Certificate in Environmental Ministry and Leadership

Check Back Here for the Dates of the Next Offering of This Program.

The McCormick Certificate in Environmental Ministry and Leadership is designed for…

  • those who are passionate about ecological questions, and  those who desire to learn more…
  • those who seek a deepened understanding of the state of the world, and those who seek to shape policy in the interest of healing of the world...
  • those who are looking for deeper biblical and theological foundations for their practices in their own places of  ministry…
  • …and those who would like to pursue all of these questions in a sustained way with a group of committed peers and colleagues!

This program is an interactive, cross-disciplinary approach to the faith and environment conversation.  With a proven commitment to leadership development and in the urban context of Chicago, where we enjoy relationships with many innovative and renowned ecological initiatives, McCormick Seminary and Faith in Place provide a unique partnership and setting for environmental study and practice.  Our goal is to equip religious leaders  with the tools that will make our impact on the earth more sustainable and more just in their own settings.

Who Will Benefit?

  • -Pastors and religious educators in local congregations
  • -People of faith seeking their roles in the environmental movement
  • -Directors of mission, outreach, and creation care for congregations, judicatories or non-profit institutions
  • -Congregational and community leaders committed to responding faithfully to our ecological context from a faith perspective

What are the Benefits to Participants

Through completion of the certificate, you will be able to:

  • Practice and lead sustained biblical, theological, and ethical reflection on the role of faith communities in our ecological context;
  • Present basic scientific knowledge regarding the ecological crisis, and identify reliable sources for current data on the crisis;
  • Analyze the challenges of social location (race, class and gender) both in their experiences of the environmental crisis and in patterns of inclusion and participation in the environmental movement;
  • Identify, evaluate, and lead a variety of religious practices – from worship to political engagement – that express and shape our vocation as caretakers of creation;
  • Explore models of sustainable building and practice that broaden the landscape of sustainability and provide inspiring examples for congregations; and
  • Build collegial, collaborative, and mutually supportive relationships to sustain environmental ministry into the future.

What are the Topics? Who are the Instructors?

The program will focus on four major instructional themes and include times of presentation, discussion, and off-site learning.

State of the Earth, State of Creation: A Scientific and Religious Overview

The Reverend Dr. Clare Butterfield, Executive Director, Faith in Place, Chicago, IL

Subject matter will include a very basic and nontechnical scientific description of the ecological state of the world, including up-to-date data on climate change, habitat loss, farm issues, water supply and accumulation of toxins, a panel discussion with all the course instructors on why the environment is a religious issue, from their different points of view, and a field trip to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.


Biblical Foundations: Recovering Creation

Dr. Theodore Hiebert, Francis A. McGaw Professor of Old Testament, McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL

Subject matter will include a fundamental reexamination of the place of nature in the Scriptural roots of our faith.  This will involve not just finding green texts in the Bible but cultivating a way of reading biblical texts to recover the core role of nature in biblical thought; also included will be resources for using the Bible in study, reflection, preaching, and worship.  Friday's session will be held at Glacial Park Nature Preserve in Northern Illinois. 

Theological Foundations: A Down to Earth Approach to Eco-justice

The Reverend Dr. Anna Case-Winters, Professor of Theology, McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL

Subject matter will include exploration of theological themes and foundations for the work of eco-justice.  How do we think about God in relation to the natural world?  How may human beings “know our place” with and within nature?  Fundamental convictions on these theological questions shape our care for creation.  The class will continue work on issues of energy, food, and water.  Special attention to worship life (spaces, practices, and resources) and a field trip to Chicago’s Green Synagogue is included.


Practicing Green Faith: Christian Environmental Ethics and Action

The Reverend Dr. Jennifer R. Ayres, Assistant Professor of Religious Education and Director of the Religious Education Program Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, GA, formerly Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at McCormick.

Subject matter will include themes in Christian environmental ethics such as sustainability, justice, and stewardship. We will pay particular attention to the intersections of ecological questions with cross-cultural, urban, and economic realities. And how do biblical and theological resources frame our interpretation of and responses to these issues? We will examine concrete religious practices of political advocacy and "greening churches." The class will make field trips to the Little Village neighborhood for a "toxic tour" and to some innovative local urban farming initiatives.

What are the Admissions and Completion 

A bachelor’s degree is highly recommended; an M.Div. or other advanced degree is not required. Current or future leadership responsibility at a place of ministry or work is preferred. What will be most beneficial is a curious mind and a commitment to collegial learning and practice. The Certificate is attained by attendance at two-4-day sessions; completion of pre and post-class reading and writing assignments; active participation in class discussions; and the prodution of a final capstone project and paper. 


2013 tuition was $975.00.  Group discounts are available for members of an organization and McCormick Alumni.

Contact Joe Ann Watson at (jwatson@mccormick.edu) or 773-947-6361 for more information.


  • Courses will be held on the Hyde Park campus of McCormick Theological Seminary, 5460 South University Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. On-site housing is available at McCormick at an additional cost.

Con Ed Events

Certificate in Executive Leadership 2015 - 2016, (Cohort IX) Registration will open on January 1, 2015. Don't delay! The cohort may fill quickly.