Eco-Journey is the blog of the Environmental Ministries Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It includes 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 is the Associate for Environmental Ministries at the PC(USA). She is a graduate of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary with an MDiv and Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) dual degree.
“Lent” has a new meaning at North Presbyterian Church (Williamsburg, NY) that is close to the word's ancient etymology. Because of the lengthening days, it’s the time of year when the church starts producing more of the electricity than it uses.
The church has now had two summers of producing more than it uses (June through September). The photovoltaic panels on the flat roofs of North Presbyterian Church went on line May 1, 2012.
2013 was the first full calendar and budget year with solar panels in place. In 2013 the church produced 26,741 kwh of electricity--57 ...
Montevallo Presbyterian Church in Alabama is a PCUSA Earth Care Congregation and an EPA Energy Star Congregation, and has accomplished many great things in caring for God's creation.
Recent celebrations from this church, which uses EPA's Portfolio Manager to manage their energy use:
- Saved $1,973 in 2011 and 2012
- 35% reduction in green house emissions since 2010
This church appreciates the EPA Portfolio Manager tool because it provides structure and discipline for monitoring, which results in better protection of the environment and revenue reallocated for use in ministries of church. Recently redesigned to be even more user-friendly ...
The Earth Shepherds of Second Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, MO continue to invite their congregation to care for God’s creation in a diversity of ways. This church has truly responded to this committee's great leadership and to the improvements helped along by the Building and Grounds session committee and their Building Manager Don Weeks,
from caring for trees,
to offering community recycling,
to insulating windows,
and even to putting solar panels on the roof!
Barbara Stevenin, Chairman of the Earth Shepherds reports, “In the six months of operation of the solar panels, the church has saved over ...
We welcome White Plains Presbyterian Church to the PCUSA Earth Care Congregation program as it receives dual membership through enrolling in the GreenFaith Certification Program. This congregation enrolled in this program because it “feels called to be stewards of God’s creation” and recognizes environmental stewardship “as an integral part of a sustainable future.” They plan to integrate the GreenFaith Certification process with their tri-centennial celebration, not only celebrating the past but also visioning for a sustainable future. They will improve heating systems, insulation, and windows as well as look into the possibility of solar panels. This summer the congregation ...
In 2013, three Presbyterian congregations were accepted as new applicants to the GreenFaith Certification Program (joining GreenFaith “graduates” Trinity Presbyterian Church in East Brunswick, NJ and Christ Presbyterian Church in Martinsville, NJ). Veteran PCUSA Earth Care Congregation Bardstown Road Presbyterian Church was among this new class of the GreenFaith Certification Program. Through the PCUSA-GreenFaith partnership, Bardstown Road will receive recertification as an Earth Care Congregation while fully participating in GreenFaith’s program.
Bardstown Road Presbyterian Church in Louisville, KY was one of the original pilot congregations for the PCUSA Earth Care Congregation program when it started 5 years ago. They ...
In Geneva Presbytery, the JPIC committee is concerned with social and environmental justice and has been active for many years. JPIC stands for “Justice”, “Peace”, and “The Integrity of Creation.” This committee supports church education, worship, outreach and missions in various ways.
JPIC member Brad McFall explains, "When two or three Presbyterians get together in solidarity for environmental and social justice a committee can easily be formed that effectively influences individual actions but when these committees get together with their counterparts in other faith traditions it seems like, that not only can personal goals be met, but it really seems ...
In 2013, five of our 124 PCUSA Earth Care Congregations are dually certified for their eco-justice ministry through interfaith organization GreenFaith. One of the newly enrolled congregations is the Presbyterian Church in Morristown. This New Jersey congregation will incorporate environmentally friendly building renovations in its major capital campaign as well as to use the GreenFaith program to grow closer to God, neighbors, and the earth. Green Team member Erin Guthrie explains that one of the most exciting pieces of the program is that “we are continuing our strong relationship with the Bethel AME church down the road and both of ...
While completing the application for Geneva's third year as an Earth Care Congregation, Elder and Green Leader, Rosie Perthel, realized that the church had not been as active as in previous years. "We barely squeaked by with enough points to be certified." She reached out to the Geneva Session, requesting that the Christian Ed team consider facilitating an Earth Care education program. The result? Geneva is using Mathew Sleeth’s 12-week DVD program Serve God, Save the Planet for Adult Bible Study. The first session is focused on Light. Rosie says, "the program is lovely and inspiring."
In Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Presbyterians are joining others to care for God's creation across the county, and around the state.
First Presbyterian Church does much in its own congregation. It hosts youth outdoors retreats and annual church pig roast, creation care worship services, has a summer church garden as well as winter raised beds, makes 20+ gallons of compost, and engages in advocacy concerns.
Meanwhile, outside the Presbyterian church property, this congregation also continues to learn and work with others in the wider community.
As a foundational member of a new county-wide "Earthcare Collaborative," FPC church members were able to ...
McGregor Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC, in its third year of being a certified Earth Care Congregation, has an ongoing Green Group bulletin board, hosts adult studies and children's classes on creation care, recycles all kinds of goods and reuses tablecloths and dishes for church meals. they also have fair trade coffee, take care of an Adopt-A-Highway portion of road, use Eco-Palms, and incorporate God's creation into worship service throughout the church year.
A new, exciting project of McGregor Presbyterian Church is its "learning garden," which has excited all ages at this congregation and had good response from ...
First Presbyterian Church of Urbana, recently recertified as one of the 120 PCUSA Earth Care Congregations, brings elements of caring for God's creation into the worship, education, and mission life of the congregation as well as updating their facilities for energy efficiency, water conservation, and other savings.
This congregation is also good at getting out into God's creation. Spending time outdoors, feeling God's presence in the natural world, and enjoying one another, has proved significant as a part of this congregation's experience of caring for God's creation.
One of the best parts of my day is to hear creative stories of what churches are doing all across the country to be disciples and to care for God's good earth! Here’s a clever idea to demonstrate how much waste we can generate, or save from being generated, depending on our choices. This fun activity educated on waste reduction, created community between participants, and accomplished its purpose of raising funds for the church!
Saint Mark Presbyterian Church in North Bethesda, MD is an Earth Care Congregation. Among the many wonderful things they do to care for God's creation, one of their successful activities is an Alternate Transportation Sunday. This special focus began in May 2011 and has continued ever since (and they have even developed tips for replicating the effort).
The Earth Care team explains that the Alternate Transportation Sunday was a big success:
"Saint Markers embraced the idea of energy saving transportation in a big way. The children and youth were particularly enthused. People walked, rode bikes, shared rides and ...
During this liturgical season that the Church of the Pilgrims calls "Homecoming," the Sundays between September and the end of November, we are focusing on the theme of Food and Faith. Within the theme of Food and Faith, we are taking on this arc for a focus: humus, exile, and harvest. To fully experience this theme we are having communion each week in worship.
The inspirations for this theme of Food and Faith is Sacred Greens, Pilgrims' urban garden which produces food to supplement meals for Open Table (our Sunday lunch for hungry neighbors). The book "Food and Faith" by ...
One of many initiatives begun by the Environmental Stewardship Task Force of the church began on a small scale last spring by designating a “Bike to Church Sunday.” In addition to the environmental benefits, we felt that this might help relieve what is routinely a very congested parking situation on Sunday mornings. The Borough of Swarthmore promotes biking and there are clearly identified street markings as well as good bike parking areas in the community.
In addition to announcements in the monthly newsletter and weekly emails, we tagged two of our most active, committed cycling advocates to staff a table ...
What makes this congregation’s Earth Care Congregation certification particularly compelling is that the application process, projects, and pledge were completed solely by the 2nd through 5th graders at Hunter Presbyterian Church (Lexington, KY). Initiated during the community garden-themed Vacation Bible Study in May 2013, these children completed the research, consulted the clerk of session and the sexton regarding the environmental audits, wrote thoughtful challenges for our church in the coming years, and even added up the audit points.
It can be difficult for children of this age to give in truly meaningful ways and find leadership in the church ...
On Earth Day First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto celebrated in worship by making prayer flags for one of the low-water gardens on the church campus. The worship service was focused on our role in caring for creation and the church used the following Psalm as guidance as they made the flags:
Praise God from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds. (Psalm 148:7-10 ...
The following is a selection of pictures used in a slideshow that the earth care team presented to the congregation, at Ridgefield Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church, a PCUSA certified Earth Care Congregation!
First Presbyterian Church of Cottage Grove, Oregon is one of the PCUSA certified Earth Care Congregations.
For three years now, it has hosted a "Bike, Walk & Carpool to Church" the entire month of July! Families get together and bike to church, and others walk and carpool to morning worship. It has been a huge success! Members have fun, get healthy, protect the earth, build community, and some even win prizes (stamp books and coffee cards)!
Saint James Presbyterian Church (Bellingham, WA) voted to protect the environment, curb climate change, and stand in solidarity with the Lummi Nation whose lands are at risk of being developed for a new coal terminal.The Mission and Social Action Committee felt called to take a position and the church signed the solidatrity statement (below). All of these efforts hope to protect sacred lands and treaty rights, to reduce coal exports to China, and to decrease the shipping of coal across the continent as well.
Inter-faith statement of solidarity with Lummi Nation
Respect for sacred places is intrinsic in most ...
2nd Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, TN went to Bald River Falls in the Cherokee National Forest, near Tellico Plains.
Jacksonville Presbyterian Church is gleaning!
David and Lisa Specca are members of the Earth Care Ministry Group at Jacksonville Presbyterian Church. They own a vegetable farm, and along with providing great vegetables to the community, they practice gleaning! The gleaned vegetables go to support New Jersey hunger ministries.
If you would like to read more about Specca Farms and their initiatives to end hunger, here is the link to the Presbytery story, which also contains a link to the newspaper story: http://monmouthpresbytery.com/2013/5537
Thanks for the amazing work you do, Jacksonville Presbyterian Church, and a special thank ...
On July 17, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will launch a free upgrade using an online Portfolio Manger tool. The new Portfolio Manger has a module designed especially for worship facilities.
Here is what is new: Portfolio Manager
Portfolio Manager is the nation’s leading energy performance, used by over 70,000 accounts and 300,000 commercial facilities. The blue and white logo is recognized by 87% of Americans.
Free webinars, starting July 15, are available to provide training on the new Portfolio Manager interface, and you can register at: https://esbuildings.webex.com/. These live training sessions ...
If you would like a pdf copy of the brochure by email, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Presbyterian Church: Memorial Trees
First Presbyterian Church’s Saturday Morning Men's Bible Study group has sponsored a program of planting trees as memorials, or to honor an individual, on their church property. They plant the trees in late fall or early winter to improve the survival rates. First Presbyterian Church is using Tennessee native species to improve our survival rates and longevity.
First Presbyterian Church can make available substantial reference materials to help people select species compatible with their soils, sun and moisture conditions. Two members of their group are master gardeners. They have also engaged the services ...
First Presbyterian Church Palo Alto, CA
On Earth Day, First Presbyterian Church celebrated in worship by making prayer flags for one of the low-water gardens on their church campus. The worship service was focused on their role in caring for creation and they used the following Psalm to guide them as they made the flags:
Praise God from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds ...
Trinity Presbyterian Church celebrates being an Earth Care Congregation!
As an Earth Care Congregation, Trinity Presbyterian Church of McKinney, TX, proudly celebrates the many great facets of this ministry! Some unique ways Trinity honors God's creation are: offering reusable shopping bags with Trinity Earth Care logos; selling Fair Trade chocolate; providing ceramic mugs and eco-friendly compostable, biodegradable cups for coffee; sending electronic newsletters; increasing paperless Sunday services; using fair trade Eco-Palms on Palm Sunday; taking field trips to places with earth-friendly practices; giving minutes for mission and bulletin inserts with a creation care focus; diverting approx. 7 cubic yards ...
Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church: Kensington, MD
On February 27, 2013, Warner Memorial held the first of three Wednesday evening Green Film Fest showings.
When no one has signed up to dedicate chancel flowers, Warner Memorial displays green plants instead, and includes "The plants in the chancel today are offered to the glory of God in celebration of our home, Earth."
First Presbyterian Church of Edwardsville, IL: Going Green!
The church has been a supporter of the environment, and has a long program of recycling. All the paper used in their office has a large recycled component. Even though the cost is a little higher, it is important to them to continue with this initiative Recycled content is important. They also have a bin to recycle paper in their parking lot. Over time, they have recycled batteries, eye glasses, CDs, paper and aluminum cans.
Riviera Presbyterian Church: Sustainable Landscape Replacement with No Budget
Riviera Presbyterian Church is located near Everglades and Biscayne Bay National Parks in sub-tropical south Florida, a globally unique ecosystem and home to a wealth of rare indigenous species. With 95% of the area's original habitat (outside the Parks) lost to development, and the overwhelming prevalence of exotic species in home landscapes, many of these natives (plants, insects, wildlife) are in danger of local extinction. Looking at its own property, RPC wished to replace its water- and maintenance-intensive exotics with well-adapted native material and be more welcoming to butterflies and ...
Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church (Shepherdstown, WV)
Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church had their annual EarthFest at the church in early April. This event was an hour-long mixture of earthy-songs presented in the sanctuary by dynamite local musicians (some from the congregation), punctuated by really moving recitations about earth care. A lot of the focus was on coal-mining and mountaintop removal.
Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, KS: Climate Change Forum
With over a hundred people in attendance, the Village Presbyterian Church’s March Environmental Forum on Climate Change exceeded expectations. Panelists shared informative, articulate, and complementary information on climate change while other participants offered inspiring prayers, good scriptural context, and the overall religious framework to the issue. This event stands in a line of successful church efforts to educate and encourage change, such as the Creation Care Earth Fair in May 2010 and the April 2007 hanging out 1500 compact fluorescent lights after morning worship.
The Earth Care Congregations (ECC) program will be a featured segment in a live national "webinar" on Tuesday, May 8, at 4 p.m. Eastern time.
William Seaman, from the Earth Ministry Team of Montreat Presbyterian Church (a certified PCUSA Earth Care Congregation), has been invited to be a co-presenter and will be giving a case study of how the ECC program reflects excellence in its content and process. Much of his material comes from the national Presbyterian guidebook for the process and from his own experience at Montreat Presbyterian Church.