“...if grief is an expression of love, our grief takes on the shape of the places and creatures to whom we intimately belong. We mourn the death of the world because it is where we come from.” – Hannah Malcolm
In November 2021, we invited you to join a reading group using the collection of essays Words for a Dying World: Stories of Grief and Courage from the Global Church, edited by Hannah Malcolm. As part of the BTS Center’s season of programming around ecological grief, we gathered to share responses and conversation around the text as well as ritual and grounding for our grief.
Over the course of four weekly sessions, we read and discussed select essays from the book as a way of understanding ecological grief as both local and global, particular and universal. The program was oriented toward spiritual leaders* who were experiencing their own grief and may be seeking resources for their communities.
We offered a theologically grounded space in which we deeply engaged with the spiritual impact of the climate crisis as well as a place in which we began to name our losses and understand the ways in which we are carrying our grief.
*We define “spiritual leaders” broadly to include not only clergy and other faith leaders, but also dedicated laypersons, nonprofit leaders, chaplains, spiritual directors, students, university and seminary faculty, denominational executives, and others with a committed and world-engaging spiritual practice.
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Words for a Dying World: Stories of Grief and Courage from the Global Church
How do we talk about climate grief in the church? And when we have found the words, what do we do with that grief?
There is a sudden and dramatic rise in people experiencing a profound sense of anxiety in the face of our dying planet, and a consequent need for churches to be better resourced pastorally and theologically to deal with this threat.
Words for a Dying World brings together voices from across the world - from the Pacific islands to the pipelines of Canada, from farming communities in Namibia to activism in the UK.
For more about the relationship between climate grief and theology: Listen to this 30 minute interview on the Talking Theology podcast with Hannah Malcolm, editor of Words for a Dying World.
Aram Mitchell is the Director of Partnerships and Formation at The BTS Center. He is a Registered Maine Guide with a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies from Chicago Theological Seminary. He lives on a little plot of land in Maine with his spouse, two dogs, a cat, and several chickens. Read more ...
Rev. Ash Temin is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) who offers spiritual direction and contemplative grief accompaniment through her independent practice in Portland, Maine. She also works as a call chaplain at a local hospital. Read more ...