For members of the Green Team at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church Hayesville, going
green isn't just something to talk about in idealistic terms. It's something to practice every day in
concrete ways that range from small efforts such as recycling Sunday bulletins to ambitious
plans for the use of solar power.
The Green Team ministry began in 2008 and has grown into a group of committed members who look for opportunities to be good stewards of God's creation. Team members believe that “We must act and change.” Their mission statement includes the directive “to follow God's commandments that we be good stewards of what we have been given and that we love our neighbors as ourselves...by caring for the Earth, we are following His command... our every action has an impact on God's creation and on our neighbors. The way we act today is simply not sustainable, and if we do not change there will be irreparable damage to His creation and irreparable harm to those who will follow us.”
This is an idealistic statement, but a look at what the Green Team has accomplished in a few years shows how they put muscle behind their ideals. Regularly they conduct seminars on environmental issues. An energy retrofit they did on the homeless shelter in Murphy resulted in savings of almost 50 percent. In 2013 they helped to form the Lake Chatuge Greenfaith. An energy audit on Good Shepherd's own church building led to the use of energy-efficient light bulbs and energy-saving appliances. When the church built its new Parish Hall, Team members worked with the project manager to implement energy-saving options in both the addition and the existing building, such as cutting-edge insulation and weather-stripping and caulking to tighten gaps in the buildings.
In addition, the Green Team has organized church-wide recycling. Because Clay County doesn't recycle glass, team members accumulate glass at their homes, then take it to other counties where it can be recycled. The team pushed the church to stop using paper and plastic at Parish Hall events. With real coffee cups, the use of styrofoam is minimized. Gardeners grow flowers in a church cutting garden. Altar candle stubs are melted for other uses.
Even with all these strategies in practice, members of the Green Team are thinking about days to come. Future plans include use of solar power at the church, electric vehicle charging in the parking lot, more efficient HVAC equipment, and a ministry to help the needy in our communities to reduce their power bills.
Good Shepherd's Green Team takes seriously its mission to be good stewards of the Earth. In a recent gathering of about 20 church members, parishioner Brad Rouse led a lively discussion that emphasized ways to combine practicality with idealism and altruism.