Trees of Life Retreat / Spiritual Practices: Trees of Life CHM592

Instructor: Janeen Bertsche Johnson, MDiv

This two-day course will be offered both as a noncredit retreat and as a course for credit (one credit hour).

Trees of Life Retreat

The noncredit Trees of Life Retreat weaves together study of biblical texts about trees; understanding of trees as organisms and within ecosystems; ecological issues; and spiritual practices. Participants will also consider how to engage trees within their faith communities. Units of study (each including input, spiritual practice, and discussion) include trees in the Bible, roots, trunks, branches, leaves, fruits/seeds/nuts, trees in our ecosystem, tree identification, and ecological threats and restoration.

The retreat runs Friday, June 3, 2022 (1–8:30 p.m. EDT), and Saturday, June 4 (9 a.m. – 6:15 p.m. EDT). The first day will be held on the AMBS campus and the second day at Camp Friedenswald near Union, Michigan, so that we can experience the woods as an ecosystem.

The cost of the retreat is $60, which includes supper on Friday, lunch on Saturday and the use of Camp Friedenswald. (Lodging is not included.) Register by May 27.

(Note: The supper on Friday is being held in conjunction with the planting of a clone of a descendant of the Chortitza Oak on the AMBS campus.)

Questions? Contact Janeen Bertsche Johnson.

Spiritual Practices: Trees of Life CHM592 — Course

The one-credit-hour Spiritual Practices: Trees of Life course — consisting of the retreat described above as well as additional coursework— meets a spiritual practices requirement and is available to both credit and noncredit participants. Students taking the course for credit will need to complete all of the assigned readings before attending the retreat. Readings include:

  • Benyus, Janine. The Field Guide to Wildlife Habitats of the Eastern United States (excerpts).
  • Chase, Steven. The Tree of Life: Models of Christian Prayer (excerpts).
  • Green, Barbara. Like a Tree Planted: An Exploration of Psalms and Parables Through Metaphor (Ch. 2).
  • Heinrich, Bernd. The Trees in My Forest.
  • Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Braiding Sweetgrass (excerpts).
  • Wohlleben, Peter. The Hidden Life of Trees.

After the retreat, those taking the course for credit will be asked to turn in their reading notes/reflections as well as a project of their choice, such as an outline for a Christian education class, a “Wild Church” worship service, a sermon, or an article to be submitted to a Christian journal. 

The cost to take the course for credit is $540 plus a $20 Student Services Fee; this includes supper on Friday, lunch on Saturday and the use of Camp Friedenswald. (Lodging is not included.) Register by May 27.

Ready to register for this course as a guest?

If you are not yet an admitted student at AMBS and are not enrolled at another seminary, college or university, we’re happy to register you as a guest student. Your first three credit hours are 50% off of regular tuition rates!

Questions? Contact the Registrar’s Office.