Green the Congregation through Public Ministry and Political Advocacy
Policy: We seek to change the systems that foster the degradation of creation and to rectify the injustices that result from it. And we seek to alert our members to environmental legislation that protects creation and to encourage their active participation in the development of public policy. We encourage members to participate in civic activities that foster environmental health. We seek to let our care for creation be known to others.
People: pastors and lay professionals, social ministry committees, directors of publicity, evangelism committees, all members.
Actions: Here are some suggested actions to take to fulfill these commitments:
A. Ecological justice in local, regional, national, and global issues
1. Learn about the public issues: Use classes, forums, and newsletters to educate people about ecological justice issues at all levels. Engage speakers, panels, workshops, and readings to promote knowledge of environmental concerns. Seek to expose members to the social justice issues involved in environmental degradation. Familiarize people with the major environmental legislation and policies at the various levels of government. Do these on a regular basis to keep the concerns before the community. As an example, you can study the "Wilderness Project" materials found on our site.
2. Learn about the legislation. Familiarize people with environmental legislation and policies at the various levels of government. Teach people the mechanisms and procedures to participate in the governmental process and exercise influence.
B. Political Advocacy
1. Action alerts: Provide a mechanism whereby members can sign up to receive e-mail action alerts regarding environmental and ecological justice issues with a suggested letter and the appropriate legislators to contact. These can also be promoted through the congregation website or newsletter, or by sign-up sheets in the narthex.
2. Petitions: Where appropriate, circulate petitions that support legislative actions and policies friendly to the earth. Provide a letter writing table during coffee hour for people to take the opportunity to urge legislative action.
3. Local actions: There may be local issues that arise in the community or city in which your congregation is located. Members can get hands-on experience with community organizers dedicated to resist an action by the government or a corporation that degrades the environment and that poses a threat to human health and well-being.
4. Eco-friendly Voting: There are many ways in which the congregation can provide information on the environmental records of candidates for public office and about pros and cons of referenda being voted on by the public. The League of Conservation Voters (at the national and local levels) is especially helpful in providing information on eco-justice issues and concerns that may assist members of Green Congregations in their voting decisions.
B. Promote care for creation in your community/city.
1. Publicity: Promote your commitment to care for creation through parish brochures, a section on the congregational website, and articles and reports in the parish newsletter. It will help to have a name and identity that generate interest, conversation, and perhaps duplicates your commitment to green your congregation.
2. Public events: Hold conferences and sponsor speakers who draw local pastors, members of other congregations, and members of the larger community in which the congregation is located. If you have an annual lecture or renewal or theological conference at your congregation, consider making care for creation the focus. Public workshops might focus on political issues or greening the congregation or making your home earth-friendly or greening businesses. Partner with other environmental organizations in planning such a workshop.
3. Displays: Sponsor a display of photographs or art depicting the impacts of global warming or portraying some human conditions resulting from our impact on the environment.
4. Publications/guidebooks: where there are interested members, prepare workbooks and guides for the greening of congregations. Take turns writing articles or letters for the local paper.
5. Multiply your impact: Consider partnering with one or more other churches in the process of greening. Or adopt another church as a way to assist them in initiating the greening process.
C. Network and cooperate :
1. Partner with other groups. Locate the environmental organizations in your area, either national ones or local community organizing groups. Network with them, engage them as speakers, cooperate with them to provide hands-on experience for parish members, and arrange to partner with them in sponsoring a speaker or conference.
2. Fair Trade products and Community Supported Agriculture. Purchase fair trade products where they are available such as products that are produced under good ecological conditions, that come with a commitment to give fair wages, and that seek to reduce the role of “middle-men.” Also, as a congregation, manage food needs as church or religious school with “Community Supported Agriculture”—so as to minimize transportation and to support local farmers, especially those growing organic food.
3. Offer support: Let other organizations know what you are doing and ask how you might participate in their mission.
4. Recognize outstanding efforts. Cooperate with other environmental organizations to give public honor to those folks in your community or your congregation who show special commitment and efforts on behalf of the Earth.
D. Green the Investment Portfolio .
1. Invest in the future of Earth community. Urge the endowment committee to invest your congregational endowment and other funds in social justice funds that include environmentally sound corporations and companies that serve the environment as their business. Many mutual funds and agencies now specialize in environmentally oriented investments.