by Jennifer H. Schrock, Mennonite Creation Care Network
Mennonite Creation Care Network (MCCN) has selected an Eastern District & Franconia Conference congregation, Taftsville (VT) Chapel Mennonite Fellowship, to receive its first annual Art and Jocele Meyer Award.
The award recognizes exemplary creation care at the congregational level and the creation care liaison’s role in communicating with the broader network. It includes a $500 donation to the congregation’s creation care efforts.
Taftsville’s liaison is Heather Wolfe, a dietician and wellness coach who has also authored the forthcoming Herald Press book, “Sustainable Kitchen: Recipes and Inspiration for Plant-based, Planet-Conscious Meals.”
Wolfe has been in the role since 2016 and spearheaded a number of initiatives. These range from installing solar panels to landscaping with native plantings to holding an intergenerational conversation on climate change. Wolfe has created a webinar outlining the steps that their congregation took to create a culture of creation care as a guide to help other churches do similar work.
Many of the church’s actions stem from completing MCCN’s Greener Congregation Score Sheet. The scoresheet encourages congregations to look at creation care from multiple angles, from identifying green leaders to landscaping decisions to worship. The results can provide a road map for years to come.
Taftsville Pastor Steve McCloskey said one of the first things he knew about the church before his initial interview in 2017 was that the members had chosen to install solar panels. “I saw life in the church,” he said. “I saw that this church is not just thinking about themselves as a congregation but asking, ‘How can we be part of a solution to a broader problem?’ ”
To McCloskey, it showed a seriousness about loving one’s neighbors, even if the neighbors were on the other side of the world or still unborn. He said his role is often to help clarify the connection between the Bible and an emphasis on caring for the Earth.
“Jesus never says you should put LED light bulbs in your home or ride bicycles,” McCloskey said. “Why does our faith imply that we should make decisions that are healing to the Earth? I like wrestling with those questions, and Heather does a good job of keeping those questions on our minds.”
Wolfe said she’s always giving credit to the Holy Spirit. “We are just vessels of this Spirit at work in our congregation,” she said.
She is grateful creation care has made the church visible to the local community and attractive to new attendees. “People associate our faith tradition with care for creation,” Wolfe said.
A version of this article originally appeared in Mennonite World Review and is used with permission.