Eco Faith: Creating and Sustaining Green Congregations

Book Review

reviewed by Shelby Ussery

In Charlene Hosenfeld’s Eco-Faith, sustainable communities are supported from not only an environmental argument, but also from a theological and psychological standpoint. Hosenfeld argues that in order to create and sustain green congregations, church members and leaders must take action in and around the church, including within the worship services. Many doable actions are proposed to readers throughout this optimistic and energetic book, leading congregations towards environmental stewardship.

Part one of Hosenfeld’s book, entitled Action Steps, presents the reader with possible measures one can take when seeking to create a green congregation. The reader is taken on a figurative walk around the church as Hosenfeld proposes ideas for sustainable churches. This walk begins with the church building itself, where she suggests replacing electronics with those that emit fewer toxins amongst other tips. Then the reader is taken to the grounds of the church, where one learns about native plants and composting. In a worship setting, Hosenfeld suggests sermons and studies surrounding environmental issues as well as eco-friendly wedding and funerals. The use of safe cleaning products and Fair Trade coffee is a theme throughout the book, both of which are fairly easy to introduce into congregations.

Part two serves up examples of congregations that have put into action many of Hosenfeld’s tips and ideas. Readers finish the book feeling encouraged by the honesty of the congregations and their examples of environmental stewardship. Hosenfeld also supplies congregations with abundant resources, ensuring that rather than feeling overwhelmed at the idea of transforming their church campus they felt empowered. This is the true take-away message of Eco-Faith: take the daunting task of being true stewards of the earth and turn it into a community-building and loving way to care for the Church and one another.

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