Greening the Orthodox Parish

Each person is morally obliged to refrain from pollution and destruction of the environment. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

As Orthodox Christians we are called by Scripture, the saints and fathers, and our patriarchs speaking in one voice, to live in harmony with God’s creation. This will bring an intentionally Christian character to our lives. This also helps us extend the life of the Church into the life of the world.

The First Steps into Parish Ecological Practice
The following guidelines introduce Orthodox creation care principles and practice. These principles can be woven into sermons and parish talks so that an education takes place on the rationale for Orthodox ecological practice. This list is only a beginning. As a simple code of words, seek to “share, care, spare and repair” the materials of creation. Ecological action is a doorway for building a whole Orthodox way of life.

To sustain these goals, strive for an equally important set of spiritual principles. These include a vision of Christ in all things; thankfulness; earth stewardship; regular prayer, simplicity, cleanliness and contentment; practice of the virtues; seeking the beauty of the Lord; respect for creation; and theosis.

1. Extend Christian attitudes

We as Image are to love and care for all of God’s creation. Teach the Orthodox vision of Christ everywhere present in creation. Help parish members recall that we are continually dealing with the veiled presence of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in creation. Acknowledge God by respecting His Creation. Key themes are: renew, reuse, restore and replenish.

2. Restore the Earth.

Plant trees and wild gardens/meadows to enable the flourishing of creation.

3. Show kindness and compassion

Show kindness and compassion to all of God’s creatures. Ensure your parishioners, friends and family understand that God cares for all of His creatures.

4. Recycle all wastes
In Genesis, we are commanded by God to replenish the earth (Gen.1:28, KJV). Eliminate as many non-recyclable materials as possible. Use glass and china rather than plastic and Styrofoam cups, plates and cutlery.

5. Eliminate trash and excess
As much as possible minimize the purchase of items with excess packaging and things designed to be thrown away after use. Whenever possible, pick up rubbish and litter.

6. Buy green products
Purchase sustainable materials. Do not buy items that expose others to harmful
chemicals. Buy carefully and with an awakened conscience.

7. Serve clean foods
Avoid pesticide-laden foods – organic is best. Eat local, high welfare food and where possible, begin to increase your plant-based food. Eliminate junk food. Do not consume fish contaminated by mercury.

8. Remove incandescent light fixtures and bulbs
The excess use of electricity results in pollution and contributes to air pollution and serious harm to neighbors. As much as possible, use less polluting, lower cost lighting options.

9. Reduce energy use
When possible, use renewable sources of energy. We are to live within the limits of creation and refrain from doing harm. Refrain from the excess use of fossil fuels.

10. Respect drinking water
Drink clean water. Avoid bottled water which is often no better than tap water. To ensure clean water, purchase a water filter and serve clean water in glass pitchers. Never pour pollutants down the drain or into water-ways.

11. Minimize possessions Own less, use less, and enjoy life more. Buy what you need not what you want.

12. Study the Issues
For a larger listing of how to “green” your parish, look at the Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration website: