Monday, December 22, 2014

Pastor brings ecology to art of preaching: article on Leah Schade's upcoming book

Pastor brings ecology to art of preaching
by Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — A Valley pastor has blended two passions, preaching and nature, for a ministry that focuses on the spiritual aspects of caring for the environment and a book that will show other clergy how to do the same.
The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, 43, of Milton, just finished her book, “Creation/Crisis Preaching: Ecological Theology and Homiletics,” which will be published and released by Chalice Press next fall.
The book is a reworked version of her dissertation, which she successfully defended in August 2013 for her doctoral program at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Schade graduated in May.
Schade leads United in Christ Lutheran Church in Lewisburg, now in its fourth year, and founded the Interfaith Sacred Earth Coalition of the Susquehanna Valley. Many people here know Schade from among leaders of a grass-roots effort that helped bring an end to a proposed tire-derived fuel plant in Union County.
“The work in that was incredibly helpful” to the book, she said, as an example of how as a faith leader one engages the public. “How do you talk to constituents who are different from your religion or not religious at all? Where can we find the bridges that enable us to do this work together?” Her dissertation focused on preaching and ecological theology, and “I knew I wanted to turn it into a book for more mainstream audiences,” she said.
The seeds for the blend of church and ecology were planted when Schade was a child. Her father was a landscape designer, and the family had a hunting camp in Huntingdon County, where they spend considerable time, she said. Schade recalled hunting and fishing with her father and spending countless hours in the local creeks, just immersing herself in nature.
“There were a couple formative experiences that were defining for me as a young person,” she said, “seeing many natural places destroyed by development, pollution and feeling helpless as a kid, thinking there is nothing you can do.”
Schade’s first congregation was in Media, where she started an ecology ministry. Also during that time, she decided to get a doctorate in preaching.

“Through the application process, it became apparent this is where I need to focus, this is what is missing in homiletics,” or the art of preaching, she said. “I wanted to be someone to help pastors learn how to preach with the voice of Earth at the table.”

With the tire-burner proposal, “the threat to public health was really a unifying factor there,” Schade said. “We had a great time with people working on that and learning social movement theory,” that is, what is the role of religion in these movements?
Taking cues from the civil rights movement, Schade calls such ministry “a green civil rights movement, and pastors need to be part of it. ... From my perspective, one of the things pastors are called to do is confront the powers that are oppressive.”

Schade also is an adjunct professor at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, where she’s teaching a course on ethics.

1 comment:

  1. Inspiring! I wish you great success in your ministry and in passing your skills and insights to other clergy of all denominations.


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