Names & Symbols
Names and symbols are important because they give a sense of identity and serve as reminders of the community's responsibilities for creation.
Naming the parish as a place to care for creation: Give the church an identity as a place where people care about all of life. Here are some possibilities:
Green Zone. This is a concept that is less explicitly religious in orientation, but emphasizes the area as a place safe for the environment and therefore also for humans, just like a drug-free zone is a place safe for children. A Green Zone is a place where the geographical area of the church, along with the community that gathers there, is a place that is earth-friendly.
Naming the committee is also important. It should be a name that does not alienate some while it draws others. Seek to find a name that anyone can identify with. Here are some suggestions:
If the committee promotes the whole congregation by a certain identity, then the name should perhaps reflect this:
Perhaps you prefer to name a program rather than a committee.
If the community is engaged in a local or regional advocacy program, you may want to establish a temporary name for the program during the period in which the advocacy is in effect.
Choosing symbols. It may also be helpful to have one or more symbols of your commitment to the care of the earth. A symbol can be a very meaningful expression of environmental ministry. The symbol could be displayed as a logo or given artistic expression.
A public symbol can also give the congregation an identity with the larger surrounding community. Some of these symbols may display actual practices that are prophetic signs of future practices in a sustainable world. Here are some ideas:
The symbols you choose may come from the Bible or from your religious tradition or from the region or from nature itself or from technology or from your imagination!
Display your identity. You may want to display outside or at the entrance or on the wall a statement of your commitment in the form of a certificate and the name of your community. The testimonial could be in the form of a framed certificate or a printed announcement/sign or a plaque. Examples:
A Certificate of Commitment is available from the National Council of Churches as part of their program to make churches become Covenant Communities or Creation Awareness Centers.
Church Newsletter. As a means to keep before the parish a commitment to eco-justice concerns, consider the inclusion of regular reminders of concern for creation in the church newsletter. These can involve facts about the environment, sayings and proverbs about your commitment, reference to local, regional, national or global opportunities for advocacy, some effort that has been made to restore and protect the environment, or some suggestions for incorporating environmental practices in life at work and in the home. If you have developed a name or logo or phrase that captures your care for the earth, perhaps it can become part of the mast for your newsletter. If you have the congregation on an e-mail listserve, use this means of communication to keep environmental issues before people.
Incorporate care for creation into the mission statement of the congregation. If your congregation has a mission statement, it is important to include your commitment to the environment in it. Including creation care in your documents of purpose serves to keep before you, at the most fundamental level, your ongoing covenant to serve and protect creation as part of your mission. Yearly planning will then be sure to include this vital dimension of religious life. If you do not have a congregational mission statement, perhaps now is the opportunity to adopt one.