Chapel of the Cross’s Environmental Stewardship Committee was formed in 2002 in response to the concerns of parishioners regarding threats to our environment, especially climate change, and the understanding that we as Christians believe that we are called to be good stewards of God’s creation. The committee’s goals and activities are summarized in this statement: “Believing all creation is interconnected and a gift of God to us, we commit to take an active and holistic approach to environmental stewardship through education, service, and sustainable practices.”
Educational activities have included monthly articles in the parish newsletter, environmental green tips for sustainable practices in the weekly bulletin, hosting Sunday morning lectures on environmental issues by university faculty, NCIPL speakers, and other authorities, day-long conferences at the church with group discussions, organized retreats at nearby centers, field trips to learn about good environmental practices such as using solar energy technologies and sustainable agriculture, and a unique “fast from carbon” for a Lenten season. On the Sunday before the beginning of Lent and the first Sunday of Lent in 2007, the committee hosted computer stations where parishioners were invited to measure their “carbon footprints”, learn about ways to reduce those emissions of greenhouse gases (predominately carbon dioxide), and make pledges to take actions that would result in actual reductions.
Service activities have included partnership with the Social Ministry Committee to cut and deliver firewood to needy families who rely on wood to heat their homes, distributing low-flow shower heads and compact fluorescent bulbs to parishioners, participation in a local rally to focus attention on the need to take seriously the issue of climate change, encouraging the use of locally-grown food at the Fall Parish Barbeque, assisting in the annual Blessing of the Animals service, and working for improved energy usage and reduced waste for construction of the new church addition. Although the LEED certification process was too costly, we anticipate the new addition would meet the criteria for LEED Silver status.
Sustainable practices have included leading the parish to recycle waste, working to bring shade-grown, organic, fair-trade coffee in liquid concentrate form for use in the church coffee machine, working for electronic distribution of our newsletter to save paper, and supported efforts to make the Pentecostal Picnic waste free one year. We felt successful when our collective efforts resulted in 90% of the “trash” was either composted or recycled.
-Written by Chapel of the Cross’s Environmental Stewardship Committee