How to Green Your Congregation
Are you looking to find ways to engage your faith community in stewardship of the planet? We have put together this guide to help individuals who have an interest in greening their congregation get started in assembling a creation care committee in their community. The following guide contains tried and true actions that will provide you sound first steps on your way to putting creation care on the agenda at your congregation.
Step 1 – Find Like-Minded People
Going it alone on a new idea is never as rewarding or productive as having a group of people who share your commitment for caring for the planet. Have conversations with people to find other individuals who have a similar concern for the environment
Step 2 – Learn the Requirements for Starting a Committee in your Congregation
Often time there will be no requirements and all you need to do to start your new committee is to make a listing in the bulletin or newsletter or make and announcement at Sunday service. Some congregations have more complicated methods for creating a committee and you may need to complete additional steps.
Another option is to become a subcommittee to another group. Many congregations do their earth stewardship through their Social Concerns or Ministry committees.
A third option is to hold informal meetings at your house or a coffee shops.
Don’t be discouraged…
…if you run into some opposition! Some congregation leaders are intimidated about a group that may cause them to rethink the way they are doing things and may be worried that you will embarrass them for having done things “wrong” in the past.
Step 4 – Call a Meeting
Once your committee is created call a meeting to discuss ideas and share opinions and experiences with one another. Starting small is a good way to test the waters at a congregation that is starting out on matter of creation care before you take on the big issues.
Here are some suggestions on ways to make your meetings productive and successful:
– Allow for time to share. Many people like having others to talk to about this subject.
– Include a prayer. Keeping the faith component is a nourishing part of creation care.
– Elect a leader to send agendas, communicate ideas and information to everyone and include announcements in the bulletin or newsletter.
– Have someone to keep notes so that you won’t have to start from scratch every time.
– Hold the meetings at regular intervals so that people can plan ahead.
– Hold the meetings at a central location or at a time (before or after worship) when people are already together in order to reduce our impact on creation.
– Find opportunities to reach out to the surrounding community.
– Track your accomplishments and share them within the committee and with the broader congregation. This can help set a good tone by leading through example
– Include “green tips” in the bulletin or newsletter for community members. You can find great suggestions on our 25 Steps Under $25 page.
– Encourage the pastor, rabbi or imam to preach about creation at workshop. Show them sample sermons.
– Find ways to include creation care in the worship on special occasions, e.g. Earth Day, Hanukkah, Advent, Feast of St. Francis, etc.
Step 5 – Plan an Event
After your committee is established is a good time to schedule an event around earth stewardship to reach out to the rest of your community. An event can be a screening of a movie that provokes people on ideas of creation care, a workshop to discuss the effects of fossil fuel energy systems on people’s health or your can invite a speaker to talk about their experiences with faith and stewardship.
It is best to schedule event around times when congregation members will already be gathered such as after service or around the time of a weekly study session.
Step 6 – Call Kentucky IPL
Whether you are just starting your committee or planning an event we are happy to offer the help and resources you need to get going. Kentucky IPL offers a wide mix of workshops and events free of charge to help you engage your community in creation care.