Eco-Journey is the blog of the Environmental Ministries Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It will include a wide array of environmental topics: upcoming environmental events, links to interesting articles and studies, information on environmental advocacy, eco-theology topics, and success stories from churches that are going “green.”
Author Rebecca Barnes-Davies is the Associate for Environmental Ministries at the PC(USA). She recently graduated from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary with a M.Div. and Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) dual degree.
The program offers an opportunity to enhance and expand the earth care ministries of Presbyterian congregations and to build on the PC(USA)’s Earth Care Congregations program.
The GreenFaith Certification Program will help Presbyterian congregations meet the requirements of PC(USA) Earth Care Congregations certification while also introducing them to interfaith approaches to caring for the earth and connecting them to other houses of worship.
Churches in this program will receive numerous resources, one-on-one coaching and interfaith connectivity, which will reduce operating expenses, attract new members and renew energy around environmental programming.
“I’m committed to the idea of using all available resources to help congregations answer God’s call to care for creation. So, I am very excited about this new collaboration,” said Rebecca Barnes-Davies, associate for Environmental Ministries with the PC(USA). “The program is an avenue for deep congregational revitalization. For congregations interested in interfaith efforts, in increased opportunities to deepen their earth care commitments, and for new levels of support and resourcing, this collaboration will be a great boost.”
The GreenFaith Certification Program requires participating churches to ‘green’ their buildings and grounds, develop relationships with environmental justice advocacy organizations and interfaith partners, and to integrate creation care into education and worship. This complements the PC(USA) Earth Care Congregation commitment to earth care in all aspects of church life: worship, education, facilities and outreach.
“Whether churches are just getting started, or have done environmental work for years, the GreenFaith Certification Program will help them take their efforts to the next level,” said Barnes-Davies.
Upon completing the program, churches will be certified as GreenFaith Sanctuaries. Environmental Ministries will also certify the congregation as an Earth Care Congregation.
GreenFaith will offer a free webinar so that interested church leaders can learn more about this opportunity. The hour-long webinar will be Monday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. EST.
Recordings of the webinar will also be available after each date. To learn more about the webinar and register for a live webinar or the recording, visit: http://greenfaith.org/programs/denominational-partnerships/presbyterian-church-usa
The first Presbyterian churches will be welcomed into the program in May. GreenFaith is underwriting 50 percent of the tuition of 10 PC(USA) congregations from Maryland/Washington DC, North Carolina and Minnesota.
The tuition discount offers churches the chance to enroll for a one-time fee of $375-$1,000, depending on church budget size. Churches interested in applying should contact program director Stacey Kennealy at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
When churches begin the program, they audit their facilities and programs using templates from GreenFaith and create an action plan. They ‘green’ their facilities by saving energy and water, using non-toxic cleaning and maintenance practices, increasing recycling and offering healthy, sustainable food. They conduct environmentally themed worship services and education for children, teens and adults. They advocate for a healthier environment for vulnerable communities. They conduct interfaith programming and share their progress with the media. As a result, they save money, achieve significant environmental projects, and experience the revitalization that comes from a deep commitment to caring for Creation.
“Environmental ministry is vital for a healthy world and a vibrant faith community,” Kennealy said. “We look forward to working with PC(USA) to help Presbyterian churches become strong ‘green’ leaders.”