Chicago's Trinity UCC goes all in for Mission 4/1 Earth
Written by Emily Schappacher April 30, 2013
A volunteer from Trinity United Church of Christ installs CFL light bulbs at Trinity Oaks, one of the congregation's senior residential facilities.
Green Committee staff time: 1,107 hours. CFL light bulb giveaway: 150 hours. More than 300 members doing earth care: 2,122 hours. One of the United Church of Christ's largest congregations going all in for Mission 4/1 Earth: priceless.
Trinity UCC in Chicago has already racked up 4,507 hours of earth care for Mission 4/1 Earth. More than 300 of the congregation's members have generated hours through a variety of activities including recycling at home, taking public transit, carpooling and learning about environmental issues. And perhaps no one is more supportive of the UCC's church-wide earth care campaign than Trinity's pastor, the Rev. Otis Moss III.
"The pastoral emphasis and the commitment of Pastor Moss to all that is 'green' has been the key element to our campaign's success," said Adrienne Wynn, chair of the Green Committee. "He has made clear the importance of, and his support of, living green and sustainably, and has done so from his first day as our pastor."
Moss has helped the congregation generate nearly 600 earth care hours by incorporating Mission 4/1 Earth and other environmental issues into his sermons and announcements. This has not only increased momentum around the campaign, but also raised awareness about Trinity's Green Committee, which formed five years ago and now has 25 members. The group began planning for Mission 4/1 Earth in March and had many action items already in place for the April 1 kickoff.
"New individuals are coming aboard [the Green Committee] weekly due to the heightened awareness of our activities through the campaign," said Wynn. "We recognized that Mission 4/1 Earth was very much in line with our pastor's vision and it would most certainly increase the visibility of our environmental stewardship, earth care and environmental justice."
The congregation has focused its efforts on six primary issues – recycling, energy, transportation, advocacy, earth care, and water conservation – and weekly sermons and bulletins reflect each topic. Typically the Green Committee gets a page of the bulletin on the first Sunday of each month. But throughout Mission 4/1 Earth, the "Green Page" will run each week, offering environmental facts, action items and in-depth information. A portion of the bulletin's weekly "Pastor's Word" will also focus on environmental issues, and beginning April 14, the cover will highlight the week's green theme.
"The bulletin covers are traditionally thematic, as set forth by the pastor's vision and the work of the pastoral staff," Wynn explained. "So members know to take note of the cover – it is purposeful and intrinsically tied to the sermonic or pastoral emphasis of the day. This is one way of gaining the attention of each member as they enter into service or join us online."
Other initiatives, like Girl Scouts decorating recycled boxes, engaging with the organization Energy Impact Illinois, and recycling 2,905 church bulletins have added hours to Trinity's running total – which, like the congregation's awareness, continues to grow throughout the 50-day campaign.
As Rosalyn Priester, co-chair of Trinity's Mission 4/1 Earth committee, said, "We are excitedly building on our green educational program for the entire congregation."