David's United Church of Christ in Canal Winchester is joining with UCC congregations nationwide to focus on restoring the environment in celebration of the 50 days of Eastertide.
David's UCC joined the Mission 4/1 Earth program, which is meant to link together observances of Easter (March 31), Earth Day (April 22), Arbor Day (April 26) and Pentecost (May 19) with the goal of providing 1 million hours of engaged activities to affect the environment, planting 100,000 trees and writing 100,000 advocacy letters about environmental concerns.
The Rev. David Long-Higgins said his congregation purchased 200 saplings that were planted last weekend as one part of the church's efforts.
"We understand that we're stewards of the earth, as created by God," he said. "We humans are given the special responsibility to be caregivers of his creation. So we have this responsibility and we want to do as much as we can.
"The 200 trees we've planted are one part of that and go toward the 100,000-tree goal."
Church member Holly Stapleton said the church is passing out time cards so people can easily record how many hours they spend on an activity that either has a direct impact on the environment, such as cleaning up litter or planting a garden, or on work toward education or advocacy.
This will allow the church to measure its impact, she said.
"Congregation and community members are being encouraged to make continued efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle," Stapleton said.
According to Long-Higgins, the congregation has planned special services to work toward the Mission 4/1 Earth goals.
"We have an online letter-writing advocacy campaign going on to make that part easier, as well," he said. "We'd like to invite folks from the community to come in and be a part of these efforts, which will include a wide variety of activities so anyone can feel comfortable participating.
"This includes starting to recycle or bicycling or walking instead of driving, or even watching a documentary about environmental issues and the needs of our planet, to become better educated."
Stapleton said container flowers will be sold May 5 and 12 as a part of celebrating both Mother Earth and Mother's Day.
The church offers three services on Sundays, at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., at 80 W. Columbus St. No two are alike, Long-Higgins said, and all are open to the community. The services will emphasize caring for the environment and associated activities over the next month.
"Our mission is to seek, celebrate and share the love of God through worship, spiritual growth, stewardship, invitation, mission, fellowship, partnership and remaining open to the future. That's why we think that this effort is such a good fit for us," Long-Higgins said.
"And that is why this isn't just a one-shot deal: It's a special focus right now, but it comes from our core conviction that our lives are meant to work for this creative God."