One new step each year

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On a map of Green Churches in the Netherlands, there is a green dot for the Mennonite congregation in Aalsmeer. Another dot represents Arboretumkerk (previously Doopsgezinde Gemeente Wageningen), located a province over. 

“Six years ago, the church (in Aalsmeer) thought about (climate change) and said, ‘we have to do something’,” said Leo Bakker, a member of the sustainability committee at Doopsgezinde Gemeente Aalsmeer. “One of the first things that we did was connected to a country-wide network of Green Churches.” 

That network, Groene Kerken, includes 410 churches throughout the Netherlands. “It’s a wide network for all kinds of different churches from all denominations,” says Leo Bakker. 

Jan Joost Kessler, who served on the sustainability working group at the Arboretumkerk in Wageningen, says joining the Green Church network was an important part of his church’s climate change response as well. 

“At the entrance of our church we have a sign which is quite big that says we are a Green Church,” Jan Joost Kessler says. “So it’s easy to recognize us.” 

The Green Church website provides a list of actions for churches to take. To join the network and apply for a sign, churches have to commit to taking one new step each year. 

The actions fall into six categories: creation and nature; faith and inspiration; energy and climate; handling of money; policy and approach; and conscious purchases. When a church completes an action in one of these categories, it receives a badge on the website. 

Steps taken by the Aalsmeer congregation include calculating the church’s carbon footprint, switching to renewable energy sources, organizing education events, publishing a newsletter with sustainability tips, using non-toxic cleaning supplies and organizing “green” services every year. 

Arboretumkerk has improved the building’s insulation, installed double-paned windows, committed to purchasing fair trade products and invested its money in responsible industries. 

Every two years, Green Churches in the Netherlands gather to connect and share stories. 

“It’s very useful because there’s a lot of exchange and learning and inspiration,” says Jan Joost Kessler, who usually attends the events. 

That’s the network’s goal. 

“Green Churches are contagious to other churches,” reads a statement on the website. “They lead the way in joyful, simple coexistence and pull others along with (them).” 

—Sierra Ross Richer is a member of Waterford Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana, USA. She is an intern with the Anabaptist Climate Collaborative (ACC). This story from the ACC’s Lent Climate Pollinator Series: Global Anabaptist Stories on Climate Change is reprinted with permission. 

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You are invited! Join us for Climate Pollinators, a webinar series on creation care.  

MWC’s Creation Care Task Force members from each region will host one hour of storytelling and Q&A. Church members from around the world will share how they are affected by climate change – and responding with resilient action and gospel hope.  

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