Mid Maine District Co-Lay Leader to be commissioned as EarthKeeper

November 12, 2019

Mid-Maine District Co-Lay Leader Michael Leonard said he’s been “interested in the environment most of my life.”
When he retired from his corporate job, he went back to school to earn a BA in environmental studies.
Now he’s going to take his passion, education, and training as a United Methodist EarthKeeper to help folks in Maine – and perhaps beyond – be better stewards of the planet.

EarthKeepers is a training program from the General Board of Global Ministries to equip United Methodists in the U.S. for environmental stewardship. It serves as both a launchpad for people looking to turn an idea into action and an incubator for people who want to deepen an existing ministry.
Leonard will be among the 67 new EarthKeepers from 23 conferences who will be commissioned in an online service at 8 p.m. on Nov. 19, 2019 at www.umcmission.org/live.

These EarthKeepers took part in training earlier this year in Philadelphia, Chicago and Austin, TX. Participants spent three and a half days immersed in discussions on theology, United Methodist resources, community organizing, and anti-racism, and then use what they learn to develop an environmental project for their churches and communities.
Leonard, who is also a Certified Lay Minister, participated in the Chicago training in October. It is his goal to roll out a Care for Creation ministry to each of the 61 churches in the
Michael Leonard
Mid-Maine District.

The church has a role, he said, in “recognizing the importance of caring for God’s creation, rethinking our carbon footprint, and stopping global climate change.”
Here’s his mission statement:
“Provide vision, inspiration, and practical tools to build a relationship with God’s Creation and work to implement ‘Climate Change and the Church’s Response,’ resolution 1035 found in the 2016 Book of Resolutions.
Leonard is coordinating with a number of partners working on environmental issues including Americorps, Maine Green Power, and the Maine Partnership for Environmental Stewardship.
It is his goal to bring these resources to churches and, through the congregations, into those communities – spreading information and providing tools for positive action to help protect and preserve the environment.
His completion of the EarthKeepers training qualifies him to apply for grant funding through Global Ministries to support his work.
“I feel very passionately that humans were put on the earth that God created to be stewards of His creation, and we have failed miserably,” Leonard said. “It’s time to step up and start to make amends.”
Asked if there is something churches can do right now to affect positive change for the environment, he said, “Change all the lightbulbs to LEDs.”
It’s something that’s going on at his home church, Aldersgate UMC in Rockland, right now. “It’s the quickest and least expensive way [to make a difference],” he said.
“It’s exciting,” Leonard said of the upcoming commissioning, and he’s glad to be participating online.
Conducting the service online “creates the opportunity for all three classes of EarthKeepers trained in 2019 to be commissioned together while minimizing the carbon footprint of the service,” according to the Global Ministries’ press release.
To receive information on 2020 EarthKeepers trainings, email Alicia Stromberg, Sustainable Development Program Assistant at the Board of Global Ministries, at astromberg@umcor.org.