Drive-less Sunday at University Baptist Church
One small church can make a big difference
One Small Church Can Make a Big Difference
On Sunday, May 30th, a few years ago, University Baptist Church in Seattle celebrated Drive-Less Sunday – a day when people leave their cars at home and give God’s creation a rest from harmful pollution and greenhouse gasses like C02. May 30th was also Pentecost Sunday and the focus on Pentecost shared the morning with Drive-Less Sunday. In the sermon, Pastor Tim Phillips spoke about the variety of languages we all understand, including body language. He then suggested that it is important we pay attention to the body language of the Earth – to listen to Earth’s own needs and how it is reacting to human activity.
Congregants received with their Sunday bulletin an Earth Ministry-produced Drive-Less Sunday brochure and pledge card. Following a greeting by the Pastor, the Earth Ministry Colleague (Pete Dorman) described the purpose/use of the special brochure and pledge card. He explained that the pledge cards would be used to record how people typically commuted to the worship service and how they commuted on Drive-Less Sunday. He also explained that the pledge cards provided an opportunity for people to commit to changes in their transportation patterns in order to better care for creation. Pete told congregants that during the offering they would be invited to bring their pledge cards to the front of the church. (Normally the offering is taken by passing plates through the pews.)
When it was time for the offering members brought their financial offerings as well as their Drive-Less Sunday pledge cards to the front of the sanctuary and returned to their seats. At the close of the service Tim asked all who participated in Drive-Less Sunday to come to the front of the church for a group photo. As people shared stories of that days’ commute, there was an obvious shared sense of joy and accomplishment.
The service also included Creation-focused hymns along with more traditional Pentecost hymns.
Leading up to the event was four weeks of bulletin notices and verbal announcements during that time of the service. The congregants were made well aware that Drive-Less Sunday was coming.
Preparation for the event included designation of carpooling coordinators. However, most carpooling arrangements were handled between congregants on an informal level. Others made their own plans to walk, bike, or ride the bus.
University Baptist Church is a small congregation. Of the roughly 40 in attendance on the Pentecost Sunday (Memorial Day weekend), 31 completed the Drive-Less Sunday pledge cards. On that Sunday 45% carpooled, 19% walked, 13% took the bus, and 10% rode bikes. Car miles driven on this Sunday was a 37% reduction from a normal Sunday’s miles driven.
If this congregation commuted each Sunday as they did on Drive-Less Sunday they would reduce their collective, annual miles driven by 4,056 and their annual C02 production by more than 4,000 pounds!