Keeping the faith and going green are one in the same for the folks involved with Earth Keepers, a Quad-Cities organization that began more than four years ago with one simple mission -- so simple, in fact, it can be stated in three words: "greening our congregations," according to group member Craig Tigerman.|
Earth Keepers works to connect stewardship of the Earth with the faith of their members. Karen Neder, who serves as a chairperson for the group, says Earth Keepers was founded by members of two local churches -- Barbara Steigman from Trinity Lutheran Church in Moline and Shirley Trevor of St. John's Lutheran Church in Rock Island.
The focus of Earth Keepers grew rapidly. "It quickly expanded to include personal stewardship in many forms," says Tigerman. "We maintain a 1.6-mile stretch of streets in Rock Island's Adopt-a-Highway program, for example, and we are in fellowship with the local chapter of the Sierra Club."
Neder adds to that list. "We take part in local 350.org events and Augustana College Environmental Film Fairs. We have also compiled a list of local companies that supply 'green' paper and cleaning products that churches can use to guide them in greening that part of their congregations.
"As our mission statement says, 'We are people of faith called to be stewards of creation through education, advocacy and actions which protect, restore and celebrate the earth and its resources through ministry in our homes, our congregations, and the world.' God made the world and entrusted us with its care, so who better than our faith communities to lead the way?" says Neder.
That means rolling up their sleeves and leading by example, but members of the group find they also get something in return. For Neder, being involved with Earth Keepers has given her a sense of hope. "I can't say personally that it changes the way I look at my faith or the world, but I can say that being involved with this dedicated, energetic, welcoming group of people really gives me hope for the future of our planet amidst the destruction that we see every day on the news," she explains.
Neder is excited about the future of the group, as well. "We are always looking for new ideas and avenues to follow. These often come from new members or from what's happening nationally. We certainly plan to continue with the activities we do now and to share information and ideas with others," she says.
"We have about 20 faith communities that have shown interest or have come to at least one of our meetings at some point. Many don't attend the meetings, but remain on our e-mail listserv and attend (or) help out at other functions, such as the Health Living Fair and 350.org events. We are always looking for new members, congregations and faith communities.
Earth Keepers looks to grow where there is interest. Although that could mean expanding beyond the Quad-Cities, the group is particularly open to growing to include members of other faith traditions. "Most of our members are from Christian communities at this time, but we have been reaching out and getting some interest from other communities, as well," says Neder.
Membership is easy. Earth Keepers is open to representatives from any faith community in the Quad-Cities area. They have meetings about every four to six weeks, charge no dues and have no budget.
In addition to providing fellowship, the group disseminates information among its members from other local, environmentally-minded organizations like the Sierra Club, Blackhawk Park, River Action and QC TAG, so that if members want to pursue involvement in those activities, they can.
Earth Keepers also maintains a website, wix.com/earthkeepers/earthkeepers, that contains a wealth of resource information, including a growing collection of monthly "Cool It!" articles. And if you think that religion mixed with environmentalism couldn't possibly offer a sense of humor, check out the tagline at the bottom of the site's home page: "This website is made from 100 percent recycled electrons, none of which were harmed although some were seriously inconvenienced."
If you aren't feeling technically savvy or would just like to speak to someone personally, you can contact Neder. "We welcome you and encourage you to come to one of our meetings, and we can certainly put you on our e-mail list to keep you abreast of our activities," says Neder.
Moline, IL Details
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