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Green Churches honored by NCC

Washington, July 2, 2008 – The Manassas Church of the Brethren is passing along the values of Creation Care to the next generation of people of faith, while St. Marks Presbyterian Church was named the Audubon Society’s “Greenest in the Nation.

These are just two examples of winners of the Great Green Congregations contest sponsored by the Eco-Justice Program of the National Council of Churches.

In May, the call went out for stories to be submitted of what local congregations were doing across the country to protect God’s Creation.  The response included more than 50 submissions, covering a wide spectrum of activities including Children’s Ministry, Green Building, Food and Faith, Energy Conservation, Alternative Transportation, Recycling, Environmental Justice, and Comprehensive Program, with the winner of each category receiving a $500 grant to continue their work. To view a collection of the stories submitted, visit www.nccecojustice.org.

“Our ministry as the NCC isn’t possible without the work of local churches,” says Jordan Blevins, Assistant Director of the Eco-Justice Program. “The witness of these congregations day in and day out give an illustration of the faith community’s ability to live in a sustainable way with God’s Creation.” 

The Manassas Church of the Brethren in Manassas, Virginia, is the winner of the Children’s Ministry category, with their Junior BUGS program, imparting the message of Creation Care to the children of their congregation.

The Madison Christian Community, an ecumenical partnership between Advent Lutheran Church  and the Community of Hope  in Madison, Wisconsin, won the Food and Faith category for their restorative justice gardening, reaching out to inmates in local prisons to teach horticulture.

In the Green Building Category, St. Marks Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California, was recognized as the Audubon Society’s ‘Greenest in the Nation’, and built their new building with LEED standards in mind. For the Energy Conservation category, the award goes to First Grace United Methodist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana, for their work to conserve energy in their rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

"One of the most at-risk cities for the effects of global warming is New Orleans, and one of the biggest contributors is energy usage,” says Sarah Fleming, one of the church volunteers.

Kern Road Mennonite Church, in South Bend, Indiana, has started the tradition of riding bikes to church, earning them the award in the Alternative Transportation category. “When one person starts something like this then the next thing you know you have a whole group of people,” said Deanna Waggy, a church member. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, All People’s Church has reclaimed a garden in an urban community, earning them the award in the Environmental Justice category.

For the Recycling category, Wesley United Methodist Church in Yakima, Washington, has kept more than 5 million pounds of trash out of the landfill through their community recycling program. And in the Comprehensive Program category, Maryland Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland, has, among other activities, reclaimed the wooded area around the church, and named environmental stewardship as a priority in everything the church does. “As our reputation for creation care grows, so has our congregation, which now attracts members from a 20-mile radius,” said Bill Breaky, a church member. The church is currently preparing to install beehives at the rear of the woods. According to Breaky, “We look forward to the day when we can give jars of honey to visitors.”

The National Council of Churches, representing 35 communions and 100,000 congregations, has focused on creation care for more than 30 years. Among the highlights of the Council’s eco-justice work are education and worship resources on a variety of environmental issues, available at www.nccecojustice.org


NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228, NCCnews@ncccusa.org


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