Practicing Stewardship In Your Congregation

Every day, congregations make decisions on how natural resources are used by deciding how money will be spent. Did you know your congregation can begin practicing Earth stewardship by evaluating and making small changes in the kind of purchases made? Consider the following two small changes your congregation can make that will contribute toward better stewardship of God’s creation … and the church budget.

Coffee, tea … and living wages

Have you thought about the wages earned by farmers who produce the coffee and tea you consume at church each Sunday? What about the ecological conditions under which the products are grown? Much of the coffee and tea available on the market is grown unsustainably on large farms with large inputs of chemical herbicides and pesticides. Furthermore, the people working the farms earn barely enough to support their families, and are routinely exposed to dangerous chemicals.

Suggestion: When buying coffee and tea (or any other food or beverage product), make sure items are labeled as “fair trade” and “organic.” Fairly traded products mean that the farmers earn a fair price for their produce. They work directly with distributors, thus eliminating money given to a middle-man. A number of fair trade companies exist, including Equal Exchange, which works directly with congregations to provide organic, fairly traded products. Disciples Home Missions has been serving Equal Exchange coffee, tea and hot chocolate to its staff and guests for more than a year. For more information, visit

To wash or toss … that’s the question

As Disciples Men around the country plan their pancake breakfasts, someone will surely decide whether or not to use paper or Styrofoam instead of washable glass or plastic plates and cups. Sure the paper and Styrofoam are convenient … they don’t need to be washed. They’re simply thrown away. However, “away” does not exist considering that our trash either ends up in a landfill somewhere or incinerated, which contributes to air pollution. And have you considered the resources used to create disposable dishes … raw materials such as trees to create paper pulp or petroleum to produce Styrofoam, plus the electricity and oil to run the machines to produce the items, then the fuel to transport them to the store and to your church. Meanwhile, reusable dishes sit in the cupboards collecting dust!

Suggestion: When organizing events, include a plan for volunteer dishwashers who can properly clean and disinfect dish ware (or perhaps your congregation has a mechanical dishwasher?). Another option is to invite people to bring their own dishes and utensils—like a picnic—then arrange a place for them to wash their dishes before they leave, if they wish. The good news is that the congregation will not have spent money on disposable dishes and no resources were expended on items used for 15 minutes then tossed.

What is your congregation doing to become better stewards of our natural resources? Share your ideas with the church by contacting Carol Devine through the Green Chalice Website:

original article by Ms. Angela Herrmann