Monday, November 9, 2009

A Greener Annual Council

The Diocese of Nebraska’s Annual Council was held last Thursday through Saturday in North Platte. Thanks to Nancy Striebel and her team from our host parish, Church of Our Savior, we were able to recycle plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and paper at Annual Council. I heard several positive comments about the recycling; many of us are used to recycling at home and at work, and were very pleased to have the opportunity to do so during this meeting.

Two of the resolutions that were passed at Annual Council have to do with the environment. The 76th General Convention this summer endorsed the Earth Charter. One of our resolutions was a Response to the Earth Charter; it encourages each congregation in the Diocese to “perform an audit of their use of paper, plastic, water, furnishings, etc., and take action to reduce, reuse, recycle, and reclaim resources.” Another resolution that is a local response to an action of General Convention is the affirmation and adoption of the Five Marks of Mission articulated by the Anglican Consultative Council. One of those five marks is this: “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth”. Both of these resolutions call us to be more intentional in our stewardship of God’s creation.

A growing awareness of environmental concerns was evident in several reports and in conversations with people. There was a presentation from the EGG (Episcopalians Going Green) team from St. Matthew’s in Lincoln; some of the Sowers Fund projects also featured activities such as reusing, recycling, and gardening. People stopping by the Green Sprouts display shared efforts their parishes were making to be greener, while others shared their intention to lead their parish in that direction.

The Green Sprouts presentation talked about connecting with nature as a necessity for our spiritual nurture and health; about our activities during 2009; and issued an invitation to have The Conversation, to talk about environmental climate change in a political climate where a recent Pew poll found fewer Americans believing that global warming exists or is a serious problem even as the scientific evidence has become very strong. Where is the Church called? How do we keep the conversation open?

For parishes wanting to be more intentional about environmental stewardship but not knowing where to begin, the following information was available at the Green Sprouts display:

Ideas to begin greening a parish…

Turn off lights that aren’t needed.

Change from conventional lightbulbs to compact fluorescent lightbulbs.

Reduce the use of paper. Use both sides of the paper when making multipage copies. Use e-mail in place of paper mail for parishioners who are online.

Unplug computers and other office equipment at night.

Fix dripping faucets.

Turn down the thermostat in the winter; turn it up in the summer.

Recycle paper, plastic, metal – whatever you can.

Use mugs instead of Styrofoam or paper cups at coffee hour. Use the dishes in the kitchen cupboards for parish dinners, or have people bring their own place settings to potlucks.

Consider purchasing Eco-Palms for Palm Sunday.

Have a Green Fair around the Rogation Days or St. Francis Day. Plan activities that highlight environmental stewardship. Plant a tree; worship outdoors; have a contest to see who can find the most creative ways to reuse existing items.

Organize carpools for the parish. Where possible, encourage parishioners to walk or bike to church.

Reduce or eliminate the use of lawn chemicals; landscape with plants that won’t require much water. Create landscaping with stewardship in mind: “A wild area in a churchyard does not show that no one cares about the place. In fact, it shows just the opposite.”**

Talk about environmental issues. How do they connect with our baptismal covenant? How does the Millennium Development Goal of environmental sustainability connect with the other MDG’s?

Involve the Sunday school and youth groups, and let them teach the adults some things about caring for creation.


**From How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take To Change A