Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Church and Environmentalism

On July 21, the York Center Church of the Brethren (located near Lombard, IL) held their first Green Fair. The idea for the event is connected to the church’s goal of reducing total carbon emissions by 80% in building and congregational use by the year 2050. The purpose of the fair was to invite faith communities in the Western Chicago area and provide discussion on ways to reduce the impact our lifestyles take on the environment. Five presenters were invited to give information and answer questions that address the most important environmental concerns pressing faith communities.

I was invited to present as a representative of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA). The organization is a non-profit coalition of Illinois residents who seek to inform and discuss ways that renewable energy and sustainable technology can become implemented in Illinois. Since 2001, they have held their own fair in August at the Ogle County Fairgrounds and more information is posted on our church’s bulletin board.

The sustainable choices we make in the faith community are a part of a growing ministry movement known as eco-stewardship. Cleaning trash up alongside our roads and Rural Life Sunday are the most familiar actions our church currently takes, so isn’t anything totally new. What is new is a broader focus on how congregations can seek to care for creation. York Center is one of many churches that are exploring ways to work in this ministry. I am also becoming interested because of my interests in sustainable energy.

Now what does sustainability mean? Generally speaking, it is the means that our lifestyle choices will ultimately have the least impact on our surroundings both now and in future generations. One way this can be done is by using renewable energy to power our homes and vehicles (examples include solar, wind, and biofuels). It can also include the ways you get your food and clothing.

In the next issue of the church newsletter I will reflect more on the importance of having an eco-steward ministry. Stay tuned.

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