Wayne Presbyterian Church is a certified Earth Care Congregation
What is an Earth Care Congregation?
In February 2019, the Presbyterian Hunger Program certified Wayne Presbyterian Church (WPC) as an Earth Care Congregation. This PC-USA-sponsored program grew out of the “Call to Restore Creation,” section of a Resolution passed in 1990 by the 202nd General Assembly of the PC-USA. The program rests under the auspices of the Presbyterian Hunger Program to reflect the intimate relationship among a healthy environment, food production, and human well-being.
Through the continuing efforts of many programs, committees, and members, WPC has maintained its annual certification as Earth Care Congregation since its initial 2019 award. Annual certification requires WPC to strive to integrate awareness of and attention to earth care ministry into all aspects of church life, including worship, education, facilities, and outreach. WPC has made a commitment to humble and holistic stewardship of God’s earth, necessitating the institution of ever-more environmentally sustainable practices throughout the church.
The following are some recent examples of WPC’s commitment to Earth Care in action, organized under each of the 4 categories set forth in PC-USA’s Earth Care Congregation Program:
At various points throughout the liturgical year, hymns, prayers, and liturgy with an earth care focus are included in the worship service at the discretion of our clergy. In September 2022 our interim senior pastor, the Rev. Dr. Heather Shortlidge, led an entire worship service with the theme of care for God’s creation reflected in the liturgy, prayers, hymns, sermon, and floral arrangements.
Over the past few years, we have sponsored several Minutes for Mission, including one during Youth Sunday, concerning WPC’s commitment to earth care.
Each year WPC organizes an adult education series on some aspect of Earth Care. In the fall of 2022, we presented sessions on (a) the practical aspects of solar panels and (b) how gardening with native plants can support birds throughout the year. Other series included speakers on recycling and water resources, as well as the scriptural basis for earth care (“Our Call to Care for Creation”.) In 2019, we sponsored a showing of The Burden, a documentary film addressing the effects of climate change on national security, which was followed by a panel discussion led by several local experts. Our church library includes a collection of books addressing climate change and other environmental issues.
Our Director of Children’s Ministries created a class for young children focused on pollinators, relying on our informational/artistic display, story time, and craft time.
The Earth Care Team, in collaboration with Mother Compost, are providing educational information to WPC members, staff, and custodians to encourage enthusiasm for and cooperation with the new collection procedure. We also plan to develop a program to inform children and youth of this initiative.
Our CityLights outreach (see Urban Mission) supports Historic Bartram’s Garden in SW Philadelphia as an educational opportunity for children in that community where WPC has long been an active and committed mission partner.
We obtained a professional assessment of WPC’s energy use, purchased some of our electricity from renewable sources, and converted church lighting to efficient LED bulbs. We purchase fair trade, shade-grown coffee for church events, including each Sunday’s fellowship hour. For many church events, we use china plates and stainless flatware, thereby decreasing our consumption of single-use paper items. When we do require disposable paper items, we purchase compostable ones.
We are adding more native plants to our church grounds, thereby increasing not only the beauty, but also the sustainability and habitat value of our property. In Spring 2019, we planted a pollinator garden on a section of church property that had been turf; this area now hosts monarch caterpillars, ruby-throated hummingbirds, finches, and robins. Our walkway to the sanctuary is lined with colorful, long-blooming black-eyed Susans, and a children’s garden of native plants has been created near a second entrance to the church.
Mother Compost is a local company that collects organic waste, commercially composts it, and provides the composted product to Linvilla Orchards in Media. Added to the farm fields and orchards, this soil supplement promotes the growth of fruits and vegetables that many of us have enjoyed. Some of the compost is also available for sale to the public. The founder and CEO of Mother Compost is Gwenn Nolan, a young mother concerned about the world her children will inherit. Materials that are picked up from WPC: fruit/vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, dairy, grains, meat, seafood, used paper plates & cups, pizza boxes, floral/garden debris, wood or bamboo utensils. A 32-gallon bin with secure lid is situated outdoors next to current WPC trash and recycling dumpsters. Smaller bins with compostable liners are situated in the kitchen vicinity.
Custodians dump the organic material from the small interior bins to the outdoor bin. Mother Compost collects the material weekly or every other week.
Earth Care initiative to compost WPC’s food and soiled paper waste, and to separate recyclable materials from trash. Compostables are routinely picked up by Mother Compost from an additional storage container in back of the church.
In spring and/or fall, we sponsor a native plant give-away on a Sunday morning; the plants are donated from WPC’s pollinator garden and by gardener-members. This has been a popular way to inform members and visitors alike of the value of native plants. In September 2022, we sponsored an “Earth Care Fair” one Sunday morning, with not only a native plant give-away, but also a give-away of reusable mesh produce bags, selected to emphasize the recent passage of a township ordinance banning single use plastic bags. The Fair also featured information on the dangers of plastic waste to the environment, on alternative energy, and on composting. Finally, some of WPC’s best chefs offered a tasting of homemade vegetarian dishes.
We have organized two artistic displays each of which was exhibited for months. The first was designed to emphasize both the spiritual and practical aspects of caring for God’s magnificent Creation, and the second sought to show the desirability, utility, and beauty of pollinator gardens. We have sponsored flower tables on Sunday morning to display the beauty and variety of flowers as well as to spark conversation on the value of native plants to local birds and other wildlife. We created a large banner that is always exhibited somewhere in the church facility to remind all that WPC is committed to care of God’s creation.
Members of the Earth Care Team have been involved in our local Environmental Advisory Council, our local chapter of Interfaith Power and Light, and other local environmental groups.
For more information on the PC(USA)’s Earth Care Congregations program, visit www.pcusa.org/earthcarecongregations.
Please join us as we seek to strengthen WPC’s commitment to sustainable practices and care for all of God’s Creation.