What would your congregation do with $500? In early January 2022, St. Augustine of Canterbury in Oklahoma City asked to apply for an early experiment grant from the Diocesan vitality granting program. The congregation used the money to purchase 315 Creation Care Reusable Tote Bags to be distributed amongst themselves as a kick-off to the Creation Care Ministry.
St. Augustine of Canterbury was inspired to ask how they can implement practices to create lifelong learning, sensitivity, promotion, and awareness of God's Creation. They hoped Creation Care totes would give members a chance to pause and consider their choices when shopping or running errands.
The experiment was a success! All 315 bags were distributed amongst members. Almost immediately, participation and support for the movement were apparent; The program also got the church thinking about other ways to implement Creation Care principles. They took away their disposable cups at Coffee Hour, replacing them with washable mugs, offered a QR code for people to download bulletins and announcements, and they offered Christmas Tree recycling in January on the church grounds, which fed the goats of Red Buffalo Farms. Even The Children's Ministry of St. Augustine adopted a Creation Care Curriculum starting in Jan. '22, with lessons on soil, seeds, and other principles.
They measured it by a simple equation: 315 people choosing a reusable bag meant 315 fewer plastic sacks in use, in the trash, or elsewhere. Twenty-five more minor paper bulletins weekly resulted in less paper waste and saved the church money. They used 100 fewer disposable cups each Sunday – which could mean saving over 5,000 disposable cups per year.
Member Engagement Coordinator Sarah-Emily Steinhardt shared the impact of the grant on the St. Augustine Community. "This was a mindset shift and programming shift in focus for the whole church that was met with great support. The tote bags were a success in that they were a catalyst for the additional Creation Care efforts to come and prompted the church's shift in becoming a church that focused on, celebrated, and made very concerted efforts in Creation Care," Steinhardt said.
She commented on how grateful they are for the grant, "We're so grateful for the Innovation Grant, and look forward to more great things happening with Creation Care at St. Augustine, this is just the beginning!"
Are you inspired to try something new at your church or in your community? Click HERE for detailed information on the Vitality Granting Program. Or contact Canon Steve, Canon for Congregational Vitality, firstname.lastname@example.org and The Ministry Partners Team.
The Episcopal Church defines creation care as a commitment to practice loving formation, liberating advocacy, and life-giving conversation as individuals, congregations, ministries, and dioceses. Learn more about Creation Care by clicking HERE .