through presenta­tions, conversations, contemplative practices, art, prayer and ritual during “Listening to Earth, Opening to God,” a June 23-29 sponsored by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center.   

Led by Larry Rasmussen ― professor emeritus at Union Theological Seminary, organizer of  Ghost Ranch’s decade project on Earth-honoring Faith and author of the award-winning books Earth Community, Earth Ethics and Earth-Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key ― the event will feature a number of renowned leaders.

They include:

  • The Rev. Neddy Astudillo, an eco-theologian and PC(USA) pastor with a D.Min. on “Greening the Church” from Drew University. A Venezuelan-American, she is co-founder of the Angelic Organics Learning Center, a farm-based educational nonprofit.
  • Melanie L. Harris, associate professor of religion and ethics at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas where she teaches in the areas of Christian Social Ethics, Womanist Religious Thought, African American Literature and Religion, and Media and Religion.
  • The Rev. Mary Ann Lundy, a retired church executive who served the PC(USA) and the  World Council of Churches. She was an originator of the Re-imagining Conference held in Minneapolis in 1993, which stirred wide controversy about women’s theology.
  • The Rev. Janet Parker, a United Church of Christ minister and Christian ethicist. Currently pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Salem, Ore., she holds a Ph.D. on the topic “For All Our Relations: Ecofeminist and Indigenous Challenges to Sustainable Development.”
  • Nicole Salimbene, a visual artist working with unconventional materials to explore themes of sustainability, spirituality and archetypal poetics. Her work has been exhibited in galleries nationally and internationally and she leads workshops in environmental and contemplative art making practices in affiliation with American University, Clark University, the Lama Foundation, and a variety of community and professional organizations.
  • Kathy Sanchez (Wan Povi) is a community activist from San Ildefonso Pueblo, N.M, who has worked on women’s issues related to culture, the environment, and social change for most of her life. She was the co-founder of Tewa Women United, a group that raises awareness about environmental issues, domestic violence prevention, and drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Lindsey Schneider is a two-race descendant of the Pembina band of Turtle Mountain Chippewa (Anishinaabe) Indians and of Scandanavian settlers. The Pacific Northwest native graduated in religious studies from Willamette University and then spent a year with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps working on environmental justice issues at the Pesticide Action Network. She is now a Ph.D. candidate in Ethnic Studies.
  • Chandra Taylor-Smith, former vice-president for research at the Council for Opportunity in Education and director of The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, is the National Audubon Society’s vice-president for community conservation and education.
  • Beata Tsosie-Peña from Española, N.M., an active community organizer, advocate and educator, as well as a local dancer, poet and artist. She currently facilitates environmental health and justice focus groups for Tewa Women United and instructs poetry and writing workshops for teen groups in the Española and Santa Fe school districts.

 Register online or call the Ghost Ranch registrar’s office at 505-685-1001 or 505-685-1002.

  1. My appreciation to Jerry Van Marter for printing Martha's Leatherman's comments. As a minister I need to hear the good and not so good critiques of the church I order to improve and do a better job of shepherding God's people. The PCUSA certainly needs to hear and respond to what Ms. Leatherman shared in her comments. This denomination most definitely needs to listen to the voice of God found in Holy Scripture rather than finding his voice somewhere in the grass and trees. Thank you Jerry.

    by Jeff Winter

    April 24, 2014

  2. I posted a comment on April 19, but never saw it posted. Mr. Van Marter of the Presbyterian News Service kindly responded to my query about the post and told me that he had decided not to post it because it was unnecessarily inflammatory. I very much appreciate his calling me to account as a Christian. I do not want to be unnecessarily inflammatory, but sometimes there is necessary inflammation. I believe even a cursory reading of the Reformers would bear me out. My remarks had to do with my anger at a church that endorses abortion, yet allows unbiblical events such as this one to go on. He was disturbed by my use of the word "heretical" to describe this conference and of the description of abortion as "killing babies in the womb" which he didn't see as germane to the issue. I should have explained myself better. It seems that the PCUSA works very hard to find new ways to "listen for" God, but also works very hard to reject God's obvious Word and commandments. We are having a conference about hearing what the earth has to say about life, but we refuse to listen to what God says about life. Sadly, many are more offended by describing what abortion is (the killing of babies in the womb) than they are by the act itself. As for heretical, where in this press release do we see Christ or gospel mentioned? It is a thinly veiled worship of "Earth" led by a man whose book endorses: "an alliance of spirituality and ecology, in which the material requirements for planetary life are reconciled with deep traditions of spirituality across religions, traditions that include mysticism, sacramentalism, prophetic practices, asceticism, and the cultivation of wisdom." The historic Christian gospel is our recognition of our need to be reconciled with the Father, not reconciled with multiple "traditions" including mysticism. Reconciling in the way described is not biblical. This denomination has huge problems. My being inflammatory is the least of them. Maybe if our denomination didn't censor voices trying to call it back from the edge of the cliff, it would be a healthier one.

    by Martha Leatherman

    April 23, 2014

  3. Becky: the chance of this occurring is zero. They are listening to nothing more than ignorance of all things godly and true.

    by Mark R. Patterson, PhD

    April 23, 2014

  4. I think what makes Jesus weep is how we have abused and misused God's good creation. The way we treat God's good creation reflects how we treat women, children, minorities and others on the margin. Could it be that by listening to the voices of these women representing many traditions we will also be listening to the voice of God speaking through them?

    by Becky Chamberlain

    April 22, 2014

  5. How about if we put our resources toward having a conference where the attendees learn how to listen to God? However, that might not be a good idea because in the PCUSA we seem to worship a myriad of gods. Which god would we listen to? What happened to the PCUSA that I have been a part of all my life?

    by Jeff Winter

    April 19, 2014

  6. So grieved that such things as this forced me to leave the church in which I was born, born again, and baptized, indeed, the only church I had known for 55 years. But so grateful to be out of the PCUSA and no longer affiliated with such ungodly nonsense.

    by Mark R. Patterson, PhD

    April 17, 2014

  7. Jesus must weep at this crap.

    by Carolyn George

    April 17, 2014

  8. Our church is losing members at a 5% a year clip and we spend our resources on this? What is an ecofeminist anyway? Another example of how Pcusa has become a joke.

    by Steve Gons

    April 15, 2014