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CARING FOR GOD’S CREATION IN OUR YARDS

As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to take care of the world around us and all the living things in it. We can improve the environment and benefit wildlife by what we do in our own yards, such as planting native plants. As the name implies, native plants are ones that evolved in the local environment, meaning that the plants are adapted to local conditions – soil, water, and temperature, and that local wildlife – insects, animals and birds, co-evolved with them. Because native plants are accustomed to local conditions, once established they require less maintenance than non-native plants. They are more tolerant of local conditions and require less watering and no use of fertilizer and pesticides, meaning cost savings and less runoff of toxic mate-rials into the local watershed and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. They also provide habitat and food for native wildlife.

Non-native plants have relatively little value to wildlife as they do not recognize such plants as food. You will see far fewer insects on non-native flowers and plants than on native ones. It’s not a bad thing if insects/caterpillars are eating your plants. Remember that insects are both important pollinators and a step in the food web. Without insects/caterpillars, bird populations would be severely threated as many birds feed only caterpillars and insects to their young. Recent research on Carolina chickadees in the DC area found that maintenance of their population depended on having at least 70% native plants in the vicinity of their nests because few caterpillars were found on non-native plants while they abounded on native ones. For more information about plants native to Northern Virginia, see their beauty and diversity and which plants are suitable for different settings (sun/shade, wet/dry), consult the websites of Plant NOVA Natives and Audubon at Home  which also list local native plant sales and native plant nurseries

Look for our new recycle bins throughout the church. 
They are labeled with what can go in these containers. 
Please do your part to be earth friendly!


Earth Care Pledge (part of the Earth Care Congregations program)

The Social Justice and Peacemaking Unit of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in consultation with congregations and presbyteries across the denomination, developed a five-part resolution as a model for mobilizing congregations to respond to the General Assembly’s “CALL TO RESTORE THE CREATION.” The resolution was simplified to a four-part pledge in 2010. Churches applying to be an Earth Care Congregation must have the Earth Care Pledge affirmed by their session and signed by the clerk.

Earth Care Pledge

Peace and justice is God’s plan for all creation. The earth and all creation are God’s. God calls us to be careful, humble stewards of this earth, and to protect and restore it for its own sake, and for the future use and enjoyment of the human family. As God offers all people the special gift of peace through Jesus Christ, and through Christ reconciles all to God, we are called to deal justly with one another and the earth.

  1. Our worship and discipleship will celebrate God’s grace and glory in creation and declare that God calls us to cherish, protect and restore this earth.
  2. In education, we will seek learning and teaching opportunities to know and understand the threats to God’s creation and the damage already inflicted. We will encourage and support each other in finding ways of keeping and healing the creation in response to God’s call to earth-keeping, justice and community.
  3. Our facilities will be managed, maintained and upgraded in a manner that respects and cherishes all creation, human and non-human, while meeting equitably the needs of all people. In our buildings and on our grounds we will use energy efficiently, conserve resources, and share what we have in abundance so that God’s holy creation will be sustainable for all life and future generations.
  4. Our outreach will encourage public policy and community involvement that protects and restores the vulnerable and degraded earth as well as oppressed and neglected people. We will be mindful that our personal and collective actions can positively or negatively affect our neighborhood, region, nation and world. We will seek to achieve environmental justice through coalitions and ecumenical partnerships.

Here are some earth-care related actions we have already taken, or do on an ongoing basis:

  • Conducted an energy assessment of our facility and implemented many of the resulting recommendations regarding more efficient windows, lighting, heating/cooling;
  • Use Eco-Palms for Palm Sunday;
  • Regularly do communion by intinction;
  • Offer an earth care-focused devotional discipline for Lent;
  • Serve Fair Trade coffee at our gatherings;
  • Offer electronic distribution of our Newsletter;
  • Recycle and reuse materials;
  • Donate used material for reuse in social justice projects;
  • Service projects related to earth care (Good Samaritan Day grounds efforts at Westgate Elementary and the Lewinsville Retirement Residence); and
  • Limit use of bottled water, instead providing water in pitchers for large gatherings.

Contact Susan Bartram or Maia Foster if you would like to be part of this effort.