On December 1, 2010, PC(USA) Environmental Ministries certified our church as an Earth Care Congregation, the first in the Presbytery of Western North Carolina. Earth Care Congregation (ECC) churches take the “Earth Care Pledge” and complete creation care activities and projects in the fields of worship, education, facilities and outreach. There are now 59 certified ECC churches in the country.
The ECC program is not a one-time award but is designed to be sustainable – continuous actions to lessen our impact on God’s earth and maintain it for future generations. ECC churches may apply for recertification on their anniversary date and we are in the process of doing that now. We are repeating the same audit we took when first certified to see what progress we have made in the last year.
Our church continued and expanded many of the practices started previously such as extensive recycling, locally grown flowers in the sanctuary, and use of energy-efficient light bulbs. New in the past year were the many activities associated with our Earth Day observance on May 1: guest earth care speakers, youth recycling and solid waste audits, purchase of locally grown food, a nature walk along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the French Broad River clean-up.
Our selection as a Greener Pastor Church and having Maura Farver as our expert intern moved our efforts forward. An ABCCM invitation to hire their young, low-income Green Jobs-trained workers to conduct home energy audits, and a long-running faith development class on earth care led by D’Etta and Neil Leach involved individuals in the congregation in personal actions.
To stay on the sustainability track, we will be identifying actions to complete for our recertification in 2012. In addition to continuing what we are doing now, we will finish our 2011 plans to develop a memorial tree/shrub program and recommend a specific solar installation to session.
We are constantly looking for new ideas and new energy. If you are interested in being involved in earth care at FPC or want to join the Creation Care Task Force, contact Jane Laping 828-277-7342 or firstname.lastname@example.org.