St. Bernard's Church Achieves GreenFaith Certification
October 25, 2015:
St. Bernard’s Episcopal Church has been awarded GreenFaith Certification, the country’s only interfaith environmental certification program for houses of worship, after fulfilling a series of actions and commitments required under the rigorous two-year program.
The Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith, congratulated St. Bernard’s and its Green Team at services on Sunday, Oct. 25, presenting a banner to highlight the achievement. “St. Bernard’s can be proud of having completed this challenging and important certification process,” he said. “St. Bernard’s is now one of some 70 faith-based organizations to have completed the program and experienced the transformation that comes from sharing a religious commitment to protecting God’s Creation.”
The certification program is designed to help churches, synagogues, mosques and temples earn recognition as environmental leaders by carrying out more than two dozen environmental activities over two years.
“We are all called to be responsible stewards of Creation, and we should strive to live out ‘green values’ in everything we do – from our teaching and education to how we conduct our lives and manage our buildings,” said the Rev. Dr. Franklin E. Vilas, a founder of GreenFaith and current Priest-in-Charge at St. Bernard’s. “The GreenFaith Certification Program today provides resources, information, support and networking opportunities to help faith-based communities manage facilities more efficiently and conduct environmental activities successfully,” he added.
Among the certification projects completed by St. Bernard’s were: hosting two summer interfaith vacation camps for children that focused on rivers in scriptures and on biodiversity; conducting an energy audit of buildings, adjusting heat and cooling settings, and taking steps to reduce heat loss in winter; replacing all lights with energy-efficient LED lights through the GreenFaith Energy Services program and a state-funded rebate program; communicating “eco-tips” on heating, transportation, fuel consumption, reducing toxins, recycling and water usage; taking a leadership role in the Bernardsville community garden; exploring ways to assist Weequahic Park in Newark through meetings with Park directors and representatives from local Conover Episcopal churches; committing to purchasing only Energy Star appliances; hosting a public showing and discussion of the award-winning film “Journey of the Universe”; participating in the Water Shield program to protect water resources; leading services on environmental issues through successive Creation Seasons in 2013-15, including adult forums on eco-spirituality by the Rev. Dr. Robert C. Morris, founder of Interweave and priest associate at St. Bernard’s; and engaging in eco-justice advocacy issues. Stephen Galpin, Jr. served as chair of the St. Bernard’s Green Team.
Founded in 1992 by the Rev. Vilas and other New Jersey Christian and Jewish faith leaders, GreenFaith is an interfaith environmental coalition that inspires, educates and mobilizes people of diverse religious backgrounds to be environmental leaders. Through a range of innovative programs, from eco-themed worship services and religious education to “green” facility management and environmental justice advocacy, GreenFaith helps congregations put their beliefs into action for the Earth.
For more info:
Vestry Votes for Green Certification
May 1, 2013:
It was my privilege to have been a founder twenty years ago of an organization that is known now as GreenFaith. (www.greenfaith.org) With its headquarters in New Jersey, it has reached congregations of many denominations and faiths throughout the country, offering them resources to develop a spirituality that recognizes God's call to us as stewards of the Earth. Resources are also offered to bring an awareness of environmental responsibility to congregational activities, and to join others in advocacy for changes that will help the environment as well as those most impacted by ecological degradation.
One of the interesting byproducts of the process that leads to a congregation becoming GreenFaith certified has been the attraction of younger people for whom these issues are an increasing concern. At our vestry on April 21, your parish leadership has agreed to initiate the process of St. Bernard's becoming such a congregation.
A "Green Team" will be formed to take St. Bernard's through this two year process. At present, its members consist of: Rev. Skip Vilas, Steve Galpin, Valerie McEntee, Julia Somers, Dan Somers, Jack Fritts, Libby Galpin and Candy Ashmun.
--The Rev. Dr. Franklin E. Vilas