New Earthkeepers poised to launch creation care projects


ATLANTA, GA—Global Ministries and UMCOR will commission 17 new EarthKeepers in its first ecommissioning on January 22, 2018 at 8pm ET. The commissioning may be viewed via livestream at

This online service will affirm members of the EarthKeepers Arkansas class of 2017 in their call to the ministry of creation care and bless their work in their communities. Livestreaming will minimize the carbon footprint of the service while creating the opportunity for their communities to participate. Bishop Larry Goodpaster, Thomas Kemper, General Secretary of Global Ministries, Rev. Jenny Phillips, UMCOR Creation Care Program Manager, and Rev. Dr. Jerome Sahabandhu, Global Ministries Mission Theologian, will lead the service.

EarthKeepers is a training program of Global Ministries and UMCOR to equip United Methodists in environmental stewardship. The program is in its second year. Participants spent nearly a week immersed in discussions on theology, United Methodist resources, and community organizing. The training was led by staff from Global Ministries and the General Board of Church and Society. “The entire structure of the training compels you to get to work on a specific project relating to creation care,” said participant Nathan Brasfield, a community farmers market manager in Memphis, TN. “You learn how to be guided by your own personal story of faith and your experiences in the world.”

United Methodist faith demands a response to the environmental crisis, and learning to articulate the connections between faith and action is a crucial skill. “You don’t need to be a scientist to bear witness to environmental degradation,” said Rev. Jenny Phillips, Creation Care Program Manager. “Through this training, participants learn to ground their words and actions in United Methodist stewardship values.”

“Caring for the earth is an essential part of who we are as United Methodists in mission,” said Thomas Kemper, General Secretary of Global Ministries. “The mission theology of Global Ministries teaches that God’s mission claims the life of all creatures and redeems all creation for God’s intended purpose. We are called to participate in God’s redemption of creation.”

Upon completion of the training, EarthKeepers are expected to launch an environmental project in their communities.

Kim Richmond (pictured above), a member of Maple Springs UMC in Winston-Salem, NC is a retired federal government employee, is beginning a Creation Care Ministry within our church which will serve to reengage the entire congregation in actively caring for God's good creation.

"Maple Springs initiated a new Creation Care Committee, of which I will serve as the chairperson, for the purpose of organizing educational opportunities, speakers, events, programs, and lifestyle changes, which will honor and glorify God's creation," according to Richmond. 

"These activities will be offered to the general public, as well as to the congregation. I hope that once this program is established at Maple Springs, it can be used as a model for establishment of similar programs within other UM churches throughout the district and, eventually, the conference."

To receive information on future trainings, please email Rev. Jenny Phillips at

The EarthKeepers Arkansas Class of 2017 includes:

Michael Black, North Georgia Conference
Nathan Brasfield, Memphis Conference
Rev. Mel Caraway, North Texas Conference
Rev. Sarah Fernsler, Eastern Pennsylvania Conference
Rev. Dianne Glave, Western Pennsylvania Conference
Becky Harp, Northwest Texas Conference
David Herber, Baltimore‐Washington Conference
Cheryl Marcum, Missouri Conference
Brenda Nickels, Oklahoma Conference
Rev. Jeff Potter, Great Plains Conference
***Kim Richmond, Western North Carolina Conference
Rev. Keith Sexton, North Carolina Conference
Tracy Sexton, North Carolina Conference
J.P. Smith, Desert Southwest Conference
Terry Tremwel, Arkansas Conference
Rebecca Voss, Wisconsin Conference
Lisa Wiedman, Illinois Great Rivers Conference

Resources for Vital Congregations



Lewis Center for Church Leadership

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor

GBHEM Leadership Resources


Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church

Englewood Book Review

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations

Ted Talks: The Golden Circle

Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability

Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability

Design Thinking

Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians


Be A Disciple

A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations


Living As United Methodist Christians

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today

John Wesley Sermons: Anthology


Get Their Name

Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit

Canoeing the Mountains

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People

Community: The Structure of Belonging


Institute for Emerging Issues

Congregations 4 Children


The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants

The Duke Endowment


The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:

  • Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
  • Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.

We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at


  • Resources
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