GreenFaith Certification Program for ELCA Congregations

In Partnership with Lutherans Restoring Creation


Frequently Asked Questions

What is GreenFaith?


GreenFaith is an interfaith environmental organization committed to supporting religious institutions and people of all faiths in their quest to become ecologically responsible. GreenFaith has its roots in predecessor organizations reaching back to 1992. Over the years, they have developed many innovative programs for faith communities to become green. Currently, their headquarters is located in New Jersey, and they are served by a staff of four headed by The Rev Fletcher Harper. They are pioneers in the development of certification programs for congregations, religious leaders, and seminaries, and they offer a host of resources, webinars and programs to help institutions and people of faith take action for the Earth.


GreenFaith's stated mission is: to inspire, educate and mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership. Our work is based on beliefs shared by the world’s great religions - we believe that protecting the earth is a religious value, and that environmental stewardship is a moral responsibility.


For more information on the history, mission, leadership, commitments, and programs of GreenFaith, visit their website at www.greenfaith.org.

 

What is Lutherans Restoring Creation?


LRC is a grass roots organization devoted to bring care for creation into the organizations and institutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


Emerging from a predecessor organization called the Lutheran Earthkeeping Network of the Synods, LRC was established in 2009 in response to the offer of a grant from the Lutheran Community Foundation (now InFaith Community Foundation). LRC has established programs that include: a website with multiple sources of information; resources for pastors and congregations, training for synod leaders, network initiatives for ELCA colleges and seminaries, efforts to foster the greening of outdoor ministry centers, and social ministry organizations, a two-year guided program to lower energy costs and carbon footprint for congregations called Energy Stewards Initiative, and extensive resources for creation-care worship and the celebration of a Season of Creation. They are primarily a volunteer organization headed by Dr. David Rhoads, a retired teacher of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.


For more information on the history, mission, leadership, theological commitments, and programs of Lutherans Restoring Creation, visit their website at www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org.

 

What is the GreenFaith Certification Program for Congregations?


This is a two-year program designed to bring care for creation into the full life and mission of religious congregations and communities. There is a framework of basic expectations with various suggestions and resources about how you can fulfill each expectation. There are guidelines for each step of the way and mentoring to guide you through the process. The outcome will be a congregation that has fully embraced the commitment to ecological responsibility as articulated by that faith community. And the community will be awarded GreenFaith certification.

 

What is distinctive about the GreenFaith Certification Program for Lutheran congregations? GreenFaith and Lutherans Restoring Creation have collaborated to bring Lutheran resources and programs into the Certification process, so that it truly is a certification process for Lutheran congregations. In addition, LRC provides a liaison/ mentor to help you find the best ways to make use of those Lutheran resources.

 

How long does the program last? The GreenFaith Certification Program is designed to be a two-year program with schedules and guidelines for achieving goals and measuring results. The program may take some congregations longer to complete.

 

How large does our church have to be? As small as ten and as large as thousands. The GreenFaith folks will work with you to tailor the program to your congregation and your needs. One of the goals of the program is to engage the whole church, however large or small, in this effort.

 

What is it like? What are the components of the program? As a participant in the Certification Program, your congregation will green your community from top to bottom, through these steps:

  1. Getting Started: Write mission statement; develop communications plan; conduct comprehensive self-guided audit; develop action plan for Spirit, Stewardship and Justice requirements.
  2. Spirit Requirements: Care for creation Worship services; Educational programs for all ages; Biblical and theological foundations for professional leaders; Conduct interfaith and inter-generational religious-environmental programs
  3. Environmental Justice Requirements: Educational programs on environmental justice; identifying ways to support Environmental Justice initiatives; Advocating for Environmental Justice.
  4. Stewardship Requirements: 25 education and action stewardship initiatives from the following categories: Energy and Transportation; Food and Water; Waste and Toxics; Grounds Maintenance.
  5. Communications Requirements: Carry out the Communications Plan; publicize your efforts to your members; publicize your efforts to external audiences.

How much does the overall tuition for the program cost? GreenFaith will give a 50% tuition subsidy to the first 20 Lutheran congregations who apply.

  •  Institutions with budgets under $500,000 pay $600. With subsidy $300.
  • Institutions with budgets $500,000 - $1 million pay $1,000. With subsidy $500.
  •  Institutions with budgets $1 million - $2.5 million pay $1,500. With subsidy $750.
  •  Institutions with budgets over $2.5 million are determined in consultation

Financial assistance can be considered for congregations unable to pay the basic fee. 


The tuition fee is a one-time fee that covers the two years and beyond. The expectation is that each participating congregation will save at least this much money and potentially much more by following the GreenFaith guidelines to lower energy costs.

 

What will be the benefits for our congregation? Our hope is that this program will fulfill your congregational vocation to care for creation; deepen your faith; renew your worship; revitalize your congregation; attract new and young members; broaden your partnerships; and save money. GreenFaith and Lutherans Restoring Creation pledge to make this program as meaningful and as effective as possible for your congregation.

 

Where can I go to find out more about it? Two ways:

  1. Go to the GreenFaith website section on certification:  http://greenfaith.org/programs/certification.
  2. Watch an hour-long taped webinar from June 17, 2012 introducing the GreenFaith Certification Program to representatives of Lutheran Congregations: http://greenfaith.org/success-stories/elca-congregations-and-greenfaith.

When is the deadline for application? The first application deadline is December 1st, with a subsequent application deadline of May 1st, 2012. There is need for plenty of time before the deadline to do things related to the application, and please remember that tuition subsidies are first-come-first serve, so you should aim for the December 1st deadline if you are interested.

 

What do we have to do to apply? There are certain steps to get the congregation as a whole engaged in the application process so that it gives your congregation the best chance to succeed in this endeavor—create a Green Team of at least 5-6 members that reflects the diverse aspects of the life and mission of the congregation; have the members of the Green Team sign the Green Team Commitment Form; have the church council pass a resolution and the clergy make a public spoken and written commitment to the Certification Program.


For guidelines and documents, visit http://greenfaith.org/programs/certification/application-steps-required.

 

What other questions do you have? Contact the Director of the GreenFaith program, Stacey Kennealy at skennealy@greenfaith.org. Or contact the LRC liaison for Lutheran Congregations in the GreenFaith Certification Program, Johan Bergh at johanbergh6@gmail.com.