Caring for Creation and the climate as acts of faithful stewardship is a relatively new idea. Some say it is a remembering of a very old idea. You will likely have to persuade others that this is an important part of living out your faith day-by-day. To do so, you need to be able to talk about what and why you’re doing what you are.
To be an effective agent of social change, your team won’t need to be experts in climate change science or its solutions, but you will need a genuine, heartfelt story. Here are a few ideas to help you hone your team’s mission statement:
What are your personal motivations?
Write down your own reasons for wanting to help your faith community become a Cool Congregation. Share your thoughts with others on the team, and get their reaction and thoughts.
- What concerns you about climate change? What have you seen or heard about how climate change is affecting people you are concerned about – your grandchildren, your children, the poor or marginalized in your state and around the world?
- What is it you love about Creation? Tell about a shaping experience in nature that you’ve had, a place on earth you treasure, a place you go to renew yourself in creation. We are more likely to protect something that we love.
- What is your personal spiritual motivation to take action? Tell about how your religious experience or beliefs have motivated you to act.
We will more effectively engage our congregations if we can create solid connections between our faith traditions and the Earth stewardship activities of the work of Cool Congregations program. Crafting and communicating a narrative that is both authentic and empowering is an important first step.
Is your denomination active on climate?
Many religions have developed a stance on climate change or creation care. Understanding what mission statements, programs, and resources already exist within your own denomination will be a big leg up.
Members of your team can divide up the study on:
- Your denominational statement on caring for Creation and climate change.
- Your denominational leaders’ statements on caring for Creation and climate change..
- Your congregation’s faith leaders’ views on the topic.
- Readings from other writers both inside and outside of your tradition.
We look at our denominational statements on caring for Creation and climate change because it can be helpful to demonstrate to people that we are responding to a call that our faith tradition has already made. We often learn that a stewardship mission is not a new thing at all; we are actually rediscovering what has been part of our traditions for a very long time.
What is your green team’s mission?
Mission statements are succinct statements that help guide goal setting and action plans. They will often include or refer to the denomination’s statement on climate or care of Creation. Be sure to pass your green team’s mission statement by the powers that be in your congregations for feedback and to get the buy-in you need to move forward with your projects.
A Sample Mission Statement
Recognizing that the 202nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church declared “Restoring Creation as a central concern of the church to be incorporated into its life and mission at every level,” the Environmental Stewardship Committee commits: To inspire members to respond to the Bible’s call to appreciate, respect and responsibly care for God’s gifts of His Earth and all His Living Creations; To provide members with information and resources to preserve God’s Creation; To network with neighboring congregations and community organizations to promote stewardship of God’s Creation.
Another Sample Mission Statement
“We will promote care for the earth and its resources as God’s gifts for sustaining life. We will incorporate care for God’s creation throughout the St. Andrew’s community, including our worship services, our educational programs, our outreach and service to our community, and our buildings and grounds.”
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