Solar Panels Installed!

PeaceLutheran_solarPeace Lutheran Church in Bowling Green recently installed solar panels along the south side of their building –“they look great and they are operating great!” Using a web based application, the church can access productivity reports and view real time energy activity. Peace expects up to 25% utility savings to be applied toward other ministries!

 

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St. Casimir Church implements green infrastructure practices

St.Casimir_1-ResizedblogSt. Casimir Church, in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, received a Green Infrastructure Grant by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to implement green infrastructure practices on its property.

The grant will fund a variety of stormwater management practices installed at the church over the next several months. Those practices will include permeable pavers in the parking lot that will allow water from storm events to soak into the sandy ground at the church instead of flowing into the storm drains and bio retention areas behind the church and convent to allow the roof water to collect into basins and drain into the sandy soil instead of running off to the nearest sewer.

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Care for Creation: Get Involved

catholicConference_resizedIn anticipation of the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical regarding the environment, we’d like to spotlight some of the Catholic Care for Creation initiatives in Ohio.

Catholic teachings have always stressed the importance of care for the environment. The Catholic Conference of Ohio, which represents each Catholic diocese in the state, has an environmental stewardship campaign, Environmental Justice Program, and an environmental issues awareness website, Care for Creation. The programs aim to reflect the religious, stewardship, and moral values that are central to Catholic teachings and faith. All of the programs work to encourage involvement and issue awareness. Continue reading

First Unitarian is a solar Cool Congregation

UUofClevelandFirst Unitarian Church of Cleveland has been recognized as a Certified Cool Congregation by national Interfaith Power and Light. Driven by a common mandate to be good stewards of Creation, the first 20 Certified Cool Congregations averaged 42% greenhouse gas reductions, showing that where there’s a will, there’s a way. In announcing the first twenty congregations to receive this recognition, The Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, says, “These congregations are leading the way. They are putting their faith into action and bringing moral responsibility to the forefront of the movement to protect the climate.”

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Goodness Grows

CommonGround_July2013Common Ground Church Community is an Earth Care Congregation that was started by Steve Fortenberry. At first, it was a small home study group that was outreach oriented. During their house church stage there were approximately 10 people, but as the church grew Steve recognized the need for a new church development to fill the need for corporate worship, as well as the programming it could provide. In the fall of 2004, members were interested in purchasing property to build the Common Ground church. In 2005, Common Ground received their church charter and in 2006 purchased land in North Lima to make a place of their own. The faith community built their church on a 30-acre lot that was previously a garden center. They chose the site because they believed they could steward the site and create a blessing to the community. From this site Goodness Grows was formed, which, indeed, became an inspiration and a true blessing to the community.

Goodness Grows is a faith-based organization that works with community groups, congregations, workplaces, and individuals to help families “grow their way out of hunger and poverty.” Goodness Grows provides leadership and education to help create a healthier and sustainable community for future generations through agriculture. Steve and his faith community believe in caring for God’s creation and being good stewards of the earth, and their hard effort has paid off. In July 2007, Goodness Grows became their own separate 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Goodness Grows promotes local and organic agriculture rather than our conventional food distribution system. This creates high-value, healthier, and environmentally friendly food that the community can both appreciate and enjoy. This congregation, now about 80 worshiping regularly, has shown that they can have an impact.

Goodness Grows’ efforts have been well received by the local community and at the national level. Goodness Grows has completed range of projects—from community and school gardens to forming a community supported agriculture group that serves those with limited access to fresh food. Goodness Grows also has a Crop Grower Apprentice program which trains individuals to become agricultural entrepreneurs who can start their own self-sustaining farms. Goodness Grows’ hard work has won the organization multiple awards, and it has even been invited to local, regional, state, and national events.

Goodness Grows has been featured on TV, newspapers, and in Farm and Dairy. It has also been invited into several regional and state projects by Ohio State University. They have been invited to The White House for a USDA press event as well as a major summit in Washington D.C. to the Academy of Evangelical Scientists and Scholars. In 2012, Youngstown State University awarded Goodness Grows with a MLK Jr. Award for community service. Goodness Grows truly is an award winning organization that can be an incredible inspiration to not just the faith community, but to everyone.

To learn more about Common Ground Community Church or Goodness Grows please visit:

http://www.cgnl.net/
http://www.goodnessgrows4all.org/
http://www.pasafarming.org/get-involved/featured-member-testimonials/greg-bowman-goodness-grows
http://www.farmanddairy.com/news/urban-farm-goodness-grows/41371.html
Common Ground Church Community
2310 W. South Range Rd.
North Lima OH, 44452
(330) 549-9408

 

This Congregational Highlight was contributed by Richard Oldham, OSU student

 

Buried and Returned to the Forest

On June 21, 2012, EcoEternity LLC and Lutheran Outdoor Ministries in Ohio (LOMO) signed a contract to implement LakeSide EcoEternity Forest at LOMO’s Camp Luther. This forest is the second of its kind in Ohio, and seventh in the country.

Camp Luther's director, Corey Wagonfield, standing with one of the earmarked trees to serve as a memorial tree at the LakeSide EcoEternity Forest

Camp Luther’s director, Corey Wagonfield, standing with one of the earmarked trees to serve as a memorial tree at the LakeSide EcoEternity Forest

EcoEternity Forest, LLC, was started back in 2006 in White Stone, Va., by Jack Lowe and Axel Baudach with the intent of partnering with businesses and landowners to create these alternative burial forests. However, the idea of a memorial tree is not a new one. The concept for these trees has it roots in Europe, where Ueli Sauter, from Switzerland, founded the first “Friedwald”. In 2000, Mr. Baudach discovered the work of Sauter and began establishing EcoEternity Forests in Germany. In June 2006, Baudach and Lowe founded EcoEternity LLC with the intent to adapt the concept to American culture and laws. Since the founding of the organization, EcoEternity has been partnering with municipalities, churches, and private forest owners to plan and preserve their forest property for extended periods as a burial ground and implement these memorial trees.

When an individual passes away, should they choose to be buried in an EcoEternity Forest, their body is cremated, put into a biodegradable urn, and buried at the base of a chosen mature tree so that their body may be returned to the earth and assist in the growth of that tree. Continue reading

Environmental Values

ForestHills_May2013

Abundance Acres vegetable garden. Started in 2009

Since the late 1970’s, Forest Hill Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights has been working on energy conservation and environmental awareness. Starting out with a focus on energy efficiency in their building, the church has also developed environmental values. Forest Hill Church’s mission statement for Earth care is “Care of the Earth… is achieved through encouragement and education, enabling change within our individual lifestyle, church and greater community.” They focus on encouraging the individual all the way to working with the community as a whole.

Longtime member, David Hunter, has been improving the building’s energy efficiency for many years. He has been a pillar in the church’s efforts to conserve energy for the past 30-40 years, with a significant focus the past 10-12 years. In his opinion, the church’s most important success in terms of energy conservation has been reducing the church’s fuel usage by nearly one-third.

The sustainability goals that the Forest Hill Church members and staff have set for energy conservation and environmental awareness are extremely encouraging. These include goals ranging from developing an Earth Care Strategy to educational programs targeted at different age groups. The strategy helps to identify how to devote time and energy to expressing environmental values. The educational programs serve as an effective way to get the word out to those who are interested, but unsure as to where to start. The other goals that Forest Hill Church has developed are: examining recommendations for waste and reduction as well as recycling; implementing Earth Care programs into worship; and sharing their ideas and information with other organizations throughout neighboring communities.

Forest Hill Church has taken several different steps toward environmental sustainability through building improvements and by sharing the experience with others in their community. For instance, the church has done an outstanding job in improving their building “greenness” by installing new insulation, switching to more environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals, and even changing their lighting to 80% fluorescents. Forest Hill Church has also built a garden to help feed needy families in the community and share the greatness of what a garden can bring.

The work that Forest Hill Presbyterian Church has completed is received very well among the members of the church, encouraging a better understanding of the importance and values of the environment and energy conservation. Also, the community around Forest Hill Church is gaining knowledge and supporting the church through projects such as the church’s vegetable garden.

The dedication that Forest Hill Presbyterian Church displays to energy conservation and environmental work is a model for any faith based community. They hope to continue their work and educate others to do the same.

For more information about the church’s sustainability ministry, click here.

 This congregational highlight was contributed by Jordan Bernsdorf, OSU student

 

Mission 4:1 Earth

Mission41EarthThe United Church of Christ (UCC) is involving their church community locally and nationally, as well as reaching out across different religious communities, in order to successfully achieve Mission 4:1 Earth. Mission 4:1 Earth, which will occur for 50 days beginning  April 1, 2013, will involve three ways for people to be involved in environmental stewardship: 1) Planting 100,000 trees, 2) 1,000,000 hours of engaged Earth care, and 3) 100,000 advocacy letters for Earth care policies.  Participants will be able to track their progress on the UCC website, UCC.org. Reverend Ben Guess, Executive Minister of Local Church Ministries for the UCC, is striving to engage all 5100 congregations of the UCC to accomplish this mission. The UCC headquarters admit they have never conducted an event so large and for this long, but does expect that the religious community will step-up and achieve this mission.

Church members and others have already expressed interest in getting involved in Mission 4:1 Earth via email and phone calls. UCC recently partnered with the Arbor Day foundation to allow all members to send a gift of a tree anywhere in the world to fulfill their tree planting initiative. This environmentally-focused mission stemmed from the UCC conferences, which consists of various congregations coming together to discuss resolutions and policies that align with the UCC’s mission. Currently, UCC’s four main initiatives include food security, literacy improvements, building community relations, and environmental justice.

Mission 4:1 Earth is considered a continuing resolution from a prior UCC event, Mission 1, which was instigated by Reverend Guess. Mission 1 was the first time all the local schools and churches collaborated to raise money to reduce food insecurity in Africa. Mission 1, much like Mission 4:1 Earth, allowed members to write advocacy letters to representatives and created a platform for different churches to collaborate to accomplish one, 11-day mission. This type of community engagement set the stage for Mission 4:1 Earth, which will involve 50 days and many more ways to engage and participate. According to Reverend Guess, the real challenge for Mission 4:1 Earth will be to “ignite the flame” for other congregations that are less involved to create an atmosphere conducive to environmental justice issues.

According to Anthony Moujaes, United Church News Coordinator, Mission 4:1 Earth expects great success by their approach and ability to engage all people. Community actions, like biking to work, turning off all lights when you leave, and other obtainable goals, will all count as hours that contribute to environmental care. Each week during mass, the members will fill out a sheet with their documented hours of service towards the mission.

In all, UCC’s mission brings to life ways in which all people can get involved to promote environmental stewardship and justice. The timeliness of the event, 50 days directly following Easter Sunday, may also increase members’ awareness and motivation to participate. The intended outcome of the mission is to create noticeable change in church communities to become environmental justice leaders.

For more information: http://www.ucc.org/earth/

Contributed by Jackie Nester, OSU student

Sacred Earth

firstCongUCC_Columbus_3Environmental stewardship at The First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, located in Columbus, first got started when global warming was just beginning to be taken seriously.  “On April 17, 2007, at the monthly meeting of the Missions Commission, a sub-committee of eight members was formed to engage the congregation in environmental stewardship of the earth,” says Dawn George, the lead committee member. The committee decided to name itself Sacred Earth. The first project of the committee was to raise awareness about ways each person can conserve the earth’s resources. The next action was to begin selling Fair Trade Products through the United Church of Christ Coffee Project.

Sacred Earth has had a big impact on the congregation by raising money for improvements to the 75-year old building, such as replacing electrical ballasts. The work of this committee has been received well from the people in this faith community. Sacred Earth members continue to educate about ways to be involved in environmental issues.

A significant success of Sacred Earth, with the help of the minister, is ensuring that the environmental message is spoken about more publicly. Also, the improvements in the building have helped to reduce their carbon footprint. Recently, Sacred Earth was “…offered trees through the Arbor Day Foundation; worked with our minister in offering Pet Blessings; provided gift baskets during the holidays with coffees, teas, chocolates; and more.” Sacred Earth has held dinners and movie nights around an environmental issue, encouraging discussion and building awareness. Also, recycling is increasing throughout the church.

Beginning on April 1st and lasting through Pentecost, The First Congregational UCC will be a part of the United Church of Christ event called Mission 4:1 Earth. There will be multiple educational workshops about different environmental issues, as well as other information about animal rights, gardening, food shortage/hunger and an over-all summary with lots of handouts. Sacred Earth will be involved in encouraging members to clean a neighborhood, to plant trees, and to write legislators regarding environmental issues.

See here for more information about Mission 4:1 Earth.

Sacred Earth at The First Congregational UCC has led the way in environmental stewardship. As a member of Sacred Earth, Patricia Patterson, says, “Members of Sacred Earth know that every little bit helps.”

The First Congregational Church
United Church of Christ
444 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215-3885
http://www.first-church.org
Patricia Paterson: First Congregational Church planning team and member of Sacred Earth
Dawn George: Lead Sacred Earth member

This Congregational Highlight is contributed by Jessica Signoracci, OSU student