I recently preached a sermon on environmental stewardship based on the familiar John 3:16 passage.

If we replace the English word “world” with the original Greek, we learn that: “For God so loved the cosmos that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the cosmos to condemn the cosmos; but that the cosmos through him might be saved.”

Jesus’ mission and plan is to save the entire created order from evil and sin. Just as we are called to rescue individuals from the destructive elements of evil and sin, so too are we called to witness to Jesus’ wider mission by doing our part to rescue the earth from the destructive elements of evil and sin.”

Convinced that being good stewards of the planet is great way to witness to our belief in the God of the cosmos, First Baptist, led by its Environmental Stewardship Committee, is learning to practice what it preaches.

Since the fall of 2007 the Environmental Stewardship Committee led the church to:

–View the video “Kilowatt Ours,” which not only talks about caring for the earth but features the southeast United States.

–Join the EPA’s Energy Star Cooperating Congregation network.

–Add about a dozen recycling boxes around the church.

–Begin the process of replacing all incandescent bulbs at church with fluorescent ones.

–Ensure that the current building renovation plan includes energy efficiency as a primary goal.

–Begin a campaign to encourage the use of cloth shopping bags. We purchased cloth bags and bags made of recycled bottles. We had the church logo imprinted on all the bags along with the slogan “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”

To make the effort fun we began a little contest. Anytime a church member “catches” another church member in a store with reusable bags they are to write their name on a form and put it in a designated bag at the church. Once a month we draw a name out of the bag and give that person a gift card. The local grocery store clerks have become so accustomed to seeing the First Baptist bags that they grin and say, “Here’s another one” when a church member shops there.

Some future goals are:

–To have a “Green Clean” day at church wherein we clean the church using only green cleaning supplies. This will be a way to do spring cleaning at church while also educating folk on green products.

–To work toward recycling more as a church than we throw away.

–To begin a church composting project. The plan to make this one fun is to either sell or give away the dirt we make and call it “Holy Ground.”

Page Carroll, chair of the Environmental Stewardship Committee, says, “We view caring for creation as an important way we can fulfill our purpose as witnesses for Christ.”

Courtney Krueger is pastor of First Baptist Church of Pendleton, S.C.

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