Trinity Lutheran Church is a refugium that demonstrates Refugia faith. What are Refugia? The kinds vary, but we will primarily concern ourselves with spiritual refugia and ecological refugia. Both are essential and both are discussed in Debra Rienstra’s new book Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth – Fortress Press, 2022.

Steven Bouma-Prediger, Professor of Reformed Theology at Hope College, describes Refugia Faith as “one of the best books in print on how people of faith can summon the hope and courage needed to heal and restore our home planet. Employing an astonishingly wide range of sources…. Rienstra weaves a brilliant web in beautiful prose to make her case for the importance of refugia: small, humble, safe places where ecological restoration can take root.

The web also includes rich readings of biblical texts and insightful theological reflections, as well as personal vignettes of people and places that illustrate different kinds of refugia. And perhaps most notable is her unflinching honesty about obstacles ahead, combined with her clear-eyed hope about living in a world facing climate crisis.”

Rienstra states that “we are creatures of desire, imagination, and creativity. That is our divinely ordained nature, a magnificent gift. Yet we are also creatures of greed, foolhardy in our resistance to limits.

In this age of crisis, when human technosphere is taxing our biosphere beyond limits, how can we use our cleverness in new and better ways? As refugia biology suggests, a crisis entails loss, but a crisis is also an opportunity for healing and for new kinds of growth. What is being revealed to us as we look for signs of new growth, as we seek to become healers?”

Deconstruction and reconstruction of both our common “western” Christian theology and our understanding of how God’s human and beyond human Creation works is necessary for us to become healers.

Trinity Lutheran Church is a beacon of hope to those in the congregation, others living on Whidbey Island, and still others beyond. Its doors are open to all as it lives out the words “blessed to be a blessing.”

Rienstra describes refugia as “those places where things start again, and they are not typically safe, cozy, edenic grottos. Refugia persist among surrounding crisis, even disaster, and it may be that they are fairly frightening places.”

TLC is a refugium. It is a place of healing where the body of Christ can minister to a bent and broken world both within its own walls and beyond. The mark of a refugia church is whether the local community (in our case Whidbey island and beyond) would notice if its doors were to shut. Should that happen the resounding cries would be loud and wide….

Read the book and have your lives changed!

Thanks for reading.

— Joe Sheldon

P.S. Direct comments to [email protected]