From the beginning, God was very pleased with creation and called it "good." God created humans to take care of that good creation. Over and over throughout scripture, our role as stewards of God's creation is clear. In creating us in his image, God gave us a great privilege, and a great responsibility. Why care? Because God's Word calls us to care.
Heather always had a love for creation, but was unsure how it connected with her faith. Many years ago, she read Serve God, Save the Planet written by Dr. Matthew Sleeth. She was excited to read something that finally connected the dots for her. Heather asked her husband Ryan (a UMC pastor) to read the book. She actually begged him to read it. And when Ryan was going to Asbury Seminary for a clergy gathering, she begged him to try and meet the author who lived in the same town.
Ryan was in luck. Matthew and Nancy Sleeth were hosting a clergy luncheon. The Sleeth's asked him why he was there and he was very honest. He attended the luncheon thinking it would make Heather happy and get him off the hook for reading the book. He confessed to the Sleeth's that he didn’t really see the connection between his faith and creation care. After the luncheon, the Sleeth's sent Ryan home with a box of books.
From Genesis to Revelation, what Ryan discovered was a biblical call to care for God’s creation. He asked Dr. Sleeth to come speak to the church. That was nearly ten years ago.
Since then, Ryan has been a member of the Blessed Earth board and advisory team, and Heather has written articles for their website and received her Masters in Sustainability from Lipscomb University. Ryan, Heather and the Sleeth's are family friends and loyal ministry partners. They have stayed many times in each other’s homes, broken bread at each other’s tables, and shared both the hardships and celebrations of ministry together.
A decade ago, the Sleeth's never would have guessed that a creation care skeptic and his wife would be launching the first state affiliate of Blessed Earth.