The Earth Ministries Committee intends to promote earth care and sustainability, worship and outreach leadership in cooperation with ministers and other church leaders and to plan, coordinate and provide information to church members about earth care events and action opportunities. For information about this ministry please contact Charles Coble or Buck Horton.
On Earth Day (April 22, 2018), the Earth Ministries Committee shared the stirring “Proclamation of Sustainability” that Binkley Church is adopting. This proclamation calls us to community-wide change, but all change takes time. What are the next steps? What are some practical things we can do now to get going? Read the proclamation by clicking the link above.
Binkley is one of five churches in the nation to be recognized by Interfaith Power & Light as a Cool Congregation for 2018. The Cool Congregations Challenge was divided into five categories, and Binkley was awarded $1000 in the Sacred Grounds category for our efforts with 3-stream waste diversion (landfill, recycling, and compost.) Click here to read a press release from IPL. You can also find more information at the Cool Congregations Challenge website.
Our congregational commitment to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Reclaim
All that is described below is accomplished with support of our Church Council and in collaboration with the Building, Grounds, Membership, Fellowship, Outreach, Worship, Fine Arts, and other Binkley Church committees
In Liturgy, Ritual, Worship, Pastoral Care:
- Adopted a Proclamation of Sustainability on April 16, 2018 that reads, in part:
With a Biblical and spiritual foundation and with firm resolve, we commit ourselves as a community of believers to a path of sustainable practices that reduces our negative impact on Earth’s environment, extends our mission of social justice, and expands our joy for the natural world.
- Conduct an Annual Earth Day Service
- Taught an Adult Sunday School class related to Earth Care Ministry and established a Biblical base for our efforts to care for God’s creation
- Weave Earth Care themes routinely into our services, sermons, music and classes
- Teach ecological and sustainable practices in Vacation Bible School
- Host an annual Blessing of the Animals Service and a Tree Planting/Blessing ceremony in 2019
- Maintain spaces for outdoor worship, meditation, and social gatherings to increase awareness and appreciation for our natural world
- Replacing one-use disposable communion cups with compostable cups
- 2018-2019 Stewardship Campaign theme: “Planting-Cultivating-Harvesting”
In Earth Care Responsibility:
- Conducted a detailed energy audit and prioritized actions in 2015
- Fund raised $51,000+ to install 50 solar panels in July 2016
As of 6:00 p.m., February 10, Binkley Church’s solar panels have produced 46.34 MWh of energy and saved 32,577 kg of CO2 emissions from being emitted; the equivalent of 1,807 trees planted, and had saved $5,097 on electricity bills since installing the solar panels in July 2016
- Installed programmable thermostats throughout the church facilities in 2016 to help reduce energy consumption
- In 2018, with $5,370 support from the church, Earth Ministries Green Team implemented a triple-stream collection system and waste diversion plan in order to recycle and compost everything possible. The overall goal is to divert as much as possible from the landfill by implementing a reduce-reuse-refuse strategy throughout our facility. All entrances, worship spaces, fellowship rooms, meeting rooms, classrooms, offices, and bathrooms have triple-stream collection systems.
We collect on average 2,700 pounds/month of compostable materials and 1,664 gallons by volume/month of recyclable materials. We anticipate the volume increasing by approximately 20% in 2019
As part of the plan, we also stocked our kitchen with a full inventory of reusable service-ware for 200+ people, replaced “throw-away” single-use items with compostable alternatives to be used when reusable items aren’t practical, replaced single-use Church School food/beverage supplies with bulk/community products, and began purchasing products from local/sustainable vendors when possible. We have partnered with our many non-congregational building users to join us in our mission of sustainability and re-written their covenants/contracts reflecting this commitment
From May 15 to December 15, Binkley diverted 9.43 tons (18,865 pounds) of compostable waste from the landfill. By December 31, we had diverted 10 tons! That is 1.18 metric tons/month of avoided CO2 emissions
In March 2019, Binkley Baptist Church was selected a winner and one of five inspiring faith communities nationally in The Cool Congregation Challenge conducted by Interfaifh Power & Light. See: www.interfaithpowerandlight.org
- Issued monthly “Challenges” to the congregation beginning in May 2018 with the Ugly Mug of May Challenge (to collect reusable coffee/tea mugs), the June Jaunt Challenge encouraged our enjoyment of the out-of-doors. These were followed by the Plastic Free July, Stop the Junk Mail (August), Understanding Green Terminology (September), Leaves & Ballots (October), A Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Earth (November), Having a Sustainable Christmas (December), Commit to One Sustainable New Year’s Resolution (January), and Plant a Tree (February). These Challenges have engaged the congregation in joyful ways
- For many years we have conducted a large bi-annual Yard Sale with Barbee’s Chapel Church & Ministries (an historically African American church) that reuses/recycles clothing, toys, small appliances, garden supplies, kitchen ware, etc., and donate proceeds to selected local organizations
Additional Actions & Projects
- Purchase fair trade coffee for our functions and recommend shopping at local farmers markets when possible
- Regularly prepare vegetarian/vegan/plant-based foods at our Wednesday night dinners (33 this year)
- Prepare only vegetarian/vegan/plant-based menus during the Lenten season (5 dinners)
- Encourage congregants to compost at home as well as to collect compostable materials, which can be disposed of in our campus’ collection bins (picked up by a commercial composter)
- Created an Earth Justice section in our library
- Conducted a year-long campaign (2018-2019) to better educate members on sustainable lifestyle choices through our gatherings, weekly updates, monthly “Green Corner” column in the newsletter
- Encouraged members to perform home energy audits and carbon calculations
- Encouraged members to give up bottled water and all single-use items
- From October-December, encourage members to live more sustainably throughout the holiday seasons
- Reuse supplies and purchase sustainable supplies for all church events
- Collect disposable items to use in children’s craft projects (egg cartons, paper towel rolls, etc.) and collect gently used medical accessories and equipment for members and families to borrow and use as needed
- Recycle ink cartridges and toner cartridges that cannot be refilled
- Indoors: purchased Energy Star appliances; Outdoors: reduced use of gas-powered tools
- Perform seasonal (quarterly) checkups and change filters monthly to maintain our HVAC systems
- Begun installing dual-flush toilets and posted reminder signs to properly shut off hand-washing faucets
- Included responsibility for best environmental practices in our contract with our Custodial Staff
- Adjusted water heater temperatures to 110-120 degrees F where appropriate
- Installed thermal window shades in a large meeting room
- Increased use of energy efficient indoor and outdoor lighting
- Reduced pesticides in our grounds/gardening
- Mulch leaves for reuse in the landscape; other yard waste composted (via Orange County program)
- Increased wildlife habitat on church grounds by planting butterfly gardens, pollinator gardens, and adding bird, bat and bee housing
- Certified as a “Community Wildlife Habitat” from the National Wildlife Federation
- Added native plants to the woodland border of our church grounds in an attempt to decrease invasive species and reduce the need for watering.
In Public Witness for Creation Justice:
- Conduct Wednesday evening meal events focused on the environment, climate change, recycling, composting, and the social justice impacts of environmental degradation
- Host to a number of guest speakers who have addressed topics such as: climate change, solar energy, the Bible and Ecological Justice, the NC Mountain-to-Sea Trail, environmental law, and political action
- Entered the 2018 NC Interfaith Council’s Cool Congregations Challenge
- Submitted narrative of Binkley EM initiatives for the NC Interfaith Power & Light Renewable Energy Database they are developing in collaboration with the NC Sustainable Energy Association (which will be released Spring 2019)
- Conduct Wednesday Night Dinner Programs that are open to the community beyond Binkley
- Guest for a local radio program about waste reduction, diversion, full-campus composting
In Outreach and Service Beyond Binkley:
- Serve as a pickup location for an Orange County CSA, Anathoth Community Garden and Farm, Cedar Grove, and encourage our members to participate
- Partner with the Church of the Holy Family and the Town of Chapel Hill to support the South Estes Community Garden
- Meeting with other local faith-based organizations that are interested in learning more about diverting waste from the landfill and reducing the overall waste created. We’ve shared the details of our journey and our recommendations for success. We are currently collaborating with The Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist (Chapel Hill), Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (Durham), United Church of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill).
- Collaborating with The Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist to develop a directory of Orange County faith communities engaged in ‘creation care’ ministries, which will lead up to a Spring 2019 invitation to convene to share and learn from each other
Plans/Goals Proposed for 2019:
- Create an Earth Ministries recommended book list
- Replace Wednesday Night Dinner compostable take-out boxes with reusable take-out boxes
- Create Art/Nature exhibit for our Sanctuary
- Organize “Repair Café” and “Sew-In” events
- Write a “Get Back to the Kitchen and Save the Earth” Binkley cookbook
- Organize an upcoming intergenerational “Jordan Lake Cleanup Day”
- Organize an intergenerational “Clean Up Our Neighborhood Day”
Current Earth Ministries “Green Team” @ Binkley Baptist Church
Charles Coble firstname.lastname@example.org; Co-Chair; Buck Horton: email@example.com; Co, Chair; Karin Mills: firstname.lastname@example.org; Linda Bourne: email@example.com; Anne Winfield: firstname.lastname@example.org; Pearl Barfield:email@example.com; Rev. Dr. Stephanie Ford: Ministerial Liaison, firstname.lastname@example.org
All are welcome to be a part of Earth Ministries work at Binkley Church
Binkley Church Solar Panel Initiative
Click HERE to read the proposal that delivered our Solar Panel Initiative.
In the fall of 2015, the Church Council of Binkley Church unanimously approved an Earth Ministries recommendation to install 20 solar panels on the roof of Binkley Baptist Church and a strategy to pay for doing so – voluntary contributions beyond the approved church budget. The fund-raiser was conducted during Lent Season beginning February 14, 2016. The fund-raiser was very successful and provided for the installation of 50 solar panels!
Installing the solar panels on Binkley Church has helped:
- Reduce Binkley’s carbon footprint
- Reduce the energy cost of Binkley Church
- Educate our congregation about solar energy
- Make a statement about caring for God’s creation – the earth and all it’s creatures
- Make a statement about social justice, since the poor are bearing the major impacts of climate change
There is sufficient roof space to add additional solar panels in the future, which we hope the congregation will be inclined to support in future years.
Do you have an idea for an environmentally friendly or helpful service activity or volunteer opportunity that we can do as a church for a couple of hours over a day or two in the next several months? Please submit any ideas to Charles Coble.
Want to know how our solar panels are performing? Click here.
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Co-Chairs: Charles Coble and Buck Horton.