In celebration of Earth Day 2021, are pleased to share the following Greening Congregation Policy and Guidelines for St. Mark’s Lutheran Church by the Narrows that was adopted by our Church Council on April 20, 2021.

As people created in the image of God, we affirm the sacredness of all that God has made and the calling we have to be faithful stewards who live in harmony with creation. In our striving to live out this calling, we commit to the following practices and activities in worship, education, advocacy, community engagement, and the greening of our buildings and grounds.

Throughout the Church year, we will address the call to be faithful stewards who live in harmony with creation through our proclamation of the Word, our sharing of the sacraments, our selection of songs and special music for worship, our prayers of the people, and our openness to liturgical opportunities such as the “Season of Creation.” We will also seek opportunities, both virtually and in person, to bring worship outdoors into the great cathedral of earth, sea, and sky.

In our faith formation programs for people of all ages, we will include opportunities which recognize and explore the intimate relationship between faith and God’s creation. This will be done through thoughtfully chosen curriculum for children, youth, and adults and learning opportunities such as forums, discussion groups, Bible studies, retreats, film and book discussions, volunteer and mission opportunities, and outdoor adventures.

Recognizing that advocacy is the caring act of citizenship by people of faith on behalf of God’s created world, we will stand in protection of God’s sacred creation and of creatures with no voice. We will stand, too, in solidarity with people whose lives are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation because of poverty and racism, and with future generations whose voices are not yet raised. In our efforts, we will engage in advocacy at all levels of the social and political process (local, state, and national) and we will strive to learn and to be informed so that we might do this work effectively.

Greening our congregation is vitally important, but it is equally important to extend this into the communities where we live and into the choices and activities of our daily lives. We commit to sharing our experiences and to reaching out to neighbors beyond our congregation through events and activities that affirm our common calling to care for each other and for all creation. In an effort to reduce the amount of energy used for travel, we will promote and encourage carpooling, walking, biking, the use of public transportation whenever possible, and the consideration of carbon offsetting when traveling by air.

In order to live more lightly upon the earth, we will work together to green our buildings and grounds by taking steps to shrink our carbon footprint (the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by the Church’s activities), to ensure that energy is used efficiently, to pursue the increased use of renewable energy, to use water efficiently and with care, to prioritize drought tolerant and native plants in landscaping, to avoid the use of products with toxic chemicals which enter the drainage system, to reduce the use of paper, to recycle whenever possible, and to reduce our production of material waste.

As we pursue these greening congregation efforts, we will be faithful stewards of the financial resources we have as a faith community. We commit to using these resources in ways that strengthen and sustain the overall mission we have to support each other, to love our neighbors, and to care for creation.

We are also pleased to announce the lead gift of $25,000 to our newly established Greening Fund at St. Mark’s., This fund will help us work together to green our buildings and grounds by taking steps to shrink our carbon footprint. A list of several important projects has already been identified, and you can add your own support to this effort by making a gift to the Greening Fund at any time. You may send a check in the mail, or simply use our online giving form which includes the Greening Fund as a special designation.

As we announced earlier this week, there are many resources available to help you celebrate Earth Day, including these which are suggested by our St. Mark’s Greening Congregation Team:

  1. Earth Day.Org
  2. Earth Ministries 
  3. Project Draw Down
  4. Revisit Laudato Si by Pope Francis
  5. Local Earth Day ideas