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Spiritual Progress: Congregations Going Green

By Sean Gosiewski & Wanda Copeland
Congregations Caring for Creation (C3)

Congregations Caring for Creation (C3) is an interfaith network of more than 80 congregations that are making the active care of Creation integral to spiritual life and social justice in their congregation. C3/MNIPL is the Minnesota chapter of a national movement called Interfaith Power and Light (IPL).

There are many ways to encourage a congregation to become involved in actively caring for Creation and our natural environment around us through making this a part of a church’s curriculum. Many start by learning about global warming or other environmental issues as a matter of faith.Interested members often form a Creation Care Team and begin reading and discussing their faith tradition’s statements on creation care and environmental stewardship. Some congregations have hosted a movie night to educate their members on the challenges and solutions to environmental issues.

Often, the next step for Caring for Creation Teams is to ask congregation members to take action in their homes. Many congregations encourage their members to join in signing up for alternative energy utilities, purchase energy efficient appliances or reduce their waste at home. Some examples include, St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Minneapolis that has signed up more than 200 families to buy wind power from their local utility. Additionally, Plymouth Congregational, St. Joan of Arc, and the Basilica of St. Mary have signed up hundreds of households to reduce their energy (and carbon foot print) by 10% or more using an easy on-line tool called the Minnesota Energy Challenge. Each congregation’s total energy savings is tracked for everyone to view on this web site. Others are encouraging their members to bike, walk and carpool to worship services. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis encourages walking, biking and carpools on the 4th Sunday of each month while other congregations promote the Metro Commuter Challenge in May.

Church buildings themselves have undergone some extensive changes in an effort to become more energy efficient. Some have saved between 10 to 40% on their energy bills by following the recommendations given to them by a qualified energy auditor through Xcel ConservationWise.Other churches have gone to greater lengths. The St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church’s “green” Parish Center in Minneapolis, which opened in 2001, is a green building model of what can be accomplished when building decisions are guided by an overall philosophy of stewardship, economy and respect for the environment.

Forming a Creation Care Team

Many congregations are forming volunteer committees that integrate creation care into every part of the congregation’s life including worship, education, buildings and grounds, and social action. For help in forming a creation care team in your congregation please contact Rev. Wanda Copeland atC3/ MN IPL and view the resources below to get started! 

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church’s Creation Fair offering ways for youth to connect to the natural world to learn to care for all of its creatures.

Act Locally

Videos:

C3, c3mn.net

MPCA, pca.state.mn.us/oea/ee/learningcenter.cfm

Speakers:

Will Steger Foundation, globalwarming101.com

Fresh Energy, fresh-energy.org

Educational Resources:

Green Guardian Waste Reduction Campaign, Greenguardian.com/get_involved3.asp

Minnesota Energy Challenge, mnenergychallenge.org]

Metro Commuter Challenge, metrotransit.org/challenge

Green Power, http://proteus.pca.state.mn.us/oea/energy/greenpower.cfm

Xcel ConservationWise, xcelenergy.com

Congregations Going Green

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