New Tool Now Available for Your Local Church Toolbox: The Green Church Initiative
The scriptures are full of references to God’s creation and to humanity’s relationship with it. The GCI is a covenant congregation program that empowers a local church to live out its faith, given the biblical mandate to care for and be good stewards of all that God has so lovingly created. Although caring for God’s creation should never be just another list of things to do, many local churches have expressed difficulty envisioning ways they can incorporate more creation-caring activities into the life of their congregations. The GCI is a great tool that can help churches move forward with their planning, and then reward and recognize their efforts and achievements once they do!
The GCI contains more than 100 ideas for creation care activities in the daily life of the local church, many of which are translatable to activities outside the context of the church. These 100 plus ideas are categorized into five areas that are representative of the total life and ministry of the congregation: Worship, Discipleship, Stewardship, Evangelism, and Mission. The GCI is designed to promote the understanding that everything a church does in its ministry is connected to God’s creation, and that caring for creation is so fundamental to who we are as Christians that it must necessarily be infused into every aspect of the life of a congregation.
The GCI also is designed as a way for a local church to register with the Conference to indicate its intent to work towards certification as a “Green Church” if desired. There are three levels of achievement – Green, Gold, and Platinum – which recognize accumulation of specific amounts of points the church can earn for engaging in the various activities. A digital certificate of recognition will be awarded to the achieving church, making it available to be posted on the church website. Additionally, the church will be recognized at Annual Conference for its achievements.
A big shout out to West Market Street UMC in Greensboro, who has registered to participate in the GCI! Some of the activities they have already done include holding an annual worship service dedicated to the care of God’s creation (Worship); showing a video to their youth group which lifts up environmental issues (Discipleship); producing electronic newsletters (Stewardship); publicizing their creation care efforts on their church website (Evangelism); and participating in their NeighborWoods tree planting event and the Great American Cleanup (Mission). They plan to engage in 24 additional creation care activities in the coming year, including things like incorporating a creation care theme in the children’s message for Sunday services (Worship); holding a special 4-6 week study session on a creation care issue (Discipleship); holding a rummage sale to repurpose used items (Stewardship); giving each guest a “green” gift (Evangelism); and training mission volunteers on environmental issues specific to the places they will be going (Mission). What a great commitment to their intentional care of God’s creation!
Other resources available to help local churches in their efforts to start or expand an existing creation care ministry or green team are located at https://www.wnccumc.org/wncc-creation-care-ministry, with a downloadable PDF PowerPoint presentation containing notes from a WNCC training session entitled Starting a Creation Care Ministry in Your Church located at https://www.wnccumc.org/conference-team-videos-and-presentations. Additionally, the Conference Creation Care Team members are here to support churches in these efforts: they can be reached at CreationCareWNCC@gmail.com.
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