Over the past year, I have spent much of my time working with the Councils and Committees of the church to understand not just what they do as groups and leaders in the church, but also what they aspire to do on behalf of this congregation.
For example, when one looks at the work of groups like our Outreach Committee or Worldwide Ministries Committee, it is easy to figure out what they do. These groups are responsible for creating and maintaining partnerships with local, regional and international mission and relief organizations primarily through the use of the generous benevolent funding in our annual budget and foundation.
This is what they do.
But what they aspire to do is to not just be in partnership as one institution to another but to create real personal connections between organizations, the constituents they serve AND the members of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church. That work is much more fluid and hard to pin down.
I have also spent this past year working closely with our three other Mission Committees – Hunger, Peacemaking and Environmental Justice. Again, even just from their names it is easy to think one understands what these groups do. But each one has its own unique work and responsibilities in the life of the church, and each one addresses rather than focuses on these issues in different ways.
THIS Sunday, as we worship together without a paper bulletin, we are highlighting the work of our Environmental Justice Committee. Just this spring the committee reworked its statement of purpose:
Environmental Justice Committee of the Mission Council provides a lens to focus on God’s creation. Our intention, as stewards of the environment, is to find meaningful ways to engage the BMPC congregation in the practice of caring for the world’s resources. It is our aim, as advocates, educators, practitioners and catalysts, to engage the congregation, community and the world.
Having a Paperless or Less Paper Sunday is not really about the resources saved by not having a bulletin ONE Sunday of the year. It is about shaking our assumptions, calling us to attention, and reminding the congregation that we have been called by God to be good stewards of the Earth.
Celebrating a Paperless Sunday also helps us as we take steps to be designated an Earth Care Congregation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). This is a process that has called the Environmental Justice Committee and the BMPC staff to consider how we reflect our understanding of the responsibility to be stewards of the Earth in relation to our facilities, our educational programs, our worship, and our advocacy work. The good news is that we are already well on our way to earning this designation because of the good work that BMPC has been doing for years.
Our worship for this Sunday has been shaped with two goals in mind: a celebration of God’s creation through scripture, prayers and song, and an emphasis on traditional yet simple liturgy that will make worshiping without a bulletin easier for all of us. Plus we will have the chance to discover the worship resources available in our new hymnal.
I value very much the commitment that our Environmental Justice Committee has to their work of engaging and encouraging us as a congregation. Even through small measures they are helping us do our part.