Flourish magazine, Spring 2010
Five Questions For: Jonathan Merritt
Jonathan Merritt’s first book, Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet, is the result of one man’s journey into deeper faith through the revelation of God’s will for creation. Jonathan continues that journey by writing and speaking on issues of faith and culture for diverse audiences and teaching regularly at Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Georgia. An excerpt from his book appears in this issue of Flourish magazine. Here we’ve asked Jonathan five quick questions about his life of faith as it relates to creation care, but you can also find him at jonathanmerritt.com.
1) What creation care-related scripture is most meaningful to you?
I love Colossians 1:16-20. In this passage, we find a cosmic Christ who is reconciling everything. The gospel must be central to everything we do. This passage does just that.
2) What is your favorite spot in the outdoors?
I really love the mountains. I especially love the mountains in autumn when the leaves are changing.
3) Out of the changes you’ve made in your life to follow God’s call to creation care, what has been the most life-giving or community-enhancing or faith-strengthening?
Rereading the Bible. Reflecting on the creation care mandates and poems and teaching has been the most transformative thing I have done.
4) What is your guilty environmental indulgence?
Work. I am trying to learn to take a Sabbath, but it hasn’t been easy.
5) What would you recommend as a first step in starting a lifestyle of creation care?
Read the Bible. I know that sounds very un-environmental but I think if there will ever be a sweeping movement to care for the earth among Christians it will have to be rooted in our sacred scriptures.
New Reads and Must Sees
Now playing nationally in theaters, Oceans is the second documentary production from Disneynature. The film offers families an unprecedented and awe-inspiring look at the mysteries that lie beneath the surface of the seas.
This six-episode web series is the brainchild of Jon Paget, Chris Elisara, and Drew Ward–the creators of a short film on New Urbanism that won the Congress for New Urbanism CNU17 video award in 2009. The new series highlights the problems of urban and suburban sprawl and takes viewers on an inside look into communities where planning is oriented toward human interaction and pedestrian traffic. View the first episode in the series, “Sprawlanta,” online.
Humanitarian Jesus: Social Justice and the Cross
By Christian Buckley and Ryan Dobson
A corrective and a call to action in one, Humanitarian Jesus calls Christians to a life that reconciles evangelism and humanitarian action. Leading Christian thinkers and humanitarian workers like Franklin Graham, Francis Chan, Gary Haugen, and Flourish’s president and co-founder Rusty Pritchard, lend their voices to encourage readers toward lifestyles that express the Gospel to the fullest extent.
Walking Gently on the Earth
By Lisa Graham McMinn and Megan Anna Neff
Sociologist and Author Lisa McMinn collaborates with her daughter in these pages to encourage Christians toward a perspective and lifestyle that understands the earth as beautiful but broken, worthy of our intentional practices of cultivation and healing.
Keeping God’s Earth: The Global Environment in Biblical Perspective
Edited by Noah J. Toly and Daniel I. Block
In this book, editors Noah Toly and Daniel Block have gathered some of the evangelical world’s most intelligent and articulate instructors in fields as wide-ranging as New and Old Testament theology, geology, ethics, and atmospheric physics to critically and unflinchingly evaluate Christians’ biblically mandated stewardship responsibilities.
The April 22 oil spill from a British Petroleum-operated rig in the Gulf of Mexico has been at the forefront of news reports and Americans’ minds since its start. A Pew Research Center poll reports that interest in the spill eclipsed concern about the economy, as one in four Americans (41%) reported following news about the spill and its environmental repercussions most closely.
Source: Gulf Coast Oil Spill Grabs Public Attention
- Flourish president and co-founder Rusty Pritchard is featured in American Makeover, a new video series about New Urbanism—the architectural and planning movement that re-imagines public and private space to benefit both communities and ecosystems. In the first episode of the series, “Sprawlanta,” Rusty communicates the dire state of Atlanta’s traffic congestion with some unbelievable statistics. (And yes, that’s him behind the wheel, too, proving his point!) Watch the episode and learn more about the project at www.americanmakeover.tv.
- Flourish is proud to help sponsor the Summer 2010 Creation Care Institute, hosted in Santa Barbara, C.A., from June 6-12 by A Rocha, the international Christian conservation organization. The Institute will guide participants in starting local conservation projects through hands-on outdoor experiences and classroom learning and seminars. Speakers include Ed Brown from Care of Creation; Ben Lowe, former co-coordinator of Renewal; and Dr. Chris Wright, director of the Langham Partnership International. Registration is now open! For more information visit http://arocha-usa.org/institute
- HAPPENING NOW: From May 8th to May 25th, Renewal and the Evangelical Environmental Network are walking to bring attention to the environmental and community degradation caused by mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. Covering 300 miles, Christians will walk from Ansted, W.V. to Washington, D.C., where they will end with the National Day of Prayer for Creation Care. During the walk they are meeting with different congregations and schools, and praying for our broken world and for the people who have been affected by poor stewardship. As they pass mountaintop removal sites, farms, and suburbs, they are sharing stories and practical opportunities for engagement. Lift up these brothers and sisters in prayer during their 18-day sojourn. For more information on the event, and to learn how you can still participate, visit http://prayerforcreationcare.creationcare.org/.
- Gretchen Peck, a 2007 Messiah College alum, has joined Renewal as the organization’s new coordinator. Gretchen follows in the footsteps of Ben Lowe and Anna Jane Joyner, the original co-coordinators of the student creation care organization. For more information on Renewal, visit www.renewingcreation.org.
- ENERGY STAR, is accepting applications for the 2010 ENERGY STAR Congregations Award. Has your church been working on an energy-efficiency program that has shown results over the last 12 months? Did you use ENERGY STAR tools and resources to help you? Then now it is time to get recognized for your efforts and there is no better way than winning a 2010 ENERGY STAR Congregations Award. You’ll find the application through the ENERGY STAR Congregations web site, www.energystar.gov/congregations. Applications for the 2010 Awards are being received now and the deadline is June 1, 2010. This is your chance, so apply now!
- Eden Vigil and Care of Creation will host a Consultation of Missions and Creation Care Leaders for the purpose of developing a profile of an environmental missionary and designing a curriculum to serve that profile. Coursework will then be offered in 2011 as the Summer Institute of Environmental Missions. The consultation will be July 12-16, 2010 on an 89-acre farm south of Manhattan, K.S. To learn more or participate, visit www.edenvigil.org.
“ ‘I began to see the need for stewardship,” says Pastor Merritt. ‘I used to loan my sons my car. I think God has similar expectations for the earth.’”
- James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, G.A., quoted in the May-June issue of Audubon magazine in an article on evangelicals’ growing participation in the creation care movement.