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Greening Congregation Colleague of the Month

Each month, Earth Ministry honors a stand-out representative from one of our Greening Congregations for their great work on behalf of creation.

Each month, Earth Ministry honors a stand-out representative from one of our Greening Congregations for their great work on behalf of creation.  We invite you to nominate someone from your Greening Congregation here!

February 2013

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Port Angeles, WA

By Pat Milliren and Gary and Debbie Heaton

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…and God saw that it was very good.” In all that we do, we believe that we are called to be stewards of God’s “very good” creation.

St. Andrew's kids

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Port Angeles, Washington, has been journeying with the idea of creation care for roughly 20 years. In the early 1990's we offered an inter-generational workshop introducing our Christian calling to care for the earth. An adult education class used a Methodist study about Africa to learn about our own local environmental concerns. That led to a “Tree Group” that met for several winters studying theology and practical living. And Carla Pryne, one of Earth Ministry's co-founders, visited to encourage us and preach in those early days!

Until recently temporary committees at St. Andrew’s have worked on particular environmental interests. Now we are fulfilling our dream of establishing a permanent Committee for the Environment with long-term goals and a line in the budget! Our goal is to work with all committees that function at St. Andrew’s: Buildings and Grounds, Education, Fellowship, Finance, Outreach, Stewardship and Worship.

We are reaping the benefits of past difficult discussions and decisions. Thanks to many volunteers and the support of clergy, the music director, vestry, and Diocesan Green Grants we have:

  • Written an Earth Care Policy adopted by our vestry
  • Insulated our new sanctuary roof plus ceilings over the entry way, offices, and library
  • Replaced office and library single-pane windows with
  • more energy-efficient ones
  • Purchased new dishwashers and established recycling and resource conservation procedures
  • Built a worm bin to make compost used for Altar Guild, education, and liturgical needs (e.g., Rogation Sunday)
  • Offered educational programs to explore theological, legislative, and practical aspects of earth care
    St. Andrew's Parrot
  • Developed liturgies for Earth Day, Earth Hour, and a public downtown Blessing of the Animals to celebrate St. Francis Day
  • Developed a 3-year cycle 8-week Fall Creation Season using special music, banners, art, processions, and liturgies, most including our children
  • Calculated our energy use as 26% less than used before our new roof and in spite of using our space more hours of the day, as calculated by EPA’s Portfolio Manager energy calculator.

St. Andrew’s became a Greening Congregation in September 2009. We have taken many steps in our journey of caring for creation, and with God’s help we will continue on this sacred journey.

January 2013

Trinity United Methodist Church, Seattle, WA

By Alice Woldt

Trinity United Methodist Church in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood takes creation care seriously. It is home for Earth Ministry offices and a place where its members are often reminded that care for creation is a spiritual practice – not only for the congregation as a whole, but for the community and individuals inside and outside the church.

In 2012 Trinity dedicated its rain garden, created in partnership with the City of Seattle. The congregation hosted a community forum on the coal trains and members were encouraged to attend the scoping hearing and write comments to the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the Environmental Impact Study. Recycling and composting are a regular part of treating waste at Trinity, including a recycling drive for cell phones held annually by the United Methodist Women’s group. A supply of Fair Trade Coffee is at the ready for fellowship events held in the church.

The Saturday Soup Kitchen has provided additional opportunities to be good stewards of God’s creation. Members of the congregation have grown extra food for the kitchen and volunteers glean from the Farmer’s Markets and pick up day-old pastries – food that would otherwise be tossed.

The Social Justice Team identified environmental issues as one of three areas of focus for awareness, education and advocacy in 2013. The effort begins on Climate-Change Sunday with valentines addressed to legislators asking them to support the toxic-free kids bill and a display of Earth Ministry’s Fast from Carbon Lenten materials with Red Hot candies as a reminder of climate change. 

November 2012

Fauntleroy Church, UCC, Seattle, WA

Since its inception in 2006, the Fauntleroy Church Green Committee has made significant progress in "greening" both the congregation and the community. Core founders were individuals in the congregation who already were engaged in environmental action and advocacy.  Through many small projects and the ones that follow, our committee has earned the respect of staff, members, and area residents. Here are examples of our work in recent years:

  • We introduced fair-trade coffee for use at church events, including Sunday coffee hour, and meet most of the cost through proceeds from regular sale of the same coffee (Earth Ministry's brand). Members enjoy the taste at church and at home – and they understand the ethic behind it.

  • Semi-annual Recycle Roundups invite area residents to bring almost anything for free, responsible recycling by 1 Green Planet, a local re-sourcing company. We publicize these events, provide volunteer hosts, and give each donor a professional "Green Ideas" handout with an assortment of not-commonly-known tips about recycling and other green topics. Low-key welcoming of cash donations brings in more than $1,000 per event, a portion of which fills in when coffee income falls short of coffee usage.

    Fauntleroy UCC
  • The proposal to route coal trains through Seattle en route to China was the focus of a community forum that drew some 50 people with many questions. Representatives of Climate Solutions, the Sierra Club, and Earth Ministry made up our panel. In addition, we hosted an after-worship signing of the Earth Ministry postcard and organized a group to attend the public hearing in Seattle.

  • We offered a Toxic-Free Kids Fair to the congregation and community, which included (1) product look up using Goodguide.com, Healthytoys.org, and the Environmental Working Group's skin-deep database; (2) a Washington Toxics Coalition representative with an XRF wand to test kids' products for toxins; (3) examples of low-, medium-, and high-concern products; (4) a legislative-action table highlighting Earth Ministry priorities; and (5) a sampling of toxic-free products from Lullaby Organics.

  • We take every opportunity to green church activities, from posting "Remember; these come from trees" decals on paper-towel dispensers to devising a practical way to ensure composting in a kitchen heavily used by church and outside groups. Sermons continually reinforce our green emphases.

In addition, our faith community sustains individual members who continue or take on major environmental-leadership roles, from watershed to regional and national levels.

October 2012

University Temple United Methodist Church, Seattle, WA

By Judy LeBlanc, Church and Society Chair

On Sunday Oct. 14th we were proud to be presented with our Greening Congregations banner from Earth Ministry. When our Church and Society Team decided to join Earth Ministry and become a Greening Congregation early this year our church was fertile ground. There was already an environmental consciousness. We had switched from disposable to ceramic cups for our coffee hours and small gatherings, were serving fair trade coffee, and our trustees were exploring a recycling and composting program that would involve other major programs in our church (ROOTS the overnight shelter and The Temple Children’s School full time child care center).  Environmental protection and justice seemed like a natural focus for our committee’s energy and purpose.

UTemple Banner Pres

Our adult education hour on Sunday mornings provided a ready-made venue for laying the groundwork. We started in April with a book study of Simple Living, Compassionate Life, then discussed a DVD series RENEWAL about other faith groups taking environmental action.

This summer we viewed various DVD’s and had discussions about local food and farming. This culminated in a Local Foods Potluck on Sunday September 9th, rally day. The timing was right and we had a great turnout. A YouTube clip about Jubilee Farms, a biodynamic farm near Carnation, was shown at the event and was a prelude to a visit to the farm with the inspirational owner at the end of September.

To increase the strength and breadth of our efforts we are also working with other groups in the church such as United Methodist Women (on the local foods potluck), enrichment hour planning team, Sunday School  (the farm visit), Wesley Student group, BUPH =Building U Temple Physical Health (a new program of our evangelism team) and University District Ecumenical Parish and the larger community. 

Recently, Tevyn East of the Affording Hope Project provided an inspirational program of word, song, movement, and drama with the the biblical story as a context for creation care. There was an evening performance, a Saturday movement workshop, and a Sunday sermon interpretation. This attracted persons outside of our congregation.

In October, Mike Wallace, esteemed professor in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, lead a film and discussion series on global warming. This program in particular has reached people outside of our congregation.

UTemple Farm Visit better

To keep our greening efforts in front of the congregation we have monthly quotes in the bulletin and articles in the Greening Corner of our church monthly online newsletter.

We are definitely learning as we go and searching for ways that will make a difference for our congregation as well as the larger community. Determining our focus is challenging with care of the earth being such a monumental endeavor.

September 2012

United Methodist Church of Davis, CA

The United Methodist Church of Davis has been deeply committed to wise and respectful environmental stewardship for many years.  Beginning in 2002 we worked with other local churches, synagogues, and mosques to organize and cosponsor four biennial interfaith conferences on Care for God’s Creation, each with a specific theme (e.g. water, trees, etc.) and each with eminent keynote speakers and over 150 attendees. In 2008 our church established a Green Task Force to coordinate, expand, and promote our environmental efforts.  In ensuing years the church replaced all light fixtures with CFL or LED bulbs; repaired and reset all thermostats to energy-saving levels; weather stripped all doors and windows and installed additional insulation; acquired recycling bins; and initiated efforts to convert from paper to electronic communications, and convert from disposable to washable plates, cups, and utensils for coffee hour and all social functions (receptions, conferences, fundraisers, etc.).

Davis Solar Panels

In 2011 the Green Task Force researched the feasibility of installing solar panels, educated the congregation, and investigated funding sources. These efforts culminated in the installation of 56 solar panels on our Sanctuary in early 2012, providing for much of the electricity used throughout our campus. On Earth Day 2012 Pastor Kelly Love gave an impassioned sermon on Christian responsibility for wise stewardship of our environment. She then consecrated our new solar panels and recognized the many other steps we have taken toward wise stewardship. The children’s and youth education classes discussed climate change and remedial steps that individuals can take.

In 2009 the church established a community garden in back portions of our property; the fruit and vegetables grown there are donated to the local food pantry. In 2012 we expanded the garden to over a half acre, producing over 1000 pounds of food for those in need. We also expanded our programs for sustainable use of resources (electronic communication, washable utensils, recycling, bike racks) and established compost bins for the garden. 

Davis Box

The United Methodist Church of Davis is an active partner in the Cool Davis Initiative, a public-private effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the City of Davis. As part of the CDI, the church conducted six Low Carbon Diet groups (a program to help households conserve energy), promoted May Is Bike Everywhere Month, and is participating in the Cool California Challenge, a state-sponsored competition to conserve energy. The church has hosted numerous educational programs related to environmental stewardship for our congregation and the community.  We remain deeply committed to caring for God’s creation.


August 2012

Flagstaff Federated Community Church, Flagstaff AZ

Sherry Golden, a member of Federated Church’s Christians for the Earth (CFE) writes, “We began with a concern.  The original inspiration to go green was the apparent disconnect between the destruction of God’s good creation and the lack of church directed action to stop it.  The inspiration originated in a growing concern of many of our environmentally conscientious members that the church as a whole was doing more harm than good for creation.  We were aware of the accusation that the Christian belief in human “dominion” was being exploited as a source of destruction.  It was this awareness that led just a handful of us in 1995 to organize a study group to explore Biblical sources of ecological practices. We started with 5 people and soon had over 30 regulars, including people from other churches and other faiths. When we reached a firm consensus that God calls us to respect and restore creation, we acted on our informed beliefs.”   

Flagstaff 2

Over the last five years, the church has reduced its electric usage by over 20%, installing CFLs and more energy efficient fixtures and appliances, as well as adding insulation in the attic spaces of the gathering hall and more than 100 year-old sanctuary. We also encourage the use of permanent tableware and coffee mugs, collect spent batteries, recycle regularly, and host an interfaith Blessing of the Animals every year, as well as the Earth Care Fair, an annual tradition developed by the Shared Earth Network (the interfaith arm of CFE) that brings together congregations, green groups, non-profits, and businesses so they are able to network as well as educate the public about choices for a greener lifestyle. 

Flagstaff Solar

In January the church had 132 solar panels installed on its education building, office, and gathering hall. Over 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution will be kept out of the atmosphere over the life of the system. The project brought together not only the congregation, but members of other congregations, community groups, and local businesses as well. This project was made possible by their generous donations; it took a community to make this happen. 

What does the future hold for Federated Church? There is talk of removing the front lawn (Flagstaff is in a high desert, after all) and turning it into a community garden, complete with rainwater catchment systems. There is always more work to be done when it comes to caring for God’s creation, and Federated Church is looking toward the future with hope. 

JULY 2012

Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Seattle, WA

The Episcopal Church of the Ascension cares deeply for the earth. This summer, the church partnered with St. Mark’s Cathedral and Earth Ministry to run The Duwamish: A River and Its People events. The Duwamish River is Seattle’s only waterway. Following decades of polluted run-off and toxic chemical dumping, the EPA listed the river as a federal Superfund site in 2001. The culminating activity of the summer’s events is a boat tour of the lower Duwamish in August. The tour will include history of the area, prayer, and reflection.

Church of the Ascension lives out its call to steward creation by also supporting the Magnolia Farmers Market and growing a garden with the children of the church. They have fun with environmental film nights featuring movies such as Wall-E and Vanishing of the Bees. Creation care is celebrated through worship with special services for Earth Day, Rogation Sunday, and the Celebration of St. Francis. As part of their community outreach, the church co-hosted a Coal Hard Truth forum with Magnolia UCC to facilitate a neighborhood discussion of the possible impact of coal export on their neighborhood.

JUNE 2012

United Church in University Place, WA

United Church joined the Greening Congregations network in 2011.  As part of the Green Team's commitment to creation care, they learned and applied the process for Carbon Footprint Monitoring for the church. The church is working to reduce its footprint by looking into solar panels and using alternative products for weed control.

In February, the United Church celebrated "Love the Earth Sunday," which included discussions of coal mining and pollution as well as the balance between science and faith. For the children's sermon, Pastor Jennifer Walters used excerpts from "The Lorax" to illustrate our relationship with creation. The celebration and conversation continued after the service as the congregation gathered for lunch.

MAY 2012

Ballard First Lutheran, Seattle, WA

By Linda Krippner

Ballard First Lutheran has been involved in creation care for many years. We have an elegant recycling center in our main meeting and coffee hour hall that has encouraged much more composting and recycling both at church and at home. Our landscaping includes a variety of native plants, improving habitat for a host of native wildlife species. We regularly focus adult forums on environmental issues such as climate change and sustainable agriculture and have celebrated a Car Free Sunday for at least 5 years, with many participants walking, bicycling and carpooling to church.

Ubuntu Garden Boxes

Last year, at the strong encouragement of then Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) volunteer for Earth Ministry, Dana Swanson, we became a greening congregation. We had a “name the green team contest” last summer with fun entries like “Disciples of Recycle,” “Ballard First Renewtheran,” “Mission Compostable,” and “The Green Beans.” The final winner was “Greendom Come.”  Two garden boxes, another inspiration from Dana, were built and filled with topsoil and compost at the adjoining Lutheran Volunteer Corps house. Those boxes are growing a lot of food like chard, beans and lettuce and are very well cared for by the inhabitants of Ubuntu House.

This spring for Earth Day, Dr. Paul Johnson, marine geologist from the University of Washington spoke to our congregation and members of the community, including the Ballard fishing community, about how Climate Change and Ocean Acidification is changing our home, Earth and creation. It was not good news whatsoever, but as people of faith we are called to care for God’s creation in thought, word and deed. Big changes are coming to Ballard First Lutheran, its people and facilities. Greendom Come has many more plans to help solve dire problems such as the ones presented by Paul this April. We look forward to reporting our progress in the very near future!

APRIL 2012

Plymouth United Church of Christ, Seattle, WA

By Ted Anderson

Plymouth's Eco-Power group is all about action! Whether advocating on behalf of creation or removing invasive species, Eco-Power lives out environmental stewardship.

In order to be better advocates, Plymouth UCC invited Earth Ministry's Executive Director LeeAnne Beres to give an adult education on the environmental priorities in January. Later that month, several members of the Eco-Power group attended the Environmental Lobby Day, where they spoke with their legislators about the priorities.

Plymouth Eco-Power

Eco-Power has also partnered with Pilgrim Firs, the UCC camp and conference center on the Kitsap Peninsula and now home to the Environmental Justice Center. Last year, they arranged for a botantist with the Washington Native Plant Society to walk through the camp with them and see it through his eyes and think about how to develop the site in terms of native plants, habitat for wildlife, etc. Afterwards, the team spent a couple of hours pulling invasive plants (e.g. Scot's broom).

MARCH 2012

Wesley United Methodist, Yakima, WA

By Sara Cate

The creation care ministry at Wesley United Methodist Church in Yakima, Washington started in 1978 when Wesley built a recycling station on the property of the church. It is the largest noncommercial, community recycling center in Yakima County, and this past year kept 900,000 pounds of waste - cardboard, paper, newspaper, plastic, tin,  aluminum - out of the landfill. We have a huge amount of support from the community that uses our facility. Over 400 volunteer hours a month keep this recycling program going.

In 2006 inspired by Earth Ministry, several members of Wesley formed the Green Team.  Our first project was a Lenten observance featuring a calendar of green activities which culminated in a Car Free Sunday service and pledges to live a greener lifestyle.  We installed a bike rack as added encouragement. Our trustees took the energy efficiency pledge seriously and a new heating system was purchased that reduced our yearly energy bill

Wesley in Yakima

by almost half. We replaced our drafty windows and changed to energy saving fluorescent lighting.  We learned about where our food comes from and we started a locovore group buying or growing local produce, canning and being more intentional in purchasing our food.  We visited the Cow Palace, a local dairy, that sells their organic manure to local farms, and is invested in being  good stewards of the land and cattle. Styrofoam was eliminated from the coffee hour and we enjoy guilt free fair trade, shade grown, organic and carbon neutral coffee after the church service. In 2010, the congregation met for 2 days at a visioning workshop an agreed upon a mission statement to serve Christ, Community and Creation, or C3.

Over the past 3 years the Green Team has been exploring the idea of mounting solar panels on our roof to offset our electrical bills and encourage alternative energy sources.  We live in sunny Yakima and it seemed a no brainer.  But the up front cost and long term pay back was worrisome to our Trustees and Church Council so the idea languished.  This winter the Green Team raised the question again.  We surveyed our congregation and over 87% of the congregation supported the idea.   It was a long process to convince the leadership that this was the right thing to do but at long last on February 26th, though there were strong feelings on both sides of the issue, the Trustees and Endowment committees agreed to a loan (as an investment) to pay for 42 solar panels to be installed this spring on our south facing roof. As we held hands in a circle and prayed, we could sense the spirit moving through us. That a congregation  so diverse and at risk for splintering on this issue was able to work through this process in a respectful and compassionate way made us hopeful that a green congregation can be a growing congregation.

FEBRUARY 2012

Woodland Park Presbyterian, Seattle, WA

By Joyce Erickson

Woodland Park Presbyterian Church believes its efforts to care for the creation is a response to the biblical mandate to do justice and love mercy and, ultimately, to follow Christ’s command to love one another.

Therefore, the congregation’s efforts to sustain that creation include the activities typical of others’ efforts:

  • Using washable cups and plates for coffee hour and potlucks or compostable tableware
  • Recycling all paper materials
  • Gleaning produce from local grocery stores for the weekly soup kitchen
  • Composting food waste, landscape waste, and seasonal plants
  • Recycling candles at L'Arche Noah Sealth
  • Using eco-palms on Palm Sunday
  • On a Sunday near Earth Day, congregants who are able walk to take public transportation to church

Recently, a major remodeling project incorporated green features in the building, from automated light switches and thermostats to increased insulation in the new roof.

Max in garden

But the effort that deserves the most notice is a project undertaken by the youth of the church to create a forest garden through permaculture at Soundview Camp on Puget Sound.  This effort was spearheaded by WPPC member Max Denby, whose death in an accident at Soundview last year continues to be mourned by the congregation.   The memory of his efforts and his joy in creation sustain us in our efforts, just as his efforts sustain the earth.

Because of his work, campers will continue to plant seedlings and cuttings, maintain a garden of annual vegetables, clear garden plots that follow the natural watershed and seasonal streams, plant trees, bushes and other woody perennials before winter, and maintain the garden and trails.

Max’s own words about this effort best illustrate his commitment and ours to carry out the commandment to love the earth and its people:

What has spurred this passion on in me for the last few years is the idea that--Biblically speaking--the first place humanity experienced God was in a garden. Most depictions of this garden highly resemble a food forest, and edible forest design is one of the main studies in permaculture.

Permaculture is a way of life that celebrates our dependence on God and our interdependence with each other. As a way of life, permaculture encourages accepting our roles as tenders of God's garden and shepherds of the earth. Where the wild forest uses an abundant variety of plants and animals to all serve the common purpose of abundance and health of the forest at large, the food forest mimics the same system but produces an abundance of life-sustaining food and materials. And while the wild forest is tended by God, the food forest is tended by both God and humans bringing a crucial state of mind into present reality.

DECEMBER 2011

St. John's Episcopal, Snohomish, WA

By Nancy McConnell

In April 2008 six members of St. John’s participated in a national Episcopal Conference held here in Seattle – Healing Our Planet Earth or the HOPE Conference.  Bishop Stephen Charleston asked, during an impassioned sermon on our Christian obligation to care for creation, “If not us, who?”  On the way home in our carpool, we could only answer, “We must.”  So the Creation Stewards at St. John’s came into being.

We spent four months in Bible study to discern how we could best serve creation in our church and our community.   We came up with a greening plan listing actions we would take; members chose actions to lead and committed that they would, with God’s help, carry out the mission. 

St. John's Moving Planet
Preparing to move produce by canoe.

Sounds serious, doesn’t it?  Not!  The Stewards make sure their work is focused and fun!  A light touch wins more converts than a heavy sermon.  We have initiated events that both celebrate creation and nurture our church family.  Every year we hold a Greening Your Holidays Family Movie Night that encourages our young families to emphasize time together rather than stuff.  Children arrive in their pjs, sleeping bags in hand, and spread out in the parish hall to listen to the Stewards sing green carols like “I’m dreaming of a green Christmas”,  munch on popcorn, and watch a family friendly movie.  In 2010, blessed (cursed?) with a bumper crop of zucchini, we held The Great Zucchini Cook-Off where talented parish cooks competed and our coffee hour was enriched with inventive and tasty dishes ranging from zucchini parmesan to chocolate cake.  Every June 15 we hold the Mid Summer or Solstice Picnic Potluck.  Families gather to celebrate the end of school, the beginning of summer, and the emergence of crops grown organically for our local food banks.

But we have our serious moments.  As Episcopalians we are committed to implementing the Genesis Covenant, a resolution passed by the national church at the 2009 convention where it committed to reducing carbon emissions at all of its facilities by 50% within 10 years.  We began by doing a self-audit of our facility – looking for air leaks, energy hungry appliances and light fixtures, and other energy losses.  Since St. John’s was built in 1894, we found a few!  W

e decided to focus on using less energy, first by being sure lights and heat were either off or turned down when rooms were not in use and by replacing aging light fixtures.  The Vestry supported our plan, and with the help of utility rebates and a small matching grant from our diocese, all light fixtures and exit signs were either upgraded or replaced.  By the end of this year, we expect to have reduced our energy use by about 10%.  That also means a reduction in our utility bills and more funding for our church’s missions.

St. John's Moving Planet team

Sustainable, local food is central to our mission.  We garden at a parishioner’s organic farm where we grow carrots, beets, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, summer and winter squash, and greens for local food banks.  In 2010 we delivered about 2000 pounds of produce; this year we will, after some gleaning, deliver about 1400 pounds.  Additional produce is used for community kitchen meals which are hosted twice a week by various churches using the St. John’s kitchen and parish hall.  We planned and prepared the stewardship dinner this fall for which Stewards made mozzarella and ricotta, sauce from tomatoes we had grown in the garden,  salads from parishioners’ and the church garden, bread from wheat gown at the farm and ground into flour.  Talented cooks helped by creating apple desserts from fruit grown in a parishioner’s orchard.  And oh, yes, some Stewards are also Episcobrewers so we had our own beer to serve with dinner.

We also want to raise awareness in the community about shopping locally and eating seasonally.  A Food Day in February 2011 brought community members to St. John’s to learn how to prepare nutritious, local, and seasonal food on a budget.  We plan something similar for 2012, perhaps focusing on how to grow some of your own food in a small plot or container garden.  

St. John's 350 day
Delivering food without fossil fuels!

Whenever possible, we reach out to work with others in our community.  We have participated in the Church World Service’s Crop Walk for several years.  This year, to honor the Baptism of Our Lord,  we worked with other churches to carry water from the Snohomish River to St. John’s where it was purified and taken to churches to be used in baptisms; we will do this again in January 2012.  We wanted to participate in 350.org’s efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels, so this year we decided to move food from our farm garden to the Snohomish food bank, a distance of about 7 miles, without the use of fossil fuels.  We moved about 350 pounds of food – first with wheelbarrows, next with canoes, and then in backpacks, dog packs, bicycle baskets, and strollers to the food bank.  Community members joined in and, once again, the Stewards made the point of caring for creation with that light touch.

The Creation Stewards look forward to another year as an Earth Ministry Greening Congregation and as stewards of God’s good creation.

NOVEMBER 2011

Langley United Methodist Church, Langley, WA

By Eve Carty

Langley United Methodist Church has a long tradition as a Greening Congregation. We recycle or reuse everything we can and try to use recycled products. Our Fellowship Time coffee is Fair Trade and organic, and we drink it out of glass mugs. We have a garden exchange table every Sunday during growing season, with donations going to our local Food Bank. We insulated our 100-year-old sanctuary and switched to fluorescent light bulbs almost everywhere.

After doing the normal "green" activities, we wanted to step up a level. So this Fall the Greening Circle launched a three-year series of seasonal celebrations using Season of Creation. (More information can be had at their web site seasonofcreation.com.) Normally a church would celebrate the Creation Season during the four Sundays in September, but we have chosen to celebrate one Sunday each season, spreading it throughout the entire year.

Our Fall Creation Sunday was September 25, when we celebrated the beautiful forests we are lucky enough to have surrounding us on Whidbey Island. We began by having our very first “Carpool Sunday” – a chance to reduce our carbon footprint and practice interdependency with our neighbors in coming to church. For those who could ride a bike to church, we blessed a new bike rack made from recycled parts by parishioner John Alsip. It is also located near a transit stop so can be used by the entire community.

Langley Garden Exchange

After worship, while enjoying local and organic treats, we had computers set up so people could check their carbon footprint. Following Fellowship, we were very lucky to have Elizabeth Guss, a trained spiritual director who is also the Director of Outreach and Development for the Whidbey-Camano Land Trust, give a wonderful talk on “Faith Grows a Forest” about the purchase of the Trillium Forest. We ended our forest-themed celebration the following Sunday, after worship, with a Haiku Hike in Saratoga Woods led by author and environmental activist Elizabeth Davis.

The Greening Circle has started to plan the winter “Land” themed Sunday for January 29. Earth Ministry’s own Jessie Dye will be our speaker and we are sure to have another wonderful Greening Sunday.

OCTOBER 2011

St. James Cathedral, Seattle, WA
By Patty Bowman

St. James Cathedral’s commitment to environmental stewardship takes many forms –education, advocacy, practices and prayer.  Some highlights include:

Education/Advocacy:

  • Sponsored an eight-week course on faith and climate change entitled “God’s Creation Cries for Justice.”
  • With Earth Ministry and the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, co-sponsored an educational tour of the Duwamish River
  • Have held three Environmental Health Fairs.
  • Held a 100-Mile Potluck
  • Members of our Environmental Justice Group have participated in Environmental Advocacy Day

Parish Practices:

  • Converted some parish buildings from oil heat to “waste” steam heat
  • Installed low-flow toilets
  • Renovated lighting systems in several parish buildings to include occupancy sensors and wattage limitations
  • Use green cleaning products
  • Instituted composting for all kitchen waste from our major free meal program
  • Banned individually bottled water for all parish functions
  • Use of fair trade coffee for all parish functions

Prayer

  • Annual Care for Creation ecumenical Taize Prayer service

All of these activities have been instituted and sponsored by our Environmental Justice Group.  Because we see environmental justice as related to all other issues of life and social justice, our Environmental Justice Group is a subcommittee of our parish Life, Peace and Justice Committee.  These activities have attracted hundreds of participants over the last several years, and it is our hope that, by participating, those people have also been able to make changes in their own personal lifestyles.  We are very grateful for the guidance and encouragement of all of the staff of Earth Ministry in helping us to shape our environmental efforts.

SEPTEMBER 2011

Keystone Congregational United Church of Christ, Seattle, WA
By Erv Faulmann

 While individual members of the Keystone congregation have long been open to ‘creation care’, it was not until a small group got together to work through the book Simpler Living, Compassionate Life that we were stimulated to bring our interests together. In this manner we were able to support and educate one another, and proceed to take positive actions for simpler lives, better health, and sustainability.  Taking a cue from the book title, we call ourselves “The Simpletons” and have since gone through the books Food & Faith: Justice, Joy and Daily Bread and Money & Faith: the Search for Enough with similar impacts on our individual and community lives.

As a congregation, ‘creation care’ refers not only to working to protect and celebrate the environment, but is also reflected in our work for social justice.  To be faith-based as we stand and work together for various social issues, we find that we have more stamina than working alone as issue-based activists – it’s community.  While the community of Keystone is small, a primary focus is to support the larger community around us.  In doing this we have found that the larger community supports us as well.

AUGUST 2011

First United Methodist Church, Bellevue, WA
By Nancy Berry, Director of Congregational Care

My involvement in the Christian environmental movement came about as a result of my work as director of congregational care for First United Methodist Church in Bellevue. Several of the older adults with whom I work expressed an interest in learning more about nutrition and how the food we eat affects our health as we age. At around the same time, I read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver about her family’s project of eating locally. These two ideas resulted in a church supper of organic foods and a panel discussion on “Healthy Eating for a Healthy Planet.” (Methodists like to eat.)

The following year, I joined Earth Ministry and attended their retreat at Holden Village, returning with the desire to start an environmental team here at the church. One of our first major projects was a program, now in its 3rd year, entitled “Earth Friendly Gardening.” We invite speakers from organizations such as Seattle Tilth and the City of Bellevue Conservation Office to talk about sustainable yard and garden care, and people also bring plants to exchange. This has proved popular with not only our own members but the larger community, as well. We are doing some organic gardening on the church grounds – beans, tomatoes, herbs and strawberries – with hopes to expand the project next year to be able to donate more produce to the homeless. (Methodists like to share food.)

Lug a Mug
Congregation members with their Lug-a-Mugs.

In the wake of the Gulf Oil Disaster in 2010, we decided to dedicate each of our summer Taize worship services to an ecological theme. This proved so meaningful that we are continuing the practice this year, with themes of “air,” ‘’connection,” and “food.” And speaking of food, one of our projects this summer is to encourage our members to “lug a mug” to church for coffee hour to conserve resources and money.  We also serve fair-trade coffee, separate recyclables and compostables, and later this summer will be having a “Chef’s Surprise” brunch featuring local foods from members’ gardens and area farmers’ markets. (Did I mention that Methodists like to eat?)

In terms of education, we recently hosted a speaker from Appalachian Voices, an organization opposing mountain-top removal coal mining in West Virginia, and for general environmental awareness we have monthly nature walks, including visits to the Mercer Slough and Tiger Mountain. The green team maintains a blog at http://fumcgreen.wordpress.com (which includes comments by yours truly under the headings NB Walks, NB Reads, and of course NB Eats).

JULY 2011

First Presbyterian Church, Port Townsend, WA
By Anne Willard, Chair of Social Action Justice and Environment

At First Presbyterian Church in Port Townsend, most of our time has been spent this year on all the activities necessary connected with changing all the lighting at our church. The lighting was made much more efficient, and at the same time, much brighter. A local contractor is doing the work and has already completed half the church; the materials are on site for the rest of the project. We were able to take advantage of a rebate offered by Puget Sound Energy and that paid for some of the project. Although the pay back period is considerable, we have the satisfaction of knowing that there is less strain on the environment because of our work and involvement.

We know we want our role in the energy reducing activities of our church to be educational with continuing work with our Session and with the adult education component of our church. We have a strong Building and Grounds committee, and we hope it will now take the lead.

Coming up in the fall, we want to host a harvest luncheon that celebrates local food, food growers, and includes a program presented by one of those growers. The luncheon drew lots of participants last year - so many that we hadn’t planned enough food! We look forward to another successful event.

JUNE 2011

Richmond Beach Congregational Church United Church of Christ
by Lois Harrison

Because we believe that environmental justice and social justice are intertwined, our Greening Congregation goals and commitments are under the umbrella of our Peace & Justice Board.

While our ongoing commitment to serving Fair Trade coffee and tea at coffee hour and other church functions supports small scale sustainable, mostly organic, farming, it also ensures that the farmers receive fair compensation for their labor.

Our annual Gentle Giving Fair offers gifts that are "gentle" to the earth and also, because we offer Fair Trade merchandise and opportunities to support charitable institutions, are more socially just than many run-of-the-mill mass-produced products. 

Aware that invasive plant species left unchecked choke out native plants and spread to neighboring properties, we have long held regular work parties to remove ivy, holly and Himalayan blackberry from a piece of church property adjacent to our lower parking lot. The area includes a few trees, some shrubs and grasses that provide shelter to birds and other small creatures so, because we do not use pesticides or herbicides, we applied for and received Backyard Wildlife Habitat certification from the National Wildlife Fund. The need to continue invasive removal work parties remains.

One of our youth is rehabilitating a different area of church property, an open area that is at present mostly a collection of invasive species for his Eagle Scout project. He has consulted with local native-gardening experts that we have referred him to and he is soliciting donations of native plants to supplement those purchased with funds donated to the project by the Board of Trustees and the Peace & Justice Board. On June 14, he along with members of his Scout troop and the RBCC Youth Group will plant and then mulch the area.

Our year-long focus on water (another combination of environmental and social justice) began with two lines on the back of a Sunday bulletin that stated people in one of the poorer areas in India were deprived of any access to water due to the Coca Cola Company's business practices. Reading further about water issues, we came upon a source that referred to water as "the new oil, a natural resource that wars will soon be fought over."

We ran short educational blurbs in every Sunday bulletin, focusing on different water issues: the finite amount, sources of pollution, corporate control as best exemplified in bottled water, possible ways to conserve, etc. In January an entire intergenerational service (the prayers, litany, music, the sermon and even the coffee hour displays) was dedicated to water. Coca Cola's business practices in India that denied the local populace access to any source of clean water and their sale of toxic sludge to farmers to use for mulch were highlighted. More than fifty letters of protest were sent to the Coca-Cola Company. A list of other Coca Cola products was made available as a resource for those who chose to boycott Coke.

Our youth have collected water samples from various local waterways and sent them to the University of Washington for analysis. Toilets in the church building were refitted to use less water per flush. We are hoping, sometime this summer, to take a water-related field trip; perhaps a guided tour to a local wetlands or maybe to the Cedar River Watershed.

MAY 2011

Fairwood Community United Methodist
by Sharon Kenyon, Chair of Greening Task Force

Our church became a Greening Congregation with Earth Ministry in 2001. Our congregation had always been active with hiking, gardening, and caring for the environment, so it was mainly a matter of creating our Greening Task Force, writing down the things we were doing in a plan and adding greening to our mission statement- "Answering God's Call to be careful, humble, stewards of this earth, and to protect and restore it."

Sharon showing trees to the childrenOur church’s beautiful 1.5 acres of yard is cared for by garden committee and volunteers, with plans for more native and drought resistant plants. The lawn is not watered and we attempt to weed by hand using little chemicals. We also have 2.5 acres of forest with creek and wetlands, which our Greening Task Force and volunteers proudly care for and protect.  

Our Greening Task Force has ten members, who are very talented and adventuresome in our many greening activities. We are blessed by our Pastor Joyce O’Connor-Magee, who often adds a green hue to her sermons and to the parking lot with her hybrid car. Our youth, children, Scouts, and many others are involved in greening activities. Our forest with wetlands and creek is a certified “Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary” with WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, & a certified “Backyard Wildlife Habitat” with the National Wildlife Federation. As blackberry and ivy non-natives are removed, struggling native plants grow healthier and happier. Our congregation has donated many native ferns, salvaged from their yards. We have planted many natives and have about 100 types of Northwest native plants and lots of wildlife enjoying it. Our forest has an outdoor chapel, which is used by many, especially the children. 

Electric Car
Stephen showing his electric car, which he personally converted.

In the summer, GTF does Creation Church School– Every 4th Sunday. The children enjoy exploring and working in the forest and in the children’s butterfly garden. They learn about caring for God’s Creation, the native plants and how Native Americans used them, and about the wildlife of the forest.

Our Festival of God’s Creation (Earth Day/Creation Service) is a time of recognition of all the wonderful greening things our church is doing. Hospitality hour will include healthy sustainable, organic, fair-trade and local foods and drinks. We are selling our Methodist “GOD IS GREEN and SO ARE WE” reusable shopping bags.

Wild Horse Wind Facility
Touring the Wild Horse Wind Facility

This summer will include, the “Blessing of the Animals,” the “Hike, Bike to Church Sunday,” some native planting, walks, hikes and field trips. Our walking group has explored many local trails. Our hiking group usually hikes below the snowline, but also does snowshoeing, backpack trips, and the Renton Crop Hunger Walk. Our green education has included field trips, such as the Wild Horse Wind Facility. We have had classes or talks on “Sustainability,” “Food and Faith,” and “Electric Cars.” The newsletter includes Green Tips, environmental advocacy, and info on our church Green Power Fund, which offsets our electric footprint. 

We see Creation Care working in many areas of our church: Trustees- yard committee, recycling & yard waste pick-up, composting, energy saving, safe yard and cleaning products, Youth- camp, recycling day and yard sale, Office- recycled paper,  Missions- collection of new calendars, used toys & books for others,  Worship- Fair-trade/ Organic coffee, services include nature & music of Creation,  UM Men & UM Women- green programs & speakers,  Preschool & Church School Children & Adult Groups, all are making a difference. What is so wonderful is that it all comes together so naturally with us all doing a little, which ends up being a lot!  

APRIL 2011

Holy Cross Lutheran’s Earthkeeping Team
by Janet Farness

Earthkeepers with GC BannerWhat is God calling us to do at this time and in this place?  This question was raised in 2006 by the newly formed Intentional Ministries team at Holy Cross Lutheran in Bellevue, Washington. This 4-person team coordinated various congregational events that reflected on the book of Acts and assessed the various passions and skills the congregation possessed. In 2008-2009 the Holy Cross Council embarked on a 1-year process of discernment focused on answering that question by reflecting on the stirrings within the congregation and intentionally developing some of the ideas.

Of the many ideas brought forward, one that has gained traction has become known as Earthkeeping.  After a year of exploring assets related to approximately 3 acres of land and how we are called to creation care, this idea has become an affinity group focused on earth-friendly practices within the community and also on sharing the bounty of the earth with those who are hungry by growing food.

We were thrilled to discover the Earth Ministry organization and become involved in this faith-focused creation-care movement.  The resources have been incredible – people, DVD’s, books and the sense of community shared among the many Earth Ministry congregations in the local greater Seattle area.

In 2010, our Earthkeeping team hosted community events (which we called “work parties”) that involved rejuvenating the orchard by pruning and harvesting in conjunction with other groups, community volunteers and congregational members.  Each event included learning, working, eating and having fun!

Tilling the GardenWith the help of congregational support and donated tractor time, Earthkeeping also put into cultivation about 3,000 square feet of land that was developed into individual P-Patches for community use.  With our second growing season just beginning, our cultivated area has expanded to about 3,600 square feet and many gardeners are returning.

By the end of the first growing season (2010), nearly ½ ton (848 pounds) of fresh, organic produce had been donated to Hopelink’s Bellevue Food Bank and many pounds of apples and other produce had been enjoyed within the Holy Cross community and among our dozens of volunteers.  The City of Bellevue awarded Holy Cross a “Most Innovative Project” award for the ways it used P-Patches, food growing and orchard care to gather volunteers together and increase community connections. 

Plans into 2011 include more food growing, more community reduce-reuse-recycle focus, more community connections and, in conjunction with the ELCA World Hunger Project, more education about the root causes of world hunger.

Everyone is invited to our Country Fair on September 11, 2011 at Holy Cross Lutheran (near Factoria Mall) at 4315 129th Pl. SE, Bellevue, WA, (425) 746-4848. Watch our blog at http://hcllutheran.wordpress.com/. If you have any questions, feel free to email jkftahiti@comcast.net

MARCH 2011

Bethany United Church of Christ
by Jim Taylor

This year Bethany UCC celebrates its tenth anniversary. From the former Beacon Ave UCC we inherited both the present Bethany Community Garden and the Beacon Ave Food Bank. We are currently hoping to revitalize the garden to better meet our community's nutrition as well as spiritual needs. A productive garden should provide a supply of fresh vegetables to the food bank, as well.
 
Our garden needs more gardeners and gardeners who are willing to turn out for cooperative work efforts, to make it a total success. We need a pool of volunteers to work and harvest the food bank plot. Currently we are reaching out in our congregation and to the Beacon Hill community to recruit new participants. We are also contacting experts to help us solve organizational and technical tribulations. We trust that our efforts will take us closer to our mission: "to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God."

 

FEBRUARY 2011

Saint Andrews Episcopal Church
by JB Hoover
JB in the garden
Designing and constructing the first garden.

St. Andrews has a group called “Creation Keepers,” led by long-time Earth Ministry colleague Sharon Wilson, which has worked for a number of years to nudge our parish to be a greener congregation. However there is also great freedom and encouragement given by our pastor, Fr. Peter Strimer (Pete), for an individual to spearhead environmental initiatives. Having some experience in sustainable agriculture, I saw great opportunities for St. Andrews when I joined the congregation in 2007. 

Noticing a small sloping piece of land with a southern exposure I got Pete’s support to put in a 4 level terraced set of raised beds. With construction booming in north Seattle it was easy to get donations of scrap lumber for the beds.  Some members of the congregation chipped in to cover the cost of some rich potting soil to amend the compacted sandy clay.  Over the course of about a month, I worked with volunteers from the congregation to till the soil, build the garden and plant vegetables. 

The next summer Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) had to repair a sewer line that went right under the garden and informed us that the garden would have to be destroyed. By this time I had a strong gardening partner, parishioner Nelda Danz, who helped me recruit a cadre of skilled volunteers.  We negotiated with the church and SPU to let us do the demolition and reconstruction work, and SPU gave us the money they would have spent on a landscaper.  With these funds we purchased first class materials called trex, and now we have beds that will last us 20 years.  We also expanded the garden.

3 Bin Composting
3-Bin Compost (yard waste for garden)

At the same time, Creation Keepers received a grant from the city of Seattle to become more effective at managing our waste stream. With some of these funds, I built a 3 stage compost bin. Before this a lawn service would haul our cut grass and leaves to the dump. Now we compost all the yard waste generated by the church.  The mature compost goes back into the garden.

In early 2010 a graduate student from Antioch, John Iglesias, began working at St. Andrews as an AmeriCorps intern focused on environmental issues. Through his and Creation Keepers’ support, we further developed our waste management system. 

I used some of those same grant funds to purchase a couple of green cones subsidized by the city. With two others donated by a parishioner, we now have 4 buried near the garden which we use to compost all the vegetable scraps from the kitchen.  In the course of a year, St. Andrews’ kitchen produces hundreds of pounds of vegetable material for our green cones, and eventually the garden.

Then we turned our attention to developing well marked waste stations (two of them mobile), so that anyone using the church can easily throw compostables and recylables in the proper containers. Although we are still working on compliance, our landfill waste has decreased so much that we are moving to a smaller less expensive landfill bin.

Harvesting
Harvesting for Jubilee. Grapevines growing along fence.

Two years ago St. Andrews made the decision to stop watering our grass lawn.  While it does turn brownish in the summer it is still healthy.  In addition to water conservation, it saves us money and allows us to divert water to our vegetable garden and flowers for the services. Virtually all of the vegetables from the garden go to the food ministry of the church.  Last year about 350 lbs of fresh organic produce from the garden went towards our once-a-month Jubilee dinners (about 110 served each meal). Those working in the garden plan with the St. Andrews’ cooks, led by master chef Doug MacMillan, on what to plant every year. 

With the garden expansion we planted 15 cabernet franc grape vines (all are doing well).  At the same time, several members of our congregation also planted the same variety in their home gardens. In about 5 years we plan to be bringing in all the grape harvest to make our own wine for communion, led by Alix Collison, a parishioner with wine making experience. Our philosophy at St. Andrews is not to produce maximum food for a food bank, but to produce fresh, organic produce that will be used directly in our food ministry with zero food miles. 

Garden produce
Garden produce as part of St. Andrews' Food Ministry

St. Andrews’ youth are also involved in the garden and waste stream management.  Sunday school classes turn compost, plant and harvest vegetables.  The youth groups make all of their events green by carefully planning to reduce waste and use compostable materials. The theme of this year’s Vacation Bible School is “Back to the Garden: Renewing the Earth” and will include spending time in St. Andrews’ organic vegetable garden.

These programs that I have personally been involved with are only a small part of the wide range of work St. Andrews’ church has done to be a greening congregation. I feel it a tremendous privilege to be a part of St. Andrews which places such a high value on environmental stewardship and encourages personal initiative. 

JANUARY 2011

Seattle First Baptist Church
by Sandra Jones

The ECO Spirituality Group of Seattle First Baptist Church (SFB) picked up new vision and energy in 2010 by joining with the SFB Social Justice group which consists of the Peacemakers and Undoing Racism groups.  Our joint energy has produced clearer visions and commitments and has attracted greater interest and participation.  This collaborative trend we hear called for nationally to help us make some of the significant lifestyle changes that will be crucial for a sustainable future.

Seattle First BaptistPastor Tim Phillips came to us in 2009 with strong affiliations with Earth Ministry and the Lutheran Public Policy Office of Washington (LPPOW) which has given us even greater resources.  As a result, Seattle First Baptist formally became a member of the LPPOW so that we will be up-do-date on policy changes that impact the environment AND many other social justice issues.  Being a part of LPPOW also provides a way for us to join forces for potentially greater impact.  One outcome of these affiliations is that we will be hosting a Lenten Adult Education series created by Earth Ministry entitled Caring for All Creation:  By the Waters, At the Table, and On the Road. Earth Ministry staff will start that series off for us.

This year one of the most significant changes related to the purpose and vision of the ECO Spirituality Group is that the staff of Seattle First Baptist Church with the help of the City of Seattle made significant changes on our premises.  The staff installed 696 new energy efficient light fixtures with a labor cost of $25,480 for which we were reimbursed by the City.  The annual cost savings is expected to be $6,500. Another public utilities program provided us with 19 new toilets for our three buildings which are expected to bring significant water savings annually.

In April, we held our Earth Day Sunday service emphasizing the Earth Charter.  In June, on Lopez we had our annual retreat which provided additional insight and energy for new projects with the Social Justice group.  In September, four members of the church participated in an eco-justice tour of the Duwamish River sponsored by coalition of environmentally concerned churches, increasing our awareness and offering prayers for the river’s healing.  We also partnered with Clean Greens, a non-profit whose markets and farm provide Community Sustained Agriculture.  For three months they provided fresh, local produce to 10 Seattle First Baptist participant families.

All in all, we are very grateful for the collaboration and expanded impact that Earth Ministry and others helped bring in 2010 and look forward to new possibilities in 2011.

DECEMBER 2010

Saint John United Lutheran Church in Seattle
by Rev. Carol Jensen and Ryan Cosgrove

VBS in Garden
Youth from Vacation Bible School at Saint John United gather in the garden.

The members and leadership of Saint John United Lutheran Church keep ecological concerns before the congregation through its worship, education, outreach and advocacy.  Prayers for creation are included on Sunday morning; and bulletins are reused in the summer. Nature is brought into the worship space, and hikes are organized in the summer.

A specific way members of Saint John United live out this concern is through their community garden. In 2003, a small plot was created in the parking strip along the west side of the church. The following year the garden was expanded to the entire parking strip. Since then the community garden has become an essential part of the life of the congregation. The first goal of the community garden is to provide fresh and organic fruits and vegetables for the Phinney Neighborhood Association/Saint John United Soup Kitchen.

The garden is also utilized by other programs in the church. Once a month there is a garden work day where members of Saint John United can help maintain, plant and harvest produce from the garden. The following Sunday some of the produce gathered from the garden is brought forward to the altar with the offering and communion elements.

Youth have been involved through helping create a signage for the garden, maintaining their own plot, for the past two years, a mini-Vacation Bible school has been held in the garden. The garden also functions as aesthetic addition to the neighborhood, a place to gather, a place to learn about gardening and a reminder of God’s goodness. Advocacy is an important part of the mission of Saint John United, and the garden has been a helpful resource to address food and farming issues.  

St. John United has also taken steps to improve building efficiency through new lighting and toilets, as well as improving management of its garbage and recycling.

NOVEMBER 2010

St. Augustine’s-in-the-Woods Episcopal Church
on Whidbey Island
by Elizabeth Davis

Two years ago when a small group decided that we would like to begin the process of becoming a Greening Congregation, we were surprised at how “green” we already were!

Blessing of Animals
Blessing of the Animals at St. Augustine’s is an annual community event on south Whidbey.

For several years we have observed St. Francis Day, including a Blessing of the Animals service, and Earth Day with a creation-centered sermon and liturgy.  One year we featured a six-part adult forum series entitled “Christianity and the Environment”; we invited speakers from Earth Ministry and the Inconvenient Truth organization, showed films from the Planet Earth series, and my husband and I presented two sessions on the history of the church and care for creation.  We have also led two Quiet Days at St. Augustine’s with meditations on creation as part of our honoring of Earth Day .

Dealing with the stuff of life also involves us.  We adopted one mile of Honeymoon Bay Road (where the church is) and conduct a semi-annual pickup of roadside trash.  For coffee hour and other church events, we use china cups and plates and linen tablecloths, avoiding Styrofoam, paper and plastic.  We recycle and reuse clothing and household goods with two annual all-day sales of these goods.  The office has reduced its use of paper and recycles its paper and Sunday bulletins.  We have installed recycling bins in the parish hall.

TrashandTreasure1
Trash and Treasure sale at St. Augustine’s supports the three Rs of reduce, reuse and recycle for the people of south Whidbey.

This year we have taken part in two major ecumenical activities.  The first, saving the 650 acre Trillium Forest from being clear-cut and developed, which involved working with several South Whidbey churches and the Whidbey Camano Land Trust to put on an evening event explaining the project and answering questions.  The second activity was a Faith Based Advocacy Workshop in October.  This event was co-sponsored by six South Whidbey Churches; the featured speakers were Paul Benz with Lutheran Public Policy Office, and Tom Ewell, a Quaker with the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Compassion, justice, and care for creation were the themes as we engaged in building a toolkit for action in this workshop.

We became a Greening Congregation about one year after beginning the process.  The rector and vestry have been very supportive of this effort; an example of this is the new building under construction at St. Augustine’s.  The architect is well known for his dedication to good environmental, energy-saving principles.  To a major degree, the old building was recycled or parts were re-used with very little going to the landfill.  The building is being built to LEED standards although the formal certification process will not be sought.

St. Augustine’s has hosted two very successful diocesan retreats at which the participating parishes gathered to discuss their greening initiatives and ideas.  We also presented a well received four-week environmental series based on the Ken Burn's PBS special "The National Parks - America's Best Idea" during our Sunday Adult Forum time. This series is a faith-based look at the parks and aptly titled "And God Saw That It Was Good.”  We heartily recommend its use in all parishes.

OCTOBER 2010

Hardisty with banner
Elizabeth Hardisty pictured at center with the Rev. Beverly Hosea (left) and the Rev. Carla Pryne, co-founder of Earth Ministry (right).

Emmanuel Episcopal Church
on Mercer Island
by Elizabeth Hardisty

“Greening began at Emmanuel in a snowstorm: our first meeting was in January '08 and almost didn't happen! We did meet, and watched "The Story of Stuff," after which everyone had ideas and questions. Our clergy and vestry said "Go ahead", so we did, with monthly meetings and the knowledge that it was really up to us and God. * * *

Many activities later, we're now a Greening Congregation both organizationally and in reality. The kids even formed their own green team and held a fundraiser for their garden: apple cider and gummi worms for sale--that was a great success.

Our clergy and staff were increasingly supportive, and it all culminated in our hosting a regional conference last January, "Communion with Creation: Living on Sacred Ground", with the Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald keynoting. Earth Ministry and several other local environmental groups and churches gave their time and talents to this. It was demanding but very well worth it; we felt the power of working in a Spirit-led endeavor. * * * Now, Emmanuel is preparing to be a neighborhood resource in times of power outages/other emergencies.”

More about Emmanuel Episcopal 

Kid's Green Team

Some other creation care efforts at Emmanuel include using nontoxic, environmentally-safe materials in the sacristy, providing green tips on the church website and serving a vegetarian option at church dinners. During worship services, the Eucharistic prayer at Emmanuel calls the Earth “this fragile earth, our island home.”

When it comes to green thumbs, Emmanuel has a number of pea-patch plots available to parishioners, located beyond the church parking lot. Members of the Green Team have been involved in community advocacy, attending a citizens-informed event at Town Hall Seattle to hear from candidates for King County Executive regarding their views on local environmental issues.

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IPL logo clearEarth Ministry’s Washington Interfaith Power & Light (WAIPL) project organizes an interfaith religious response to global warming. WAIPL is part of a national Interfaith Power & Light movement in 38 states.

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