One of humankind’s most important responsibilities is stewardship of God’s Earth, “that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory” (Prayers of the People, Form IV, Rite II, Book of Common Prayer). How do you start a parish committee charged with promoting and nurturing “the just and proper use” of creation?
Find out what your parish’s procedures are for starting a committee.
- Speak to the rector, wardens or vestry members about any policies and procedures that should be followed.
Think about where such a committee may fit best in the governance structure and ministries of your parish.
- If your parish has a committee focused on buildings and grounds, and/or a property manager, what would their relationship be to the new environmental committee?
- Would they be separate entities?
- Would one be a subcommittee of the other?
Look for allies to help with the work of getting started.
- Church leadership may be more open to considering an idea that has the support of many rather than the support of a few.
- Environmental stewardship is a topic that can unite many constituencies of all ages. We all live downstream from others; we all have a stake in the welfare of “this fragile earth, our island home” (Eucharistic Prayer C, Book of Common Prayer).
Think about mission.
- What is your committee’s mission going to be? It will be important to articulate clearly the connections between leading a God-centered life and making wise but perhaps challenging and inconvenient environmental choices.
- Remember the three-legged stool of Anglicanism: Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. Think about how your mission can honor each.
Look for resources to help in starting and maintaining your committee.
- Many resources are available through the Maryland Diocese’s GreenGrace web site.
- Explore what other churches have done and how they’ve done it.
- Explore other related resources such as:
Once started, give yourself some immediate victories.
- Look for some tangible progress that can be had without too much effort, to help get the ball rolling with your committee.
- Greening coffee hour: recycling, using fair-trade coffee (e.g., Bishops Blend from Episcopal Relief and Development), etc.
- Switching to LED or other low energy light bulbs.
- Organizing a youth group volunteer effort at a local animal shelter.
- Switching electricity providers to have the church run on green energy.
- Communicate: make sure your congregation knows what you are doing and how they can follow similar practices at home.
- Use the parish bulletin, email, posters, parish web site, etc. to get your message out.