Ecological Christian Leadership Cohort
February - May 2024
In light of the crisis brought on by the degradation and destruction of Earth at the hands of humanity, as well as the clear decline within Christian institutions and congregations, leaders are faced with several urgent questions:
Can there be a healthy church on a sick planet?
What does ministry and mission look like at the dawn of the Anthropocene?
What frameworks, skills, and practices are needed to lead communities toward new forms of identity, community, and mission that bring healing and renewal?
Leaders who seek answers to these questions are faced with a distinct challenge: the dominant paradigms and practices of Christian community and vocational ministry are mired in the same theological, ecclesial, cultural, and philosophical frameworks that created and perpetuate our current crisis. But the current moment also presents an opportunity to deconstruct these frameworks, cultivate new paradigms of leadership, and create new models of ministry and mission.
This is the exciting work of the Ecological Christian Leader!
This cohort will connect, support, and equip Christian leaders who are seeking to lead their congregations/communities toward a more ecological understanding and practice of faith.
It's designed for those with leadership roles (formal or informal, paid or volunteer) in Christian communities and organizations (churches, camps, schools, parachurch ministries, non-profits).
Methodolgy & Outcomes
The cohort will be organized around the following:
An initial three-day, in-person gathering focused on connection and learning.
Weekly reading and occasional writing.
Six on-line gatherings that meet every other week for two hours.
A one-day retreat that brings the cohort to an end and frames the work ahead.
Participants will be able to:
Articulate the basic framework of ecotheology and ecospirituality and the implications for their personal discipleship and vocational work.
Identify specific areas/challenges/opportunities within their leadership and work that they would like to be more ecologically-oriented, and develop a specific action plan for that area.
Identify resources to continue their growth in Ecological Christian Leadership.
Limited to 15 cohort members.
Cohort community formation
Exploration of Ecotheology and Ecospirituality
Introduction to Ecological Christian Leadership.
Synchronous online meetings
Guided conversation around course material.
1-2 case-study presentations from cohort participants each meeting.
Short presentations on chosen books/resources.
One coaching/conversation session with James or Forrest for one hour.
Final one-day gathering
Conversations around common learning.
Identifying pathways of growth post-cohort.
Rev. Sarah Casey
“My involvement in the cohort was an incredibly meaningful and enriching experience. I was exposed to new theological perspectives that have helped me grow personally and vocationally. Learning to read and interpret scripture through an ecotheological lens has deepened my understanding of humanity as part of God’s creation, and has enabled me to preach from a framework that takes seriously our call to be attentive to the places we inhabit.”
In-person opening retreat at Warm Beach Camp in Stanwood, WA February 25-27
Begins Sunday evening, February 25.
Ends after lunch on Tuesday, February 27.
On-line meetings every other week for 2 hours: February-May
Cohort will identify specific days and times.
One-on-one coaching and reflection as scheduled with James
Final in-person gathering in early June
$550 – single occupancy for February retreat.
$450 – double occupancy for February retreat.
James is the Executive Director of Circlewood, a ministry dedicated to “accelerating the greening of faith” through creative media, immersive education, and the development of Circlewood Village, a sustainable learning center on Camano Island. James is ordained in the Covenant Church, and pastored in churches for 15 years before starting Circlewood in 2017. He has a BA from Gordon College, an MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary, and a DMin from Duke Divinity School, where he focused his work on developing the framework for Ecological Christian Leadership (ECL). He lives on Camano Island with his family.
Forrest is the Associate Director of Circlewood, and the host of the Earthkeepers podcast. He has also served as a graduate professor of international community development for 20+ years at Northwest University. More recently he helped create the Resilient Leaders program and the Thriving Congregations program at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. He earned a BA, MA, and PhD from Northwestern University in Chicago, and an MA in Theology from Regent College—where he designed contextualized strategies for theological education and leadership training for emerging Turkish churches. Forrest is ordained in the Vineyard, and was sent as a missionary to Turkey by a partnership of Vineyard and PCUSA churches; in Istanbul, Forrest served as a church planter and pastor for a number of years. He has a daughter currently studying at SPU, and lives in Edmonds with his dogs Nigel and Suzie.