Congregations invited to join Green Church movement
April 04, 2023
For Rev. Bumshik Min, awareness of the need to care for the Earth and protect the environment has always been present.
“When I was little, one of the worldwide issues was the environmental protection movement. I grew up with that situation,” he said.
In the intervening years, the climate crisis has only become more acute and even more prominent, and Rev. Min, who serves Suncook (NH) UMC, found himself considering:
“As a Methodist and as a Christian … how I [could] respond to this social issue — not only as a as an individual, but also as a church and also in my ministry.”
The answer he came to is the Green Church movement.
As the Green Church promotional materials state: “The Green Church movement will be an active and practical way to respond to the climate crisis on the congregational level.”
“When it comes to environmental protection, it sounds like a very big idea and seems a little far away from our practical life,” Rev. Min said, “but I want to embark on this movement at the level of the congregation, more practically.”
Rev. Min began the Green Church movement in his last appointment. He was serving Alton and Orono UMCs in Maine when, in July 2021, the state banned single-use plastic bags.
He said in the past the churches had used mugs and other branded items, but the plastic bag ban inspired the idea of creating a reusable tote, or eco-bag, featuring the Green Church logo.
“[Church members] can use the bags to protect nature, and at the same time, they can advertise the presence of the church in town,” he said.
Rev. Min wanted to duplicate the work he began in Maine in his new appointment in New Hampshire. What one church could do, others could as well, and he thought it would “be more powerful and effective” to get a network of churches involved.
Bow Mills UMC in Bow and Main Street UMC in Nashua both responded.
Rev. Virg Fryer said that Bow Mills is just starting to consider the idea, but members of Main Street UMC have expressed some real interest, Rev. Kelly Turney said.
The focus on practical steps is a good place to start, Rev. Turney said.
“It feels like very low hanging fruit. But I think there are some low-hanging-fruit kind of things we can do, right? Like recycling, getting away from plastic bags or not having Styrofoam in your kitchen,” she said. “But there's also the work of [for example,] researching the vendors you use to make sure they are environmentally friendly in their practices. That kind of next-level work that requires a little bit more dedication and research, and I hope we get there also.”
The next step for the movement, Rev. Min said, is to engage with other churches via Zoom to develop ideas and policies and look at some concrete ways to move forward.
“I know a lot of congregations do an earth focus at least once a year, but I hope we can get beyond that. … I hope more people get involved,” Rev. Turney said.
Even just coming together to talk is an important, she said. “Our people are pretty excited about … talking to other congregations. And quite frankly, if that's all we do, I would be excited for congregations to work across congregational borders.”
The work crosses generations as well.
“One of the reasons that I am seriously into this movement is I’m also thinking about my children,” Rev. Min said. “I have two children. I’m thinking about what kind of good things can I pass on to my children?”
One of those good things, he said, is nature.
“In the past, we just paid attention to development, to our interests, so we forgot how to co-exist with nature, I mean with God’s other creatures. I think this is a good time to rethink our relationship with God’s creatures – why don’t we seek the best way to live with them in love and peace?” Rev. Min said.
“We have the duty to protect those things, and, then, pass them down to the next generations in a good way,” he said.
Want to learn more?
Any churches interested in learning more or joining the Green Church movement are invited to contact Rev. Min at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find the Green Church materials here. The logo was created by church member Auralee Mayfield, who has authorized its use by participating congregations.