Ministry has Eupora folks seeing green


 Special to the Advocate

EUPORA — The grass may not be greener at First United Methodist Church, but the people certainly are.

This year the church dedicated itself to being true stewards of God’s Creation and began a new Green Ministry to help the church and the congregation focus on preserving the earth and its resources.
“From the beginning, humanity was given a special responsibility to care for God’s creation,” says Rev. Trey Harper, pastor, “but sadly most of us have done a lousy job. When Julia (Stephenson) came with her special calling to help make us all better stewards of the earth, it made perfect sense, and the congregation has embraced it with open arms.”
The Green Ministries focus on three areas of congregational life. First, the church was called to change many of its behaviors. “We have begun replacing traditional light bulbs with florescent ones, recycling all our office paper and cutting out non-biodegradable paper products in the kitchen. This means we are using recycled paper products and washing dishes, and no one has complained,” shares Stephenson, coordinator for the Green Ministries.
The second focus is on teaching children and adults the importance of caring for creation and enjoying creation. “It is so easy for us to spend all of our time inside, especially in the heat of summer. We wanted to get our children and families out into nature and experiencing the beauty of creation,” says Stephenson.
The church is creating a special outdoor worship center and emphasizing church-wide activities in the great outdoors.
“We are very excited about our upcoming fifth Sunday in June with the church-wide picnic on the grounds. I grew up playing outside, rain or shine, and we as a church want to foster that experience for our children. Nature is a gift and we all need to experience it to appreciate it,” says Harper.
The final focus of the church’s Green Ministries is the children. “We have been blessed with such a wonderful children’s ministry and we wanted to accent that with an emphasis on caring for the earth,” says Harper.
As part of the outdoor worship space, the children will have special garden space where they will grow flower and vegetables. “We want to get everyone involved and hope to get our older adults to help us teach the children about growing things. We have so many talented gardeners in our older generations and we want to provide opportunities to pass that passion on to a new generation,” says Stephenson.
The church will also accent the church grounds with bird feeders and plan to get the youth involved in building bird houses.
But of all things planned for the church, the one that has caused the most excitement was not even part of the original plan.
“When we first introduced our green plan to the congregation, there was lots of excitement. Then we started having people come up asking about reusable grocery bags. Everyone in church knows that Julia promotes reusable grocery bags, so they assumed it would be part of the ministries. To that point it had never been part of our conversation.
“Needless to say we were ecstatic that folks were already embracing the ideas and taking it even further,” explains Harper.
The church designed and purchased shopping bags made from recycled materials. The bags include the verse from Psalm 24 that has become the heart of the Green Ministries: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it…”
“That is truly what we are seeking to proclaim and live,” says Stephenson. “Green Ministry is about more than doing projects, but is really about changing the way we live our lives to honor our Creator and the Creation he has entrusted to our care.”
For information about the Green Ministries or any of the ministries of Eupora First United Methodist Church, contact the church office at 662-258-2611.