Trinity United Methodist Church
Racine, Wisconsin
March 2004 to December, 2006
contact: Betty Brenneman


Brief History
The morning adult education class read a book on the environment by Edward O. Wilson; as a follow-up, the class voted to invite Dr. David Rhoads to share about his work with five ELCA Lutheran churches in Racine: specifically, how to transform churches into places that emphasize the care of creation. Pastor Linda Vance also invited Dr. Rhoads to lead the 10:45 a.m. service. The enthusiastic response to these two presentations by Dr. Rhoads helped build momentum to create a Green Team at Trinity UMC.

These are some of the activities that have occurred:

Trinity conducted a building audit of the electrical systems, and in response to the report, Trinity replaced 300 lights in the ambulatory with CFBs, re-wired places from one to two circuits, and replaced 100 ballasts (100 to go). All of the exits lights were changed to LED. The church building was also caulked and sealed. In addition, Trinity now uses green cleaning products.

Trinity expanded the garden and no longer uses pesticides east of the church building.

Trinity purchased a smaller energy star dish washer and an energy star freezer. During coffee hour and meals, Trinity now uses ceramic dishes and serves fair trade coffee.

For the past two years, Trinity celebrates a “Season of Creation” in October. Trinity also distributed “Stewardship of Creation: a Thirty Day Discipline,” a devotional connecting faith and the care of creation. Trinity provides a creation-care covenant in the bulletin on the last Sunday of the month encouraging daily action. Trinity observes Earth Day in April while also hosting an eco-fair after the service. Trinity provided Native American spirituality resources as well. The stations in the eco-fair sold fair trade coffee and chocolate, provided information about current legislation, displayed “green” cleaning products, and provided information about how to save energy in private homes. Trinity also recycles the worship bulletins.

At Home and at Work:
Trinity encouraged people to come to church using less energy (e.g. car pooling, walking, biking).

Other Actions:
Trinity collected and recycled used cell phones. The congregation commissioned a member (and artist) to design a logo for use on canvas bags, and the youth group sold the bags as a fundraiser. The youth used clever skits to present the bags to the congregation.

Seven people met for seven weeks to work through the Voluntary Simplicity curriculum.

In February, 2007, 12 people will begin working through Voluntary Simplicity, and others who were in the first class will be encouraged to start a home group and invite neighbors to join them.

Trinity's Green Team members wrote out and shared vision statements for the next year and five years.

Green Team members are working closely with the Board of Trustees.

The class submitted articles to the congregational newsletter, posted information on a bulletin board in the congregation, and administered Trinity’s recycling program. Members of the Green team formed a coalition of six other churches in Racine.

Possible Next Steps
Green Team members will study the Web of Creation's resources and develop a green congregational mission statement. In addition, the Green Team will continue trying to figure out how best the team fits into the structure of the congregation.