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Group urges formation of presbytery Earth care teams


Toolkit available to help people become better stewards of God’s Creation

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE —  Presbyterians for Earth Care has a new program and toolkit to promote the creation of Earth-care teams at the presbytery level to address issues such as climate change.

The Presbytery Earth Care Program was touted in a “Green Your Presbytery” webinar that was conducted recently with help from the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

“Some of you may have an Earth-care team at your church, or you may wish you did,” PEC Coordinator Jane Laping said during the February webinar. “Our strategy involves forming such a team at a higher level that includes many churches, not just one.”

The teams would reach out to congregations in their presbyteries and provide them with resources and encouragement to include Creation care in various aspects of church life, Laping said.

The ultimate aim of the program is for PEC to collaborate with individuals and churches to become better stewards of God’s Creation, Laping said.

“Climate change is now a crisis situation, and people are literally ready to do something,” Laping said. “What is lacking are leaders. You could be a leader of your presbytery’s Earth-care team. Think of the impact this could have for earth care in the Presbyterian church and in the country.”

Presbyterians for Earth Care Coordinator Jane Laping, standing, is shown during PEC’s national gathering last summer at Stony Point Center. (Photo by Rich Copley)

PEC’s new program dovetails with PHP’s Earth Care Congregation certification program, which calls for congregations to take an “Earth Care Pledge” and complete activities and projects in the fields of worship, education, facilities and outreach.

“The Earth Care Congregation certification program has gained a lot of traction over the last 10 years,” said Jessica Maudlin, PHP’s Associate for Sustainable Living and Earth Care Concerns. “We’ve seen that in certain presbyteries we have larger numbers of ECC’s and often that’s because of coordination that is happening at a presbytery level.”

Earth-care teams can play a broad role in helping to protect the planet, according to PEC.

“It isn’t just about solar panels or recycling or Styrofoam cups,” Laping said. “Creation care is about how we recognize Creation and praise the Creator in worship; how we teach our children, youth and adults about taking care of God’s Creation and finding spiritual enrichment in nature; how we share our resources with others in the community, partner with environmental organizations and advocate for laws that protect the awesome planet that God has given us.”

For those who need help or ideas to get an Earth-care team off the ground, PEC has posted a Presbytery Earth Care Program Guide, containing directories of resources, information on how to use the Presbytery Earth Care Team Toolkit and more, online.

“I’m so excited that PEC has stepped in to offer this helpful guide for churches to be more intentional about working across the presbytery,” Maudlin said. “Even if there aren’t certified ECCs in a presbytery, we know that Earth care issues still are often a concern of congregants.”

During the webinar, PEC noted that it’s a good idea for those trying to start an Earth-care team to identify a few people to form a core group and brainstorm ideas about what the team could look like. Drafting a description of the team and creating a mission statement also were suggested.

Potential activities for such teams include bringing in speakers, holding panel discussions, doing book studies and hosting training events.

“Keep in mind that these activities are for the entire presbytery, not one church,” Laping said. “So if you decide to have your event at church, be sure to invite all churches in the presbytery.”

Barbara Overton of Riviera Presbyterian Church talked about an effort to initiate an Earth-care team at the Presbytery of Tropical Florida. She stressed the importance of making connections, establishing good communication and seeking out information, including useful statements and tools available through PEC and at Some are related to 2020 being the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

“I want to kind of caution you, as you start doing this work, you’re going to get overwhelmed with information, and that’s really not the point,” Overton said. “The point is to start the conversation because you’re never going to have an Earth-care team if you don’t just get started.”

The work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program is possible thanks to your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.

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