A January editorial in EthicsDaily.com challenged moderate Baptists to take steps toward creating “green” churches and to share stories of what they are doing to help others follow their example. One Atlanta congregation recently took up the challenge.
After reading the editorial, Peachtree Baptist Church convened a committee of eight members to discuss strategies for connecting with median-age adults in the North Druid Hills/Emory neighborhoods.
“We all agreed that environmental issues are one of the top concerns of this age group in the community around our church,” church member Steve Vellines reported in an e-mail to EthicsDaily.com. “We also realized that our church needs to be much more proactive in being a steward of God’s creation.”
After a three-hour meeting on a Saturday, Vellines said, the group came away committed to helping Peachtree Baptist Church to becoming a “green” Baptist congregation. They began drafting a mission statement and developing strategies to be implemented over the next year. Strategies include:
–A series of Bible studies for church members and the community to explore biblical foundations of ecology for the earth and the spiritual component of “being green.”
–Lectures from leaders of the environmental movement to educate about environmental issues such as global warming, pollution and food and how we faith-based groups can make an positive impact regarding those issues.
–Asking pastors to emphasize creation care in sermons and pastoral prayers.
–Being host for events by outside groups for education about the best practices of recycling, household cleaning, composing, food choices, energy use and others.
–Event ideas like a Green Fair, organic farmers’ market and a 5K cleanup walk.
–Conducting a “green audit” of congregational practices, such as office administration, energy use and food preparation and the implementing recommendations of the audit.
–A vacation Bible school in 2008 focusing on care of God’s creation.
Vellines, whose wife, Karol, is minister to children and families at PeachtreeBaptistChurch, said this is new territory for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship-affiliated congregation. He invited other churches further along to pass on insights and/or suggestions about resources or speakers.
In his Jan. 8 editorial, Baptist Center for Ethics Executive Director Robert Parham said the problem for most moderate Baptists is not that they deny the evidence for global warming, but “moral sloth” causes them to do nothing about it.
Parham offered this seven-point plan of action:
“First, recognize the Bible as God’s green book. The Green Bible stakes out the divine imperative for earth care. Be mindful of the need to counter the misreading of the Bible that claims biblical dominion means exploitive domination.
“Second, challenge fellow congregants who are global-warming deniers. The choice is simple: Trust science-fiction writers or the National Academy of Science. Science isn’t what’s in doubt in the Christian community. What is in doubt is the Christian moral values of some Christians.
Third, show ‘An Inconvenient Truth‘ at your church, inviting the community to a viewing and discussion. Be sure to invite community officials to attend.
“Fourth, put global warming on the agenda of every moderate Baptist state convention and fellowship meeting, beginning with Bible study. Global warming damns the global poor in this life, the every people mission-sending societies claim they care about.
“Sixth, have your church establish a committee to run an environmental audit on energy conservation. Underscore that mission as a moral one, not simple one about saving money.
“Energy conservation matters. Shift from the old energy-gobbling incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs–bulbs that use 70 percent less energy than regular ones and last 10 times longer. Check out light bulbs.
“Seventh, share with EthicsDaily.com what your church is doing as an environmental steward. Your story could provide an example for others to follow.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.