Discerning the best avenue a congregation may take while living out their creation care witness is one that takes vision and refinement. Certain congregations have a thirst for justice ministries and through advocacy, letter writing, and other campaigns their ecclesial energies may be steered into generating tangible change in our beautiful yet broken world. Other congregations prefer to steer benevolence funds to certain non-profit organizations and the prayerful conversations and willing support that comes from these grants provides necessary funding for the routine work of issue awareness, education and care. Still other congregations prefer to make the work they do within their walls demonstrate their witness and so those that choose to lower their own carbon footprint, or perhaps create butterfly gardens, are able to do their part while feeling divinely connected to the whole effort.
But how to best know which creation care route is the most appropriate for a given congregation? Perhaps using Martyn Percy’s wine (dare I say, communion) related “terroir’ method is best applied here. The term terroir “refers to the combination of factors that might make one wine slightly different from another, even when they are geographically proximate in origin.” Different temperatures, soil acidity levels, rainfall, and the overall skill of the folks working the vineyard all combine to make wines taste different. “And this analogy has something to teach theologians as they reflect on the composition of local ecclesial identity. On one level, one might say church is church, just as wine is wine . . . yet to the reined palate the manifold differences are detectable and telling.”
In keeping with the terroir imagery, allow me to make a few suggestions on how best to steer your Creation Care energy.
Does your congregation have large swaths of rarely used land? If so, a community garden could be in your future. Remember, the members of your congregation do not need to be the ones who actually maintain your garden, though this is a phenomenal community building activity. And fruits or vegetables do not need to be the crop either, as native plants and wildflower gardens provide safe haven for pollinators and migrating birds.
Does your congregation have young families? Perhaps participating in a food sharing co-op is in your future. Imagine the possibilities as your family of faith doesn’t just pray together . . . but actually eats together. There are many models to choose from, some that even encourage the opportunity of building a relationship with your local farmer. As Western Society removes us further and further from our local food sources, it is a formative experience to remember our connection to the soil.
Does your congregation maintain a building that is only used once or twice a week? If so, then perhaps finding another space user is in your future. Not only is it practical to share space with other organizations or another community, but you may be able to share additional resources as well. And if finding another space user is not a possibility, performing an eco-audit on your building would be prudent, as this would guide you in both keeping costs down, and best maintaining your facility.
As Percy writes, “the “ecclesial terroir,” . . . is something that scholars need to be able to read sensitively and deeply if they are to understand the dynamics of congregational life.” So too must congregational leaders read the “creation care terroir” of their faith community. The possibilities are only limited by our imagination, but it helps to provide an appropriate framework.
 Martyn Percy, “Response to Part II “Savoring the Social-Sacred”: Reading the “Real Church,”” in Reasonable Radical? Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy, ed. By Ian S. Markham and Joshua Daniel (Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2018), 128.
 Percy, “Response,” 128.
 Percy, “Response,” 129.