Mennonite Creation Care Network leader Jennifer Shrock dives right into how her passion for Creation Care, an earth stewardship movement increasingly popular in modern-day communities, came about. Even through a telephone line, Mrs. Shrock shared her story with a palpable sense of joy when discussing her love of nature.
“Sure! Well, I’m a cradle Mennonite. So you know, I grew up with values of simple living, living out your faith. I grew up with a father who enjoyed birds, didn’t have any training or education, but had a sensitivity to the value of wild nature. I grew up on a—it was actually a dying farm. My parents didn’t farm anymore, but I grew up roaming over multiple acres of land, which is a childhood, most kids don’t have today.”
Speaking from the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center, a 1,200-acre nature preserve connected to Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, Mrs. Schrock explains her late arrival to her chosen field.
“I didn’t start my life with environmental training. When I was growing up, you know, it was out there, but I never knew anything about ecology, or that it was an option.” While laughing she adds, “When I was growing up biology was, you know, things under a microscope, and photosynthesis and so forth.”
Continuing Mrs. Schrock adds, “So, it wasn’t until I was in my 30s, that I realized, you know, I really love gardening, And I love camping and state parks, and we always camped on vacations. That was well, when we were young, we couldn’t afford anything else! So, you know, I realized, I’m interested in the environmental field, how can I get into that? So, I got a job at the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center.”
While working at Merry Lea, Mrs. Shrock began by writing a grant for a sustainable facility on campus. From there, she expanded to a number of different roles which eventually led her to the Mennonite Creation Care Network, where she now splits her time.
Speaking about the MCCN she says, chuckling, “We are a small organization, we have one half-time staff person, and that’s me.”
“Our particular mission is to connect people, resources, and the Mennonite faith tradition in ways that strengthen and spread efforts to live in harmony with creation. So we work with congregations that have committed to work at Creation Care in one way or another that we connect to, in addition to individuals.”
When asked to expand on her own views on climate change, stewardship of the earth, and how her faith informs these things, Mrs. Shrock frames her view simply: with Scripture.
“Well, I have a Masters Degree of Divinity, so I tend to look at the world through that lens of Scripture. And, you know, at my workplace, I’m the only person that has a master of divinity degree. So, I feel like that’s one thing that I bring — being a link between people of faith and environmental people.”
Giving a glimpse into her personal, lifelong passion for creation, before expounding on the views of the larger Mennonite faith, she says, “I mean, I would say that God as Creator has always been that core of my faith. From childhood, I memorized Genesis (chapter) One. I just loved that story.”
“Speaking more broadly, I think we, the Mennonite Church, are coming to understand God’s love as a little bit broader than just the human race. And like, I can remember a sort of sage leader standing up at a convention a couple of years ago, and, you know, arguing out of John 3:16, you know, ‘that God so loved the cosmos’.”
When speaking with Jennifer, it is palpable that she truly considers her work a sacred calling, as she recounts this parallels between God’s love of mankind and His love of the cosmos.