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Local Churches View Caring for the Earth as a Religious Duty

In the past, caring for the environment has not been a top priority for Christian groups. But among some faith-based circles in the Ozarks, that is changing. KSMU's Jennifer Moore reports.

New Life Church in Springfield devoted three sermons this year to a topic many people haven't traditionally associated with Christianity: protecting the environment. It was their "Green Series," and resulted in the Church creating a "Green Team."

One of the church's pastors, James Griffin, says the Green Team has hit the ground running.

They've been replacing their many spotlight bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs as the old ones burn out, and they're distributing cloth tote bags for church members to use instead of plastic bags at the grocery store.

I took a tour of the church and saw another effort through which the congregation is going green: recycling.

Griffin says taking care of the earth is actually part of his faith.

In the church's green series, the sermons focused on "stewardship" of the earth. He says the issue of stewardship is not limited to managing money.

Another member of the Springfield clergy, Reverend Ken Chumbley, agrees, and points all the way back to Genesis to illustrate his point.

He also gives sermons on caring for the earth, and says every day is Earth day for Christians.

He says although he's been giving sermons on this topic for 20 years, he has recently begun to see a trend of other Christians realizing their responsibilities regarding the planet.

Chumbley believes the earth is a gift, and only now are many Christians beginning to realize how fragile that gift really is.

For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.