Conversation Circle Wooden Figures

Topic: Walk Gently Over the Earth: Religious Education for Sustainable Living

Friends, young and old, find joy and inspiration in the natural world, yet we are challenged by a mounting environmental crisis. Friends from Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) to explore resources to help Friends lead sustainable lives and advocate for the environment in a spirit-led way.


Windy Cooler: Sandy Springs MD Meeting, BYM

Sita Diehl: Madison WI Meeting, NYM

Conversation Starters

Margaret McCasland (Ithaca MM, NYYM) Her professional work included 3 interwoven threads: early childhood education, science and environmental education, and education policy. In 2006 she became a Quaker and realized that Global Warming was already having a significant impact on our planet. In 2008, she participated in a faith-based version of Al Gore’s Climate Project and has been doing interfaith work on the climate crisis ever since.

Paula Kline (Westtown MM, PhYM) is a member of the Eco-Justice Collaborative of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. She has advanced degrees in Library Science, Urban Sociology and Human Development. A lifelong educator and activist, she has worked for Save the Children as an education advisor for Latin America, founded a teacher training institute in Nicaragua, and more recently the sustainable agriculture program director at Westtown School. She currently devotes her time to local solutions to climate disruption in Chester County and habitat restoration in the cloud forest region of Veracruz, Mexico.


  • What resources for learning and practicing EarthCare have been useful to your religious education program?
  • What kinds of resources and ideas are useful to approach this topic with older youth?
  • How can we inspire young Friends to live from the deep center; and to speak and act for Earth care in age appropriate ways?
  • How can we, as religious educators, open the way for individual Friends and Meetings to practice sustainability and to advocate for the environment?

Facilitator Introduction: Check-ins were more extended because of the stressful times due to the coronavirus crisis. Friends spoke about the limitations and opportunities of connection in this moment when many people are trying to limit in-person interactions. We also talked about our connection to the topic of sustainable living/climate change and how to have meaningful conversations with youth about that topic.

  • Interest in setting aside time to explore how we can support children and families at this time
  • Hopefulness around younger folks already having tools and experience for online connection
  • Possible collaboration between QEW and Friends Peace Teams
  • Friends wanted to listen and absorb on the topic of climate change/sustainability
  • Intersections of racial and economic justice with climate change

Conversation Summary:

COVID-19 Resource: New QREC Facebook page, Valiant Together, RE resources for youth and families: created by Mim Coleman, Mackenzie Morgan and Melinda Wenner Bradley who were discussing creative resources for kids and families stuck at home. This is a group where anyone can post and share resources. Harkening back to the Valiant 60.

How to support families? This isolation may be hitting teens particularly hard. NEYM has converted an upcoming teen retreat to Zoom, some meetings are offering online worship. Sharing lesson plans and activities online seems like a great idea.

Friends spoke about their sense of how youth in their communities are doing

  • Kaia in Ohio Valley YM offering some worship/check-in space specifically for middle and HS youth, keeping structure and content minimal– sense that people are trying to figure this out and feeling perhaps bombarded with content possibilities.
  • Possibility to gather a few families and offer people an opportunity to share literally where we are– our homes, our family members, pets, etc.
  • Little windows into our individual reality that creates space for connection.
  • People may respond to phone calls, more direct personal contact– email feels impersonal even when sent personally.

This provides us with an opportunity to be more intimate with one another in some ways.

  • Early Friends communicated with one another extensively by letter, and that provided opportunities for deep intimacy.
  • There’s also a deep connection with ‘waiting’ in our tradition– much of what we are doing right now is some form of waiting.

Important practice is avoiding speculation when unclear about what other people are experiencing. Ask people what they need.

  • Nadine, (Friends Peace Teams) who does a lot of work in disaster zones, has found that it takes around 90 days for people to recover from shock, overwhelmedness.
  • Looking at the long-term possibilities– one org is projecting that we may be in this for 12-18 months. What does this look like once we have moved through the initial shock? What we need to do now may be really different from what need to do to support people after the 2-3 month mark.
  • Also helpful to be really *specific* in communication about what is being offered, to not overwhelm people.

Friends Peace Teams is a platform for supporting Friends as leadings arise– it’s almost entirely volunteer. FPT can support Friends with a call to ministry on EarthCare, viewing making peace with the earth as essential for us to make peace with one another as humans. Deeply intertwined with racial and economic injustice. Many wars are fought over resource access. Nadine speaks about ‚’simplicity’ as direct relationship: for example, not okay to buy things and not know where they come from (even though we all do this all the time).

  • How is sustainable living a call to connect more deeply with each other and our surroundings in a spiritual way?
  • Important to engage community members, including children, in projects to support one another in meeting our own needs.

Kaia is working on an ethnography project in Flint, Michigan, racial and economic factors in the environmental situation there. Gap between the language that academics use to describe/analyze a situation vs. how people understand the issues facing their community themselves. Preparing to take youth on a learning trip, looking at how to help them engage with these issues. See resource below on Ethnography and Pastoral Care

We need to collaborate with other faith communities.

Grateful Worship


Earthcare for Children: A Curriculum for First Day School, Sunday School & After School Programs by Sandra Moon Farley, Diana Gail Egly Thomas and Baxter Farley. Prepared for Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW)

Earthcare for Friends: A Study Guide for Individuals and Faith Communities, by Louis Cox, Ingrid Fabianson, Sandra Moon Farley, Ruah Swennerfelt Judy Lumb and Brad Stocker. Prepared for Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW)

QEW Pamphlets. Quaker Earthcare Witness has more than 30 pamphlets on a wide range of Earthcare-related issues, available for downloading or in hard copy.

QEW article on Awakening Across All Branches of Friends  

From Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC)

Quaker United Nations Office: A Government Official’s Toolkit Inspiring Urgent Climate Action 166 direct quotes from recent research worldwide, divided into 12 briefcases. This booklet was created to help empower people when talking with decision makers on what is happening, why, and what we can do urgently to help:

Human Rights Based Approaches to Climate Action Distributed at the climate negotiation conference in Bonn, this two-sided is about including people fairly to create effective and sustainable climate policy. Includes positive examples and links to international human rights reports:

Quaker values and a vegan future British Quaker Rajan Naidu writes about learning that dietary shifts could contribute to 1/5th of mitigation needed to hold warming below 2° C, with a quarter of low cost options (see Gov Toolkit p.33, ref 200),

FWCC has prepared a film about Quakers and sustainability/climate change:

The FWCC list of Resources for Meetings also includes case studies, videos podcasts and other resources and articles.

Folktales and Storytelling for Earth Care:

Other Resources:


Tuesday, 3/17/20 1:00PM Eastern

Name Meeting-Organization
Windy Cooler Sandy Springs, BYM
Sita Diehl Madison WI, NYM
Sally Farneth MA, NEYM
Katie Green Clearwater, SEYM
Kody Hersh SEYM Youth and YA Coord
Nadine Hoover Buffalo MM, NYYM
Kaia Jackson OVYM Youth Coordinator
Chris Jorgenson Friends Meeting of Cambridge


Thursday, 3/19/20 8:00 PM Eastern

Name Meeting-Organization
Joan Broadfield Chester PA, PhYM
Sita Diehl Madison WI, NYM
Marian Baker NEYM
Anna Dulin Orono ME, NEYM
Gail and John Fletcher Norman OK, SCYM
Jessica Girard
Kody Hersh Orlando MM, SEYM
Cameron Hughes Goose Creek MM, BYM
Paula Kline Westtown PA, PhYM
Virginia Kristl Dover MM, NEYM
Margaret McCasland Ithaca NY, NYYM
Ellie Rosenberg Ithaca NY, NYYM

Author: Quaker Religious Education Collaborative


Publisher: QREC

Age Group:

Preparation Time

Related File Click to view/download file

Related Link (or File):  Click to go to link

TopicsCurriculum, Earth Day, Environment and Stewardship, Environmental, Lessons & Activities, Outdoor activities, Science and Religion, Stewardship

An Introduction

The Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC) is an international, cross-branch, grassroots network of Friends sharing a stewardship for lifelong Quaker faith formation through religious education. We formed in April 2014 and now serve more than 300 Friends in our network. We actively engage and support each other across languages and continents. We gather for regional and annual conferences and offer monthly Conversation Circles via an online conferencing platform. 

Steering Circle

We share leadership as part of our collaborative mission, making decisions using the Quaker ‘sense of the meeting’ process, sitting in expectant, worshipful waiting for the emergence of shared truth. Read more…

Working Circles

Hand Icon

Our work  takes place in ‘circles’ or small groups of Friends who labor on a common task, usually meeting by video conference due to the geographic diversity of the membership. Read more…

The Resource Library

Finders Guide, a sampling of the collection

The QREC Resource Library is a place to share lessons and other educational information in support of our work as Quaker religious educators. This library is a forum for curricula, articles, videos and other educational materials on Quaker themes. You will also find principles, policies and procedures to strengthen operation of your child, youth and adult religious education programs.

Children's Education

Adult Education


African Quaker Library

Youth Education

Small Meetings

Young Adult Friends

Biblioteca QREC


Find renewal, companionship, and help for nitty gritty issues in Quaker religious education, all the while opening spaces for Spirit to work and listening together for God’s way forward.

QREC holds an annual conference and retreat. In addition we hold online Conversation Circles and post other religious education events as we learn about them.

Conversation Circles

Online conferences for Quaker religious educators to share about their work. Conversations are scheduled for two sessions per topic to encourage international participation.  Join the conversation…

Other Events

Hand Icon

Religious education events of interest to Quakers from all parts of the world. Please let us know about upcoming online or in-person events happening in your area. See the list of upcoming events…

Love at the Heart

Spiritual Practices


Active Caring

Quaker Family Culture

Finding the Light

Faith at Home

Home is the heart of faith formation for all families. This is especially true for Friends. As an experiential religion, Quakerism is best learned through living in loving community. Indeed, the vast majority of faith formation for our young Friends happens at home in the busy swirl of daily life.

Become a Member

Submit Resources

Get Announcements


Attend an Event

Contact Us

Get Involved

QREC depends on all of us sharing our gifts and skills as religious educators. Here are some of the ways you can get involved…