Sixth Presbyterian Church Certified as a national Presbyterian Earth Care Congregation
By Nora Johnson
Sixth Church, located at the corner of Forbes and Murray Avenues in the heart of Squirrel Hill, has been an active environmental congregation for some time, collecting recyclable materials, replacing energy inefficient fixtures and thermostats, planting trees along Murray Avenue last year and taking part regularly in the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition’s pick up program.
Now, however, Sixth has stepped up its environmental commitment and has been certified by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as an Earth Care Congregation. The certification required the congregation to collect information on its sustainable practices over a one-year period, looking especially closely at its worship services, its education program, its church building (built in 1902) and its activities with organizations and other churches in the community.
Peter Kaplan is current chair of the congregation’s Church and Community Committee and former SHUC Chairman of the Board and Treasurer. He says, “These efforts grow from the passion of Sixth Church members for social and environmental justice and from their concern for preserving and sustaining God’s creation.”
In order to qualify, several of the church’s committees took action: The Christian Education Committee saw that the Sunday school curriculum included earth-conscious presentations and activities, such as the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition’s clean up day; the House Committee improved the building’s lighting and HVAC systems; and the Worship Committee focused prayers, music, and readings on God’s love for Creation. The Rev. Vincent Kolb preaches frequently on creation-centered themes. Session, the governing board, oversaw the process and committed to the Earth Care Pledge. Outside its walls, the congregation is part of the Clean Rivers Campaign, the large public works project seeking a green solution to our region’s storm water overflow problem.
Dr. Kolb said, “I hope that our designation as an Earth Care Congregation will be a sign to our surrounding community and student population that we are as concerned about the future as they are. Not only will we work to make our congregational life sustainable, but we will continue to work with the Clean Rivers Campaign to make sure that Pittsburgh is America’s most livable, green city.”