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Wake up and smell the possibilities. April 10, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, wit and wisdom.
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As noted in our earlier post, “Make Lent count this year” (find it via our search bar at upper right), our friend Ben and Silence Dogood decided to participate in the Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast this year as a way of showing our support and respect for God’s Creation, our beautiful Earthly Paradise and home, given to us in trust by our Creator. We signed up for daily e-mails about ways we could reduce our carbon footprint from the New England Regional Environmental Ministries UCC, the originators of the Carbon Fast.

Unfortunately, so far, there’s been nothing they’ve suggested that we don’t already do, except for something that’s obvious to us, which is moving into a small town where we could walk to the grocery, pharmacy, library, etc. rather than having to drive everywhere we go, living so far removed from any town as we do. But in addition to suggestions on how to reduce your personal carbon footprint, there are tips on how churches and church congregations can reduce their collective carbon footprint.

Ever since we saw an inner-city church in Asheville, North Carolina, that had converted its lawn into community vegetable gardens, our friend Ben and Silence have been thinking about the many ways our churches could set the example of earth stewardship for others to follow. “The outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace,” as the Episcopalians describe the Sacraments.

So we were thrilled Saturday morning to get a report in our daily e-mail about a church that had done just that. It’s so inspiring, I’d like to quote it in full:

“For about 350 years, First Parish Church of Newbury, Massachusetts did fine. But by their 365th, they were a dying church: too few members, too much building, a little land. A year-long vision process of discernment, prayer and leadership led to affirming ‘Stewards of Earth & Spirit’ as their core mission. Now, the New Eden Collaborative consists of the church, Transition Newburyport, Permaculture Meet-Up, Farmer’s Market, Greater Newburyport Eco-Collaborative, Green Artists League, NOFA [New England Organic Farmers Association], and Greater Newburyport CSA [community-supported subscription organic produce program].”

The good news goes on: “Their ‘little land’ is now home to 41 organic community gardens along with a chicken coop, beehives, an earth oven, monthly garden parties, and an environmental education program. Gardeners sign a covenant of shared values and commit to volunteering labor and donating a percentage of their produce, which the church delivers to a local soup kitchen twice a week in [the] growing season.”

This is definitely a purpose-driven congregation: “Their goal is to become a working model of a sustainable community.” And as the e-mail says, “What might your church learn from this church’s story?” Perhaps to take back the stewardship that God gave Adam in the beginning and, after our long association with greed and environmental grief, do it right this time.

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