Members of Ballard First Lutheran Church (BFLC) are committed to decreasing their carbon footprint. On Sunday, July 15, members will leave their cars at home and join with others going to church via bicycling or walking bus. For those unable to walk or pedal the distance, a system of carpooling has been organized. Members can network via a map of the area posted at the church so they can meet-up or carpool. After the service they will celebrate their efforts with a prize raffle and group tours aboard Dutch Bicycle Company’s “conference bike.”
This car-free Sunday is the second major event that the church has held in its on-going environmental stewardship mission this year. Organized by the church’s service committee, the biking or walking to church is one aspect of the church’s participation in the “Greening Congregation” program. Committee chair, Linda Krippner, explained that through the support and guidance of Earth Ministry, churches are required to design an environmental stewardship plan annually. The plans encompass a wide variety of commitments by congregations including utility efficiency, enabling members to connect with the out-of-doors through nature walks and programs similar to BFLC’s car-free Sundays. There are a number of “Greening Congregations” throughout the Seattle area. Information regarding the program can be found at the Earth Ministry website.
Though car-free Sunday, may be a fairly recent inclusion in Ballard First Lutheran Church’s environmental efforts, the church’s concern about climate change has been growing since 2003. As a congregation, BFLC is deeply connected with the Northwest fishing industry. This church is steeped in the history of the Seattle neighborhood’s rich fishing past and its continued reliance. BFLC performs the “Blessing of the Fleet” annually at Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal.
The current attention to climate change was motivated by Pastor Erik Wilson Weiberg’s showing of An Inconvenient Truth. Opened to the public and additional churches, the experience was followed by adult forums and speakers. Last spring Paul Johnson, UW marine geologist, spoke to the congregation about the dire consequences of ignoring climate change, especially its impact on northwest fisheries. The membership of two hundred or so families embraced Earth Ministry’s “Greening Congregations” program. These people of faith among their commitments, have turned to bicycling as they recognize the serious impact of climate change on their community and the world.
Ballard First Lutheran Church is located at 2006 NW 65th Street in Seattle. Prizes for Sunday’s raffle have been provided by the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.