Glenshaw Presbyterian Church (GPC) in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania was certified as an Earth Care Congregation in June 2011. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ran a story about the church’s environmental stewardship efforts and Earth Care Congregations certification on August 4. Read the article. I also received the update below from Beth Egan, a church member and participant in the Environmental Ministries Action Network. Thanks to Beth for sending this, and to Glenshaw PC for its working caring for God’s creation.
Glenshaw Presbyterian Church has been actively caring for God’s creation for at least the last 10 years with the leadership of our pastor, Rev. Dr. Mike Hoyt.
Our properties committee has made every effort to look at green alternatives when making changes to the physical church building. One of their first projects with the leadership of member, Sally Zana, was the addition of our beautiful prayer garden that was put into an area that had previously been a playground for our child care center; the playground was moved to another area. We have a dedicated group of volunteers who care for this area.
Another update was the addition of an energy efficient air conditioning system for our sanctuary which involved sealing our windows to keep the cool air in during the summer and the heat in the winter months. Other windows and doors in our child care center and the church building were replaced and repaired for energy efficiency. A paper recycling program was then started so that all waste paper from the church offices no longer ends up in a landfill. We also have a paper retriever bin in our parking lot where church members and our church neighbors can place their paper, newspapers and magazines for recycling. This also serves as a fundraiser for our youth mission trips.
All of these “green” changes were in place before we (Beth Egan and Karen Tabor) got together 3 years ago to form the GPC Goes Green team. In the beginning our focus was on education. Through the church newsletter and a bulletin board we would provide the congregation with green tips that they could incorporate into their day to day activities at home and work. We began conducting several adult spiritual growth classes on various topics dealing with earth care. Then we began to look around the church and realized we needed to expand our recycling program to include plastic, glass and cans and stop buying Styrofoam products. From there we looked at the cleaning products, hand soap, dish soap, etc and started phasing out the toxic chemicals for safer, greener alternatives. It was about at this point that we heard about the Earth Care Congregation program which helped us begin to look at setting goals and gave us direction. Having guidelines and 4 areas of focus (worship, education, facilities, and outreach) is making our job easier.
Another group in our church that focused many of their activities on earth care has been our mission and outreach committee. Members of that committee have recruited members to participate in Off the Floor Pittsburgh, which is a non-profit organization that provides gently used or new furniture and mattresses to families who are basically sleeping and/or eating on the floor. That program gives people the opportunity to recycle furniture that they are no longer using and meet the needs of others. Other programs of this committee, with the leadership of member, Tom Quigley, are the planting and giving of dogwood trees for new members joining the church and the establishment of a community garden in a nearby community which is providing families the opportunity to grow their own food and providing fresh produce for the local food pantry that GPC supports monthly with food, monetary contributions and volunteers.
So as you can see our earth care program has been and continues to be a work in progress and includes the efforts of all of our members. Our goals for the coming year are to show improvement in all four areas with emphasis on worship and education. We will continue to look for new green projects and encourage all of our church committees to find new ways to include earth care in their ministry.