Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary was certified as the first Green-Justice Seminary in October 2020 by the Green Seminary Initiative.
Why become a Green-Justice Seminary?
At this testing point in human history something new is asked of humankind: to forge ways of living that build social justice wed to sustainable Earth–human relations. Where something new is asked of humankind, something new is asked of religion: to plumb the depths of our traditions for wellsprings of moral-spiritual vision, hope, wisdom, and courage, and offer these to the broader public. We, like Luther, are called to re-formation of church and society — in our time, eco-justice reformation.
Lutheran traditions overflow with resources for eco-justice reformation. If Lutherans do not dig deeply into the riches that Lutheranism offers for this time of crisis then those resources will go untapped. If we sit quietly within this disruptive daring legacy and do not tap it, then we withhold from God’s garden Earth and its creatures – human included — the gifts that God has offered for 500 years through this protest-born legacy.
The Environmental Certification Program signifies PLTS’ commitment to cultivate in leaders of the church the gifts for being church in the face of this great moral-spiritual challenge of the 21st century, and to do so in the gospel-grounded, re-forming, protesting, truth-telling, Spirit-led, disruptive, and daring mode that Lutheran Christians are called to embody in God’s beautiful and broken abode called Earth.
To achieve this certification, PLTS implemented the following changes:
- Updated PLTS curriculum to include focus on climate justice with course offering in Climate Justice and Theology in Relation; the option to do special projects related to climate justice in the seminary’s required courses for M.Div and M.A. students; and emphasize the option to take courses related to climate justice at UC Berkeley or the GTU for credit in the M.Div and M.A. curriculum
- Added a Concentration on Climate Justice and Faith
- PLTS offers at least one public lecture each year focused on climate justice (see past events)
Liturgy, Ritual, and Worship
- PLTS holds a season of worship services with environmental focus.
- Incorporates eco-related elements regularly into worship
Building and Grounds
- PLTS reduced energy consumption by moving from a space in the Berkeley hills far from mass transit stations to an urban location one block from a central mass transit station.
- PLTS reduced water use by more than 10%
- PLTS reduced waste by more than 25%
- PLTS provides a bikeshare program so every student has access to bicycles, locks, and helmets.
- PLTS offers vegan options and organic local produce at all community meals and has eliminated the use of plastic water bottles.
- PLTS only offers organic, fair-trade coffee and tea
- PLTS developed a mission statement that expresses the ways in which greening the seminary is consistent with its core mission
- Orientation for all new board members, faculty, and staff includes education about PLTS’ environmental commitments
- PLTS, in collaboration with local organizations, provides annual internships, field placements or immersions in religious and environmental NGOs which are addressing environmental issues and concerns.
- PLTS started the Center for Climate Justice and Faith which is equipping non-degree students from around the world with the skills, knowledge, spiritual grounding, and a community of support for organizing to address the climate crisis in ways that build racial and economic equity through a Certificate in Climate Justice and Faith and a Community Organizing in Climate Justice as Love in Action training.
Did you know that transportation is the number one source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions? PLTS student housing and the PLTS campus are located near bike paths and bike boulevards, but many students didn’t have access to a bicycle to take advantage of this bike infrastructure. In response, PLTS students in the Climate Justice and Faith concentration addressed this need by developing a bikeshare program for the PLTS community.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, many gardening beds at PLTS student housing were abandoned by building management. After getting permission from the building owners, PLTS students in the Climate Justice and Faith concentration took over these abandoned beds to create an urban rooftop garden for PLTS students and their neighbors to enjoy.