Creation Care Projects Funded – Thanks to all of the Churches in the Wisconsin Conference!

When you think of the Conference Creation Care Team or your local congregation’s Green Team, what is the first image that springs to mind? A work crew installing solar panels? A community walk in prayer and gratitude for our waters led by Native American women?  What about a group of your church’s greenest thumbs planting the flowers that draw pollinators?

How about looking in the mirror? Because your gift to Our Church’s Wider Mission is helping turn good ideas about how to care for the Earth into reality. Over the past two years, OWCM support has helped provide $20,000 in Catalyst Grants made by the Wisconsin Conference Creation Care Team to fund a variety of creation-sustaining projects. (Grace UCC in Two Rivers has provided an additional $2,000 from its endowment.) The projects include everything from solar arrays to installation of more efficient heating and cooling systems to expanded recycling options. Even the smallest projects matter.

“All of us, and all of creation globally, can benefit even from local projects to reduce the effects of climate changes and other environmental threats,” says Kathy Bartilson, a member of the Conference Creation Care Team. Kathy has prepared a list of projects funded in the past two years:

More efficient heating and cooling:

  • Saint Stephens UCC, Merrill
  • Ebenezer UCC, Sheboygan

Solar array installation:

  • First Congregational UCC, Wisconsin Rapids
  • Plymouth Congregational UCC, Madison
  • First Congregational UCC, Madison
  • Union Congregational UCC, Green Bay

LED or other more efficient lighting:

  • Congregational UCC, Ladysmith
  • Grace Congregational UCC, Two Rivers
  • Hope UCC, Sturgeon Bay

Reusable products for plastic and packaging minimization:

  • Memorial UCC, Fitchburg

More efficient appliances:

  • Trinity UCC, La Crosse, church dishwasher
  • Hope UCC, Fremont, refrigerator for church-sponsored, community food pantry

Community action and advocacy:

  • Bethel-Bethany UCC, Milwaukee, ongoing capacity building and the “Green Sherman Park” neighborhood initiative
  • United Church Camps, Inc., renaming and revisioning of the Daycholah Center to promote creation care and racial justice advocacy
  • First Congregational UCC, Appleton, hosting a series of webinars to inform, educate, and unite communities around the Great Lakes on effective individual and group actions
  • First UCC, Menomonie, Community “Nibi” walk led by Native Women for Red Cedar River protection

Expanded recycling options for the church and community:

  • First Congregational, Oshkosh

Tree planting, native gardens or invasive species control:

  • Trinity UCC, LaCrosse, tree planting
  • McFarland UCC, restoring native plants on 10,000 square feet of the church grounds
  • Plymouth UCC, Eau Claire, community buckthorn education, invasive species removal and native plantings on the church grounds
  • Grace Congregational UCC, Two Rivers, nature trail development along with invasive species removal and native tree and shrub planting on the church grounds
  • First Congregational, Oshkosh, native plantings on the church grounds

Community or memorial gardens:

  • Paul’s UCC, Sheboygan, rainwater collection and watering system for church gardens
  • First Congregational, Oshkosh, community garden soil enhancement and seeds.

The Creation Care Team is grateful that these churches and chuch camps have stepped forward with a variety of faithful actions for the sake of God’s creation and our common home.  Thanks, too, go to all of the churches that have pursued and achieved Creation Justice Church commitments through the national United Church of Christ, as well as Wisconsin churches that have adopted Kairos Call to Action covenants.

The Creation Care Team is seeking additional funding to offer these grants again next year.  Also, there are other funding sources congregations have used through Neighbors in Need, our Associations, Focus on Energy, Renew Wisconsin and their Solar For Good program, and the Department of Natural Resources Urban Forestry and Surface Water Grants.

To quote the mission statement of McFarland United Church of Christ Ecojustice Committee: “We affirm the divine gifts of all creation and our interconnectedness with one another and with our environment. We commit ourselves to education, and to action to care for all of God’s creation, especially where there is inequity, suffering and environmental degradation. We acknowledge that the task is great but that no action is too small. For the sake of generations to come, it is vital that we take responsibility to protect the only [earthly] home God has given us.”

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