Eco-Justice Ministries
   Eco-Justice: "the well-being of all humankind on a thriving Earth"

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Eco-Curriculum Review for the title
Keeping the Garden: A Faithful Response to God's Creation

This is the general report format.
Shorter and more detailed report formats are also available for this title.

Short Description:   By affirming God as Creator, we must affirm that creation should operate according to God’s will for it. Genesis establishes the ground rules for faith including how we are supposed to relate to the world and to God.
Long Description:   The topics covered are: 1. We have made a mess of God’s Creation – why should we be concerned? How we endanger Creation, and how we can preserve it. 2. Diversity and Variety in Nature and how we can support biodiversity. 3. Humans’ part in Creation and our responsibilities and relationship to it. Our unique function in the world, NOT unique essence. 4. Natural laws and rules, how they function, and how to live within God’s limits. 5. Excesses – looking beyond ourselves and being honest with what is sufficient. 6. Faith, hope and our call to action. 7. (Extender Session) Changes from the past and using sustainable practices that had been used by our ancestors.
Reviewed by:   Tallie Morrison, a United Church of Christ laywoman from Colorado

Bibliographic & Purchasing Information
Author:   Tim & Donita Wiebe-Neufeld Faith & Life Press & Brethren Press
Publication date:   1996 Website for this resource:   none known
We know of 1 source for purchasing this resource.
Address Brethren Press
1451 Dundee Ave
Elgin, IL   60120-1694  
Phone 800-441-3712   Fax 800-667-8188  
Website   E-mail  
Price $14.95  Order # 9439 

Target Audience & Course Sessions
Age levels Preschool    Primary     Jr. High     Sr. High    Adult
The reviewer specifies:   memory, reasoning, and imagination suggest older youth
NOTE: Our reviewer may have checked a wider age range than specified in the curriculum itself.
Optimum class size There is no min/max size, but there is lots of discussion, so I would not want more than about 15 students in the class. 
Normal number/length of sessions If the curriculum's normal lesson plan is followed, there will be 6 + 1 long class sessions each lasting about 40-50 minutes
Are suggestions included for expanding/contracting the series? The materials do not provide specific suggestions.  
In the judgement of the reviewer:
 it is not reasonable to plan for a single, self-contained class session from these materials.
 using these materials, a class can be offered that runs for at least two sessions.
Are learners expected to do homework? None – except when the leader is to contact selected group members for specific tasks  
Target audience:
 Interfaith - addressed people of many faiths
 Judeo-Christian - addressed to Jews & Christians
 Christian - addressed explicitly to Christians
 Not explicity faith-based - not much religious content

Materials provided
Materials include:
 Leader's guide
 Student book
 Discussion questions
 Class activities - arts & crafts
 Class activities - group participation 
 Reading materials
 Presentation or lecture notes
 Prayer or worship resources
Other materials required:Bibles, paper, pens, pencils, miscellaneous items for each lesson (easily gatherable prior to class), VCR camera and/or recorder for optional use, tree to plant
Description of the Leader's Guide:The guide is very well laid out with: Key Verse, Faith Story, Faith Focus, and Session Goal. Then it lays out the lesson with 5 areas: Focus, Connect, Explore the Bible, Apply, and Respond. There are options in each area for the leader to choose, and then the lesson ends with insights from scripture. There are helpful side bars showing: “materials needed”, “looking ahead”, “affirmation”, and “Generation Y” info.
Description of the Student's Book:Two “Readers Theater” sheets (one of which is very hard to read because of the background artwork!). One session gives the option of one or two students making a video of a story to use in the lesson.

Materials review & Assessment of usability
Are all necessary materials provided in an accessible format? Yes - materials are very well laid out and comprehensive  
Is the leader's guide comprehensive? Yes - materials are very well laid out and comprehensive  
Are class sessions clearly outlined? Yes - materials are very well laid out and comprehensive  
Will it be helpful to have a teacher with above-average expertise in the subject matter? Helpful to have teacher expertise  
Preparation time required by the leader:
Subjectively rated as heavy, medium or light
To lead a discussion of what the Bible is: 1. saying, 2. meaning, 3. matters; the leader should be familiar with the Bible passages and concepts. Other preparation would be to gather optional items for teaching individual lessons.  

Content focus
Is this curriculum explicitly focused on environmental awareness or action? Yes, as a primary focus  
Does this curriculum deal with a specific environmental issue or problem? No - deals with our care and protection of the environment and how to be more aware of changes we need to make.  
How is the scope of the environmental impact positioned?  Impact on specific human communities
 Impact on humans in general
 Impact on humans and non-human parts of creation
 Impact on non-human parts of creation only  
Does the curriculum address questions of social or economic justice in relation to environmental issues? Yes - as part of the topic  
Biblical/theological content
Does the curriculum have explicit biblical or theological content? Yes, as a major emphasis  
How are the Biblical materials used? Individual texts are presented as meaningful ('proof texts')
Several texts are developed to show a larger biblical theme
Texts are placed in a historical or cultural context
Texts are presented as authoritative
Students are invited to comment/reflect on the meaning or authority of texts
Biblical texts are of equal importance to other scriptures/readings  
The checked statements reflect how ethical guidelines are grounded The Bible tells us how we should live/act
A theological tradition or other authority tells us how we should live/act
We should make decisions about how to live/act based on defined ethical norms
Caring for creation is an assumed norm  
The curriculum views humanity's role in creation as:
The checked lines are clearly affirmed
Domination - God created the Earth for human use; there are no real restrictions on what we can or should do.
Stewardship - "The Earth is the Lord's"" and humans are in a position of managing the creation according to God's will.
Partner - Humans are part of the web of creation, and participate in it as one species among many.
Intruder - Humans are separate from nature, and inherently destructive.
In evaluating changes to "solve" environmental problems, does the curriculum tend toward an approach that is: Confessional - I/we need to change
Confrontational - Some other person, policy or institutions needs to change
Combination - a mix of confessional and confrontational

Content approach
Which of these are a primary target outcome of the curriculum?  Increase awareness or concern about the environment in general
 Increase awareness of concern about a specific environmental issue
 Acquiring factual knowledge about an issue
 Changing or deepening personal beliefs
 Change in self-awareness or self-identity
 Changes in personal behaviors or lifestyle choices
 Influence on institutional (church or other) practices
 Increased political advocacy
 No change, or goal not clear
Range of perspectives offered:   A single perspective is offered
  Compares 2 or more perspectives
  A diversity of perspectives presented

Eco-Justice Ministries   *   400 S Williams St, Denver, CO   80209   *   Home Page:
Eco-Justice Ministries ended all programming on July 31, 2020. This site is an archive of writings and resources.
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