Using a Parish Model
How to Use a Comprehensive Model

What follows is a brief picture of a sample model to help green your congregation. There are five areas, plus some ideas to implement in each area. You may want to jump in and do some dramatic things that will engage everyone immediately in the whole process, or you may want to work more gradually. As you set goals for each year, determine which areas you wish to address. These may be based on needs or opportunities or an expression of the gifts and interests people bring to the task for that year.

  1. Seek Transformation Through Worship:
    • Introduce concerns for creation into every area of communal life.
    • Incorporate concerns for creation into worship: confession, forgiveness, thanksgiving, intercession, preaching.
    • Create rituals for tree plantings, litanies over our despoiling of the environment, petitions for endangered species, blessings of the animals and trees, and so on.
    • Make banners and decorate worship with reminders of our life for creation.
    • Provide resources for personal devotions that foster creation spirituality.
  2. Seek Transformation Through Education:
    • Teach care of the earth in classes for all ages.
    • Provide forums and workshops on the problems of the environment and what we can do: Bring in speakers from local organizations.
    • Provide information about local recycling centers and disposal sites.
    • Expose attitudes which lead to damage of the environment, and teach theologies and resources which foster healing.
    • Introduce people to ethical issues which we will be facing in the struggle over scarce resources, job losses, and environmental damage.
    • Help people to love the natural environment, and develop a spirituality rooted in creation.
    • Connect people to nature with retreats, nature walks, outings, awareness of nature around the church.
    • Inform people about local, national and world issues on the environment.
    • Provide symbols which enable people to identify with issues of creation awareness.
    • Provide books and periodicals in the library. Promote them in newsletters.
  3. Make the Geographical Area of the Parish Into a "Zone" Which is Safe for the Environment.
    • Do a comprehensive "environmental inventory" for a) everything which comes into the building, b) the use of everything in the building, and c) everything which goes out of the building.
    • Everything that comes in:
      • Where feasible, bring fewer resources onto the property and into the building: less energy, less water, less paper.
      • Where feasible, purchase recycled stationary, bulletin paper, towels, toilet paper, as well as products which will be safely used and safely disposed.
      • Consider, where workable, using no pesticides, prohibiting smoking, using cloth napkins (no paper cups, plates, tablecloths).
      • Where feasible, provide as much of your own resources as possible: plant gardens and fruit trees, use water from drainage, plant trees near buildings for shade.
      • Consider wind mills, solar energy, and so on (even when only symbolic of what can be done in the future.)
    • The efficient and full use of everything:
      • Use products efficiently. When buying new equipment, look for furnaces and appliances which are energy efficient.
      • Where appropriate, provide insulation (weather stripping, caulking, storm windows, shutters, thermal curtains, tinted glass, trees).
      • Where workable, use less water by means of toilet dams, tap shutoffs, energy saving faucets, the use of drainage water, and limited lawn watering.
      • Seek to avoid unnecessary use of paper. Try using office paper completely and efficiently.
      • Where possible, use only ecologically safe products and use them up.
      • Consider providing plants inside which purify the air.
    • Everything that goes out:
      • Recycle as close to 100% of the waste as possible: paper, bulletins, containers, cans, aluminum, plastic, furniture, appliances, batteries.
      • Where possible, take toxic waste to proper disposal sites. Study the waste baskets and garbage cans periodically in order to see where you can recycle better or avoid products which produce such waste.
      • Where feasible, compost food, grass clippings, leaves and other organic wastes.
  4. Promote a Personal Lifestyle Among Members Which Fosters a Healthy Environment.
    • Encourage people to treat their houses, businesses, industries, and other public arenas as Green Zones.
    • Provide the tools for people to do an "environmental inventory" of their homes and places of work.
    • Provide a "covenant" with creation in which people commit themselves to certain actions on behalf of the environment. Pledge and renew the covenant annually at a special worship service.
    • Encourage people to consider ecological concerns in diet, transportation, gift-giving, and so on.
    • Provide books which list things people can do for the environment and work through the list together.
    • Provide interest or support groups to foster change and develop habits.
    • Get rid of junk mail.
  5. Advocate in the Political Sphere.
    • Promote a commitment to action on behalf of the environment in the local, state, national and global arenas.
    • Become informed about local, national, and global issues. Make your views known to governmental representatives and corporate officers.
    • Seek to be advocates and reconcilers in controversy, pursuing creative and forward-looking solutions.
    • Provide support groups for people affected by environmental issues.
    • Engage in educational programs in your community.
    • Organize grassroots environmental projects.
    • Cooperate with other seminaries and churches and with environmental groups.
    • Involve groups in the church in action programs in church and community.
    • Conduct a letter-writing campaign. Write "letters to the editor."
    • Encourage people to join environmental organizations and to participate in local and regional environmental committees.
    • Give recognition to people who care for creation in outstanding ways.