Pledging Allegiance To Watershed Discipleship

Last weekend, we got to spend time at the Rooted & Grounded Conference hosted by Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, IN (photo right: the St. Joseph River Watershed). A lot of focus was placed on the challenge of shifting the epicenter of our discipleship towards each of our unique, respective watersheds during this “watershed moment” of impending climate catastrophe, income inequality, violence & racial tension. King’s giant triplets of evil (racism, materialism & militarism) haven’t gone away. What now?

Watershed Discipleship beckons us to think locally and act locally because we are committed globally. For the next 8 weeks, every Friday we will highlight what different communities are uniquely doing to experiment with their own watershed discipleship. Today, we harvest 7 pledges native to this growing movement:

1. We are not just disciples in a particular watershed. We are disciples of a particular watershed. We are committed to learning, in an intimate way, all about it.

2. Seeing the oncoming climate catastrophe in front of us calls us to seriously grapple with the colonial catastrophe behind us. Let’s confess and repent (turn back) of our own complicity in the ongoing violence, injustice and Denial.

3. In North America, this means researching what was happening in our watersheds pre-1492. How did the indigenous survive and thrive in a symbiotic relationship with the Land? What have been the dire consequences of this insidious re-placement? How might we keep indigenous ways alive?

4. This vocation leads us to re-read the biblical text through the lens of our own watershed, tinted with Her flora & fauna & natural “resources,” while critically engaging with those making decisions about extracting and exploiting them. The Bible and the Land are both sacred texts that illuminate each other.

5. When we go local with our discipleship, it will demand both rigorous personal inventory and prophetic imagination. To be faithful, both spiritual disciplines & social justice will be required.

6. Our worship will not be confined to the walls of a church building. We perform public liturgies (subversively enacted at strategic landmarks in our watershed) that powerfully intersect the seminary, the sanctuary, the street and the soil.

7. Lastly, we are committed to Something bigger than big buildings and backsides in the seats. Watershed discipleship expands our narcissistic understanding of salvation. We move from ego-centric to eco-centric. Our communities will pledge solidarity with the fierce, positive energy of indigenous people which always comes from a struggle for something: for the struggle of a place we love!

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