Westminster Presbyterian Church: an Earth Care Congregation since 2016

Westminster Presbyterian Church in Gainesville has been an Earth Care Congregation since 2016. In 2021 the National Wildlife Federation designated their butterfly garden as a Certified Wildlife Habitat (see photos below).

The inside of the sanctuary has a beautiful view of the gardens. There is also an outdoor sanctuary space / chapel in the garden which was the setting for the Easter Sunday sunrise service (see photos).

Anne Newman, chair of their Earth Care Committee, shares that this year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest in Our Planet” and they plan to have letters addressed to their state and national congressional representatives urging them to “invest” their efforts in preserving our planet. Along with tours of the butterfly garden, Westminster plans on teaching their children’s Sunday School class, inviting speakers for their adult classes, and have a plant exchange (bring a plant, take a plant). At the April 24 worship service, Pastor Becca will focus her sermon on caring for God’s creation and the choir will sing “For the Beauty of the Earth,” composed by Ruth Elaine Schram.  After the worship service, the Earth Care Committee will share their knowledge and enthusiasm of what they do with members of the congregation.  The committee encourages everyone to take an active interest and participate in joining Earth Care year-round.

Their environmental activism continues to support and educate their congregation on recycling, repurposing used items, composting, food waste reduction, life without plastics, and more.  For example, during April, the committee collected unused packets of plastic forks and knives which will be repurposed by donating them to St. Francis House, an emergency shelter for families. They also collected used batteries and lightbulbs which they took to the hazardous waste recycling center. 

Westminster Presbyterian Church considers themselves to be a “work in progress” continually growing in knowledge and sharing information with their church family.

Contributions by Anne Newman, photos by Betty Jax.