A Boston-area Church of Christ is using environmental stewardship to boost membership.
The United Church of Christ, to which the Newbury congregation belongs, has called upon its members to become more deeply engaged in stewardship initiatives. Gary Gardner, a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research organization in Washington, wrote in 2002 that the union of environmentalists and religious institutions is "a powerful combination that until recently remained virtually unexplored. . . . Each looks at the world from a moral perspective; each views nature as having value that surpasses economics; and each opposes excessive consumption." Powerful it may prove to be for the church, which is just over the Newburyport line on Newbury High Road. Haverington said this year, on average, three families a week joined, and they are citing the environmental and experiential slants as the reason.
Or is it?
But some parishioners had no taste for Haverington’s course after she came on board in 2001, and left the congregation.The church is down to 65 active congregants, and like many other churches is in the midst of a financial crunch. It is now negotiating the sale of a historic rooster weathervane that once sat on top.
You’ll have to scan to Page 2 to get an idea of what sorts of things they were probably objecting to. Environmental stewardship can be an effective part of ministry and outreach for any congregation, but if that’s all you’ve got, is it really a Church anymore? [My New England church is growing, by the way – no financial crunching. Must be all that Bible preaching and praying and worshipping Jesus and stuff… ed]