They go by many names: green team, stewardship council, environmental task force, sustainability group, eco-group, Creation care team. Your congregation may already have one, in which case, you will need to bring this idea to them. If not, you can form your own team. Here are some tips for forming and sustaining an enduring green team for the purposes of becoming a Cool Congregation.
Whatever you call it, your “team” is perhaps the most important part of the Cool Congregations program. The big picture of what we are trying to accomplish is gradually changing the culture of our faith communities so that caring for creation becomes a central part of what it means to be a person of faith. We aim to bind care of Creation to the heart of our congregational life together. Cool Congregations offers us a hands-on way to accomplish this. You can’t bring about this cultural shift alone, who would want to? Many hands make light work – and besides, it’s just more fun that way.
Determine how your team fits into the organizational structure of your congregation. This will vary for each faith community. Larger congregations may have a committee for social concerns and form a subcommittee to be the Green Team. Smaller congregations may choose to have their Green Team be an independent committee. Many have reported the best success by receiving formal approval from the governing body of their congregation and by collaborating with other committees. Cool Congregations is a stewardship program that seeks to expand the concept of stewardship to include caring for creation. It’s meant to add a new dimension to your congregation’s regular financial stewardship program, so be sure to include a member of the stewardship committee from your congregation on your Green Team.
Establish good communications with leaders in your congregation. Be sure to offer regular updates on your team’s activity to your faith leaders, the governing board, and other committees by reporting in person or placing written updates in your congregation’s newsletter, bulletins and website. Take the time to get your Green Team established as a regular part of your congregation’s life. It will pay off later in wider involvement by the community in your Cool Congregations program. You may even want to ask your faith leader to “commission” your team as a part of a worship service.
Some teams that form around Cool Congregations have received funding from their congregation to carry out their activities as these teams work on saving energy at the congregational facility and reducing the congregation’s energy bills.
Locate members for your team. Here are a few ideas that others have found useful:
- Ask your faith leader to recommend names.
- Show a movie on climate change or care for Creation to your congregation. Following the film, give a short talk about your Cool Congregations team and invite others at the screening to join you.
- Make an oral announcement during your worship service inviting interested people to attend a short meeting to learn about becoming a member of the team and the great plans you have for your congregation’s Cool Congregations program.
- Put a similar announcement in your congregation’s weekly bulletin or weekly e-mail.
- Have each of your present team members invite one other person to your next meeting.
If you shape your team with care, it will be strong and will endure.
Next Step > Write a Mission Statement