As Presbyterians, we acknowledge our individual and church responsibility as stewards of this earth. In large and small ways, we make an impact through our daily actions. When First Presbyterian began its journey to the 2400 Prince Street location in 199xxxxx, church leaders recognized the importance of applying practices that would limit the carbon footprint in the new building and grounds.

Our faith urges us to strive to defend and heal creation while working to assure justice for all of creation and the human beings who live in it. This call is rooted in the human vocation of “tilling and keeping” the garden from Genesis 2:15, as well as Christ’s charge to work with and for the most vulnerable.

To become an Earth Care Congregation, a church completes an audit that provides work accomplished in four areas: Worship, Education, Facilities, and Outreach. Worship actions include worship services that incorporate prayers, hymns, sermons and readings with an intentional component of earth care. FPC Conway has a prayer garden to the west of the sanctuary with the gazebo and memorial garden.

In 2013, ten trees purchased by FPC members to honor and/or memorialize family were planted and dedicated in an outdoor service. Working with local experts, native trees were chosen: four shumard oaks, two legacy maples, three alta magnolias, and one black gum. The trees replaced several large oaks lost to city street expansion. These young trees are consistent with FPC’s landscape overlay plan formed by a committee that embraces our stewardship mission into worship, facilities, and education. Church members who are also Master Gardeners participate in design and implementation.

Education activities at FPC include participation in Earth Day activities, and members have volunteered at Ecofest and Arbor Day. Our church library also has materials with an earth care focus.

Facilities at our Prince Street location incorporated geothermal energy, which is generated by the earth. FPC’s zoned HVAC systems and efficient lighting also contribute to its green efficiency. Other ways we conserve energy include church newsletter by email and online and choosing reusable dinnerware and offering water in pitchers instead of plastic water bottles. Additionally, two large water heaters were replaced with a tankless model.

Looking beyond FPC, we find many current and future opportunities to address stewardship of God’s creation. Our youth have had camping trips, and individual members serve as Master Gardeners and participate in Ecofest and Arbor Day. We also participate in Habitat for Humanity and recycling in local food and clothing drives.

What more can we do? LOTS! The FPC Green Team encourages church members and friends to participate in local environmental organizations and events. Let’s consider a community garden or volunteer at other gardens at the Conway Library and McGee Center. We can take a stand in support of alternative transportation or write our elected officials about earth care legislation. Mission trips – locally and away from Conway – can include a green component. How about sponsoring a stream clean-up or offer a recycling drive?

To learn more about FPC’s journey and how you can help, contact Betsy Gillaspy-Williams.

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