Toward Just and Sustainable Communities

Initiated in 1992 by the Program on Ecology, Justice and Faith
and the Center for Respect of Life and Environment (CRLE),
in collaboration with a panel of advisors, and with major funding from:

The MacArthur Foundation,
The Pew Charitable Trusts, and
The Humane Society of the United States.
Involves several hundred scholars and religious leaders in a North American network.
To join, see the form at the end of this page.

Theological Education to Meet the Environmental Challenge (TEMEC) seeks to make "eco-justice" - ecological integrity with social justice - a central focus of religious self-understanding; scholarship and teaching in higher education; and action at the personal, institutional, and social policy level. The basic norms of eco-justice ethics include: ecological sustainability, fair participation in social policy decisions, sufficiency of production-consumption, and community life that is celebrative, cares for otherkind, and uses appropriate technology.


To assist seminaries, schools of theology, colleges and universities to reform course work, community life, and institutional practice in order to better prepare religious, scientific, business, and professional leaders to meet the environmental challenge; and to strengthen a coalition of theoretician/practitioners dealing with the global/local "environmental" challenge, broadly defined.
To explore new dimensions of research and teaching on Ecology, Justice and Faith; and to foster professional development of scholars through special conferences and seminars that cross the fields of theology and connect with cognate disciplines in the humanities and sciences.

To engage theological educators in critical reflection on the issues and ethics of population, consumption, and environment; and to help an emerging set of academic and religious leaders to gain enough competence and confidence to take effective leadership in eco-justice education and citizenship.

To identify resources for teaching and to disseminate a few strategic publications that provide in-depth orientation for religious studies focused on renewing creation and seeking eco-justice.

To encourage praxis-based learning as well as better course offerings, and to foster campus-based initiatives in theological education to demonstrate just and sustainable institutional operations as well as public involvement.

To prepare the ground for regional cooperation in graduate studies and continuing education on ecology, justice, and religion.



TEMEC co-sponsors conferences and seminars that explore critical theological-ethical questions raised by the eco-justice crisis, discuss pertinent resources, and foster transformative teaching as well as institutional change. From 1993-99,TEME
C conducted a dozen major professional development events for teachers and students of theology and leaders of religious organizations in North America. Some subjects of our recent conferences were

CHRISTIANITY AND ECOLOGY, Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Thursday evening, April 16 through Sunday, April 19, 1998. TEMEC joined with the Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions to cosponsor this conference, one of a series of ten to contribute to the articulation of functional environmental ethics grounded in religious traditions and to link the transformative efforts of the world's religions to the larger international movements toward a global ethics for a humane and sustainable future. For additional information: Contact Mary Evelyn Tucker, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837 (Tel: 570/577-1205).

, Union & Auburn Theological Seminaries, New York, NY; Thursday, October 22 through Saturday, October 24, 1998. This major international conference focused on eco-justice education and action in the global "village" with diverse faiths and cultures moving, often reluctantly, toward an earth community. Particular topics included: global education in theology and religion which is responsive to the eco-justice crisis; theological-ethical insights from: 1) the World Council of Churches Theology of Life case studies prepared for the WCC General Assembly in Zimbabwe; 2) the Ecumenical Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women; 3) the Earth Charter process and sustainable development since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit; and 4) liturgical practice pertinent to Ecumenical Earth. The conference focused on the transformation of the church's self-understanding, message and mission, in partnership with others; and implications for community involvement and public life. Conference leaders included persons from South Africa, India, Korea, Germany, Canada, and the USA. For additional information: Contact Auburn Theological Seminary, 3041 Broadway at 121st St., New York, NY 10027 (Tel: 800/818-2911).

EARTH ETHICS AND THE ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT, an international seminar held April 24-30, 1999 at the Ecumenical Institute, Chateau de Bossey, Celigny, Switzerland, brought Christians from several continents into the dialogue about the vision and values that undergird sustainable community, and how they relate to basic themes of Christian faith and ethics. For information, contact Dieter Hessel, Director PEJF (address, phone and e-mail at the end under Further Information).

GLOBAL ECO-JUSTICE: THE CHURCH'S MISSION IN URBAN SOCIETY, Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, IL; Thursday, April 23 through Saturday, April 25, 1998. Designed for faculty, students, and religious leaders in theological education and the churches, this event examined the global-regional shape of urbanization and explored methods of community social analysis and action for ecological integrity with social justice. We received input from several NGO leaders in environmental justice, urban food systems, and restoration ecology, and we were addressed by African and Asian theologians, as well as keynote speakers Larry Rasmussen, author of Earth Community, Earth Ethics (Orbis, 1996), and Rosemary Ruether, author of Gaia and God (Harper, 1992). Cosponsored by TEMEC, the Chicago Center for Global Ministries, and the Chicago Program on Ecology, Justice & Faith. For additional information: Contact Stephen Bevans or Richard Bliese at the Chicago Center for Global Ministries, 5401 S. Cornell Ave., Chicago, IL 60615 (Tel: 773/363-1342; Fax: 773/324-4360).
PEDAGOGY FOR ECO-JUSTICE, Claremont School of Theology (CST), Claremont, CA; Sunday, November 9 through Tuesday, November 11, 1997. This conference explored the transformation of both the content and structure of teaching and learning to embody eco-justice in higher education. Participants formed working groups to explore course and program design, as well as the "hidden" and "extra" curriculum. The conference modeled education for eco-justice, including ritual, music and celebration from diverse cultural perspectives; and exploration of CST's eco-justice innovations. The event featured John Cobb, Stephanie Kaza, Jay McDaniel, David Orr and the CST faculty and community. For additional information: Contact Frank Rogers, CST, 1325 N. College Ave., Claremont, CA 91711-3199 (Tel: 909/626-3521; Fax: 909/626-7062).
LITURGY FOR SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES was a conference and Earth Day liturgy hosted by Seattle University, April 1997. Presenters and participants explored the meaning and practice of liturgy in light of growing commitment to sustainability and eco-justice. Participants also learned about the initiatives of Seattle University, a Jesuit school, to build a just and sustainable community through academic programs, institutional practices, and public outreach. For additional information: Contact Loretta Jancoski, Dean, School of Theology and Ministry, 900 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122-4340; Tel: 206/296-5330.


Theology for Earth Community: A Field Guide, edited by Dieter T. Hessel (Orbis Books, February, 1996), provides a comprehensive orientation to "state-of-the-art" scholarship and teaching across the fields of theological education. Crisp essays by seasoned teachers and emerging scholars bring participants in religious and environmental studies "up-to-speed" with the range and depth of Christian theological writing, plus aspects of inter-religious reflection. (Contact Orbis Books, 914/971-7590.)

Earth Ethics, a quarterly journal edited by Richard M. Clugston that examines basic assumptions, attitudes, and beliefs that underlie our relationship with the natural world. Recent issues excerpt selected papers given at TEMEC-sponsored conferences and provide information on the Earth Charter process. (Contact CRLE, 202/778-6133.)
"The Ethics of Population, Consumption, and Environment: Essays and Cases," a special issue of the journal Theology and Public Policy (1996, $5). Obtain copies from the CRLE address listed at end under "Further Information".
Christianity and Ecology: Seeking the Well-being of Earth and Humans, edited by Dieter T. Hessel and Rosemary Radford Ruether (Cambridge: Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions, January, 2000, 700 pp. paperbound, $26.95), a new resource in the series on Religions of the World and Ecology. This volume brings readers up to date with developments in ecotheology and ethics through the 1990s. The new essays published here define the contours of Christianity's ecological reformation presented by leaders in this field at TEMEC-sponsored conferences on Christianity & Ecology and Global Eco-Justice. The authors, who represent a broad mix of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox scholars, explore problematic themes that contribute to ecological neglect or abuse, and they offer constructive insight into faith and life that is ecologically responsible and socially just. Two outside readers have commented on Christianity & Ecology:
"This collection is by far the richest, most diverse, theologically sophisticated, ecologically informed, and innovative body of writings on Christianity that I have yet come across...It should be read not only by all theologians, but also by students and any others interested in the relevance of Christian faith to the healing of the Earth." -- John F. Haught, Professor of Theology, Georgetown University
"Theology, ethics, Biblical studies, pastoral practice, congregational politics, spirituality -- the spectrum of Chrfistian theological disciplines are here transformed under the influence of ecological science and nesw awareness of human kinship with all other creatures." -- Carol S. Robb, Professor of Christian Social Ethics, San Francisco Theological Seminary


TEMEC encourages schools and churches to develop: (a) educational programs that emphasize the eco-justice context; (b) "green" institutional operations (including energy, food, housing and investments); and (c) outreach efforts to assist the wider community in becoming just and sustainable. TEMEC provides strategic planning assistance; workshops on institutional praxis, curriculum and program consultation; and modest funding for "lead institutions" that commit their own resources to this agenda for transformation. Participants include:

Hendrix College, Conway, AR - Emphasizing global issues and sustainability as a major liberal arts focus.

Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Meadville/Lombard Theological School, McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL - Cluster of Theological Schools in Hyde Park focusing on eco-justice ministry and citizenship.

Seattle University, Institute for Theological Studies, Seattle, WA - Featuring an integrative Ecological Studies Program and Sacred Earth on a campus committed to caring for creation.

The School of Theology at Claremont, Claremont, CA - Developing eco-justice course work, community life, policy advocacy, and institutional practices for justice and sustainability.

St. Thomas University, Miami, FL - Transforming major aspects of its entire curriculum according to an ecological perspective inspired by the work of Thomas Berry.

Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY - Focusing on the transformation of international, global education for eco-justice.

In addition, TEMEC is encouraging lead institution initiatives in the following schools:


* TEMEC encourages and publicizes professional development conferences designed to help teachers and students of theology and religious leaders meet the environmental challenge. Now that such events are more frequently initiated by particular schools, we are calling attention to those offerings rather than planning and conducting our own professional development conferences. TEMEC provides modest seed money for faculty development seminars that: explore the vision and practice of earth community / environmental responsibility; focus on special aspects of ecotheology and eco-justice education, develop interdisciplinary knowledge to build sustainable community, or foster skills pertinent to earthkeeping ministry.
* TEMEC continues to offer technical assistance and support to "Lead Institutions" as they pursue their 3-fold commitment to permeate academic programs, to "green" institutional practices, and to engage in public outreach. An available and tested tool for universities and seminaries to utilize in preparing to make a similar commitment is the "Sustainability Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ), prepared with TEMEC input by University Leaders for a Sustainable Future ( ; e-mail:, an affiliate of CRLE. TEMEC also partly subsidizes participation by representatives of lead institutions in the higher education working group described below.
* TEMEC connects scholars in theology, religion and ethics with leading programs that interweave environmental and religious studies. Because cross-disciplinary research and learning with spiritual resonance is essential to meeting the environmental challenge, TEMEC participates actively in annual meetings of a "Higher Education Working Group for Eco-Justice" organized by CRLE. The working group brings together scholar-teachers from various disciplines including religious studies who are involved in the process of transforming academic programs and institutions to meet the environmental challenge. We explore and pinpoint emphases in curriculum and pedagogy that equip persons entering diverse professions to comprehend the needed paradigm shift and to serve ecological integrity in linkage with social justice.
* Another strategic resource fostered by TEMEC for its network and a wider ecumenical audience is the book, Ecumenical Earth: New Dimensions of Church and Community in Creation, edited by Larry Rasmussen and Dieter Hessel (Fortress Press paperback being published Spring, 2001). This volume, growing out of the conference by the same name held at Auburn and Union Seminaries, NY, concentrates on implications of the crisis of earth community for the church's self-understanding and engagement.
* TEMEC supports the Chicago Theological Initiative in Eco-Justice, a coordinated effort of Chicago area seminaries, linked with universities and civic organizations, to prepare students for environmental ministry. It involves faculty coordination of course offerings and special opportunities field education that link churches with civil society groups. An M.Div or M.A. concentration in Eco-Justice Studies is being offered at two of the participating theological schools. For more information, click on the Chicago Theological Initiative at (TEMEC also calls attention to but does not try to replicate the resources for congregations publicized on the Web of Creation and by the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.)
* TEMEC encourages study and response to the Earth Charter, and active participation by students of religion and ethics in the Earth Charter USA campaign, as a coherent way to grapple with fundamental changes needed in human attitudes, values, and ways of living for the sake of earth community. The Charter has involved years of consultative dialogue with civil society groups around the world, guided by an international drafting committee formed by the Earth Council. The resulting 6-page holistic, layered document articulates the inspirational vision, basic values, and essential principles needed in a global ethic for Century 21. Besides exposing the path toward sustainability with justice for people of all ages in every sector of society, the Earth Charter offers an integrated value framework for evaluating environmental issues responses, public policy choices, business and professional codes of conduct, and community lifestyles. For more information about the Earth Charter text and campaign, go to



Thomas Berry, Historian of Cultures
Greensboro, NC
John B. Cobb, Jr., Co-Director
Center for Process Studies, Claremont, CA
Thomas Dozeman, Professor of Old Testament
United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH
Job Ebenezer, Director, Environmental Stewardship
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago, IL
Robert Edgar, General Secretary,
National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., NYC
J. Ronald Engel, Professor of Social Ethics,
Meadville/Lombard Theological School, Chicago, IL
Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, Director
The Reformed Church in America, New York, NY
Heidi Hadsell, Director
Ecumenical Institute, Chateau De Bossey, Switzerland
Theodore Hiebert, Professor of Hebrew Bible
McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL
Joe Holland, Visiting Professor in Philosophy and Religion
St. Thomas University, Miami, FL
John A. Hoyt, Chief Executive
The Humane Society of the United States, Washington, DC
Thomas L. Hoyt Jr., Presiding Bishop, Fourth District
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Shreveport, LA
Loretta Jancoski, Director
Institute for Theological Studies, Seattle, WA
Carol E. Johnston, Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture
Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, IN
Stan LeQuire, Director
Evangelical Environmental Network, Wynnewood, PA
Jay McDaniel, Director
Steele Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy, Conway, AR
Joan Martin-Brown, Adviser to the Vice President
Environmentally Sustainable Development, The World Bank, Washington, DC
James Parks Morton, President
Interfaith Center of New York, NY
James Nash, Executive Director
The Churches' Center on Theology and Public Policy, Washington, DC
Larry Rasmussen, Professor of Social Ethics
Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY
Rosemary Radford Ruether, Professor of Theology
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL
David Rhoads, Professor of New Testament
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Chicago, IL
J. Stephen Rhodes, Rural Advisory Consultant, Berea, KY
Mary Evelyn Tucker, Associate Professor of Religion, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA



Dieter T. Hessel
Program on Ecology, Justice and Faith
1 Astor Court
Princeton, NJ 08540
Tel: 609/951-0126
Fax: 951-9602

Richard M. Clugston
Executive Director
2100 L Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20037
Tel: 202-778-6133
Fax: 778-6138

To join our network, please fill out this form.



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