Eco-chaplaincy is a form of inter-religious and secular ‘spiritual’ support for people engaged in environmental and social justice work to help prevent burn-out and inspire and sustain long-term vision. The goal is to provide support for the Great Turning as we transition from the Industrial Growth Era toward a Life-Sustaining society.
Eco-chaplaincy expands the field of chaplaincy by addressing the spiritual implications of ecological crisis through a combination of the four primary roles of a chaplain: theological, pastoral, healing, and change agency.
Theological support by an eco-chaplain refers to the inclusion of rituals and ceremonies designed to bring meaning and context to events within campaigns over the long haul, such as funeral services for mountain tops and filled in valleys.
Pastoral support includes helping people work with emotions, particularly negative ones like despair, anger, apathy, overwhelm, and grief present in this work. This includes facilitating the Work that Reconnects which I learned from Joanna Macy; and inspiring a culture of long-term vision and self-care.
The healing role of an eco-chaplain occurs when offering presence, reflective listening, empathy and basic attendance to people. It also includes bearing witness to the beauty and suffering of the planet.
Change-agency has everything to do with speaking up about issues, like mountain top removal and facilitating holistic change.
While chaplains provide spiritual support to any member of the institution they are employed – be it the military, a hospital, prison, hospice or school; eco-chaplains provide spiritual support for organizations, communities and individuals working on behalf of Earth.