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April 2 2019

How One Congregation Responds to God’s Call for Creation Care

By Jessica Maudlin

As a downtown church, Hillsborough Presbyterian Church has very little green space to work with. Their Earth Care Team, however, is dedicated to maximizing the use and natural beauty of every inch!

First certified in 2013 as a PC(USA) Earth Care Congregation (ECC), this nearly 150-member church in North Carolina “responds to Jesus Christ’s call for redemption and service.” They’re actively concerned about the green pastures in which Jesus wants us to lie down and in the water quality of the stream He leads us by.

All certified ECCs commit to a four-part pledge which affirms that all of Creation is God’s. The pledge acknowledges that God calls us to be careful, humble stewards of this Earth. God calls us to protect and restore the Earth, both for its own sake and for the future of the human family. In committing to this pledge, the congregation agrees to take specific steps in four areas: worship, outreach, education, and facilities.

The individuals that make up the Hillsborough Presbyterian Church congregation take this pledge seriously.

They are responding to the call to steward God’s Creation while caring for their neighbors, feeding the homebound, providing food to those in need, nurturing young people, comforting the sick and stressed, and giving tithes and offerings to support domestic and international relief missions.

Hillsborough Presbyterian Church partners with other community churches in a local “Food For All” program, which provides hot meals to hungry people in the community. Aligning this ministry with their Earth Care values, the thirty hot meals prepared and delivered by HPC are now packaged in compostable containers, and reusable cloth bags are used for carrying the meals away. This minimizes single-use styrofoam and plastics from the ministry’s efforts.

In 2018, HPC decided to communicate their values of Earth Care through their groundskeeping. The Moderator of HPC’s Building and Grounds Commission was given the task of purchasing the lawn care equipment. HPC had never owned a lawn mower or leaf blower and relied on volunteer members bring their own tools to maintain the church grounds- tools which were often detrimental to the environment. Robin Bedingfield of HPC’s Earth Team suggested that the new lawn mower needed to be both environmentally friendly and lightweight, to increase accessibility. They chose an ECO mower and leaf blower with interchangeable and rechargeable batteries. It’s the decisions like these which can serve communities for years in their efforts to minimize climate impacts.

Seeing how well these environmentally-friendly devices work, some members of the congregation have purchased similar items for their personal use.

Will Lang of Hillsborough’s Earth Care Team says that they are “blessed with a series of environmentally-friendly renovations to our facilities, strong community partnerships, and a creative, dedicated congregation. HPC continues to live out the Earth Care Congregation pledge. We pray we are moving closer, everyday, toward really hearing God’s call.”

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 each year, and Presbyterian churches are urged to celebrate Earth Day Sunday on or near this date. You can find 2019 resources here: http://bit.ly/EarthDay2019Resources

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a proud partner of Blessed Tomorrow, a coalition of faith leaders committed to serve as faithful stewards of creation. Founded by ecoAmerica, Blessed Tomorrow offers tools, resources, and communications to demonstrate visible climate leadership, inspiring and empowering faith leaders to speak about, act on and advocate for climate solutions. Learn more about our partnership and the resources available to you at pcusa.org.

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