Love God, Love God's World

Creation Care Curriculum

Facilitator’s Guide

Download the full Facilitator’s Guide here.

Getting Started:
Interested in organizing a small group or “circle” to participate in Love God, Love God’s World: Creation Care Curriculum for Small Groups? You may be a layperson, priest, deacon, or diocesan staff person. You do not need to be an expert on climate change or environmental justice, or to have any particular small-group leadership experience. The most important thing as facilitator is to create opportunities for authentic and honest dialogue. This curriculum was developed primarily for adults but may be accessible to youth.

Before You Begin:
If this is your first small group experience, or your first time as a small group leader, we recommend reviewing the resources found online here. Start with the Building an Intentional Small Group Ministry guide, which informs and expands on this facilitator guide with helpful topics such as Small Group Ministry Roles, How to Form Groups, Setting a Timeline, Choosing Location, and Creating Group Norms.

Planning session timing:
It is important to identify what meeting rhythm works best for your group (weekly, every two weeks, monthly, etc.) and allocate about 75 minutes if you are not sharing a meal or 90 minutes with a meal. In order to give groups the freedom to start this dialogue series at any time of year, the series is not tied to the church calendar. However, facilitator(s)/organizers should meet with their church leaders to consider how the flow of the series can resonate with the seasons of the church year: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost.

Creating Your Small Groups/Circles:
If you have a creation care/environmental justice ministry, or a related group (like a community garden ministry), then Love God, Love God’s World can build on your existing work and strengthen and inform group members in their ongoing leadership. If you are hoping to create a creation care/environmental justice ministry, then this dialogue series can spark conversation and build the desire and commitment for this within your congregation or diocese. Or, if you offer Christian formation programs at your church, Love God, Love God’s World can be a great offering.

This curriculum can also be an opportunity to build relationships beyond your congregation or institution. Is there a neighboring Episcopal church or other faith community in your town that you could invite to partner with you as you form your small group? What about an environmental community group? 

We recommend that a small group/circle be a minimum of six people and no more than 12 people. If you are beginning your journey with a group larger than 12, you may gather together in person or on a digital platform as a larger group for prayer and announcements, and then split participants into smaller conversation groups. In that scenario, we recommend inviting participants to join the same small group each week to provide continuity and the opportunity for deep relationships to form. And, depending on the size of the group, facilitators may wish to incorporate the use of breakout groups, such as pairs or groups of three to six, for even more intimate dialogue.

Registering and Access to Films and Materials:
Once you have decided to proceed with organizing a small group, please register here.

You will receive a confirmation email with a link and password that will enable you to access the Love God, Love God’s World curriculum pages and licensed films and readings. You will share the link and password with your participants, but not others.  

Many of the assigned films/videos in the curriculum are publicly available online at no cost and are linked to from the curriculum session pages. However, some of the films and resources are only available in the curriculum because The Episcopal Church has purchased the necessary streaming licenses to provide access to them at no cost to Love God, Love God’s World participants. This is why the curriculum website is password-protected. And an important note: Our licenses do not permit the screening of the films for your full congregation or broader community. If members of the small group are inspired by one or more of the films and wish to share them with the whole congregation for a dialogue event, then please make arrangements with your church leadership to acquire the public performance license (and DVD or streaming access) from one of the films’ distributors.

Curriculum/Session Structure (insight for facilitators on the session flow)

Here is a simple structure for a small group gathering, designed to create space for transformation, belonging, and engagement. This structure can flex from 75 minutes with no meal to 90 minutes with a meal. You can also adapt it to make room for specific content in any given session. Don’t be afraid to assign a timekeeper to make sure the gathering keeps moving and no section gets rushed or cut.

Pre-Gathering Preparation – Participants should review the primary resources, guiding Scripture, and reflection and discussion questions prior to the small group gathering. As a facilitator you will want to make sure that participants are clear on how to access the resources each week and that the goal is for them to review prior to gathering.

Gathering and Welcome – If you are sharing a meal, we encourage you to schedule your sessions for at least 90 minutes, with the first 30 minutes of the meeting focusing on the meal and check-in. Otherwise, welcome your participants; once everyone is settled, you can begin check-ins. 

Opening Prayer and Checking In – If meeting in person, gather in a shape that allows all participants to see each other’s faces. There is an opening prayer provided in each session. Once settled, invite people to take turns reflecting on a check-in question for a specified time. If you’re starting with a meal, you can begin with the opening prayer and after the first 15 minutes shift gears toward check-in. 

Check-in prompts can be as simple as (for the first session), “Why did you decide to participate in this specific small group opportunity?” Or (for other sessions), “Where have you seen God moving in your life since our last session?” The check-in question may link loosely to the session Scripture and topic. If you provide group members with the prompt ahead of time, they can ponder and respond to it prior to the gathering and begin to become more aware of God between meetings. 

As the group leader, start the check-in and invite others to share by going around the circle to the left or right (if in person). Allow people to pass if they are not ready to speak, and return to them once you’ve gone around the circle. Going around the circle makes it easier to ensure that everyone is included. Another option for sharing is Mutual Invitation, introduced by the Kaleidoscope Institute. After a person shares, they turn to another person in the group—not necessarily someone nearby—and invite that person to share. Many find that Mutual Invitation engages the whole group and spreads leadership more fully. Again, the choice is the leader’s and/or the group’s to make.

Engaging the Content – Once everyone has checked in, it’s time to move into the next part of your small group meeting: about 40 minutes of content engagement and reflection. Each session of Love God, Love God’s Worldis anchored by a film, a reading and/or podcast, and a reflection from the author.

Participants will have been expected to watch, read, or listen to the primary content resources prior to the gathering, as well as read the included reflection by the session’s author. Each session seeks to explore and engage the topics raised in the films, readings, and other material. The group can choose to read the reflection out loud together or go directly to discussion questions depending on timing.

There are discussion questions provided at the end of each session for the group to engage. You will likely not have time for every person to respond to every question. That’s OK! You may want to choose a couple questions prior to gathering that you would like to prioritize for discussion or have the group decide. Sometimes, the leader will have to ask follow-up questions to keep the conversation going. Helpful follow-up prompts: How did that make you feel? Say more about that. What made you think of that?

The point of this time is life-giving conversation, so if that’s happening, there’s no need to shut down the conversation to get through all the questions.

Drawing the Session to a Close – When there are about 10 minutes left in your time together, bring the conversation to a close and invite participants to share a word or phrase that describes how they feel following the session and conversation. You can use a similar invitation process as you used in the opening check-in.

After all have offered a word, the facilitator or volunteer can pray a simple prayer bringing together the hopes and prayers of the whole group. 

Action Opportunities  Each session offers action opportunities suggested by the session’s author to either learn more about a particular issue or to explore how to learn more about getting involved in your community. These activities are just suggestions, and participants are welcome to offer their own. This portion does not need to be discussed during group meetings but can serve as additional engagement outside of the small group gatherings or be part of the next steps when the curriculum concludes.

Conclusion of Curriculum and Next Steps
At the conclusion of the series, participants will wish to take some concrete next steps. Be generous and engage fellow parishioners in those commitments. Please collaborate with church leaders to determine what form this reporting back and engagement might best take. The discussion questions from Session Nine and the Action Opportunities included throughout the curriculum can serve as helpful starting points for next steps.

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The Rev. Melanie Mullen

Director, Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care

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Phoebe Chatfield

Associate for Creation Care and Justice

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