Today is Earth Day, and if you’re like me, you want to make a positive difference for the environment but yoy feel the problems we face seem larger than what any one person can solve. Beyond doing things like recycling and buying local, what can one person do? It can feel discouraging. If you can afford it, you can choose to drive a hybrid or electric car or even put solar panels on your home, but not everyone can take those steps.
What about what we can do together as a church? One of the reasons we create Christian community together is so we can make the world a better place. Pooling our efforts to make a positive environmental impact accomplishes several goals. Among those goals are making a greater impact together than we can do on our own, and building relationships with people in our community who share those values (Who knows? Some of them might even need a faith community). It can be difficult to know where to start, but thankfully our denomination, The Christian Church, Disciples of Christ has us covered in that respect.
The Disciples motto is “a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” What better way to live that out than by caring for God’s world which God has entrusted to us? The Green Chalice program was created to help congregations become good stewards of the earth and to recognize them for their good work. Its steps are simple, but their impact can be great.
2. Sign the Green Chalice Covenant
As children of God and followers of Christ Jesus, we covenant to:
Worship God with all creation and pray for the healing of the earth.
Study the climate crisis and engage others in climate solutions.
Repent and forgive for the harm we have inflicted on the earth that
Advocate for ecojustice public policies and witness by living
Rest in God’s good creation and invite others to delight in nature.
3. Make 3 Changes (some of these we already do)
Examples: Get an Energy Audit, Start or Enhance a Recycling Program,
Use Real Dishware, Stop using Styrofoam and disposable dishes,
Changing to efficient light bulbs, Install programmable thermostats,
Start a community garden, Serving local foods, Plant Native Species
plants, Plant Trees in the community, Participate in the Disciples
Coffee Program, Purchase Eco-Palms for Palm Sunday, Weave Creation
into worship in prayers, hymns, liturgy and sermons, Use Eco-Friendly
cleaning products, Provide Eco-Tips in Newsletters, Install Rain Barrels
for watering, Host a Farmer’s Market, Have a Green VBS theme, Partner
with Local Organizations for Advocacy, Do a creation care study series,
Observe the Sabbath.
That’s how you start. There’s even more a church can do, of course, and becoming a “certified” Green Chalice congregation is relatively easy. Most Disciples congregations, however, haven’t taken these easy steps. In the Greater KC Region, only two congregations (St. Andrew’s Christian in Olathe and Lee’s Summit Christian) have done so.
Many of these changes not only help the earth but also help the church’s bottom line—an energy audit can lead to energy efficiency that saves lots of money. A United Church of Christ congregation in the Northland (Bethel UCC on Parvin Rd.) has space on their land like PHCC does. They installed solar panels outside their building taking advantage of generous incentives and not only have they cut their utility costs but they provide energy back to the grid which earns them money!
It doesn’t take much for a church to get started making positive environmental changes that can make a big difference. All it takes are a few individuals who care enough to make it happen here at PHCC. Are you one of them?
You can find out more by looking at Green Chalice on www.discipleshomemissions.org.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Chase Peeples
We're Park Hill Christian Church in KC MO. We seek to follow Jesus by praising God, loving those we meet and serving the vulnerable.