Scholarship Honors Legacy of Faith and Ecology Leader

April 19, 2023

The newly-created Fr. Edward J. Ciuba Scholarship will provide Christian leaders with more tools to tackle the climate crisis with their church communities.

As we prepare for Earth Day, local nonprofit Waterspirit has created a new opportunity to help Christian communities face the climate crisis. The Fr. Edward J. Ciuba scholarship will allow one Christian leader an opportunity to take the Climate Pastoral Care Course for free.

The 13-module course was launched in October 2022. This online course intends to equip church leaders and communities with the tools they need to understand eco-anxiety, climate grief, and other climate emotions to become more effective caregivers. This comprehensive course takes a deep dive into culturally-sensitive pastoral care, explores what it means to be a good pastor to climate-anxious people, and makes recommendations for particular groups, including activists, scientists, and children. It also makes recommendations for how to address congregational conflict and ecophobic theologies.

Fr. Ed Ciuba was a champion of ecological consciousness. We are thrilled to offer this scholarship to honor the legacy of our long-time board member,” said Blair Nelsen, Executive Director of Waterspirit and course co-author.

The climate crisis is creating a worldwide emergency that impacts communities mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Climate emotions (like climate grief and climate anxiety) are increasingly impacting young people in particular. A recent study in The Lancet found 84% of the 10,000 global youth surveyed are worried about their future in a climate-changed world. These feelings are widespread. Faith communities are equipped with their own traditions and tools that can help their members face the climate emergency, but pastoral caregivers must first develop a deep understanding of the issues involved.

Course co-author Jessica Morthorpe shares, “We train our church leaders for pastoral care situations like funerals, generalized anxiety, and illness. We don’t train them in how to help their communities face their grief over climate change and the destruction of the planet, their anxiety about a climate-changed future, and the ways in which climate change is and will impact both their physical and mental health. This course aims to fill that gap.”

The application for the scholarship will remain open on Waterspirit’s website until July 1, 2023. The awardee will be announced in early September during the Season of Creation, a time when Christian communities are invited to renew their commitment to Earth care.

Waterspirit is a nonprofit center for spirituality and ecology sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, headquartered in Rumson, NJ, USA.

More information is available here.

Blair Nelsen (732) 923-9788