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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Church in Puerto Rico embraces Earth-friendly practices


Presbyterian Hunger Program highlights an Earth Care Congregation

June 16, 2023

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) now has its first Earth Care Congregation in Puerto Rico.

Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana en Bayamón is in its first year as an official ECC, which are churches that demonstrate they are active stewards of the Earth by following, tracking and promoting environmentally friendly practices.

“Our interest in obtaining the certification was to motivate other congregations to follow the steps in broadening the Good News of Jesus through Creation care,” said Gloria D. Lozada-De Jesús, coordinator of the Earth care team for Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana.

Churches around the country take part in the program, which is led by the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

Participating churches show their commitment through worship and discipleship, educational efforts, facilities management and outreach activities. They also take the PC(USA)’s Earth Care Pledge.

Over the past few years, the congregation of Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana has taken part in various activities, including Bible studies (coordinated through the Ecological Ministry of the Presbytery of San Juan), and also has taken steps to reduce or eliminate the use of plastics in gatherings, said Lozada-De Jesús.

Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana en Bayamón in Puerto Rico has a facility equipped with solar panels to provide emergency power for people when the area is impacted by emergencies, such as natural disasters. (Contributed photo)

The church also does recycling and educates people about energy-saving practices.

“The challenge to Creation care is similar to other places in terms of you need to reach the conscience first for people to be willing to make a change, specially making the connection to acknowledge Creation care as a matter of faith,” Lozada-De Jesús said. “It’s like a conversion itself.”

The church hosts a community laundry facility to assist the community. (Contributed photo)

One of the church’s most significant efforts is a solar panel project, Lozada-De Jesús said. As part of the project, “Centro Autosustentable” (Self Sustainable Center), solar panels were installed at a property that people can turn to for emergency power, such as during times of disasters. It provides “solar power to charge portable devices and to power a refrigerator to store prescription medicines” and other important products, such as food for special diets.

The church also hosts a community laundry facility to help the community in emergencies and other times.

“At its inception, the Centro Autosustentable and the community laundry were two separate projects and were in two separate premises,” Lozada-De Jesús said. “We are in the process of consolidating both projects in one premise, so the community laundry is not solar powered yet.”

PHP has worked with the church on other endeavors.

“In 2022, the Presbyterian Hunger Program was thankful for the opportunity to work collaboratively with Gloria and Neddy Astudillo, as they co-founded Red Latina, a group of lay and ordained leaders and allies working to create holistic environmental ministries throughout Latinx churches,” said Jessica Maudlin, Associate for Sustainable Living and Earth Care Concerns for PHP. “We know that while too often the Latinx voice is missing from the climate change conversation, they are among those already experiencing the deeper impacts of the climate crisis in their communities. Puerto Rico has been an all-too-present example of this reality. We are so thankful for the witness of Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana and are humbled to accompany them in combating the climate crisis.”

Go here to learn more about Earth Care Congregations. Read a 2022 Presbyterians Today article by Maudlin about ECCs here.

Darla Carter, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus: Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana en Bayamón, Earth Care Congregation

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Barry Ensign-George, Coordinator, Theology & Worship, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Betsy Ensign-George, Associate Editor, Presbyterian Women

Let us pray

God of hope and strength, thank you for your presence of love and compassion in our lives. We rejoice that, especially when we face the storms of life, you are there to calm us. Thank you for being our Lord and for speaking words we yearn to hear: “Peace! Be still!” In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.