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.
Our newest PC(USA) certified Earth Care Congregation, St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Portland, OR, already has a well-established and holistic earth care ministry. From working with a local farm to partnering with Bharati Integrated Rural Development Society (BIRDS) in India, this church is making a huge difference in individual lives and global witness. Involved in hunger and poverty alleviation, disaster response, environmental justice, and interfaith learning, St. Mark Presbyterian Church connects the issues that make social-ecological-economic justice work an important part of Christian discipleship.
During the summer of 2014, the church spent 10 weeks worshipping around the theme of ...
Noah Wilding is a rising sophomore at Trinity High School who is fully committed to ending climate change. He is operating a totally green lawn care business. He has a solar panel for charging his electric mower, trimmer, and weedwacker, and he rides his bike to his mowing jobs, pulling his equipment in a cart behind him. Bill Young is a retired research scientist and is a volunteer in the PC(USA) Environmental Ministries office. Both Bill and Noah are members of the Earth Care Team at their home congregation, Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. CHPC is one ...
Chuck and Ruth Dow, members of PC(USA) Earth Care Congregation River Glen Presbyterian Church (Naperville, IL), recently returned from a mission trip to El Salvador. They taught nutrition, gardening (including container gardening), and solar cooking (with a foldable solar cooker they designed and can teach people how to make and use, with a cost of about $1.) This mission is similar to what they have been doing as part-time volunteers since 1987. The church commissioned them before they left on what happened to also be Chuck's 82rd birthday!
Ruth explained, “A 1983 Presbyterian-Methodist mission trip to Mexico stimulated ...
Last Sunday, in appreciation of the papal encyclical on the environment, local churches rang bells while other people of faith gathered in Rome for a global march. These efforts came under an umbrella called "One Earth! One Family!" and came from diverse people.
Members of Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church (IL), a PCUSA certified Earth Care Congregation, gathered to ring their church bell Sunday.
Meanwhile, Presbyterian minister Neddy Astudillo and others gathered in Rome for a solidarity march. See photos of the ...
Earth care activities at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church (SPC) took root in the passion and commitment of its members. One of the founding members of the Earth Care team works for the EPA and used her knowledge to help frame a recommendation to Session that established environmental stewardship as a priority observed by all SPC groups. Like other Earth Care Congregations, this church’s certification 5 years ago reflected strides made in worship, education, facilities, and outreach that reflect their care and respect for God’s creation, and they continue each year to find new ways to be more efficient and ...
Montevallo Presbyterian Church is a small congregation in Montevallo, AL with a building from 1902. It sits in a university town and does great ministry for all God’s creation. The Green Team at Montevallo has active committee involvement from about 25% of the membership of the congregation, and great support from pastor Leanne Pearce Reed. When the church did some visioning and identifying core values a number of years ago, care of creation was one of the top core values that emerged, Reed says. Green Team coordinator Bill Peters’ leadership and ...
Before connecting with the Presbyterian Earth Care Congregations Certification Program, the Earth and Social Justice Commission at First Presbyterian Church of Cottage Grove was already involved in conservation projects.
Alison Center, a member and administrative secretary for the church, explains: “We were doing fair trade coffee, limiting our use of disposable dishes and using recyclable paper supplies. We also held a worship service outdoors each summer at the foot of Mount Pisgah.” Having enough points for certification, Tracy Durfee, chairperson of the Earth and Social Justice Commission, sent in ...
Nearly a decade ago, individual members at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church separately approached their pastor to share that they had a special passion and concern in caring for God’s creation. The pastor helped these members to come together to form the Caring for Creation efforts at this congregation in Tucker, GA.
When PCUSA was piloting the certification program for Earth Care Congregations in 2010, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church decided to sign up as a way to help them document what they were doing and to plan ahead in a strategic ...
Curtis Brown, the coordinator of the Earth Care team at Light Street Presbyterian Church, has been helping out for 15 years with the brainstorming and physical aspect of creation care projects, whether it’s gardening, moving things around, or changing lightbulbs. More recently though, as he’s become coordinator for the committee, he obtained a file of all the great work this small congregation has accomplished in caring for the earth. He is being reminded of, and re-energized for, all the many environmental stewardship initiatives that have been a great success for Light Street Presbyterian Church.
This congregation was certified ...
Maryland Presbyterian Church, situated in several acres of wooded real estate in Towson, MD, has been working on caring for God’s creation for over a decade. Among the first few churches that started as a pilot project of PCUSA Earth Care Congregations, church members at Maryland Presbyterian Church long have been conscious of the importance of conservation and initially began by incorporating “making peace with the earth” into their peacemaking efforts as a congregation.
Bill Breakey, a member of the Environmental Stewardship Action Group at MPC, explains that in 2002 the congregation did a study and visioning process over ...
Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church (Stevens Point, WI), did not just begin earth care activities five years ago. Now celebrating the “5th year certification” with the PCUSA national program, church members in this congregation have been active and creatively engaged in environmental stewardship since 2001.
Originally sought out to give feedback to, and to help pilot, the original model of PCUSA Earth Care Congregations back in 2010, Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church showed completed creation care activities across the life of the church (in worship, education, facilities and outreach). And, each year since 2010, they have proven a deeper and broader ...
While highlighting New Hope Presbyterian Church (Chattanooga) as the Presbyterian example (see snippet below), this great article includes churches from many denominations!
"In Chattanooga, New Hope Presbyterian Church has its “Earth Care Team,” a group dedicated to being “stewards of God’s earth,” says Rosie Sanislo, who founded the local team.
“My concern for better green living is based on practicing my faith through caring for creation,” she says. “Scripture and our reformed faith tradition call humans to be stewards of the earth — God’s good creation. Each ...
In addition to enhancing the well-being of the congregation, securing a better world for future generations, and deepening a sense of Christian discipleship, Earth Care Congregations are finding ways to build up their local communities-- and being noticed for it!
In February, Forest Lake Church helped create a community garden at a transition residence for homelessness recovery. Coming out of their own experience as intergenerational gardeners at their own church, they are now helping others to find food security, a connection to the earth, and an expanded sense of neighbors and care.
Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Overland Park KS, has just been informed they have won first place in the "Energy Savings Category" in the Interfaith Power and Light Cool Congregations 2013 Challenge. Their submission was an "Adopt-A-Light" campaign where they designed and installed a lighting retrofit project saving utility costs AND reducing our CO2 contribution to global warming. Check out the story here and meet the winners (and runners-up and honorable mention).
Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church will be entered into the US Green Building Council GBIG Database of exemplary projects and receive a $1,000 reward.
Great thanks to all the ...
Webster Groves Presbyterian Church (MO) formed its Environmental Stewardship Committee in 2011 and developed a mission statement which outlined their intent “to be careful stewards of the environment as we honor God’s covenant with all of creation…” The committee has worked to minimize the environmental impact of the church and recently became certified by the PCUSA as a new Earth Care Congregation.
Among other things, the congregation eliminated the use of styrofoam disposables, established a recycling center, held youth confirmation classes outside, and included confirmands in Earth Care Activities at Mound Ridge Presbyterian camp.
It also offered Sunday education ...
First-year certified Earth Care Congregation Hillsborough Presbyterian Church (NC) is a small congregation, preparing to celebrate their 200th anniversary in September of 2016. Earth Care team member Robin Bedingfield writes, “While we don’t own much property - only a 10-foot perimeter around our buildings, and we deal constantly with both the blessings and limitations of a 200-year old sanctuary and 60-year old Christian Ed building, we are committed to being good stewards of our church and home ...
Montreat Presbyterian Church
Tour and Brown-bag Seminar at National Climatic Data Center
Asheville, North Carolina
March 21, 2014
“NOAA's National Climatic Data Center is responsible for preserving, monitoring, assessing, and providing public access to the Nation's treasure of climate and historical weather data and information.” This one sentence does not begin to describe the wealth of programs and the global scope of the Center’s work, nor explain their relevance to contemporary issues concerning atmosphere, weather and climate. See website http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/.
This trip to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is organized by the ...
The PCUSA Earth Care Congregation program welcomes newly certified Earth Care Congregation Nashua Presbyterian Church (NH). When this congregation was chartered as a PCUSA church and built its sanctuary in 1997, they chose to build it back from the road - in the woods. They call themselves "The Church in the Woods." Because of their love of the woods and adjoining wetlands on their 13 acres, they built with a care for the environment and continue to treasure this gift of part of God's creation.
Having built an energy efficient building, they have since added: a memorial garden, nine flower ...
This week Village Church's Environmental Action Committee launched its Stop Using Bottled Water during Lent campaign. Following the example of campaigns by the Green Team at Platt Woods UMC in 2012 and by the Earth Shepherds at Second Presbyterian Church in 2013, EAC has placed signs at Drinking Fountains and at Lavatories around the church urging folks to "Stop Using Bottled Water!"
Specifically, our message is this:
Heal the Earth. Save its People. Conserve Water.
Clean Water is a Human Right.
(One 16.9-ounce bottle of water requires 1.5 gallons of tap water)
FOR LENT, STOP USING BOTTLED ...
“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 email@example.com.
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.