The Big Read: Braiding Sweetgrass

What if everybody in the Conference read – and talked about – Braiding Sweetgrass?

Click above to watch Creation Care Team co-chair Rev. Bob Ullman’s invitation to the Big Read

Click above to listen to what Jim Schleif, chaplain of United Church Camps Inc., says about the way Kimmerer’s book transformed his relationship to God’s Creation

Click above to listen to Kathy Bartilson, Creation Care team member and member at Namekagon Congregational Church in Earl, talk about Braiding Sweetgrass and the impact the book has had in her life

Almost everybody knows somebody who has read and loved Robin Wall Kimmerer’s essay collection, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. A favorite among people interested in nature and spirituality since its 2013 publication, the book finally made it onto The New York Times’ paperback bestseller list in early 2020 and is currently No. 15 on the Times’ list of print and e-book bestsellers.

The Conference Creation Care Team is encouraging congregations throughout the Conference to read Braiding Sweetgrass in the months ahead – a Big Read – in order to spur a statewide conversation as a response to the Kairos Call to Action on behalf of God’s good, but threatened, Creation.

Activities designed to participate in the Conference-wide Big Read of Braiding Sweetgrass could be a great way to jump start your congregation’s programming as people return from the summer holidays.

Conference activities and resources to support the Big Read will kick off in the fall. They include:

  • Virtual Conference-wide discussions of Braiding Sweetgrass on the Thursday evenings of Sept. 9, Sept. 30 and Oct. 21. Each session will start at 7 p.m. and run for 90 minutes.
    • Get your hands around Sweetgrass:  How to get the most out of your congregational Braiding Sweetgrass reading group experience, Sept. 9 at 7:00p.m. View video here. And here is the chat from the webinar, which contains some resources.
    • Braiding Sweetgrass and the Kairos Covenant: Time, Attention, Agency, Sept. 30 at 7:00p.m. View video here
    • Learnings from congregational reading groups this fall . . . and where do we go from here? Oct. 21 at 7:00p.m. View video here
  • Robin Wall Kimmerer’s talk to the Wisconsin Conference. Kimmerer will speak to the entire Wisconsin Conference by Zoom on Oct. 9. View video here (until Nov. 30). Email Nola for the password.
  • Study guide and other resources for use by congregational reading groups, Green Teams, and faith formation teams, as well as individual congregants.

Braiding Sweetgrass has proven to have very wide appeal, so make sure to spread the word about what your congregation is doing with the book. Activities directed at “healing our relationship with the world” (to borrow a phrase of Kimmerer’s) resonate throughout our communities today.

In addition, Braiding Sweetgrass is great material for sermon preparation. “I wonder how Christian life would have to change if we believed God to be present to every creature as the divine power and love animating them from within,” said Duke University theologian Norman Wirzba, writing about the book in The Christian Century. “I wonder how the body of Christ would need to change if we believed the community of life to extend beyond people to include all the life that God loves.”

Do you have questions about the Big Read? Email Bob Ullman.

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