Earth Care Congregations: Stewards of God’s Earth

Submitted by Ruth Dow, Naperville River Glen

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Earth Stewardship banner made by a talented member

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Some rode to church, while other kayaked

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Naperville River Glen recently became certified as an Earth Care Congregation by the PC(USA), one of two certified churches in the Presbytery of Chicago (Chicago Fourth is the other) and one of seven certified in Illinois. Naperville River Glen’s application showed they earned nearly triple the total required points to be certified.

“It is exciting that River Glen Presbyterian Church is dedicated to intentional care of, and action for, God’s earth. The congregation’s activities and commitment will inspire others to answer God’s call to care for the earth,” said Rebecca Barnes, Associate for Environmental Ministries for PC(USA).

Naperville River Glen held their first annual Earth Stewardship Day in 2009. Last fall, after learning about the PC(USA) Earth Care Congregation (ECC) program, a team began to capitalize on what has been done, celebrate that, and move forward. Building and Grounds Team’s outstanding work made the facilities not only earth-friendly, but also saved money. Stewardship Team’s emphasis on year-round stewardship includes Earth Stewardship Sunday. Last spring, the children’s musical incorporated an environmental focus.

p8 logo Earth Care Congregations pcusaThe Earth Care Congregations program was started in 2010 by PC(USA) Environmental Ministries. The goal of the program is to inspire churches to care for God’s earth in a holistic way, through integrating earth care into all of their church life. The Earth Care Congregation certification recognizes churches that make the commitment to take seriously God’s charge to “till and keep” the garden. View their resources and ideas, plus the application to become certified.

What advice would you give to another church?

Utilize the resources at the PCUSA. It is important to involve as many people of different age groups and all the ministry teams. Several years ago, our Jr. and Sr. High youth groups did a short skit on recycling at worship. Two of the most enthusiastic members of our Earth Care Team were actually seniors in high school.

What has been the biggest challenge?

Educating people to recycle is a lengthy process, but a great many drop their bulletins in the recycling basket as they leave the worship center and also recycle other items. One of our members collects all the church recycling weekly and takes it home for recycling.

What has been the greatest benefit?

Involvement and support from the pastors and church lay leadership, many church ministries, and from members of all ages. I think we have encouraged people to be more aware at home and elsewhere and to make more effort to care for God’s creation. The food pantry and others continue to benefit with our produce from our garden adjacent to the church.

On our Earth Stewardship Sunday, we especially encourage walking, biking, carpooling, and other environmentally friendly ways to go to church. The photos on left show horse-back riding and kayaking. We celebrate the recognition of our commitment to Earth Care and Earth Stewardship and encourage other churches to improve their Earth Care.

This article was originally published on page 8 of the September 2014 Our Common Ministry. Download the complete issue.

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