Green study gets thumbs up from 4 churches

11/12/2010

OIMC members recycled cardboard to display their green ideas.

"Go green" has become more than an environmental statement for four Tulsa-area churches.

They agreed to jointly study the "Green Church" curriculum offered through Cokesbury. Yes, participants expected to find consumer wisdom in materials subtitled Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice! But they also unearthed biblical bedrock and spiritual gems.

The study groups crossed annual conference boundaries. St. Stephen’s at Broken Arrow and Boston Avenue at Tulsa are part of the Oklahoma Conference. Tulsa Indian and Haikey Chapel are churches in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC).

Representatives gathered outdoors on Oct. 17 at St. Stephen’s to share their parallel learning experiences. Repeatedly, they spoke of growth in spiritual and scriptural understanding.

One pastor had reluctantly exchanged the regular Bible study material for a green curriculum. But the unconventional topic led to "good spiritual discussions he didn’t expect to have," said one participant.

Among comments:

"Sometimes we take the beauty of creation for granted as Native Americans."

"God was joyful as He created. What if we left His house (in poor condition) rather than bringing Him joy?"

"We can’t change everything, but there are things we can do."

"The resurrection is a form of recycling for us."

"This was not a political study but a study about what God calls us to do."

Leader Marita Morgan of Boston Avenue said, "Now become intentional. What’s something I can start doing today because I think it’s going to help God’s world?" She instructed people to be accountable in their plans by telling others.

Among the actions taken during the study period:

• A prayer walk that included picking up trash.

• Adding a raised garden in the children’s playscape at St. Stephens. "Who weeds it? The children! It’s not work for them," said children’s director Julie Slaughter.

• Reusing lawn clippings as yard fertilizer, rather than bagging and sending them to a landfill.

• Running a dishwasher only when full, and declining to use plastic foam dinnerware.

• A church boiler was made energy-efficient.

The six-week "Green Church" experience began after 10 Oklahomans attended a Cokesbury workshop. The curriculum has age-appropriate materials. Suzann Wade, a diaconal minister in Oklahoma City, is co-author of the children’s resources.

"We’re excited about what can happen," said Marjorie Monnet of Tulsa, a retired Cokesbury regional representative.

—Holly McCray

Julie Slaughter describes the children’s garden at St. Stephen’s UMC in Broken Arrow to
Becky Thompson of Tulsa Indian UMC while another woman picks cherry tomatoes.
Photos by Holly McCray


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