GOSHEN (2016/04/19) -- On April 17, the Church of Christ Congregational of Goshen celebrated God's creation and their own efforts to create a healthy planet for future generations, efforts that have earned the church the Green Houses of Worship Award.
The Green Houses of Worship Award is environmental stewardship program sponsored by the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network that recognizes a congregation's achievement for implementing eco-friendly practices.
Goshen's 4/1 Earth Ministry launched shortly after participating in the 2013 Mission 4/1 Earth, 50 Great Days. The group started an Earth Film Series held the third Wednesday of each month with a free soup supper.
"We are in our fourth year, have shown 29 films related to care of our planet, and served up lots of delicious homemade soup," said Jan Hooper, a member of the ministry team.
At one of these film gatherings, the concept of a Community Garden emerged, and after considerable effort, a garden site and grant monies were obtained. The Goshen Green Garden includes private 10 x 20 feet plots as well as a 1000 sq. ft. Garden of Feedin', plots where produce is grown to contribute to local food banks in Goshen and Torrington. The garden donated over 500 lbs. of fresh, organic food to the community in 2015.
On April 17 the church celebrated God's gift of this amazing planet in a special service. In preparation for the day, the children learned about the web of creation in which we are all connected. Pam Arifian, Director of the UCC Northeast Environmental Justice Center, led the church school through an exercise with bats, bears, fish, and eagles, connecting different species to demonstrate how interdependent our ecosystems are. This was followed by an exploration into the many ways each of us can use our skills, talents and interests to do our part to create a healthy, thriving and just planet.
The Rev. Tom Carr, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network gave a sermon during the service and presented the Green Houses of Worship Award for the Church.
Symbolic of the unending work that must be done in environmental stewardship, a tiny baby was baptized during the celebration, a child who will inherit what we have done here on Earth as participants in God's creation.
Lynn Fulkerson is a member of the Church of Christ Congregational in Goshen and its Earth Ministry Team.