Pastoral Perspectives on the Environmental Crisis

October 17th, 2007Rev. Pete Sawtell, M.Div.Executive Director, Eco-Justice MinistriesHost: Stan Adamson

About the Presentation

Bringing about real environmental change will take far more than strong laws and new technology. Members of our society need to come to new understandings of their self-identity, of progress and the good life, and of their relationship with the community and the natural world. Emotions like fear, grief, anger and hopelessness can prevent people from considering new options. We’ll have a conversation about the ways in which pastoral and psychological approaches are essential in making transformations toward a more sustainable society.

About the Presenter

Rev. Peter Sawtell is the executive director of Eco-Justice Ministries (, an ecumenical environmental agency that he founded in 2000. Through Eco-Justice Ministries, Peter works with Christian churches across the United States, highlighting the ways in which today’s environmental and social justice crises are moral and spiritual problems, and teaching how churches have a unique role to play in transforming individuals and society. Eco-Justice Ministries calls churches to bring hope and new vision to these issues in their worship and education, as well as outreach and advocacy ministries.

Peter has taught about eco-justice at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, and been a presenter at many ecumenical and denominational conferences across the US. He is a founding member of the Religious Environmental Leaders Group, and is widely known for his writing through the Eco-Justice Notes commentaries.

Prior to his full-time environmental ministry, Peter served as co-pastor of United Church of Christ congregations in Iowa, and worked as a consultant with non-profit agencies in Colorado. He has a long and diverse record of denominational and ecumenical service, including the environmental task force of the national United Church of Christ. He is an avid reader, and loves hiking.

He graduated from the Colorado College (B.A., 1974, with a major that combined environmental biology and religious studies) and  Andover Newton Theological School (M.Div., 1977). In 1991, he completed the coursework portion of Ph.D. studies in “Religion and Social Change” at the Iliff School of Theology and the University of Denver.

Additional Resources

Peter’s weekly commentary, Eco-Justice Notes, often addresses the interconnection of pastoral ministry and social transformation. A few sample of those commentaries are “The Dieting Sumo Wrestler” (, “Beyond Denial and Despair” (, “A 30-Second Revelation” (, and “Attitude of Gratitude” (

Recommended reading from presentation:

A Spirituality of Resistance: Finding a Peaceful Heart and Protecting the Earth.
Roger S. Gottlieb. Crossroads Publishing, 1999.

Ecotherapy: Healing Ourselves, Healing the Earth.
        Howard Clinebell, Ph.D. Fortress Press, 1996

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.
Richard Louv. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2006.

Preaching as Weeping, Confession, and Resistance: Radical Responses to Radical Evil.
         Christine M. Smith.  Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992.

The Prophetic Imagination
         Walter Brueggemann.  Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2001

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