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That pre-synod blog on creation care I mentioned in my last blog garnered several responses. One was even more flinty-eyed than my own offering. A comment from a user identified as “bossenkoel” wondered, in response to my suggestions, if we should maybe check out flight patterns of the corporate CRCNA over the last decade. Growth in travel would, I presume, be AGAINST creation care and mildly hypocritical of the denominational position our words proclaim. Decline, though, would be STEWARDLY and coincident with our words and decisions. A check of travel and flying (BIG carbon FEETprints) denomination-wide probably would not be a bad idea. Thanks, Mr./Ms.(?) Bossenkoel.

Now, I have done my share or more of flying internationally for church work over 35 years. Most recently my wife and I led a spiritual retreat for CRC staffers in West Africa. A great time, but LOTS of carbon tracks. Trouble is, I don’t know how effective and accountable international Christian work can be done without significant travel. Regardless, vigilance is probably still a good idea.

But I have smaller axes to grind. Let’s not end vigilance with flights. Let’s maybe fight about other things in CRCNA corporate, congregational and personal life that merit serious investigation about creation care. Despite our words (and virtually non-binding resolutions), our recklessness with creation and resources go far beyond flying all over the place for mission work, conferences, or personal holidays. Let’s hit on practices that have, in sum, not insignificant impact on resources.

In short: Why do nearly all agencies’, congregations’ (plus Christian schools’ and related para-church organizations’) promotional activities follow the very same thoughtless, even careless consumerist marketing as the most commercial enterprises? Do we have any idea how much it costs in resources and money to produce the piles of goofy little doodads that use oil, plastic, paper, steel, copper in attempts to “get the NAME out there”?

Only one half-greedy acquisitive loop around vendors’ and agency booths at synods, worship symposia, concerts and whatnot could fill a large backpack with pens, bookmarks, key chains, highlighters, notepads, coasters and more—all sporting this or that Christian organization’s name, logo, mission and vision statement. In fact, I have even seen backpacks with Christian charity logos hawked—not given—for the price of a donation over X amount. And just yesterday I was given a cheap plastic retractable tape measure—in both inches and centimetres, though—with an agency logo.

Almost all those largely meaningless baubles duplicated by church, charity and commercial organizations all over the place attempt to raise the profile, raise the funds, raise the fund-raising budget, always using more and more of God’s resources. How many soon clutter desk drawers, unused, forgotten? How many make their way to the thrift store to be sold to low income folks? How many soon end up in the landfill? Does anyone really need most of the throwaway junk produced and distributed supposedly in the name of Jesus? Does that promote HIS name? Or just our causes?

Well, OK—I make one exception: Several years ago CRWRC handed out bucketfuls of logo-embossed reflective attachments for bicycle spokes. I still use four of them as passive illumination for the rare times I ride at night. I wonder if they have any left? I COULD use some…. I’ll even make a donation.

But seriously—how about a comprehensive creation care audit of our denominational, congregational and personal practices and attitudes of entitlement or perceived necessity, not just to reuse and recycle, but to reduce environmental impact? How about putting a few suggestions together to keep this ball rolling?


I wonder what would happen to our collective carbon impact if more of us walked to church. I wonder what kind of a great testimony that might be.

Wendy Hammond on August 14, 2012

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It seems that many do not attend church within walking distance (some commuting 30 minutes or more by car) so that would indeed be an interesting experiment!

I have to admit I like free things. But I also agree that it is a bit silly the "stuff" that gets sent/given away in the name of "promotion". I do have to say that I love the paper pens that Canadian Food Grains Bank and the paper covered USB sticks that Blessed Earth gave out a few years back. Useful and more sustainable materials. Something to think about.

PS I really appreciate your column and questions. Thank you.

Cindy Verbeek

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