This week the Saturday Collection comes with a theme - Earth Day. Many Episcopal congregations around the country merited notice for their observance of Earth Day this year, and for their ongoing commitment to the environment.
First off we have four congregations in Maryland featured for their special programs held in association with other community groups this week:
"St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Annapolis hosted an interfaith Earth Day gathering Thursday night, while members of the Green Drinks networking group held a happy hour at the Severn Inn to rally support for the Chesapeake Clean Water Act now pending in Congress.
Events continue through tomorrow, with festivals at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis and at St. Martin's-in-the-Field Episcopal Church in Severna Park.
At St. Martin's in Annapolis, the church and school will finish off the rain gardens tomorrow, and the public is invited to help.
St. Martin's has 17 new rain gardens, which were designed and installed with the help of the Spa Creek Conservancy.
The rain gardens take in water from parking lots, sidewalks, rooftops and the courtyard. Water-loving plants in the gardens soak up stormwater and use up the nutrients, allowing the water to work its way through the environment naturally - instead of being rushed along pavement into the creek."
Greene took the idea of installing solar panels to his church vestry board about a year and a half ago.
The $46,000 project was paid for with a $23,000 state grant, parishioner pledges and the church’s building fund. Solergy of Rockford, which is owned by Dewaine Nelson, a 1970 Dixon High School grad, did the installation.
The solar panels will provide up to 65 percent of the rectory’s electrical needs and are expected to pay for themselves in 10 years.
There's an article in the Boise Weekly that talks about how churches and denominations are beginning to work with environmentalists and conservationists. As such it talks about the religious backgrounds of a number of leaders in the movement, such as Rick Johnson of the Idaho Conservation League:
The ICL's Rick Johnson,[...] is also a fan of breaking down barriers between the [environmentalists and religious conservatives]. "So much of it can be fear of the unknown. Ask conservatives who they'd least like to have over for dinner, and they may say 'an environmentalist.' They think we're going to be shrill and adamant, won't eat the food, will want to know what pesticides are on the vegetables or ask about the thermostat setting."
A member of the Vineyard laughed at that and said it works both ways. "People think having an evangelical Christian to dinner will be a boring, stressful evening of sanctimonious preaching and judgment."
Johnson, while raised Episcopalian, is no longer a religious practitioner. But those who know him say his environmental work is his religion. He was first made aware of the possibilities of the connection between Christians and environmentalism by an Episcopal priest more than 20 years ago, and says that as he gets older, he is more and more aware of his own deep connection to the earth--a connection that may transcend science. He says he is genuinely happy to hear of the Vineyard's work and hopes they'll be able to help make progress in the legislature this upcoming session.
[...]So, how to build a community of shared responsibility and values? Break down those barriers and find out where you can get together, said both Johnson and Robinson.
And as a reminder, the Diocese of Vermont was recognized for its leadership in Environmental Stewardship by the EPA this week as well.
Finally, take some time today to read this essay by Martha Randolph Carr, a member of St. John's in Chicago on the need to learn to recycle everything - even our own organs - as a way to become total stewards of all that God has entrusted to us.