Northern Michigan youth from
preteen to twenties protect
the earth in rebirth of 1960s
student environmental activism
The Emanuel Lutheran Youth group protects environment through projects, education and donations
Youth wing of Emanuel Lutheran Church of Skandia donates to NMU Lutheran Campus Ministry, support NMU EK student projects
(Marquette, Michigan) – Ranging from preteen to mid-twenties, northern Michigan students of all ages are participating in a wide variety of projects to protect the earth even spending time after school collecting refundable bottles and cans to raise money for environmental donations one dime at a time.
The Emanuel Lutheran Youth (ELY) group of Skandia, Michigan spent hundreds of hours collecting bottles and cans and recently donated that money to Upper Peninsula environmental causes undertaken by Northern Michigan University EarthKeeper (NMU EK) students.
A successful fundraiser was recently held for the Northern Michigan University EarthKeeper (NMU EK) Student Team and NMU Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM) to support environment related projects in northern Michigan.
The Emanuel Lutheran Youth group of the Emanuel Lutheran Church of Skandia gave a check to the groups from money raised during recycling and cleanup projects.
Pictured left to right are Johnny Bergdahl, Jon Berglund, Pastor Chad Christensen, Sammy and Breanna Bahrman (hidden), Sammy Bergdahl, Kendra Heikkila, and Elizabeth McCarthy.
(All photos by Greg Peterson)
Rev. John Magnuson addresses the hundreds of people who attended the free October 2007 benefit concert for the NMU EK Student Team and Lutheran Campus Ministry.
Led by Pastor Chad Christensen, the ELY are the youth arm of the Emanuel Lutheran Church of Skandia.
“This year we were learning about the environment,” Rev. Christensen said.
The youth group has learned how “in our day-to-day lives, we can best care for the Earth and our surroundings,” Christensen said.
Formed in 2002, the ELY is comprised of youth ranging in age from 11 to 18.
The ELY learned this summer what they can do at home like creating a compost pile and the best use of household hazardous waste – everyday items that can have a negative effect on the environment if not properly handled, disposed or recycled.
“They learned about reading labels on cleaning agents and herbicides used for gardening,” Christensen said. “Why we should not flush pharmaceuticals so they don’t get in groundwater.”
The Emanuel Lutheran Youth group of the Emanuel Lutheran Church of Skandia. Pictured Left to right are Kendra Heikkila, Elizabeth McCarthy, Andy Bahrman, Breanna Bahrman, Johnny Bergdahl, Jon Berglund, Sammy Bergdahl, and Pastor Chad Christensen.
The Munising Band Greg LaCombe and Loose Ends played music that inspired lots of people to dance at the free benefit concert for the NMU EK Student team and the LCM.
Greg LaCombe of Munising and his band Loose Ends perform in Marquette, Michigan
The ELY presented a check to the NMU Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM) during an October 2007 benefit concert for its environmental wing, the NMU EK Student Team in Marquette.
The student EarthKeepers, who are attempting to start student chapters at three other universities, are part of the overall Michigan Earth Keeper Initiative that was recently declared one of America’s 15 hardest working faith-based non-profits for the second year in a row by a national magazine.
Reminiscent of student environmental activism 40 years ago, the youths are being noticed in an area where some adult business leaders are supporting a controversial sulfide mining proposal.
The ELY members “are learning to protect the earth and they are concerned about the state of the planet that my generation is leaving them,” said Rev. Jon Magnuson, director of LCM and the NMU EK Student Team.
During the presentation of the check, Magnuson thanked the Skandia youths for raising the money one dime at a time.
The ELY group “have the same environmental goals as the Earth Keeper students they are helping,” said Magnuson, who dreamed of creating the interfaith Earth Keepers ten years ago.
Hundreds attended the free NMU EK benefit concert featuring the Munising band “Greg LaCombe and Loose Ends.”
The annual NMU EK benefit concert is sponsored by the non-profit Turtle Island Project, its founder/director Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard , and Eden on the Bay Lutheran Church, all of Munising. Other benefit concert sponsors include Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and the public.
Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard, left, founder/director of the Turtle Island Project who organizes the annual benefit concert, holds a paper with a list of upcoming events while Rev. Jon Magnuson talks to the audience. Magnuson is director of Lutheran Campus Ministry and founded the NMU EK Student Team, a vital part of the Michigan Earth Keepers.
Hubbard said he organizes the annual concert because “the student Earth Keepers are doing important work to protect the environment that deserves to be supported.”
The ELY group pick a different theme each year for their October lock-in retreat and in 2007 it’s learning how to protect the environment and putting those lessons to work.
“Prior to concert, we had come from (LCM) Lothlorien house and the NMU students talked to us about climate control and pollution,” Christensen said “We also toured the Marquette Food Co-op.”
The university students and the Skandia area youths both participated in the 2006 and 2007 Earth Keeper Clean Sweep that collected old/unwanted drugs and old/broken electronics like computers and cells phones. All items in the Earth Day collections were either recycled or properly disposed
Pastor Christensen said the ELY “wanted to give the donation to Lutheran Campus Ministry for their work in environmental care.”
“We are learning in confirmation classes about the environment in the scriptures,” Christensen said. “In Genesis the Bible explains God’s creative hand is forming the world.”
“We learned from the NMU students that it does make a difference on how we dispose of oil, and where our trash may end up if we are littering,” Christensen said.
During October’s “lock-in” the ELY group “played games and trivia on bible and environment issues and held Saturday morning worship,” Rev. Christensen said.
The “lock-in” part is spending a night at their church, but the youth are very active for several weeks surrounding the event including collecting bottles and cans to raise money – one dime at a time – for organizations that help the community.
The ELY have raised money for the Nifty Thrifty Food Pantry, Inc. in Eben Junction and collected canned food from the Emanuel Lutheran Church congregation.
“Last year the youth had a fasting retreat so we learned about world hunger themes,” said Rev. Christensen.
The numerous ELY service projects include cleaning road ditches and caroling at Christmas time for people who are shut in for most of the winter.
Christian education is a big part of the ELY program including a retreat at the Fortune Lake Lutheran Camp in Crystal Falls, MI that examined “participation in church life and what that will mean when they get older,” Christensen said.
In the spring of 2008, the ELY will take a field trip to Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota that is named after Martin Luther, the founder of Lutheranism and the Protestant (and German) Reformation.
Christensen joined the Emanuel Lutheran Church of Skandia in 2000 as his first calling after studying at Luther Seminary. Christensen hails from the Rockwellian town of Walnut Grove, MN – home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the celebrated author of the “Little House” Books – a series of novels that inspired the Little House on the Prairie TV show.
The numerous ELY service projects include cleaning road ditches and caroling at Christmas time for people who are shut in.
Emanuel Lutheran Church of Skandia
9812 U.S. 41 South
Pastor Rev. Chad Christensen
Northern Michigan University Lutheran Campus Ministry
The Cedar Tree Institute:
2481 Como Avenue
St. Paul, MN
Info: 651-641-3456 .
Fortune Lake Lutheran Camp
138 Fortune Lake Camp Rd
Crystal Falls, MI
Marquette Food Co-op
109 W. Baraga Ave.
Laura Ingalls Wilder – Author of the “Little House” Books