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The Green Congregation Program


Frequently Asked Questions


This section is designed to help Green Teams know how to take the next steps in the Green Congregation Program. This is basically a briefing on “community-organizing” in your congregation.  Here are some of the questions that give focus to the training

 

1. Why Christians should care for creation?


a. The environmental state of the world is of grave concern for us: climate change, ozone depletion, loss of bio-diversity, depletion of forests and arable land, waste, population.

b. Our commitment to justice. All people, particularly the poor, people of color, and third world countries, are affected by these conditions.

c. The biblical view that creation is good and the biblical mandate for humans to take responsibility to care for creation—all of Earth community

d. The theological understanding that God is present and active in the ongoing creation of the world gives us reverence to value all of life for its own sake and as a basis for our use of Earth’s gifts.

e. The Christian commitment to care for others includes the commitment to care for the Earth that supports the human community.

 

2. What is the larger vision and purpose of the program?


a. To contribute to the transformation of society so that humans live in harmony

with other life and preserve earth for future generations.

b. The more immediate goal is the transformation of the congregation to be an intentional community celebrating and restoring creation.

 

3. What is the goal for congregation?


a. To revitalize the identity and the mission of the congregation by integrating care for creation in what the congregation is and what the congregation does.

b. We seek to create an ethos of care of the earth in all that the congregation is and does.

c. To be different and to make a difference.

d. Personal spiritual transformation to a new relationship with God and with all creation: conversion to a new relationship with Earth.

e. To be actively promoting (outside the congregation) ecological justice for Earth community.

 

4. What are some key principles and strategies to keep in mind?


a.   Care for creation is a religious issue and a religious practice.

b.   Obstacles may be theological, political, financial, or strategic.

c.   Working with other groups and other congregations strengthens everyone

and increases our impact.

d. For more key principles, areas of concern, and strategies see below and visit www.webofcreation.org.

 

5. What is the function and role of a Green Team (or Earth Ministry Team)?


a. A Green Team is the catalyst or leaven in the congregation for

transformation.

b. A Green Team seeks to promote care for creation in every part of the life and

mission of the congregation.

c. The Green Team keeps before the congregation care for creation as integral to

the life and mission of the community.

 

6. How does the Green Team work with the pastor(s) and lay professionals?


a. Involve pastors and lay professionals insofar as they are able to participate.

b. Share your concern for environmental justice, explain the program, and invite dialogue about ideas and concerns.

c. Take responsibility as lay leaders for initiating and following through with the program

d. Discuss how you can support the pastor/staff supporting you.

e. Address concerns: possibility of controversy, the pastor is already overextended, how controls can be maintained, among others.

f. Listen to concerns and be pro-active in keeping lines of communication open.

 

7. How does the Green Team work with the church council?


a. Approach the church council as a group. Discuss it beforehand with the pastor, the church council president, and the executive committee.

b. Present your concern for environmental justice, the goals of the Green Congregation Program, and your commitment to follow through.

c. Seek to show how the program fits into the mission of the congregation. If it is not explicitly stated, ask if care for creation could be made a part of the church mission statement.

d. Address concerns: financial cost (some grant money may come, and all other decisions involving financial commitments will be approved by the appropriate groups); whether this will drain volunteers from other tasks (only a few are needed, and the program may bring in other members not otherwise active); how will the committee report to the council (that can be up to the council); and so on.

e. Ask the council for authority to approach church committees/committee chairs with ideas and resources and to work with other staff of the church.

f. Listen to concerns and be pro-active in keeping lines of communication open.

 

8. How does the Green Team work with committees?


a. Seek to make care for creation part of the task of all committees, activities, staff tasks, and decisions. Build it into job/committee description.

b. Meet with committee chairs and committees: share your concerns, explain the program, invite their input, suggest a project or two (brainstorm about others), provide resources to do the projects, offer to be helpful if needed.

c. Follow through with each committee and each project in order to provide support and accountability.

d. Publicize and celebrate the work of the particular committee. Thank them after the project is completed.

e. Listen to concerns and be pro-active in keeping lines of communication open.

 

9. In what ways might the Green Team assess the congregation—interest, assets, needs, opportunities, and support?


a. “Asset/interest” based assessment in which you draw on the resources and commitments in the congregation to develop plans and programs.

b. “Opportunities/needs” based assessment in which you look to the programs, possibilities, and eco-justice crises of the community in which the congregation is located.

c. “Gauging support” for various projects, whereby you survey the congregation with a list of possible projects, costs, and payoffs, as a means to see what support there is for each project.

d. A “comprehensive environmental” audit by which you assess every aspect of the building and grounds: what comes in, how it is used, where it goes. Develop an action plan to address the issues raised by the audit.

e. See below, for additional ways to engage the congregation.

 

10. What strategies might the Green Team use to make the congregation aware of the Green Congregation program?


a. Clarify the message and say it in seven different contexts/media: worship, education, newsletter, personal contacts, bulletin board, bulletin announcements and inserts, and e-mails.

b. Choose different projects that get everyone involved at some level.

c. Symbols, signs, actions, banners, and slogans that bring the issues before the congregation.

d. Plan education/ worship/ projects/ changes so that they can be public teachable moments for the congregation.

 

11. How do you deal with obstacles and resistance?


a. Be proactive in talking with people. Share your concerns about the environment and explain the source of your Christian commitment to care for creation. Give reasons/evidence to support your ideas.

b. Listen, learn, work constructively to address the issues/ differences, seek a consensus, and compromise where necessary. Seek to avoid confrontation and pressure tactics.

c. Explain and keep on going with the things that can be done.

d. As you keep working at this, your will get to various thresholds and critical masses of support—after which things you already do are easier and new things are possible.

 

12. How does the Green Team make a plan of action and move ahead with some projects?


a. Use the Five-Part program to set goals in each area (worship, education, building and grounds, discipleship at home and work, public ministry)

b. Brainstorm about a special project of the whole congregation for the community. Will be chosen later in conjunction with the whole congregation.

c. Make a plan to implement each project. Identify the committee or group you think will be responsible for the project, and plan how to promote it.

d. Meet and/or communicate regularly (monthly?) as a Green Team to keep plans alive, hold each other accountable for commitments, and set up new projects.

e. Seek to institutionalize each change as a regular integral part of the life of the congregation.

f. Set a time after the project to evaluate and assess the outcomes. This will establish accountability, enable you to celebrate successes, and give an opportunity to determine needed changes for the next time the project is carried out.


13. Other steps


a. Seek partners among community agencies and other congregations to do projects that would be difficult to do alone.

b. Keep in touch with denomination at local, regional, and national levels to seek resources and connect with happenings elsewhere.

c. Make use of the materials at www.webofcreation.org and the links to many other faith-based environmental sites available on Web of Creation.

d. Make your Green Team meetings fun with healthy snacks and meals, walks in nature, poetry selections, or occasional trips to environmental sites.


 

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