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St. Andrew Members Embrace Earth Care

By Teri Brosh

 

Ahhh! What a refreshing place to worship with God: out under the majestic Douglas Fir trees, the swaying Oregon Oaks and the Black Cottonwoods. That’s where members and friends of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Beaverton, Oregon, met for church on a Wednesday evening in July. Toting folding chairs, approximately 100 people gathered to worship in the outdoor “chapel” called “The Sanctuary in the Firs.” Bishop David Brauer-Rieke preached.

 

Technically, the wildlife area is a beautiful wetlands directly behind the church with an upland area where the sanctuary is located. Nearby, birds chirped and---if members listened closely---the muted buzzing and humming of insects could be heard. On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, out in the wetlands created by God, and nurtured by earth-conscious members, folks gathered to worship and to baptize a young child with water from around the state and the nation. The sponsors even brought water from Venice, Italy. A wetlands liturgy was used for the service, and members lifted their voices to the strumming of guitars.

 

Years ago, some considered wetlands a detriment, according to Bob Buchholz, chair of the parish’s Earth Care Team. Wetlands were a wild area where no construction was permitted. What on earth could one do with the land? So, the natural area sat, neither maintained nor nurtured by humankind. Today, that’s not the case at St. Andrew, where parish members consider the area a beautiful asset. Buchholz says caring for it is just one part of St. Andrew’s elaborate Earth Care efforts currently undertaken by member teams.

 

Other efforts include:

  • serving as a host congregation for an earth care event called the Ecology for Grace and Justice”
  • creating a “green design” for the newly expanded church (using natural lights, efficient heating, etc.)
  • installing rain gardens to manage storm runoff
  • holding adult forums on earth care topics
  • speaking to other churches about environmental issues
  • maintaining a community garden (and donating much of the produce to the
  • community)
  • educating everyone all ages about earth care
  • saving energy (using solar panels, changing to more efficient light bulbs, etc.)
  • taking part in a letter-writing campaign to reduce emissions
  • organizing work parties to remove invasive species and encourage the growth of native habitat

In fact, in the last four years, two St. Andrew members have even written Earth Words sermons, supporting the environment, that have won Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon awards.

 

This January, St. Andrew will host the 4th Annual Earth Care Summit sponsored by the Interfaith Network for Earth Concerns of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon.

 

“St. Andrew is becoming a leader in earth care ministries within Oregon,” says Associate  Pastor Robyn Hartwig. The parish’s environmental efforts “help fulfill our mission to support our five core values: God care, earth care, community care, neighbor care, and self care. I’m very proud of St. Andrew in its earth care efforts because God loves the earth,” adds the pastor. “And after all, we are called to love what God loves.”

Below: St. Andrew members planting over 2,000 trees as part of landscaping for  a building project. Mitigation was required because the church used a small portion of the wetland for parking.