Many Christian organizations refer to their concern for the natural world as “creation care.” While the use of this term does not imply a particular stance on how and when God created the world, it does affirm the existence of a Creator and a relationship between the Creator and creation. The fact that we see our planet as an expression of God’s love fuels our desire to treat it with respect.
Secondly, creation is an inclusive term covering both humans and the natural world. The “environment” is often understood to refer only to wild landscapes—air, soil, water and plant and animal life. But humans are part of creation, too. Finally, the word, care implies an emotional connection, not just a particular set of actions. We care for the world because we care about it.
Merry Lea’s commitment to creation care is supported by its relationships with these institutions:
Goshen, Ind., is a Christian liberal arts college affiliated with the Mennonite Church USA. The college has owned and operated Merry Lea since 1980, when its founders, Lee and Mary Jane Rieth, donated the center to Goshen. Goshen’s mission, vision and core values underlie Merry Lea. The affiliation with a college has enabled Merry Lea to develop its undergraduate and graduate programs. The fact that Merry Lea is part of Goshen College has also strengthened environmental sustainability on the Goshen College campus. The intersection of faith-based perspectives, a high-quality land base and academic resources make Merry Lea a unique and special place.
(MCCN) is one of the ways that Merry Lea shares its ecological expertise with the broader community. MCCN was founded in 2005 by Dr. Luke Gascho, who was Merry Lea’s executive director at the time. The organization works with Mennonite congregations, encouraging them to claim their biblical and theological foundation regarding the care of God’s creation and to act faithfully to restore the earth. The leader of MCCN is employed by Merry Lea. Everence Financial, Goshen, Ind., is also a primary supporter of MCCN.
Harrisonburg, Va., advances thinking and action in Anabaptist and other faith communities to mitigate climate change. Goshen College is one of three core partners that collaborate on the work. Mennonite Creation Care Network and CSCS jointly offer retreats on climate change for pastors who want to engage this issue.
(AMBS), Elkhart, Ind., provides graduate and lifelong Anabaptist theological education rooted in the saving power of the life, death, resurrection and ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ. An agreement between Merry Lea and AMBS enables seminary students to earn academic credit through Merry Lea’s Sustainability Leadership Semester. Merry Lea team members are also typically involved in the Rooted and Grounded Conference on Land and Stewardship that AMBS hosts.