Hawaii UCC works to care for island ecosystem during Mission 4/1 Earth
Written by Emily Schappacher April 24, 2013
Volunteers clear weeds and invasive species at a wetland.
Living in one of the world's most unique ecosystems, members of Crossroads United Church of Christ in Honolulu are serious about earth care. As a Greening Congregation, the group actively promotes environmental sustainability, and has utilized Mission 4/1 Earth as a reason to further boost its efforts. Through an array of activities planned throughout the 50 days, Chuck Burrows hopes to reinforce the faith community's responsibility to care for their beautiful island while they still can.
"Over the past century, due to impacts of Western civilization by incoming migration, mechanical agriculture, introduction of alien invasive plant and animal species, and loss of habitat, Hawaii has the highest number of endangered species in the country," said Burrows, chair of the Greening Congregation and Peace, Justice and Stewardship of the Creation teams. "We at the Church of the Crossroads, literally at the 'crossroads of the Pacific,' have an obligation to do our part to be a Greening Congregation."
On three occasions during Mission 4/1 Earth, the congregation will partner with local environmental groups to clear invasive species and plant native trees and shrubs at Na Pohaku o Hauwahine Reserve. With assistance from the Kaulunani Urban Forestry Program, Crossroads UCC received $2,500 from the Hawaiian Electric Company and First Insurance to purchase about 300 native plants for this project.
The congregation will also host a series of climate change seminars during the 50-day campaign which runs from Easter Monday to Pentecost. Speakers include representatives from Hawaii Interfaith Power and Light, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, University of Hawaii Manoa College of Tropical Forestry and Agroforestry, Distributed Energy Partners, and EarthBank USA. The group will also screen environmental films including 'Hungry Tide' and 'Do the Math.'
"These presentations will be informative and revealing as we from the religious persuasion, Hawaiian cultural practitioners, and concerned U.S. citizens lessen our dependence on fossil fuels and adapt to the effects of climate change now and in our grandchildren's lifetimes," Burrows said.
Burrows said nearly half of Crossroads UCC's "small but active" congregation is participating in the numerous Mission 4/1 Earth activities. He thinks the excitement around the initiative, as well as the various environmental resolutions passed by delegates at General Synod, reflect a trend of faith communities to step up and take action when it comes to earth care – a trend everyone should feel a responsibility to support.
"In recent years, more mainline faith groups such as the UCC have come to the forefront to encourage their congregations to become stewards of all creation," Burrows said. "These actions in congregations and within the community demonstrate to the national and international society that caring for creation is a moral and spiritual responsibility and an obligation of our religious practices and theological beliefs."