Here’s an unusual distinction for a Catholic parish, whose members are taking their call to be stewards of the earth very seriously:
“We are called to care for Creation.” said Fr. Bob Stagg of The Church of the Presentation in Upper Saddle River, NJ. Presentation is the first Catholic parish nationwide to be accepted into the GreenFaith Certification Program, the country’s only interfaith environmental certification program for houses of worship.
The Program is designed to help churches, synagogues, mosques and temples earn recognition as environmental leaders by carrying out more than two dozen environmental activities over two years. “We are very enthusiastic about joining the GreenFaith Certification Program because it gives us the tools to become strong environmental leaders,” said Fr. Stagg. “We want to live out these ‘green values’ in everything we do – from our preaching and education to the operation of our building,” he added.
To highlight this commitment, the Church of the Presentation has recently installed solar panels on its one-acre acre roof, utilizing an innovative financing model. In addition to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, the church expects to reduce its electricity bills by approximately about 30 percent. “This Program is a challenging, important way for houses of worship to engage environmental issues,” said the Rev. Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith’s executive director.“As the Church of the Presentation goes through the Program, its members will experience the transformation that comes from sharing a religious commitment to Creation.” Over the two years, participating congregations offer eco-themed worship services, religious education classes on the environment, as well as interfaith and intergenerational activities. They must ‘green’ their own facility and educate their members in such topics as energy conservation, waste reduction, “green” cleaning and sustainable food.
In addition, they educate their members about environmental justice issues and participate in environmental advocacy initiatives. GreenFaith provides extensive support to participating institutions through a special Web site housing more than 200 resources, six free webinars, and an on-line community where participants share strategies and successes. GreenFaith staff and Program mentors guide participants through the Program, providing one-on-one feedback and assistance. When houses of worship complete the requirements, GreenFaith recognizes them as GreenFaith Sanctuaries.