Creation Care Efforts at AMBS
The AMBS community cares deeply about its interaction with the natural environment God created. We care for creation as part of being disciples of Jesus Christ, as an essential facet of our commitment to peace and justice.
This commitment becomes evident in many ways, from restoring native grasses and trees on the campus, to raising some of our own produce for meals, to making our buildings energy efficient. What isn’t immediately evident are the ways in which we work to make creation care an integral part of our campus culture, courses, worship services and spiritual formation.
AMBS is a member of the Seminary Stewardship Alliance, a consortium of seminaries committed to creation care initiatives.
Creation care is one of three current issues (along with conflict resolution and migration) featured in our institutional strategic focus.
AMBS was recognized as 12th of more than 230 seminaries in North America for course offerings in creation care, by the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development in September 2015.
An Environmental Sustainability Concentration is offered in our Master of Arts: Peace Studies program and our Master of Divinity Peace Studies Concentration through a 15-week residency at Merry Lea Environmental Center of Goshen (Indiana) College.
Rooted and Grounded: A Conference on Land and Christian Discipleship brought participants from across North America to campus in September 2014 and October 2015; another conference is scheduled for April 20–22, 2017. Rooted and Grounded: Essays on Land and Christian Discipleship was published in January 2016, featuring papers from the first conference.
Other main buildings have been equipped with energy-efficient heating/cooling, high-efficiency lighting and recycled carpeting.
A professional energy audit was conducted in December 2014.
Sustainability in construction and renovation
- The AMBS Library, completed in 2007, was the first theological library to register with the U.S. Green Building Council and earned Gold Certification in the LEED program (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Use of indirect natural light, local cherry wood trim, ground-source heating and cooling, water-saving plumbing features, and energy efficient windows make this space inviting for study, reflection and collaboration.
- The Chapel of the Sermon on the Mount was renovated in 2011; one major goal was to improve energy efficiency.
- Bicycle racks and showering facilities encourage students and employees use bicycle transportation.
- Recycling bins are present throughout the campus, and the seminary contracts with a firm that separates recyclable materials from trash.
- Seventeen acres of our 42-acre campus are not mowed. Six acres have been restored to native prairie.
- More than 25 species of wildflowers and grasses grow in the campus, and seeds are harvested to share.
- Rain gardens around the chapel and library restore water to the aquifer.
- A 60kW solar array offsets energy use by 72,000 kWh and saves 52 tons of CO2 emissions per year. See how we're doing. (Link opens in a new window.)
- A walking path of nearly a mile takes walkers through the areas of prairie and woods.
- Hundreds of trees in more than 20 species grow throughout the campus.
- The grounds provide habitat for deer, bats, birds, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, hawks, bees (via a hive) and more.
- A student-run garden provides space for growing produce while it also builds community. Features include a three-section compost pile and an herb garden. Several areas of campus have edible landscaping. AMBS also has a garden that contributes to the Seed to Feed program of Church Community Services in Elkhart.
- A prayer labyrinth is mowed into taller grass for use by individuals and small groups (Chartres design)
- Students and employees tap campus maple trees each spring to make syrup.
Community meals and gatherings
- A weekly potluck meal, organized by students, often features items grown in the campus garden.
- Occasional morning breaks feature vegan foods or foods made with campus-grown produce
Presentations, classes and retreats
- A few AMBS classes focus specifically on creation and creation care issues.
- Several recent spiritual retreats have been canoeing experiences; another involved a visit to a local Community Supported Agriculture farm.
- Numerous weekly forums have centered around issues of food, care for non-human animals, ecosystems, green buildings, composting and other creation care themes.
- The first class required for Master of Divinity students (Leadership Education in Anabaptist Perspective) includes a segment on creation care and awareness of context.
- A Creation Care Preaching Contest was held for students in fall 2015.
- Occasional tours of the prairie are offered for the AMBS community and its neighbors.
- The AMBS community holds an annual campus retreat at a nearby camp.
AMBS and the Seminary Stewardship Alliance
In 2013, AMBS was invited to join the Seminary Stewardship Alliance, a consortium of schools dedicated to reconnecting Christians with the bibical call to care for God’s creation. The goal of SSA is for member seminaries to teach, preach, live, inspire, and hold each other accountable for good stewardship practices.
As part of the SSA, AMBS is working on an action plan for future creation care efforts. AMBS’s liaisons with the Seminary Stewardship Alliance are:
- Janeen Bertsche Johnson, AMBS campus pastor and Indiana Master Naturalist since 2008.