There is a monthly online gathering of clergy and laity, folks coming from Florida to the Upper Peninsula, who are dedicated to helping their churches and diocese become more involved and more effective in dealing with the climate crisis. This month’s sharing in the Creation Care Network was especially productive. The focus was on imagining a realistic hope for what we might do in our churches and communities that would reduce environmental damage. The ideas included:
- Working on buildings
- Working on grounds
- Changing the way we worship, including preaching
- Providing Creation Care formation opportunities
- Changing behaviors
- Changing enculturation
- Taking part in public cooperative action
Work on buildings included upgrading heating & insulation, reducing electric use, choosing a renewable option for electric source, installing solar panels. Many participants commented that without financial assistance their churches couldn’t do much of this.
Work on grounds had some group members arguing passionately for turning available lawn space into natural habitat with native pollinators to attract butterflies, bees and birds; and then putting up a sign explaining what and why so that passersby might be educated. The National Wildlife Foundation has a program to help houses of worship do this called Sacred Grounds
When we got to changing the way we worship one member quoted a saying: “If every third sermon is not about climate change now, every sermon in 15 years will be about grief.” This led to a discussion about the “green” worship resources available in The Book of Occasional Services 2018 (download here) as well as elsewhere and the need to to keep environmental issues in the forefront. One said that there should not be a week where the prayers do not include prayers for creation.
A number of participants talked about Creation Care formation opportunities in their churches. One recommended a just-published book by a member of his congregation, Nature’s Sacrament, The epic of evolution and a theology of sacramental ecology by David McDuffie. St. Stephen’s has a unit on Creation Care once or twice a year.
Under changing behaviors several mentioned either their frustration or their success at getting their churches to give up bottled water, styrofoam and plastic cups and plates, and plastic tableware. One pointed us to a very useful tool developed by The Episcopal Church that allows you to measure your carbon footprint and then discover ways you can lower it. It is called “Sustain Our Island Home.”
Changing enculturation is harder. This is the slow but steady work of getting individuals to adopt environmentally friendlier practices and incorporate them into their lifestyle. Probably the largest percentage of these blog posts are aimed at changing enculturation: giving up plastic, eating locally sourced, buying renewable energy credits, shopping at our local sustainable products stores, rejecting fast fashion…. You can find a whole lot more if you scroll through the past blogs. And here’s an important article that reminds us that our current crisis is about more than just climate change.
A member from Cincinnati told us how public community action on climate change and environmental issues is being accomplished through an organization of faith communities called “Faith Communities Grow Green.” It includes synagogues, mosques, temples and Christian churches of many varieties. Others spoke of the need for lobbying efforts, both with politicians and the heads of banks and insurance companies to undercut the power of the fossil fuel conglomerate.
Do any of these ideas inspire you? If so, contact your local clergy, your church’s Creation Care advocate, or a member of your church’s Board.
Thank you for your commitment to and work for Creation Care!