Find out what other PEC members are doing to care for God’s earth in their congregations. Send us your success stories including pictures so we can inspire those in need of hope and ideas. Email your examples to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of Davis Community Church – Stewards of Creation group in (Davis, CA) Take on a Voluntary Gas Tax (VGT)
A Voluntary Gas Tax is a way of reducing individual gasoline consumption while raising funds for organizations that work to reduce society’s dependence on oil. After learning about the idea of a VGT from members of a group from Harrisonburg, VA who had collected the tax for almost 10 years, the Stewards of God’s Creation group at Davis Community Church, wondered if it might be something that our congregation and community as a whole might take up. Our answer came in the unfortunate form of the BP oil spill in April 2010, which allowed us to see very clearly the disastrous effects of our oil dependence. With that added inspiration, the Steward’s group decided to begin our own Voluntary Gas Tax.Many families signed up and began to keep track of their gasoline purchases for calculating their “tax”. After three months, we all gathered for a pot luck meal to tally the proceeds and decide where the funds should go. In that first quarter, our group raised about $500. We decided to divide the funds among three organizations – one international, one statewide, and one local. With the core group now established, we hope to reach out to more people in our community, with the goal of using VGT to increase our awareness of the true cost of oil and to use the proceeds to benefit organizations that are working in some way to reduce our consumption.
Click here to learn more about VGT
Check out a longer version of this story in Volume 17 Issue 1 of the PEC Update out in Spring 2011.
Celebrating Earth Day 2010
St. Mark Presbyterian Church: Newport Beach, CA
Congregations across the country observed Earth Day by celebrating the goodness of God’s Creation and recognizing that stewardship begins in the sacred spaces of our church buildings and grounds. To aid congregations, the National Council of Churches (NCC) developed an Earth Day Sunday resource entitled, “Sacred Spaces and an Abundant Life: Worship Spaces as Stewardship.” The resource includes ideas on energy and water conservation as well as and toxics reduction.
Long-time institutional member of PEC, St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA celebrated Earth Day using the National Council of Church’s Earth Day theme. According to Member Mary Roberts, “It worked well with our goals for the year of reexamining the environmental features of our campus.” Between worship services they offered family fun activities, green lifestyle displays, and a guided tour of their certified Audubon International Signature Sanctuary and grounds. Earth care has been “growing” at St. Marks for many years, thanks to the efforts of their long and faithful earth care team, the Ecophilians.
Read more about the Earth Day celebrations of these and other
congregations on the NCC Eco-Justice Programs website at:
Trinity PC: Atlanta, GA
Trinity PC in Atlanta recently had their 28-acre property designated as an Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary, in order to create “sanctuary” for the community and the creatures around the church. The church is reaching out to its neighbors including churches, retirement communities, schools and organizations to see if they would also work to create “sanctuary” in the midst of this large and congested city. On Sunday, April 18, 2010, the church held an organic, sustainably-grown luncheon following worship. After lunch, there was brief presentation about the church’s new status as a wildlife sanctuary including and a map of the new sanctuary path. Members were invited to bring their work clothes and gardening tools to help clear the way for a walking path around the property.
Story by John Koon, PhD, PE PEC member and workshop leader at the 2009 Faith and Environment Conference in Montreat. John is a Presbyterian and has served as an elder at Westminster PC in Nashville, TN and Trinity PC in Atlanta. He also is a member of Trinity’s Sustainability Committee.
Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church: Kensington, MD
Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church in Kensington, MD has installed programmable thermostats and weather-stripping, purchased copy paper with recycled content, switched to an energy-conserving copier, and eliminated the use of Styrofoam serving ware. The environmental stewardship team ensured that 50 percent of the funds the church spends on electricity goes to support wind powered electricity. Their motto, “We may be a red brick building, but we are working to be a ‘green’ church!” WMPC is a member of Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light, where membership is based on varieties of support, both financial and earth care activity.
Submitted by June Eakin Kirby, chair of their Environmental Stewardship Team (EST)
Waldensian Presbyterian Church: Valdese, NC
Stewardship of the Earth Day at On May 2, Waldensian Presbyterian Church in Valdese, NC held an outdoor worship service followed by a lunch. More than 200 people attended. The pastor, Rev. Dr. Kevin Frederick, preached an earth care sermon entitled “The Home of God,” emphasizing the role of caretaker of the land as God’s first and lasting call to humanity. Frederick drew from the work of theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson, Professor of Theology at Fordham University, who defines a comprehensive Christian response to creation as having three dimensions: contemplative – receiving nature as a divine gift, ascetic – austerity in choosing what we buy and how we take care of our possessions, and prophetic – balancing and integrating matters of social justice with the ecological health of the environment.
PEC member, Rev. Dr. Kevin Frederick, on his church’s Earth Day activities
North Como Presbyterian Church: Roseville, MN
North Como Presbyterian Church in Roseville, MN has been a greening church for over 15 years. Starting with small steps, the movement has reached the stage where energy use and environmental impact concerns are second nature. At this year’s Earth Day service, the church celebrated its progress by reciting a history of what they have done and then what they are proposing to do. This past year, during the mission segment of the service, several families told the congregation about steps they had taken to reduce energy and protect the environment. To date, 76 families have joined the Minnesota Energy Challenge. Located on a busy street, North Como has for many years tended large flower beds along the street, drawing many positive comments from neighbors and passersby. This year, the church is expanding its gardening efforts by making land available to the community for garden plots. Church volunteers will plow and prepare the soil, then allow members and neighbors to plant their own garden plots. Watering and weeding will be done by church members, and food harvested can be donated to the food shelf which the church supports.
Submitted by Manley Olson, N. Como member and founding member of PEC
The Church of Reconciliation: Chapel Hill, NC
The Church of Reconciliation, a Presbyterian congregation in Chapel Hill, NC celebrated God’s Creation all through the month of April with adult education classes and environmental Sabbath art projects, culminating in an outdoor worship service on April 25. The sermon preached on Earth Day, entitled “Sabbath,” integrated Psalms and poems, with wood flute music interwoven throughout.
Submitted by church member and former PEC moderator, Nancy Corson Carter
International Partnership Inspires Water Stewardship
The relationships built through Presbytery of the Cascades™ Joining Hands Mission Partnership (JHMP) -a three-way partnership between the Presbytery, the Presbyterian Hunger Program and a grassroots social justice network in Bolivia called UMAVIDA inspired one partner congregation to take on an unexpected project. A question asked from thousands of miles away — “What are your water problems?” — led to a rediscovery of a valuable natural area in the church’s own backyard: 3 1/2 acres with springs and wetlands (and former Coho salmon habitat) that had become choked by invasive plants. The question came in April of 2008 from visitors from UMAVIDA, which was working on water pollution, primarily from the runoff from mines. In response, the seven Cascades partner churches decided to look at water issues in their regions. After considering the Columbia River, then the Willamette, Milwaukie Presbyterian Church settled on evaluating the water issues in Kellogg Creek which runs through their property. After exploring the watershed on foot, by canoe and talking with local experts, they started to remove invasive species and eventually won a Metro Nature in Neighborhoods grant to make a larger impact. Their hard work and determination shows what a small group can do when it partners with many others. This natural area is now a powerful witness to the care of creation and love of neighbors.
Read a detailed case study of this project at:http://www.cascadespresbytery.org/GreenCongregations.html
Submitted by: Jenny Holmes, PEC moderator and Director of Environmental Ministries at Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. Jenny is a member of the Presbytery of the Cascades