Feature Your Own Congregation:
List all the different things your congregation is doing (or plans to do) to care for creation and then request that the items be placed week by week in the bulletin or newsletter. Post them on a bulletin board. As an example, see below the activities of a green congregation in Racine, WI. An item is placed weekly in the bulletin.
St. Andrew Lutheran Church
Green Congregation Actions
This is an overall report of the things our congregation has done during the last decade as a Green Congregation. We have categorized our initiatives by the five areas featured in the Green Congregation Program.
We have a “Green Team” that is a subcommittee of the Social Ministry Board. We meet every several months to review what we have done and plan for the next season. The Green Team has been responsible for initiating activities throughout the church. The members of the committee include Sandy Roberts (Chair), Lou Barrera, Don and Linda Peterson, Vicki Griffin, Dave Rhoads, and Pastor Michael Mueller. To contact us, e-mail Sandy Roberts at
Racine Green Congregations
Saint Andrew is a found member and active participant in the racine Green Congregation program, hosting meetings, reporting regularly, and taking part in joint projects. See www.racinegreencongregations.org.
Green Congregation Promotion
We have officially been declared a Green Congregation and display our identity. We have a bulletin board for posting relevant news items. We often have announcements and articles in bulletins and newsletters. We display our official Green Congregation Certificate in a public place.
Season of Creation.
Three times we have celebrated the Season of Creation during four Sundays in the fall. Each time, we have adapted our liturgies, our lessons, and the sermons to the themes for those Sundays. These have been very creative and very well received. We plan to do these on a regular basis. See www.seasonofcreation.com or the Season of Creation pages at www.letallcreationpraise.org.
Blessing of the Animals
Each year we celebrate a blessing of the animals around St. Francis day in early October. The service is held outside. People have brought a whole variety of pets for blessing. Some of those who cannot bring their pet have brought a picture. We also bless the human animals along with the pets. A blessing service is found under Worship here.
We usually have a special service on Earth Sunday each year that focuses on God’s creation and our role as earth keepers.
Throughout the year.
Many services include confessions, petitions, hymns, sermons, and benedictions that highlight God’s love for all creation, our solidarity with creation, and the human responsibility to serve creation.
We have had occasional adult classes that feature a speaker or program on some aspect of care for creation. On one occasion, we discussed the ELCA statement “Caring for Creation.”
One small group of six members met to discuss the Northwest Earth Institute study materials on “Simple Living.” The group found this important for helping us to have accountability in personal changes.See excellent materials at www.nei.org.
Children’s Sunday School
There have been occasional programs in the Sunday School that took the children outside to discover God’s creation on the church property and to reflect on our relationship to the rest of creation.
Vacation Bible School
For several years, the summer Vacation Church School included opportunities for the children to work in the church garden and talk about creation.
One year the youth group sponsored an effort to adopt green practices and posted on the bulletin board the things they had done to care for the earth. The youth have maintained a project to collect aluminum cans and have sold sustainably grown fair-trade chocolate bars for fund-raisers. They have worked in the garden.
Youth Restoring Creation
Youth participate with other churches to become Green Energy Agents. They have been trained to sell energy saving products to adult members for use in their homes. This is a part of a national pilot program in which Racine is one of only four sites that are field-testing this. See Youth Restoring Creation at www.racinegreencongregations.org.
BUILDING AND GROUNDS
Our local energy company had a program for churches to reduce their energy use. They offered free audits and many incentives for changes that were recommended. We had our light retrofitted, made use of CFL’s throughout the building, got a new thermostat, installed a new high-efficiency furnace, and reassessed our use of the building. We were one of 37 Lutheran churches who took advantage of this program. Many parts of the building are now not fully heated unless they are being used. We also got rid of the soda machine in exchange for an honor system using the kitchen refrigerator.
Green Cleaning Products
We encourage use of green cleaning products within the building.
In addition to recycling of the usual items throughout the building (paper, cans, plastic bottles), we have a small recycling center for members to deposit cell phone, printer cartridges, CFLs, domestic batteries, and eye glasses. We have a basket at the back of the sanctuary for people to recycle their bulletins after worship. We also have provided a bin in the parking lot for people in the community to deposit paper of all kinds for recycling. We compost some food and yard waste.
Coffee hour and church suppers
We have purchased compostable cups, plates, and forks for use when we have outside picnics. We do our best to avoid Styrofoam, paper, and plastic products. Whenever possible, we use the church’s dinnerware.
We installed low-flow aerator faucets. We have an Energy Star dish washer. We replaced the automatic flush urinals for hand operated ones.
Lawn and Rain Garden
We mow the lawn less often and avoid the use of pesticides and herbicides. The lawns are treated with corn gluten in the spring. We also planted and maintain a rain garden to absorb runoff. This was done with a grant from a local watershed agency. We also have a rain barrel that collects water we use for the garden.
We have a garden that covers nearly an acre of land. The garden includes many kinds of vegetables, as well as raspberries. We also raise pumpkins and flowers. One third of the produce is given to the local food pantry. This garden has become a signature feature of our congregation and our property. We do our best to raise the crops organically. The garden does much to create community among members who participate in sowing, maintaining, and harvesting.
We have now planted 12 trees as the start of a small orchard that will provide additional food for the local food pantry.
Checklist for Building and Grounds
The chair of the property committee and a member of the green team worked through the entire checklist provided by the Green Congregation Program identifying what we were already doing, what could be done with little or no effort of time and money, and what projects could be undertaken with significant time and money.
DISCIPLESHIP AT HOME AND WORK
Covenant with Creation
On various occasion, St. Andrew has invited members to sign a covenant with creation representing the practices they are willing to embrace in their homes in order to care for creation.
We put constant reminders of our commitment as a green congregation. Bulletin’s and newsletters regularly feature: Bible verses on creation; an excerpt from our denominational social statement; a “green tip;” along with other reminders of our commitment to care for creation.
One year we held a small eco-fair between worship service with booths for fair trade coffee, getting rid of junk mail, signing up for action alerts, the chance to purchase CFLs, and information on local environmental organizations.
For a few years, the congregation has held a harvest festival for the community at the end of the growing season. This has provided an opportunity to gather food and monetary contributions for the county food bank.
In 2010, we began a farmers’ market in our parking lot. There were about seven vendors each week. The church is on a thoroughfare and attracts many people in an area of Racine where there is no other farmers’ market. The church itself offered produce for sale from the garden as well as produce that had been canned by members. Baked goods were also donated by members to raise money for the church and the Racine food bank. There are plans to make this an annual summer offering to the community.
St. Andrew and some other churches in the Green Congregation program initiated a tree planting project in the city of Racine. In a coordinated program with the mayor, we went door to door in economically-suppressed areas of the city asking permission to plant trees in the parkway next to the curb. Over a two year period more than 100 trees were planted. Then the mayor decided that the city did not need home owners’ permission to plant the trees because the parkway was city property. So the program expanded significantly for the city.
For several years, St. Andrew signed up members who wished to receive action alerts from the League of Conservation Voters regarding impending environmental legislation at the state and national levels.
Green Congregation program
Our participation in the ecumenical and interfaith program of Green Congregations is an expression of our public commitment to cooperate with others in the community to live out our ecological commitments and to learn from each other.