Straw. Climate change banners. Insulation and LED lighting. A giant long-earred bat. What do these things have in common? Mennonite Creation Care Network awarded four more Green Mustard Seed Grants for creation care projects this fall, from the practical to the highly creative. These items were among those funded.

The grant program began in March 2020 with a gift from the Stoesz Family Foundation. Anabaptist-Mennonite congregations or related organizations may apply for up to $1000. Low-income communities or those experiencing environmental injustice are given priority.

Here Today: Honoring Earth’s Endangered Species

Jubilee Mennonite Church, Bellefountaine, Ohio, will offer 15 local students a monthly curriculum on endangered species named by the UN and the Ohio DNR. Each youth will choose one species to study in depth. During summer 2021, students will produce a wooden representation of that species in a day camp with Ohio artist, Sam Bartlett.

The experience will culminate in a community party where students will tell their species’ story and display their artwork. Karla Kauffman, who is writing the curriculum, says she hopes the experience and art pieces will inspire awareness about climate change and its effects on the Earth’s inhabitants. MCCN will chip in $1000 toward art supplies and curricular expenses. More detail

Faith Climate Justice, Waterloo  

A new group with representatives from a number of Mennonite Church Canada congregations in the Waterloo area is working on climate change. One way they hope to hold local governments accountable to their environmental goals is by giving churches a way to show that climate justice is important to them. The group is preparing large banners that can hang on the outside of buildings.

“We aim to have 50 of these banners hanging on places of faith throughout the region,” reports Scott Morton Ninomya, a member of the group. They hope a united witness will inspire the local government to create more energy efficient affordable housing, more local renewable energy infrastructure and green jobs that pay living wages.

MCCN awarded Faith Climate Justice Waterloo $1000 to pay for a prototype banner and website fees. Money left over will assist congregations that need help paying for a banner.

LED lights and Insulation

Eden New Life Church, Kansas City, Mo., is a new congregation composed of recent immigrants from Ethiopia. Four groups share a recently purchased church building, each worshipping in a different language.

Conference Minister James Wenger, a conference minister in the South Central Conference of MCUSA, describes church planters Omat and Hanna Oletho as people with a vision for forgiveness and reconciliation. Making peace with past violence and across Ethiopian ethnic groups is part of the mission of this church.

Eden was awarded $2500 toward LED lighting and insulation to reduce utility bills.

“We are overjoyed,” Omat said when he received the news.

Building with Straw Bales

The Hermitage, a retreat center focused on prayer and spiritual formation near Three Rivers, Mich., received $1000 to buy straw for a straw bale house. The building will provide office space and lodging for long-term volunteers.
Creation care was always part of the vision for the Hermitage, but it became a particular focus since 2012. At that time, a gas company that owned a pipeline running beneath the property announced an expansion, and it was necessary to discern how to respond. The pipeline experience motivated leaders to reduce the Hermitage’s carbon footprint in a variety of ways–including this straw bale project.

Strawbale construction is highly efficient and recyclable when the life of the building is over.