The Conference Lives on in Area Churches
09/18/09 by Staff Writer
The conference on “Faith, Spirituality & Environmental Stewardship” may have ended May 31, but the spirit of the forum lives on in many of the churches that were represented at the event. In fact, the conference spawned a host of environmental programs and practices.
The Rev. Kristen Freeman of Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Greensboro is working with the Rev. Jan Brittain of Christ United Methodist Church to organize a task force on environmental stewardship in their district. At Mount Pisgah, congregants are examining ways they can be better stewards, focusing particularly on recycling.
Freeman returned recently from a three-week mission trip to Armenia, where recycling was not possible – a situation that was difficult for someone committed to environmental stewardship. “We had to drink bottled water, and in the more than 2 ½ weeks we were there, we probably had to throw away about 400 bottles,” she says. “I just wanted to take all the bottles home with me.”
The Rev. Bill Batterman of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Salisbury proposed a five-session Caring for Creation study to his church’s Christian Education Committee when he returned from the conference. A church dinner, which featured local produce purposely served on glass plates with silverware, saved on transportation costs, supported area farmers and discouraged waste.
“There’s a lot to do when it comes to the environment,” Batterman told the Salisbury Post’s Kathy Chaffin. “Everything from personal habits to legislation to trying to get companies and people and churches to change the way we do things. I sort of feel that with the things going on in the country, people are more concerned about gas for their cars than they are about air for their lungs or water for their bodies.
“I think we could probably live without gas in our cars, but I don’t think we can live very long without air for our lungs.”
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Salisbury initiated a Greening Committee that drew about 25 parishioners for its first meeting. Lillian Gascoigne notes that the church has already done an environmental audit and is working on an energy audit. This fall Rector Whayne Hougland and Dr. John Wear, director of the Center for the Environment, are leading a nine-week environmental stewardship class.
St. Luke’s is also considering the possibility of a community garden at some time in the future. Hougland told the Salisbury Post that it would serve multiple purposes: Participants can reconnect with the earth and with each other. “The Green Movement is such a wonderful thing,” Gascoigne says. “It’s about community building and caring for people as well as the environment.”
Missy Rankin of First United Methodist Church in Asheboro reports that congregants have started an Environmental Stewardship Team. They have contacted N.C. Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) to do an energy audit and are committed to implementing changes. The team has surveyed the membership to determine where individuals stand on environmental issues. They also plan to show and discuss a film from IPL.