Saint James Accepted into the GreenFaith Certification Program
As Christians, we are all called to foster and conserve God's Creation. In keeping with that commitment, Saint James is excited to announce its acceptance into the GreenFaith Certification Program, the country's only interfaith environmental certification program for houses of worship. The program is designed to help churches, synagogues, mosques and temples earn recognition as environmental leaders by carrying out more than two dozen environmental activities over two years.
"This program is a challenging, important way for houses of worship to engage environmental issues," said the Rev. Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith's Executive Director. "As Saint James Episcopal Church goes through the program, its members will experience the transformation that comes from sharing a religious commitment to Creation."
Over the two years, participating congregations offer eco-themed worship services, religious education classes on the environment, as well as interfaith and intergenerational activities. They must 'green' their own facility and educate their members in such topics as energy conservation, waste reduction, "green" cleaning and sustainable food. In addition, they educate their members about environmental justice issues and participate in environmental advocacy initiatives.
Saint James is committed to living out 'green values' in everything we do, from our preaching and education to the operation of our building. To highlight this responsibility, Saint James recently installed new insulation in the Nave roof, with plans soon to do the same in the crawl space, both of which are expected to reduce energy bills significantly.
"The GreenFaith endeavors are designed to help us chronicle what we are currently doing to preserve and encourage better care of God's amazing Creation through our efforts, discernment and advocacy," says Deacon Donna Gleaves, who is a member of Saint James' Green Team. "As an integral congregation in Bozeman and surrounding areas, we are passionate about taking steps toward greater stewardship of our resources, while modeling it for the greater community."
GreenFaith provides extensive support to participating institutions through a special website housing more than 200 resources, six free webinars, and an on-line community where participants share strategies and successes. GreenFaith staff and program mentors guide participants through the program, providing one-on-one feedback and assistance. When houses of worship complete the requirements, GreenFaith recognizes them as GreenFaith Sanctuaries.
"From involving new members to offering faith-based environmental leadership to reducing operating expenses, houses of worship achieve big results through the Program," describes Stacey Kennealy, Program Director. "We are excited to work with Saint James Episcopal Church to help them reach their potential as a steward of creation."
Saint James is deeply interested in the GreenFaith Certification Program because the initiatives will add a very important component to our church mission and vision; Environmental Stewardship is part of our holistic Christian responsibility. GreenFaith is in line with our desire to reflect God's love for nature and a Christian witness of faithful and responsible stewardship of our resources. Through greening our worship facility we hope to revive, inspire, and educate our community so that we can all be a part of restoring the earth for present and future generations.
Founded in 1992, GreenFaith is an interfaith environmental coalition which inspires, educates and mobilizes people of diverse religious backgrounds as environmental leaders (www.greenfaith.org). Through a range of innovative programs, from eco-themed worship services and religious education to "green" facility management and environmental justice advocacy, GreenFaith helps congregations put their beliefs into action for the Earth.
During the next two years, we will examine the theological roots of our connection with the earth. We will be looking at our use of resources at the church and in our homes. These areas will include our use of energy, water, toxic substances, food, waste generation, landscaping and grounds maintenance, and transportation. We will try to lessen our impact on the environment. We also will be learning about environmental impacts in our region and will seek to support environmental justice.
Saint James' effort is led by a "Green Team" of 6 people who represent many different constituencies of the Church. However, the program is a broad-based effort with room for many hands. You are so welcome to participate - we hope that you will, either by choosing an area of interest - like energy, food, waste and recycling or any of the others listed above or issues of environmental justice in our area, our nation or the world. There will be programs and activities for adults and children of (almost!) all ages.
Please look in the weekly newsletter for "Eco-Tips" to increase your thinking and awareness of the environmental impacts of our daily activities. Also look for the GreenFaith logo for periodic reports of our progress and activities you can join.
If you would like to learn more about GreenFaith and Saint James' involvement in the program, please contact Susan Foster, Chairperson, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 582-0531 (cell).