While every day can seem like Earth Day during Mission 4/1 Earth, some United Church of Christ congregations are hosting special events to celebrate this year. Falling in the middle of the 50-day campaign, Earth Day, April 22, has new meaning for groups working hard to generate earth care hours, write advocacy letters and plant trees to help reach the Mission 4/1 Earth goals before the initiative ends May 19.
Shadow Rock UCC in Phoenix is hosting an Earth Day event, taking place April 21, with informational tables from local groups such as GMO Free Arizona, an organization promoting education about genetically modified organisms, and The Fusion Foundation, a group that aims to transform communities of conflict into communities of collaboration and creativity. The youth group will sell plant seeds, herbs, and items made from recycled materials, and other groups will sell tree seedlings and offer environmentally-friendly cleaning supply recipes. A coffee chat will take place in the congregation's Festival Garden to discuss the books Nature Deficit Disorder and Last Child in the Woods.
"The Mission 4/1 Earth team is trying to create an awareness in the congregation so when the 50 great days are finished, we are just starting a lifestyle that will benefit God's planet earth," said Ernie Otto, team member.
Deep River Congregational Church in Deep River, Conn., will also celebrate Earth Day activities April 21, with educational displays and refreshments following both morning worship services. As part of its Mission 4/1 Earth efforts, the congregation's Green Team will distribute red maple, white oak and white pine seedlings donated by the National Wildlife Federation as part of its Trees for Wildlife program, which helps young people learn about the importance of trees through hands-on, science-based activities. All Sunday school students, church members and visitors will be given a free seedling to plant at home or in their community.
OpenTable UCC in Owasso, Ok., will host a multicultural day of earth-focused experiences in conjunction with Disciples Christian Church to celebrate Earth Day. Activities will include a special worship service, potluck lunch, tree planting ceremonies, Native American dancing, environmental information, stew supper, and food bank can collection.
"We are excited to celebrate God’s awesome creations with our new partners at Disciples Christian Church," said Faith Wylie, lay leader at OpenTable.
In collaboration with several other area congregations, Keene UCC in Keene, N.H., will host an environmental symposium called Awakening the Dreamer. The congregation will hand out tree seedlings for planting, and host a letter-writing campaign for people to compose letters of environmental advocacy. Work stations will include laptop computers, educational information, example letters and all of the necessary supplies to get the letters in the mail. The event will also include activities geared toward children featuring arts and crafts and a showing of The Lorax.
"Awakening the Dreamer will inspire participants to bring dreams for a healthy and sustainable planet to fruition," said Tonya Cornell, Keene UCC member. "The children's program will ensure our youngest congregants can learn about the earth and its care through fun activities."
To count your efforts on the Mission 4/1 Earth tally board, report your earth care hours, trees planting and letters written, report in as often as you like here.
Share the goals of Mission 4/1 Earth with your family and friends and invite them to join the movement.