Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Celebrate Earth Day at your faith community!

Greening Sacred Spaces Waterloo/Wellington/Dufferin Regions that gives ideas what churches can do on Earth Day.

"April 22 is Earth Day around the world. Consider ways that you can incorporate concern for the environment into your service and educational or study circles on one of your holy days around Earth Day. Continue your new habits throughout the year!

a) Reflection: Incorporate concerns for creation in faith practices and worship
b) Education
c) Action
d) Green your Sacred Space
e) Design an inter-generational educational hour or event

a) Reflection: Incorporate concerns for creation in faith practices and worship

• prayers for restoring the earth and preventing degradation (ie Climate Change)
• music to celebrate the earth and inspire individuals to action
• meditation, sermon, or discussion during worship to reflect on the earth

b) Education
• Invite your members to walk, bike, use public transportation (contact Grand River Transit for routes and schedules), or carpool to your faith community
• Place announcements for environmentally-related events in your bulletin or newsletter and invite others to join you
• Encourage the use of reusable cups/plates/etc. at social gatherings
• Organize environmentally-themed movies or other discussion topics
• Invite speakers to speak on environmentally-related topics (water conservation, alternative transportation, recycling, composting, eating locally-grown food)
• Information table/display/bulletin board or web-page at your faith community

c) Action

• Deliver educational workshops, events, liturgies to introduce eco-spiritual issues
o Greening Sacred Spaces workshop or Energy Action Planner available through Faith & the Common Good website
• Join or work with other environmental organizations (see ‘Resources’, below)
• Serve locally-grown foods if you have fellowship meals (see ‘Resources’, below)
• Sell compact florescent lights or other green products
• Get government and corporations to become more green through:
o letter writing or petitions
o submit news articles, opinion pieces or write to the editor
• Start a composting and/or recycling program
• Designate your parking lot and drop-off/pick-up area a ‘No Idling’ zone (see ‘Resources’, below)
• Book the Yellow Fish Road Program (see ‘Resources’, below)
• Develop long-term strategies such as environmental/energy audits, retrofits, renovations, adopting green policies, and green investment

d) Greening your Sacred Space (GSS)
Please see the website for inspiring projects!

• Have an energy audit of your faith building(s). (see REEP, ‘Resouces’, below)
• Establish and prioritize your building’s needs - determine weaknesses & opportunities
• Develop a budget, understand payback of green investments
• Research and secure funding sources
• Establish providers for technical equipment and services
• Set timelines and goals and develop a system for tracking your savings
• Announce and celebrate each success

e) Design an inter-generational educational/study hour or environmental event

Seniors, toddlers and everyone in between can participate in any one (or a few!) centres designed to engage, teach and inspire people about environmental issues. Centre leaders can be members of your congregation, or invited speakers/facilitators from local environmental groups (see ‘Resources’, below). Some of the ideas mentioned in sections a), b), c) and d) can be incorporated into your centres.

Some centre ideas could be:

Outdoor ideas:

• A nature walk in the neighbourhood surrounding your faith community (this could also be done in a park or natural area close to your building)
• Book the Yellow Fish program (see ‘Resources’, below)
• Organize a litter pick-up on your property, or in the vicinity around your faith community’s property
• Start or continue a gardening project at your faith community, or in your neighbourhood

Indoor ideas:

• Story hour: featuring books from your faith community’s library, or your local library (book suggestions: The Lorax (Dr. Seuss), Dear children of the earth: a letter from home (Schim Schimmel); search your library collection for ‘environment’, ‘environmental protection’, ‘ecology’
• Music – choose music that celebrates the earth
• Eco-craft – choose crafts that have a seasonal theme (such as planting beans), use natural materials (eg. pinecones, branches, rocks), or recycled materials; design signs for your faith community’s building, such as ‘please turn off the lights when you leave this room’ (to be placed by each light switch), posters instructing what to/what not to compost (to be placed on the wall in the kitchen, and on the compost collection container)
• Environmental games – ask the camp counsellors in your youth group (or former camp counsellors!) to lead community-building, cooperative or nature-themed games
• If people in your faith community are part of a green bin/organic collection program, teach them how to fold green bin liners out of newspapers (see and click on ‘green bin’)
• A snack (featuring locally-made or seasonal foods...)

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