As a follow up to the emphasis of the 2009 Florida Annual Conference, Transforming the World by Cherishing the Creation, a task team was formed for the conference. This team, led by Mr. Mark Johnson, has developed a program for local churches to become engaged in ecological stewardship.
The Rev. Chuck Morgan researched, designed, and presented the church recognition program in which participating churches would develop a "Green Team." This team plans activities in four areas. Environmental Witness involves teaching, preaching, and making resolutions. Environmental Education involves purchasing resources for the church library, writing newsletter articles, sponsoring an environmental fair, and conducting a simple environmental audit of the church facilities. Environmental Services involves installing water saving devices, planting native trees and shrubs, recycling and reusing, and directing ecological clean-up. Environmental Action involves providing information about environmental justice issues, supporting a compact fluorescent lightbulb project ,and developing a plan for disposal of the church's household hazardous waste and toxic materials. Churches which implement at least one activity in each of these four areas will receive a bronze recognition; higher levels of activity will receive silver, gold, or platinum recognitions.
The task team has also developed a list of speakers who are available to speak in local churches or districts on a variety of subjects related to Christian ecological responsibility. To obtain a speaker, contact Tammy Fisher email@example.com.
The task team has just begun to develop its web page on the conference website.
I discover a lot of receptivity in local churches to theological teaching about ecological responsibility and information about better practices for individuals, families and churches. Especially as churches mature in their theological awareness, and they realize that we are called to right relationships in four areas of life--self, others, the natural world, and God--then they want their local church to start doing something that emphasizes our calling to be faithful in our relationship with the natural world. Now we have an active Conference Creation Care Task Team to assist local churches in developing this dimension of their life and witness.
More and more annual conferences have some team working on this ministry of ecological stewardship, and they are beginning to connect to one another as a kind of movement in the church. To find out more about the Florida Conference Creation Care Task Team, contact Melinda Trotti firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are also very fortunate that a clergy member of the Florida Conference, the Rev. Andy Bell, has been designated as the new Director of the Sunshine State Interfaith Power & Light, which is affliated with the national Interfaith Power & Light. This is an interfaith organization which works with people of all faiths to stregthen their education and advocacy for care of God's creation. To find out more, contact www.Sunshinestateipl.org.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury of the Anglican Church, George Carey, once preached a sermon on the question, Is God Green? He concluded his sermon with the following:
"So to the question: Is God green? the answer must be an emphatic and joyful 'yes': greener than you or I will ever be! He calls us all to that relationship of stewardship which has been our calling ever since homo sapiens tended that first field. A mature Christian is in no doubt that God's concern for this world is greater than ours. He who valued life so much to enter it in the form of a human person must be committed to its survival. It is in the life and fragrance of that person, Jesus of Nazareth, that we have a pattern of care and love for all things which can be the basis for a discipleship that takes in a holistic approach to life. " (I Believe. Morehouse Publishing, 1991, Pp. 56-57)