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A Year of Accomplishments

Thanks to the outstanding support from the First Church community, the Green Ministry Team enjoyed a productive year promoting environmental sustainability at First Church. After the Green Team was formed in June 2012, officially recognized by the Ministry of Outreach, Mission and Service, and endorsed by the Church Council, we declared our mission to ?promote environmental stewardship so that we may respect, enjoy and preserve God?s gift of life on Earth.?  With these guiding principles, we set out to promote sustainability in our worship, education, facilities and operations, community engagement and, denominational outreach. 

Nearly three-dozen First Church members have joined the team so far.  With a stirring keynote talk on climate change by Sally Bingham, president of Interfaith Power and Light, in September, and in a series of learning hours, Moments for Mission, and Carillon articles, and a new Green Page on the web site, we have worked to engage the congregation in conversation, reflection and action.  Our survey of members? interests gave us good direction, and we have invited the First Church Ministries to consider the Green Team mission, how they might support the effort, and maintain regular contact on progress.

Our ministers led the way to ?deepen our understanding of and commitment to environmental stewardship through worship,? declaring that our entire 2012-13 church year would be devoted to the green theme, ?Caring for the earth, caring for each other.?   Worship throughout the year contained many reflections on nature and God?s creation, including Bob Russell?s sermon in the National Preach-In on Global Warming.

Aware that First Church has a large environmental footprint, we encouraged environmentally sustainable practices, through efficient use of resources and a healthy daily operating environment.  Business Manager Ken Iha and Treasurer Moe Wright helped us understand and document the history of our efforts to make FCCB a green church.  With Annis Kukulan?s leadership, we developed and promoted an enhanced recycling program including new tripartite receptacles (compost, recycling, landfill), signage and educational efforts relating to best practices.  Our November ?Trash Audit? revealed that First Church generates approximately 30,000 lbs. of waste annually, a good part which can be diverted from the landfill. With financial support from the Cellar Thrift Shop, we were able to add two ?green bins? for organic material to our weekly pickup.  We developed a preliminary carbon calculator estimate that our carbon footprint was almost 500,000 lbs. for the last year.  We explored ways to document our electricity, natural gas, water and waste off-haul use and costs so that we can have a ?dashboard? to measure our progress.

The Green Team reached out to the community to ?encourage environmentally sustainable practices, in our church, in our daily lives, in our local community, and around the globe.?  With Cynthia Lloyd?s OMS Ministry, the Green Team led the UCC?s Mission 4/1 campaign, supported a variety of green outreach activities such as Urban Releaf tree planting, the CROP Walk for Hunger, Rebuilding Together, Green Commute to Church, and the Shoreline Cleanup; by our accounting, First Church members contributed 2758 hours, 969 trees and 190 letters and emails!  Our community outreach included strengthened ties to the UCC and Interfaith Power and Light environmental efforts.

Changing behavior requires education so the Green Team worked to ?increase awareness and knowledge of environmental challenges as they impact the world?s growing population, widespread poverty, environmental decline, and our changing climate.?  The Adult Education Program hosted a number of forums through the year.  We have asked the Education Ministry to consider how to strengthen the environmental theme in our Church School curriculum.  We hosted the showing of the film ?Do the Math? with 350.org.  And many First Church members joined in civic action, through environmental marches, letter writing, and panel presentations on everything from climate change and the Keystone XL pipeline to GMOs.

The Green Team is poised to engage in another year promoting environmental stewardship, building on last year?s enthusiasm and success.   I am personally grateful for the way First Church has embraced this effort.  Updates of our activities and the year?s plan will be posted on this page. And new members are always welcome!

Paul Chapman
For the Green Team