50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference
The green movement has taken root among Christians, with individuals and churches embracing eco-justice as a vital part of discipleship. In this four-part series, we will be excerpting chapters from 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference by environmental activist Rebecca Barnes-Davies, who makes a clear connection between caring for the earth and living one’s faith. Taking action is important, but it’s also about “not doing,” says Barnes-Davies. Knowing when to let go of control, doing no harm, resting, celebrating, and trusting that God is doing the work to care for creation, are all essential elements to her approach. Each chapter offers seven action items, ranging from individual efforts to activities that encourage the involvement of church and community. There are practical suggestions, relevant facts and background material, success stories, additional sources of information, and appropriate scripture references.
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While supporting local farmers, eating organic, and eating lower on the food chain are all healthy and helpful, gardening is the hands-on way to connect with the beautiful biodiversity of God’s good earth. It is the most direct way to make sure food, seeds, and the knowledge of growing food stays in the local community. It is also a way to make sure heirloom plants do not become extinct and that your produce is raised exactly with your standards. When it comes to climate change, small gardens with a variety of plantings may be a good way for local communities to prepare for the droughts and floods that may continue to increase as well as a good way to fight the possible food shortages related thereto. Finally, gardening is a fun way to teach children empathy for the earth and their responsibility to care for it.
- Patronize local nurseries and garden stores.
- Look for seeds and seedlings that have not been genetically modified. For the most part, certified organic seeds should not be genetically modified. Also, you can collect your own seeds from any plants that have bolted at the end of the season or exchange seeds with other gardeners.
- Choose heirloom varieties of plants in order to keep biodiversity going for future generations.
- Garden organically, managing insects and weeds without pesticides. Search for organic gardening tips on the Internet, or ask at your local garden store.
- Search the Internet or ask around to find “master gardeners” or “master composters” in your community and find out if they are willing to help get you started or point you to the best local resources.
- Work with others if you are able. Community gardens enable people to share expertise, try different plants, exchange produce, and look after one another’s plots when needed.
- Make or buy rain barrels to collect water for your garden from your roof. The energy used to transport and treat the water that runs out of your tap for five minutes would power a 60-watt lightbulb for fourteen hours. One Web site that instructs on building and installing a rain barrel is http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/conservation/rainbarrel/make-a-rain-barrel.html.
The Holy God took the human one and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.
Walking the Talk
Cedar Grove United Methodist Church in Cedar Grove, North Carolina, opened the Anathoth Community Garden on its grounds in 2005 as a way to help bring people together across boundaries of race, socioeconomic class, age, and gardening experience. The cooperative effort required all participants to work in the garden and then for all to share in the organic produce, which created a sense of community and reconciliation.
From the Web site of the NCC’s Eco-Justice Program, http://www.nccecojustice.org/faithharveststories.html.
Excerpted with permission from 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference by Rebecca Barnes-Davies, published in 2009 by Westminster John Knox Press.
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