A central San Joaquin Valley nonprofit ministry that provides creation education is beginning to take off.
Eagle's NEST (North America, Environment, Sustainable, Teamwork) US, which reaches out to both the faith and non-faith communities, recently was busy as it presented information at several Earth Day events in April.
"The overwhelming response that we have received is that this is a much-needed ministry," says founder/director Todd A. Slinde, adding he plans to leave a full-time job to devote all his attention to the ministry.
The Bee caught up with Slinde to learn more about the Visalia-based ministry.
Question: What is your ministry's purpose and when did you get started?
Answer: Our mission is to provide quality creation education leading to better environmental integrity and conservation. We have a two-fold vision strategy:
To inspire and mobilize the faith communities to be stewards and caretakers of creation.
To partner with those non-faith conservation groups that are already doing good works.
In this process we build bridges of trust and common ground. Eagles NEST was founded in April 2013.
Where is your home base?
We are based in Visalia, but our reach is much broader.
As the person in charge, what is your background?
As a Christian leader, I am a longtime member as well as an ordained elder at First Presbyterian Church in Visalia. I have been a small-group leader and just recently was the chairperson for the nine-member pastor nominating committee.
Educationally, I have a degree in plant science. Professionally, I am a former senior director of sales for a major organic soil and fertilizer company. I also started that company's sustainability team and served throughout as its chairperson.
Why should others care about your ministry?
In many churches, there is a lack of focus on sustainability from a Christian-faith perspective. We provide the education and opportunities to fill that gap. We have found that our youth are extremely interested in sustainability and environmental issues, yet they have very few outlets for their passions and concerns in their own churches' ministries. Thus, we provide an important outreach to our own church youth.
Finally, the idea of building trust and common ground between groups is needed and vital to accomplish good works in our communities.
At recent Earth Day events, how did you create awareness of your ministry?
As we do public events, we provide handouts on our ministry that include: our mission, our vision, what we believe, what we do and why we do it. We also provide a handout containing over 50 eco-action ideas and tips. These tips cover: home energy, water conservation, lighting, home and garden, transportation, and reduce, reuse, recycle.
Why is it important that your ministry make Bible studies available to Valley churches?
Our adult Bible study is a three-lesson series, "Expedition." From a biblical standpoint, we teach about creation, how we can actually know God better though our experiences and interactions with nature, and finally that God has called on us to be caretakers of his creation.
From a non-political yet scientific aspect, we explore issues such as water, air and soil health, natural resources, endangerment of species and habitats, and the uncertainties that come from climate change. These can be done in small groups, large groups or even weekend retreats.
We also have developed and printed a two-lesson "Expedition — Student Edition."
What is your ministry's biggest need or concern?
Prayer, first and foremost. Obviously, financial considerations. But God has already blessed this new ministry in countless ways so far, and we know that he has us in his care.
Are there any costs involved?
There is a $5 printing reimbursement charge for the Expedition Bible Study Guide.
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