The United Church of Christ in Cornwall, Congregational is truly immersing its members into earth care issues – by hosting an upcoming vesper service at the local landfill. But it's not just any landfill. It's an award-winning trash collection facility recognized for its high production volume and advanced efficiency. The service will take place on Pentecost as part of the Connecticut congregation's Mission 4/1 Earth efforts.
"We are hoping people leave the service in a celebratory mood for the fact we have a unique landfill and are very conscious here in this town about waste and clean energy," said Tracy Gray, director of Christian education and church secretary. "We are hoping they go away with a sense of accomplishment and joy that we are conscious not just during the 50 days, but all the time, in God's creation and how we care for it."
Cornwall has one of Connecticut's best recycling rates, and is included on the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's CT Municipal Recycling Honor Roll for its exemplary recycling and source-reduction programs. Some of its efforts that go above and beyond the initial requirements to make the list include reuse programs operated in conjunction with local nonprofit groups, collection of polystyrene packing peanuts for redistribution to retail outlets, collection of used eyeglasses for reuse, and acceptance of ink jet cartridges for recycling. Cornwall has also been recognized for its electronics recycling program.
"Cornwall has always been at the forefront for recycling, so this is just another way to remember that we are celebrating the work we've already done and continue to do," Gray said. "We thought it would be good spot to honor the creation."
The youth group is also making recycling a priority. They are collecting cans and bottles to cash in for the 5-cent deposit and putting the money toward their fund to purchase a gift ark through Heifer International. The $5,000 investment will provide training and livestock – including pigs, cows, rabbits, donkeys, beehives, sheep, llamas/alpacas, geese, goats, oxen, chicks, ducks, guinea pigs, water buffalo, and camels – to struggling families worldwide. For cans and bottles that can't be exchanged for the deposit, the youth will make another trip to the local landfill to recycle them.
The UCC in Cornwall is in the process of becoming a Green Church through the Connecticut Conference, so earth care is nothing new for the congregation. During Mission 4/1 Earth, the congregation is organizing a neighborhood roadside cleanup followed by a celebratory ice cream social. The group is also having people write down the ways they care for the earth each week on paper hearts to be hung on a green bulletin board. Some of the efforts so far have included using cloth rags instead of paper towels, washing laundry in cold water and hanging it out to dry, organic lawn care, and planting trees.
"We plan to have the whole board covered in hearts so you can't see the background," Gray said.
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.