Concerned about environmental impact? Thinking about reducing your organization’s footprint? Here you’ll find support for finding new and creative ways to embrace an active role in shepherding the environment. There are so many simple and cost-effective steps to take, and it’s such a joyful journey!
Originally, this post stated that “most forward thinking ministries these days recognize the importance of taking a leadership role in answering God’s call to shepherd God’s good earth, air, and waterways.” But now that Pope Francis has come out with an Encyclical (a letter indicating the Catholic Church’s direction or stance on a subject) on the ecology and climate change, it seems that there is a move towards widespread consensus. And there are a number of interfaith efforts underway, one of which offers an online petition, a pledge, and talking points for those who wish to stand in public support of the encyclical, against the inevitable backlash.
It’s an area of particular interest to this Center, because of the hopeful potential we see, and because of the way that environmental issues are so intertwined with social ones. The good news is that there are many positive steps we can take, and new friendships to be made in this common cause. After all, creation care transcends national boundaries, and is critical to our well-being.
Our Documentary on Creation Care
For a none-too-scary film on going green, with a gentle tone and friendly, conversational approach, we offer What Green Can Be, directed by our Center Director, Lauren Speeth. This 20-minute documentary short film briefly explores the history of the sustainability movement, green building, and big and small ways we can go green, personally and as a community. Domestic faith-based groups interested in arranging a screening can contact us for information.
One Reason to Care
Birds and Plastic: The Albatross Story. Many birds enjoy the vast ocean, and among the most rare and beautiful are the albatross. Birdwatchers love them, because their story is so romantic: they mate for life; both adults care for the young, and their first solo flight can last for years over the sea. They accomplish this by turning off part of their brain for sleep, still flying while never fully sleeping.
Walking on the beach, the ocean’s majesty sometimes takes your breath away. Enormous waves come crashing down, and it seems endless. Abounding. It has always held abuntant food resources. Birds have skimmed the surface looking for jellyfish. There was a time when anything they saw on the ocean’s surface was edible, but now that there’s so much plastic floating on the ocean’s surface, they can fill their stomachs and think they’ve eaten well, and still end up starving.
Because these majestic birds empty their stomachs before they take off, we know a bit about what they’ve eaten from the ocean, and it’s very sad. Many albatross are indeed showing evidence of having eaten many plastic bits and pieces. Our shores are showing evidence of plastic washing up daily. A beach pictured below shows just one day’s worth of the detritus that has washed up on shore. Many resorts clean up this plastic in the early morning, so tourists won’t see it, but once we have seen the truth, it cannot be unseen. Then, how can we not act? Plastic is there. It’s doing great harm. With knowledge comes responsibility. The good news is that as leaders with knowledge and concern, you are in a position to really make a change, and be of great influence to others. Your choices will ripple out into the community.
Ten Easy Steps to Better Creation Care
- Conserve energy: Set the thermostat down a tad in winter. Install screens or ceiling fans, and open the windows in summer, avoiding air conditioning when not truly needed. Stop energy leaks by unplugging appliances when not in use, and installing double-paned windows.
- Recycle: We all know about recycling paper and bottles and cans, but did you know that crayons can be recycled [link]? Also, you can make choices for recycling. When serving meals to groups, are cups and utensils recyclable? If not, when you run through the cups and utensils in your stash, you can buy green.
- Reduce: If water is served, why not offer water with lemon, and recyclable paper cups, reducing plastic?
- Be a locavore: Where possible, serve locally produced, fresh produce at your events. It’s healthier for the congregation, anyway. Consider a little veggie garden, on the grounds. Encourage the congregation to grow foodstuff, also. It’s the ultimate in local sourcing. If you’re adventurous, try composting, too.
- If the group gives out or sells branded items, why not add durable, cloth shopping bags into the mix?
- Move to environmentally friendly lighting, and consider small self-replenishing solar path lights, outdoors.
- Get active: befriend a local conservation effort, perhaps joining forces to protect a certain species, or to keep a certain habitat pristine. Take part in a “beach clean up” or local beautification day.
- Long term, landscaping on church grounds can move away from water-thirsty grass to drought-tolerant plants. . . and make the choice to restore native plant species, where possible. When repaving, consider pavers rather than paving. Pavers more easily allow the groundwater to be refreshed. When building, consider all the green choices.
- Weave creation care into the Sunday School curriculum, if it isn’t already.
- Pray on it… we just know you’ll be inspired with ten or twenty more exciting possibilities!
Top Ten Book Picks on Creation Care
- The Green Bible, published by Harper Collins, where all of the biblical references on topic are highlighted in… yes, you guessed it, green.
- The Green Bible Devotional: A Book of Daily Readings, also by Harper Collins
- Biblical Mandate for Caring for Creation, The by Dick Tripp
- Christianity, Climate Change, and Sustainable Living, by Nick Spencer, Bob White, and Ginny Vroblesky
- Greening Spaces for Worship and Ministry: Congregations, Their Buildings, and Creation Care, by Mark Torgerson
- Jesus and the Earth, by Bishop James Jones
- Our Endangered Values; America’s Moral Crisis, by James Earl “Jimmy” Carter
- Redeeming Creation: The Biblical Basis for Environmental Stewardship, by Van Dyke, Mahan, Sheldon & Brand
- Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action by Matthew Sleeth, M.D.
- Tending to Eden: Environmental Stewardship for God’s People, by Scott Sabin with forward by Brian McLaren
The above all have a religious edge to them, but there are so many other books for the general public. On our bookshelf recently, and well enjoyed: Jay Hakes’ A Declaration of Energy Independence: How Freedom from Foreign Oil Can Improve National Security, Our Economy, and the Environment.
The call to faithful action in this area could not be more clear. There are many wonderful resources to help us embrace our role in shepherding the environment, recognizing and addressing climate change and its inextricable connection with social justice. We hope you have found these resources useful, as you work to foster greater sustainability in your own community and/or the global frontier.