Caring for Creation in Your Faith Community
As Christians, we are keenly aware that creation is not merely a treasure house of resources for our use. Instead, we see creation as filled with God’s presence, and we see our role as responsible stewards and caretakers of all that God has created. A common question for congregations, schools and agencies is how they can best care for creation as an integral part of their activities. With many congregations already feeling overloaded with just trying to continue their existing operations, adding a creation care program can seem too difficult.
Here are some suggestions for how you can start a creation care program without becoming overwhelmed. These steps are based on a Canadian initiative called “Greening Your Church” available at https://creationcare.teachable.com/p/10-steps-to-greening-your-church. You don’t need to do these steps in any particular order – every faith community will be different.
- Hold a Creation Care Sunday Service: You might use the Season of Creation resources on the LCANZ’s Worship Planning Page. During the service, ask for any volunteers who’d like to join a creation care Green Team. You can run this service any time of the year, for example at your Harvest Thanksgiving service. Maybe hold your service outdoors.
- Establish a “Green Team”: Find a team of interested champions. Young people see creation care as a major issue for their future, gardeners already have a deep appreciation of the beauty of creation, and engineers like to solve problems. They all make good team members.
- Promote Green Tips: Keep creation care visible as an element of congregational life by including “green tips” in your weekly bulletin. There are lots of these on the Internet.
- Start with a First Project: The Green Team should start with one project that is impactful but not overly ambitious. This might be a film night, a workshop, or a fundraising campaign to replace disposable cups with reusable cups and a dishwasher.
- Develop an Environmental Policy: The Green Team can develop some guidelines for how the congregation will operate more sustainably. It might not be possible to do everything at once, but an aspirational policy is a good start. Get the policy endorsed by the Church Council and also present it at the church AGM.
- Develop an Action Plan: An action plan looks at achievable steps to start implementing the environmental policy. You might consider applying, as a congregation, for a 5-leaf Eco-Award. This is an Australian initiative that provides actions to undertake over a year or so, with a certificate at the end. You could be the first Lutheran recipient of an award!
- Education: As part of the action plan, include some educational activities for the congregation – maybe film nights, workshops or Bible studies.
- Outreach: Caring for creation is something that the whole community is interested in, so encourage your congregation to join in with local practical community initiatives. For example, get your congregation involved in Clean Up Australia Day.
- Communicate Good News: Encourage your congregation by sharing good news stories about what you are doing through your bulletin, through your social media pages, and at your church meetings.
- Celebrate Often: Enjoy God’s good creation and celebrate fellowship together as you care for creation. Take opportunities to spend time with each other simply enjoying God’s beautiful creation in your neighbourhood. Creation care should be a joy, not a burden!