The First Congregational United Church of Christ in McPherson is part of a nationwide effort to offer 1 million hours of caring for the earth, plant more than 100,000 trees and send more than 100,000 advocacy letters on environmental concerns.
The project titled Mission 4/1 Earth, 50 Great Days is a denominational project of the United Church of Christ.
The challenge launched on Easter, April 1, and will continue through Pentecost, May 19.
The local church plans to plant four trees in its Meditation Garden and around the church grounds.
Individuals also are tallying the hours they spend recycling and doing other environmentally conscious activities, Dianna Carter, the McPherson church’s moderator, said.
In the coming weeks, the local church will write advocacy letters on environmental issues, Carter said.
The project nationwide to date has totaled 48,964 hours volunteered for the environment, 11,048 trees planted and 4,720 environmental advocacy letters written, according the projects website.
Although the project is well short of its goal, Carter said she thought there are likely many churches, such as her own, that have not turned in any of their numbers to the project.
“I think we will have significant numbers of our own,” she said.
Weather has kept many from participating in the early days of the challenge, but Carter said the local effort is building steam.
“I think once they saw that 100,000 number, they saw that we could contribute, and that brought interest,” she said.
Carter said the environment has long been a priority of the congregation. Last year, the church conducted an Earth Day celebration in its Meditation Garden.
“Members of The First Congregational United Church of Christ are pitching in to reach that goal and to show that environmental issues are important to our community and to our world,” Carter said in a news release. “Water conservation, recycling and soil care are all part of our efforts throughout the year as we feel God has entrusted us to care for the earth to ensure resources for future generations. Join us in our efforts not only during Earth Day and other promoted times, but throughout the year.”
Other communities through the country have taken different approaches to reaching the mission’s goal.
These have included a worship service on top of a landfill, a project to promote healthy eating among youth and a project to protect salamander migration.
“I would love to see everyone concerned about resources in our organization,” Carter said. “I think our resources are precious, and we don’t appreciate them enough. We are very wasteful.”