“Greening Our Faiths: from Belief into Action for the Environment and Environmental Justice”, was presented by Reverend Fletcher Harper during the Bioneers conference held in October 2012. Reverend Harper is the executive director of GreenFaith, an interfaith organization focused on environmental stewardship that was founded in 1992.
Reverend Harper pointed out that organized religion constitutes the largest social network on earth. Religious organizations are already experienced in outreach, setting and achieving goals, focus groups, and teamwork which make them naturals for initiating and implementing “green” programs. I was reminded of something my oldest son had said, environmental stewardship might be viewed by the religious community as an act of piety.
During his presentation, Reverend Harper talked about the GreenFaith Certification Program. It sounded similar to a green building or energy certification program but based in religion. I was fascinated so went to the GreenFaith website to learn more and there I found a wealth of information, resources, and inspiration.
“GreenFaith’s mission is to inspire, educate and mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership. Our work is based on beliefs shared by the world’s great religions – we believe that protecting the earth is a religious value, and that environmental stewardship is a moral responsibility.”
There are three core values that guide the work that we do, and define us as an organization: Spirit, Stewardship, Justice.”
Religious Teachings on the Environment
This web page provides links to teachings, statements, and position papers on the environment provided by religious denominations.
Here one can find resources under the headings, spirit, stewardship, and justice. For instance, click on spirit, and find ideas on eco-themed worship services or religious education. This is where I ran across “Let There Be…Stuff?” a six week curriculum for teenagers based on “The Story of Stuff Project”. Interestingly, “The Story of Stuff” is the first book review I posted on my blog.
The start-up kit page is designed to help individuals and houses of worship get started. Tools include a list of the first 6 steps, guidelines for building a green team, and eco-tips for inclusion in a newsletter or website.
There are several programs, a list of speakers and workshops, coming events, and links to partnerships with denominations and other organizations.
GreenFaith Certification Program
The GreenFaith Certification Program is a 2-year environmental leadership program for houses of worship. This program provides a new way for members to be engaged and serve. It may also attract new environmentally oriented members. Conserving energy, reducing waste, and other activities can save money and what organization of any sort is opposed to saving money.
My interest in green building certification drew me to this program. There are remarkable similarities between the two.
- They both require an application, fees, demonstrated completion of program requirements, and accomplishment is acknowledged via a plaque or in this case a celebratory banner.
- Both green building and GreenFaith certification programs include energy, transportation, food, water, waste, toxics, and grounds maintenance, although the requirements vary.
- Both programs require education and communication, with GreenFaith encompassing a faith component.
- Both programs deal with environmental justice.
- Unique to GreenFaith are eco-themed worship services and spirituality requirements.
GreenFaith Fellowship Program
The GreenFaith Fellowship Program provides education and training for clergy and laity to help them become religious-environmental leaders.
The Bioneers conference covered a diverse set of topics that were all linked to the environment in some way. I appreciate having had the opportunity to hear Reverend Harper speak about the connection between religion and the environment and to learn about the GreenFaith organization.