The Environmental Stewardship Ministry works collaboratively with others in our church community to make God’s creation more sustainable. The ministry maintains the PC(USA) Earth Care Congregation certification for the church by focusing its efforts in four main areas: facilities, education, outreach and worship. Since 2010, our church has been certified annually with the PC(USA) Earth Care Congregations program. For this designation, we committed to the Earth Care Pledge and engaged in various actions and activities toward caring for God’s creation.
When the Environmental Stewardship Ministry was newly formed, one of the first goals mentioned was the establishment of a Pollinator Garden on the church property—and now the garden is a reality. The reasons for planting a pollinator garden are several. One is to help feed our bees and butterflies, and once established, it will reduce the need for using as much water on the property. Another is to provide an example of how church members can plant similar gardens at their homes, using mostly native plants. Lastly, it will be pretty to look at and walk though, as the plants get established.
The Pollinator Garden is located west of the Youth Building, between the driveway and the staircase leading to the upper south parking lot. Jordan Parker Landscaping was our contractor. The garden is a joint project of the Environmental Stewardship Ministry and the Garden and Grounds Committee of the Property Ministry. It was paid for by those ministries and private funds.
As an Earth Care Congregation, Second Presbyterian Church takes our call as prophetic witnesses and stewards seriously. In 2019, the church installed a new solar panel array—a carport structure containing 81 permanently fixed solar panels. These PV panels reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources, off set energy costs, and publicly proclaim the value of Christian conservation of natural resources.
The solar panels provide energy to our Youth Building and have an annual production of about 39,360 kWh. We also have two EV charging stations for electric cars, the first church in Arkansas to have installed them, thanks to a grant from Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light.
Our environmental outreach efforts have included being a stop on the National Solar Tour and hosting the National Drive Electric Week event in Little Rock.
In 2020, Second Presbyterian’s creation care initiatives were recognized by the City of Little Rock, presenting the church with their Sustain the Rock Award in the Non-Profit Category. Announced the week of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we became the first church to win the award, and the second faith-based organization: Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center won this award in 2014.
In 2020, our church received the Restoring Creation Award from Presbyterians for Earth Care. This award honors faith-based organizations that demonstrate sustainable practices and models them for other organizations, operates in a manner that is consistent with good stewardship of God’s creation, partners with other organizations to leverage resources for greater impact, and encourages continuous environmental efforts within the organization.
In 2014, Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light honored Second with their Faithful Green Friend Award for our work in making the Pettus House at Vera Lloyd Children’s Home more energy efficient. Congregation members traveled to Monticello on five occasions to help make improvements such as increasing insulation and weather stripping and providing energy efficient light bulbs and programmable thermostats.
A variety of earth care activities at Second Presbyterian were recognized by these organizations: adoption of Two Rivers Park and a portion of University Avenue; use of occupancy sensors in the rest rooms; installation of LED lighting; Earth Care Sunday School classes and presentations; sustainability-oriented film screenings; discontinued use of Styrofoam cups; hosting Drawdown Conference; and having Eco-Palms for Palm Sunday services. Replacing the carpet with slate flooring in the sanctuary was a significant environmental initiative—it not only eliminated the 10-year-carpet-replacement cycle, but air quality was much improved in the process.
Second Presbyterian Church was included in the March/April 2021 issue of Presbyterians Today article, Caring for Creation.
From “Let Heaven and Nature Sing”, Rev. Steve Hancock’s December 2014 sermon:
“When Christ comes to the world, it is not just for us humans. It is for all creation. God made nature beautiful, and we have done nature harm. The news of Christ’s coming to earth is news that God means to heal all nature too.
You know the words from the carol, “Let heaven and nature sing. Let earth receive her king. Fields and flood. Rocks, hills and plains, repeat the sounding joy.”
It’s not angels singing here; it’s the rocks. It’s the oceans exultant. The book of Genesis knows that our species brings a curse upon nature. The first couple commissioned by God to care for the earth takes from a tree what they shouldn’t, resulting, says the story, among other things, in the springing up of thorns. Which is to say, our sins have painful implications for the earth.
So the carol sings, “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the growth. He comes to make his blessing flow, far as the curse is found.”
Do you really think that we humans are all that he came to earth to love and to save? Do you think we can love and serve Christ and not love nature, and serve the good of the earth, which is called to sing with us the great joy?” Read more: Let Heaven and Nature Sing
From “Caring for Creation”, Rev. Steve Hancock’s June 2009 sermon:
“So we who believe in God have the deepest of all reasons to do the things we know to do to enjoy the earth and take care of it. Are you doing the things you know are right to do as part of your obedience to God? Are you consuming less? Burning less fuel? Recycling? Caring about better environmental laws? Making humble choices in what you buy and use? Are you trying to simplify your life so that your part in God’s whole creation is less abusive and more fruitful? Are you thankful for the wonders of creation that are yours to see and touch and enjoy? And are you giving more and more of it back to God?” Read more: Caring for Creation
Creation Care Resources
City of Little Rock Recycling
City of Maumelle Recycling
Pulaski County Recycling
Pulaski County Special Waste Recycling & Disposal
Epic Glass Recycling Drop-Off Locations
Composting Food Waste
Little Rock Sustainability Office
Keep Little Rock Beautiful
Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light
Presbyterians for Earth Care
Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
Solar Helps Demonstrate Our Commitment to Creation Care
In January 2021, Steve Hancock and Ann Owen sat down with Paul Chapracki of Stitt Solar to talk about our use of renewable energy as part of our larger calling to care for God’s beautiful creation.