Ministering to Earth as a Church: Land
Minimising waste is an urgent need in our affluent throwaway society. Restoring degraded and abused land is another important task for us.
One project for the Earth Ministry Team of the congregation might be to locate a piece of degraded land and work towards its restoration by natural processes. Another option is to create a team of volunteers to collect biodegradable materials-cuttings, weeds, branches-from the homes of families (especially elderly people) to create a congregational compost centre which eventually provides healthy compost for gardens in the community. Some youth groups in America do this as part of their ministry.
Congregations may wish to consider landscaping around their church in such a way as to save the water from the roof and driveways to enable native gardens to be grown that encourage the return of natural species.
A small country congregation in South Australia plans to remove the front of their church and replace it with glass, including glass doors opening onto a native garden. In the cold seasons worshippers will have a sense of the presence of creation as they worship inside the church, and in warm seasons they will be able to go out through the glass doors to worship with Christ in creation. There are other chapels that have a garden with a waterfall that can be seen through a window behind the altar.
Caring for Earth at Home: Garden
A simple guide can be provided for families at home about how to minimise waste. This may involve following a pattern for recycling all bottles, cans and papers and using kitchen and garden waste to make compost. Caring for the garden as sacred soil also involves avoiding the use of destructive chemicals or fertilisers and using compost to encourage the return of worms and other healthy bio-organisms to the soil.
Networking for Earth: Food
See also the Action Resource Kit: Food in the package of resources for Social Justice Sunday: Sustaining Creation, 2002, available through the Uniting Church website http://nat.uca.org.au/unitingjustice/. In this connection, buying food in bulk at food cooperatives is encouraged.
Another valuable contact for information about organisations involved with matters in relation to food is The National Committee for World Food Day, 1001 22nd Street N.W., Washington DC 20437, USA. Phone: (202) 653-2404 (202) 653-2404. The congregational Earth Ministry Team may also wish to link up with local organisations seeking to renew the land or to join forces with the Earth Team of the Uniting Church in Melbourne.