On March 12, 2017, the congregation of St. Andrew & Holy Communion (SAHC) in South Orange successfully concluded an eight-year effort when GreenFaith representative Nana Furman presented them with a banner commemorating their completion of the GreenFaith Certification Program. This process was started in 2009 and signifies many years of setting and achieving goals to make our church more attuned to preserving the environment.
Founded in 1992, GreenFaith seeks to inspire, educate and mobilize people of diverse spiritual backgrounds to become environmental leaders. GreenFaith’s work arises from beliefs shared by the world’s great religions:
- Caring for the earth is a religious value and environmental stewardship is a moral responsibility;
- We grow spiritually through our relationship with the earth;
- Everyone has the right to live in a clean, safe environment; and
- People of faith have a vital role to play in restoring healthy ecosystems around the world.
GreenFaith’s Certification Program is designed to help houses of worship from diverse institutions become religious environmental leaders. The Program involves creating a Green Team and conducting an initial audit to determine what environmental safeguards and activities are already in place. Then there are a host of activities that must be completed in three main areas: Spirit, which relates to worship, religious education and spirituality; Stewardship, which relates to protecting the environment in seven core areas, energy, food, water, waste, toxins, ground maintenance and transportation; and Environmental Justice in local, national and international arenas.
One of the highlights for SAHC was hosting and participating in Arts and the Environment, an interfaith and intergenerational program of visual art, music, poetry and readings related to the environment. Representatives from Jewish temples and various Christian denominations joined together to showcase their talents. We have also had solar screenings and guest speakers on How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient (Ed Schwartz) and conservation efforts in Ethiopia (Erik Douds). Environmental changes at our church include replacing lights with more energy efficient ones, planting perennials and Easter flowers to beautify the church and becoming more energy efficient.
Most importantly, the Certification Program has helped draw our congregation together to achieve a common goal of preserving the environment for future generations. If you would like more information about GreenFaith and/or the Certification Program, see www.greenfaith.org or contact Stacey Kennealy , Program Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joanne Douds and Eva Kresofsky are the Co-Chairs of the SAHC Green Team.