Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Jr. BUGS help kids go green at Manassas Church of the Brethren.

BUGS are everywhere at Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren. But the church isn't infested with insects; rather it is growing an intergenerational green church program called BUGS, which stands for Better Understanding of Green Stewardship.

Manassas Church of the Brethren is one of the winners of the Great Green Congregations contest sponsored by the Eco-Justice Program of the National Council of Churches. In May, the call went out for stories to be submitted of what local congregations were doing across the country to protect God's Creation. Winners have been announced in eight categories.

The Manassas church won in the Children's Ministry category. The program’s goal is to find practical solutions to green issues in the church, including recycling, composting, gardening, and energy conservation. Krista Kimble, an adult BUGS member, decided to start a program for elementary-age children called Jr. BUGS. The group meets weekly to learn about the roles kids can play in caring for creation.

"Always, our weekly lessons are connected to scripture, such as the creation story, various psalms, or a parable," said Kimble. Members earn badges for participating in various activities. The "Wanda Worm" badge rewarded kids who learned the recipe for compost and searched through some of the church’s compost for critters that help break down the waste. The "Lucy Ladybug" badge recognized the Jr. BUGS who helped plant seeds indoors and who will plant and care for seedlings in the church garden over the summer. As produce grows in the garden, the children will share it with local food pantries as well as older people in the church who are no longer able to care for a garden.

Members recite the Jr. BUGS pledge at each meeting: "As a Jr. BUGS member, I pledge to: Learn more about the earth that God created; explore ways that I can be a better steward of the environment; help to make the world a better place; and teach others to do the same." In the summertime, the group plans field trips for litter cleanup and site visits to places like the local recycling facility.

Others winning congregations are Madison (Wis.) Christian Community in the Food and Faith category; St. Marks Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, Calif., recognized as the Audubon Society's 'Greenest in the Nation' in the Green Building category; First Grace United Methodist Church in New Orleans in the Energy Conservation category; Kern Road Mennonite Church in South Bend, Ind., in the Alternative Transportation category; All People's Church in Milwaukee, Wis., in the Environmental Justice category; Wesley United Methodist Church in Yakima, Wash., in the Recycling category; and Maryland Presbyterian Church in Baltimore in the Comprehensive Program category.

The winner of each category received a $500 grant to continue the work. To view a collection of the stories submitted, visit

--Jordan Blevins, a Church of the Brethren member, is assistant director of the NCC Eco-Justice Program and contributed to this report. The report also includes information from an NCC press release by Philip E. Jenks.

Source: 7/2/2008 Newsline

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