Congregations Send Tree Bouquets, Recycle Electronics and Dig into Soil Science

Here are a few things moving in our network:

Participants at Ambler Mennonite Church, Ambler, Pa., surprised their loved ones with “green” Valentine’s Day care packages in February. Recipients received a “bouquet of trees” (one dozen tree seedlings) donated for planting in their honor by JoinTrees to Restore the Earth. Youth made handmade cards to go with the bouquets. The cards were made from recycled materials–newsprint and tie-dyed coffee filters for the hearts. Each heart represented one seedling planted.

This project was coordinated by the church’s Green Team as an eco-friendly alternative to the more traditional bouquet of cut long-stem roses, which are often grown with harmful pesticides, shipped enormous distances, and require refrigeration throughout transit.  The idea developed after they realized that February 14 falls on a Sunday this year. This provided them an opportunity to share their love for others and the planet.

“While our congregation is small in numbers, we have a big (green) heart and, in just one week, we sent 47 care packages and received donations to plant over 564 trees–now isn’t that sweet!” remarked Gretchen Merryman-Lotze who is the MCCN creation care liaison. The group plans to add letters of appreciation to the leftover cards and send them to politicians who are especially active in working to address climate change. Congregations looking for a meaningful way to honor the women in their lives for Mother’s Day could easily implement this idea as well.

The Ambler congregation also started a cookbook club this year. This was inspired by one of the 2020 shared practices from MCCN. Members have been reflecting on food waste, composting and sustainable food practices, using The Sustainable Kitchen as their guide. They are interested in starting a composting site for multiple households on church property.

Youth as solar educators

First Mennonite Church of Indianapolis is working through the permitting process for its ___solar installation. When that is accomplished, the Creation Care Crew hopes to enlist the youth as partners in educating the congregation about the array.

The church also holds an annual recycling drive for electronics. Some members are involved with the Hoosier Environmental Council and and its Greening the Statehouse event. Sam Carpenter is the MCCN creation care liaison.

Soil science on church grounds

Heather Wolfe, the creation care liaison for Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship, Taftsville, Vt., is working toward Master Composter certification and sharing her learnings with the church. She had soil from the church’s garden analyzed and followed up with a session on soil science for home gardeners. More sustainability skills workshops are on the horizon, such as one on garden tool maintenance.

Some members of Taftsville have also adopted a fasting calendar from the Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care Diocese of Toronto for Lent 2021. The calendar suggests a different fast for each week, such as a meat fast, energy fast, ignorance fast, injustice fast, etc.