COLUMBIA - How can individuals in faith organizations act on their religious conviction to care for the earth? Representatives from mainline denominational churches as well as Buddhists and Jews gathered at Rock Bridge Christian Church on Sunday afternoon to brainstorm how they, as a faith community, can act to find solutions to this question.
The gathering drew 28 people from around Columbia, some of whom had gathered over the summer for a similar discussion. Presentations about how to save energy, a display of solar panels and an ice cream social were part of the day's events.
Mark Foeking instructed participants how to test-drive an electric solar-powered scooter. The 28 people in attendance shared ideas about how to make environmental changes on an individual level. Ruen Sharp of Calvary Episcopal Church recommended bike riding around town. She said that it is fun to go to the supermarket with her helmet and use it as a conversation starter. Other individuals suggested drying laundry outside and using compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Following an introduction and prayer by Rock Bridge Christian Church Pastor Maureen Dickmann, Monta Welch of Columbia Climate Change Coalition shared information about the climate change issues and the potential for using solar and wind power. She suggested ways that religious organizations can work with the coalition, such as by holding showings of the documentary "Kilowatt Ours" and working together to build a net-zero home, possibly in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Net-zero homes provide all the energy needed for the appliance and machinery in the home to function.
Uel and Vernie Blank enjoyed ice cream that Mark Foeking made earlier in the afternoon with an ice cream maker powered by portable solar panels. People in attendance shared ideas about environmental actions their congregations have taken and are planning for the future. Rock Bridge Christian Church maintains a garden outside its "green" church building. The Buddhist Center shows the "The Quiet Revolution," a documentary highlighting environmental concerns and individuals involved in grass-roots efforts. Calvary Episcopal has placed recycling stations for cell phones and ink jet cartridges in its building and plans to create a reference area for those interested in environmentally-friendly building projects. New Horizons United Methodist's children's Sunday school classes are collecting egg cartons to be recycled at a food pantry, and the church's newsletter runs a column covering environmental activities and ideas.
Those who attended Sunday's event plan to continue their conversation with another meeting sometime later in the fall. "The world needs repair, as we're all aware. I am getting a lot of wonderful ideas listening to the discussion. We should be writing every month in our newsletter encouraging people to choose green, encouraging people to carpool to shul," said Jim Krueger of Congregation Beth Shalom.