Global Ministries recently trained and commissioned its first class of Earthkeepers, a new category of service for the agency that entails training and recognition by Global Ministries, but not ongoing direct supervision or financial support. A Global Ministries story further describes the program. Video of the commissioning service and training sessions is also available.
This new program is significant for several reasons:
1. It is another sign of the growing recognition of earthkeeping/creation care/eco-justice/etc. as a significant realm of mission work. Such recognition extends far beyond Global Ministries and United Methodism.
2. Earthkeepers represent an interesting new category of missionary within the realm of United Methodism. Global Ministries already recognizes a variety of categories of missionaries, mostly based on its own internal program structures. In addition, there are categories of mission service such as deaconesses and home missioners outside of Global Ministries. Earthkeepers is interesting both in its recognized but not supervised arrangement and in that it is a category that encompasses both lay and ordained service, though that is also true of other forms of mission service.
3. With regard to internal Global Ministries structures, the commissioning represents a significant achievement for the Center for Mission Innovation, Global Ministries' newest unit, which is charged with discerning and promotion new and innovative forms of mission.