Our Creation Care Story
Our journey into intentional creation care as a congregation began in the summer of 2016. Six years into that journey, we were asked to share our story as a representative church from the United States at Mennonite World Conference’s July 2022 Global Assembly. View the 10-minute presentation and accompanying slides.
We are a Green Patchwork Congregation within the Mennonite Creation Care Network (MCCN)! To learn more about MCCN, visit the Mennonite Creation Care Network website.
While on their site, sign up for their monthly E-newsletter that can support and encourage you in maintaining a simple lifestyle and practicing stewardship of the Earth. We’ve been frequently featured (check out our “In the News” section below).
Taftsville and MCCN
Our Taftsville Chapel’s creation care liaison is Heather Wolfe, linking our congregation and MCCN.
We scored a silver leaf in our baseline MCCN Greener Congregation Stewardship Score in September 2016. This assessed creation care across all aspects of our church life. Details from that assessment can be found in the Stewardship Scoresheet.
From this Stewardship Score we created a yearlong Comprehensive Creation Care Plan.
Taftsville Chapel in the News
Planting an Outdoor Sanctuary (MennoniteMen, May 2022)
On May 7th, Green Up Day Vermont, members of Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship in Taftsville, Vermont turned out for a tree planting project on church grounds, transforming lawn into an edible forest garden.
TCMF is recognized as a “Cool Congregation” at the 40% or higher reduction in greenhouse gases (Interfaith Power and Light, Spring 2022)
Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship, a tiny church with only 55 members, has reduced the emissions from their worship facility by 40% or above, saving 15.5 tons of carbon emissions and nearly $2,000 per year in energy costs.
Taftsville Chapel Turns Lawn into Forest Garden (MCCN, May 2022)
Participants at Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship, Taftsville, VT, spent May 7 getting their hands dirty transforming their half acre of mowed lawn into an edible forest garden.
Taftsville got a whole lot greener Vermont Standard, May 2022)
In honor of Green Up Day, the congregation […] got together to plant trees and berry bushes. They partnered with 350Vermont and their “Rewild Vermont” initiative in order to establish a better habitat for animals (and human visitors!)
Taftsville Chapel is a ‘certified wildlife habitat’ (Sustainable Woodstock, April 2022)
On March 25, Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship was officially recognized as a Cool Congregation through Interfaith Power and Light.
Anabaptists around the world care for creation (Mennonite World Conference, March 2022)
Stories from around the world teach how we respond as faith communities to the challenges of climate change.
Church Gone Wild (Mosaic Mennonite, June 10th 2021)
Our conference newsletter features our Wild Church experience as their lead story.
Healing the Earth: Food Choices (MCCN, May 2020)
Heather Wolfe was a panelist responding to “If you could inspire your congregation to focus on a simple response to the environmental crisis of your choice in the coming year, what would that response be?”
Jesus Never Said You Should Use LED Light Bulbs (Mosaic Mennonite May 2020)
Mennonite Congregation is Simply Taking Care of Earth (The Vermont Standard, April 30, 2020)
Taftsville Chapel: A Sustainable Model for Creation Care (The Mennonite, April 21, 2020)
Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship—a small, geographically dispersed congregation in rural Vermont—has strengthened its ties with each other and the broader community through spiritual practices that help care for all of creation.
Nurturing a Culture of Creation Care (MCCN, January 2020)
This webinar recording from January 9, 2020, is for pastors, creation care liaisons and others who want to glean inspiration for their own contexts. Heather Wolfe, MCCN liaison at Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship, shares a step-by-step story of how and why her church has been active in this area. This includes a powerpoint showing activities chronologically.
Vermont Congregation Receives MCCN’s first Art and Jocele Meyer Award (MCCN, December 10th, 2019)
Mennonite Creation Care Network (MCCN) has selected Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship, Taftsville, Vt., as the recipient of its first annual Art and Jocele Meyer Award and a $500 donation. The award recognizes both exemplary creation care at the congregational level and the liaison’s role in communicating with the broader network.
Solar Grant Recipients Now Generating Power (MCCN blog, May 17, 2017)
On May 4th our solar installation was complete and we began generating renewal energy!
Our Journey into Creation Care (The Mennonite, pg. 18, April 2017 edition)
The April edition of The Mennonite was dedicated to creation care. We answered a call for submissions and had our article about our yearlong journey into intentional commitment as a congregation to creation care accepted.
Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship Receives Solar Grant (Franconia Conference, Dec 7, 2016)
VT, NM churches get Creation Care funds for solar power (Anabaptist World, Dec 6, 2016)
MCCN’s Net Zero Fund Finds Takers (MCCN, Nov 21, 2016)
It was announced that our grant request was fully funded by the Pam DeYoung Net Zero Energy Fund! This funding allowed us to move forward with installation of solar panels on our chapel roof.
Taftsville Chapel Plans to Go Solar (The Vermont Standard, Taftsville correspondent weekly column, October 20, 2017)
The correspondent for Taftsville (a hamlet of Woodstock), submitted this article to the local weekly paper summarizing the community meeting we held at the church where we presented our proposal for a solar project to our neighbors.
Plant Water Grow Media Project (Franconia Conference Assembly 2016)
Taftsville Chapel was one of three congregations highlighted at the annual meeting for the work we are doing in regards to creation care. The Franconia Conference office says, “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback, and people were definitely blessed to hear your stories!”
Green Patchwork Congregations New Members (MCCN, Sept 19, 2016)
In August of 2016 our church council, with the support of the congregation, affirmed our congregation joining MCCN’s Green Patchwork and designating an official creation care liaison.
Sustainable Kitchen: Recipes and Inspiration for Plant-based, Planet-conscious Meals by Jaynie McCloskey and Heather Wolfe (Herald Press, Sept 2020)
Cook more healthfully, Eat more sustainably, Live more faithfully. The first vegetarian cookbook published by Menno Media’s Herald Press. Watch the cookbook launch video: interview with authors
Health in Harmony
“Our Mission: Engage community-led solutions for human health and the health of our planet.” The founders, Cam and Kinari Webb, are past attendees of Taftsville Chapel. We have continued to support their ministry in our annual congregational giving.
Bethany Birches Camp (BBC)
We intentionally designed our solar array to generate more energy than we need and set up a group net metering account where we donate our excess renewable energy credits to BBC, whose core mission is to help young people to develop their relationship with God by providing them with a Christ-centered camping experience in a natural and nurturing environment. We are fortunate that our state of Vermont has favorable laws and supportive utilities that encourage and incentivize renewables.
What We Are Doing
In 2022, thanks to garden expansion efforts and a Garden for Wildlife™ checklist used by our kids, we became both a Certified Wildlife Habitat and Sacred Grounds site through the National Wildlife Federation. Sacred Grounds™ is a program that recognizes congregations, houses of worship and faith communities who both create wildlife habitat and actively link faith practices and caring for the environment. These certifications follow our engaging with an AMBS seminary student’s Church Land Theology project where we considered our relationship with church land.
Wild Church Network
We official joined the Wild Church Network as a member congregation in summer of 2020. We meet monthly as Wild Church to supplement our regular Sunday worship services.
Greening our Building
We went solar in 2016, intentionally overbuilding our array so that we could donate clean energy to Bethany Birches Camp. Thanks in part to a matching grant from Interfaith Power & Light, in 2019 we insulated our church building, an old school house on the historic building registry.
Inspired by a local church who created a how-to video, “Permaculture: Transform Your Church Lawn into a Garden of Eden”, in 2107 we established 4 no-till, edible forest gardens on the church property (a shade garden, tea garden, apple guild, and blueberry patch). In 2022 we expanded our gardens to include a mini fruit and nut orchard, a fedge (food hedge) for wildlife and human sustenance, and a trinity peace garden. These demonstration gardens show permaculture practices and regenerative agriculture in action.
Members take turns weekly cleaning the church. We use homemade, green cleaners whenever we can. Primary products are baking powder and vinegar. Here are the recipes we use. Try them out in your own home. They are good for the environment and less expensive than commercial–a win-win!
For products we purchase, we look for eco-friendly options. Seventh Generation is a Vermont company that makes plant-based products. They are a B corporation, which means they are certified to be better for workers and better for the environment. B corps are concerned with people and the planet, not just profits.
Do you know what’s behind the name Seventh Generation?
The “7th generation” principle taught by Native Americans says that in every decision, be it personal, governmental or corporate, we must consider how it will affect our descendants seven generations into the future. (A generation is generally considered to be 25 years, so that’s 175 years.) This principle dates back to the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois Nation, created in the 12th century: “In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation … even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.”
Growing a Creation Care Section in our Church library
Here are some of the titles we’ve added recently:
- Creation and the Environment: An Anabaptist Perspective on a Sustainable World, edited by Calvin Redekop
- A variety of Wendell Berry’s books
- Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer’s Journal, by David Kline
- One Child, One Planet: Inspiration for the Young Conservationist, by Bridget McGovern Llewellyn
- Crinklecroot’s Guide to Giving Back to Nature, by Jim Arnosky (a Vermont author!)
- Every Creature Singing Curriculum (MCCN adult curriculum)
ZeroSort Recycling and Composting Food Scraps
Here in Vermont we are blessed with law, infrastructure and community support around recycling. We moved to zero sort and have increased the amount and visibility of recycling collection bins while at the same time decreasing trash receptacles inside the church.
State law now requires that all food scraps are banned from landfills. We decided to be early adopters, adding a compost pail to our coffee time area for coffee filters, grounds and food scraps. Individual members take it home and add to their household compost piles right now as we do not have composting set up on site. Here is the pail we chose and have been happy with since debuting it in August 2016. With it we use 100% biodegradable, compostable liners to make clean up quick and easy.
Creation Care Bulletin Board
We have dedicated a bulletin board at the church for posting creation care related news, information and inspiration. Here is a prayer that was posted on the board at Thanksgiving time: Mikmaq Prayer for Thanksgiving.
Creation Care Newsletters