Seven Key Areas

  1. Assets
  2. Education
  3. Wisdom and Pastoral Care
  4. Lifestyles
  5. Media and Advocacy
  6. Partneship and Eco-Twinning
  7. Celebration

1. Assets

  1. Plant Trees and Manage Communal Land: The members of Church of South India will plant as many trees as they can to improve the green cover. Forests are one of the most effective carbon sinks and critical for preserving the ecological balance. Besides other plants, emphasis will be given in promoting the planting of Vetiver, Jatropha and Mangroves. These three plants are all ecologically significant, especially in the context of Global warming and the shortage of groundwater. The proposal to promote their planting in all lands owned by CSI has been accepted and if any Dioceses would like to plant the above the plants in a massive scale, funding will be given. In June 2009, the CSI Synod urged all its 4 million members to plant at least one tree during the month of June 2009. This was linked to the UN Environment Programme’s tree-planting initiative. It also urged individual parishes to manage their churchyards to benefit wildlife eg through planning a Nature Trail pointing out different trees, plants, wildlife, and stone used in the building and gravestones.

  2. Green lighting: We will promote the use of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) which use one-third of the power of conventional bulbs. The Indian government has launched a massive programme to popularise CFLs by launching schemes to encourage consumers to buy them. It can lead to reduction of 10,000 MW of electricity

  3. Green Fencing: Instead of concrete compound walls that consume loads of cement and brick, not to mention steel (all huge carbon emitters) there is a rising trend of growing fences through cultivating bamboo and vetiver instead. They are far more eco-friendly and act as great sinks for carbon. Hence we promote the use of bamboo and vetiver in fencing of Churches and of School campuses.

  4. Green Water Charging: We will promote the digging of mud pits in all the lands of our churches and on the land of our congregations in order to harvest rain water which will recharge the ground water. Bore wells that form the major source of India’s water supply are now beginning to run dry. Digging for them is getting even deeper and costlier. Groundwater accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the available water resources in India, meeting 85 per cent of the rural requirement and 50 per cent of urban and industrial needs. But most states are experiencing an alarming fall in water table as groundwater is being over-exploited. There is need for mandated water harvesting and recharge zones in urban areas. There is also need to recharge deep aquifers and prevent their over-use. India gets an average of 600 mm of rainfall a year. This means a total precipitation of 4,000 billion metric tonnes—a mini sea of water deluging us every year. Yet, as much of 75 per cent of this is lost due to run-offs. As a result many parts of the country are water-stressed and in danger of turning into water-scarce regions in the next 30 years. That may sound far off but the interim could be harsh with daily battles over water. There is an urgent need to improve water-harvesting systems and put the deluge to more productive use. As part of the CSI Synod programme for June 2009 each member was asked to dig one pit to harvest rainwater falling on their rooftop. This was needed to help to stop desertification, and to encourage people to be more thoughtful of where their water comes from.

  5. Green Equipment: We will promote the use of energy efficient instruments as far us possible

  6. Green cooking and lighting: Community biogas plants are back in business. Cow dung and human waste is used as cooking gas and for lighting in villages. It helps improve sanitary conditions and ends the search for firewood. We will promote the use of bio gas plants.

  7. Green Home Audits: We will promote a green audit in our homes. The Synod ecological committee is requesting all the Dioceses , Congregations and Institutions to undergo Green Auditing, and has made a sample questionnaire available. “We have to assess how ecologically sound we are.”

  8. Protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats: Dioceses are urged to love nature, animals and plants as you love yourself. When animals or birds are domesticated to provide food or other products or services, pay attention to ensure their proper care and welfare. Modern biotechnology techniques have made it possible to introduce changes in animals and birds to enhance the quality and or productivity of products derived from them life milk, meat, leather, etc., but such changes affect their natural lifestyles and may some times cause them considerable discomfort. The ethics of introducing such changes in living creatures needs to be examined in the light of scriptural teachings. In addition, animals in the wild must be recognised as having certain needs for maintaining their life, their “creatureliness” as willed by their Creator, their habitats, and their kinds. Destroying the animal world upsets not only the animals but also the ecological balance. Such destruction results from poaching, abusive use in entertainment, animal sacrifices and pollution and destruction of their homes and habitat. Abusive use always takes place when cruelty is involved, and/or the species is over-exploited. Trade in animals and animal parts must always be done in accordance with strict ethical criteria. Women’s Fellowship of CSI Madhya Kerala Diocese set up a snack centre in the middle of their town. It was the first outlet in Kottayam to run on biogas. Set up costs were comparatively high – at 40,000 Rs (around US$1000) - but they are confident that not only will they make it up within a year from reduced fuel bills, but that they will become an example of environmental excellence and an inspiration to other businesses and households. Most of the parishes and the schools and Colleges have rain water harvesting tanks and pits. Rain water falling on the roof top of Bishop Moore College, Mavelikara is collected in two small wells. Because of this there is no water shortage during the summer. Malayala Manorama selected Bishop Moore College as the best College in Kerala in 2008 for introducing best rain water harvesting techniques. The College bagged Rs. One Lakh as award prize from Manorama.

2. Education

The Church of South India is the only Church in India with a special wing for environmental concerns since 1992. Hence we can use the official platform of the Church to educate the Clergy and laity on eco-theology. CSI urges dioceses and parishes to plan educational campaigns through which the members of the congregations are made aware of environmental issues and why God’s creation is hurting. Recommended processes included:

  1. Designating a person and select a committed group of lay people or teachers to form an Eco- Management committee. The committee becomes responsible for guiding the development of the management plan, for instituting and monitoring practices, and for being alert over time to better and improved approaches, means, and technologies of eco-management.

  2. Creating an education plan to inform, teach, and train all users of the buildings and grounds of the church and School in eco-management. Such a plan can call for special events and training sessions as well as integrate the concerns into the regular curriculum. Education is critical to the success of any conservation program.

  3. Waste Management education in schools, with pupils designing posters, writing essays, producing a drama, and making other presentations to the adults about recycling. Study the economics, environmental considerations, and long-range consequences of recycling for developing a sustainable society. As a hallmark of operation should be the phrase "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."

  4. Curriculum: A variety of educational and promotional programs need to be created as a part of launching the new approach to facility management. The consciousness of the staff, membership, and other users needs to be raised significantly and in sync with each other. The educational phase also needs to be an ongoing process, written into each age-level of education (including adults). Reminders should be highly visible throughout the buildings and grounds. Every decision must have built into it an environmental consciousness which is not merely one more component, but instead, runs throughout the whole, as does any other portion of our basic commitment and covenant with God.

  5. Eco-leadership Programme: The Synod Ecological Concerns Committee decided to give Green Leader Manager Training to Diocesan leaders. A Green Leader should: “organise programmes, raise funds, propagate ecological ideas, be a coordinating link between the diocesan authorities and the people... Training is necessary for uniform activities in all the dioceses.” The first regional conference in Eco-leadership took place in Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Kerala between September, and November 2008. On each occasion the host Diocese bore the expense of boarding and lodging, with travelling allowances given from CSI Synod. In addition an eco-leadership programme was held from 21-22 August 2008 at CSI Centre, Chennai, which included a dynamic full day’s training based on the UN-ARC Seven Year Plans. Three leaders from each diocese attended the programme, and reported greatly improved motivation to act on ecological issues. In July 2008 a three day Training programme in biodiversity, stewardship and conservation was organized for 16 teachers representing all our Diocesan Higher Secondary Schools and each in charge of a branch of the National Green Corps (NGC). The training included a field trip to the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary.

  6. Eco-resource training camps WThe first three-day training for resource persons from different dioceses took place in September 2008 at Kottayam. It was a new experience for the Clergy. Here are some of the comments: “The resource persons training camp really ignited our minds and souls with a new outlook”. (Rev. Abraham Premchand, Presbyter of Holy Cross Cathedral, Nandyal, Andhra). “Until now we did our mission activities slowly, but after the training I feel a sense of urgency” (Rev. J Joshua Kamachander from Coimbatore Diocese,TN). “After this training I have decided to organize an eco awareness conference for clergy and laity in Karnataka. We will identify a village and make efforts to transform the people to an eco-friendly life style. The training was impressive in all respects”. (Rev.S.S Sakkari from Karnataka Northern Diocese) “I am really fortunate to be a participant of this training programme, I am inspired and have decided to be a committed eco-leader in our diocese”. (Rev.D. John from Karimnagar Diocese, Andhra).

  7. Green Diocese, Green Parish, Green College and School Awards (see ‘Celebrations’)

  8. Other: CSI schools should have a bulletin board dedicated to environmental issues, place signage throughout both the building and the grounds as a tool for instruction, gentle reinforcement, and awareness. And both schools and seminaries are recommended to include environmentally related symbolism in the classrooms and along the hallways.

Madhya Kerala Diocese is organising Green School awards, a deputation of environmentalists to all the parishes to deliver sermon on ecological Sunday, Eco-pilgrimage, Eco-clubs in all schools, competitions in eco-essays, seminars on eco-architecture, distribution of vegetable seeds, training for clergy, youth, Sunday school teachers, Eco-Committees in Diocesan, District and pastorate levels, seminars, networking with other eco-groups. It has been awarded Green diocesan Award from CSI Synod. The Eco-training was given to the teachers who were in charge of Eco-clubs.

3. Wisdom and Pastoral Care

  1. Seeing Climate Change as a Moral Issue: The CSI Synod Ecological Concerns Committee has been alerting all the Dioceses to recognize climate change as a moral issue. It is important for us to encourage members of our congregations to take action to limit their contributions to climate change as an expression of their faith. We are called to encourage one another and build up each other. (1 Thessalonians).

  2. Setting up Creation-awareness centres: Each Green congregation should see itself as a centre for exploring the scriptural and theological foundations for caring for Creation. We also will learn from people suffering the severe impact of environmental degradation. Churches should seek to develop as creation-awareness centres in order to exemplify principles of stewardship for their members and communities, and to express both delight in and care for creation in their worship and celebration. They should particularly aim to produce curricula and programs which encourage knowledge and care of creation. The Christian community must initiate and support the process of education (for all its members) on the Christian approach to environmental ethics. When all the congregations in a Diocese become Green Parishes it will become a Green Diocese, and when all the Dioceses become Green Dioceses it will become a Green Church. The CSI Synod Board of Ecological Concerns urges 22 Dioceses to become Green Dioceses.

  3. Laying the Scriptural and theological basis for congregational actions. This can provide an exciting study with the entire church and School, though the Eco-Management Committee may want to lead it.

  4. Forming special study groups or task forces around specific environmental issues, Bible study, or theological concerns

  5. Reporting of Ecological Activities of the Diocese for self-reflection and improvement Encouraging prayers and liturgies which include God’s Earth and people working to protect biodiversity.

Madhya Kerala Diocese has organised a deputation of environmentalists to all the parishes to deliver sermons on Ecological Sunday

4. Lifestyles

As members of Green Church, we commit ourselves to personal lifestyles that contribute to the health of the environment

  1. Environmental tithing: We challenge ourselves, particularly those of us who are economically secure, to tithe environmentally. Tithers would reduce their burden on the earth’s bounty by producing 10 percent less in waste, consuming 10 percent less in non-renewable resources, and contributing the financial savings we have made to Earthcare efforts. Environmental tithing also entails giving time to learn about environmental problems and to work with others toward solutions.

  2. Using and advocating public transport and other environmentally sound alternatives: Leave your car and two-wheeler at home whenever possible. Instead, choose public transport, carpooling, walking, bicycling. When purchasing a new car or two-wheeler, look for the most fuel-efficient model you can find.

  3. Fasting: Choose a day to fast. For 24 hours, eat no solid foods and drink only water and fruit juice. Set aside time to pray. Meditate on your broken relationship with creation and ask God to lead you to repentance and a new faithfulness.

  4. Play nature games at Sunday school and coordinate walks/hikes through local nature tails, preserves and parks. Bring along identification guides to trees, plants and birds to try and figure out what you are seeing.

  5. Support local, national, and international conservation charities

  6. Monitoring use of resources. The CSI SECC has taken up eco-conservation very seriously. The first thing we did is SWOT analysis, which really helped us in knowing our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We will also promote a green audit in our homes.

  7. Recycling and living more simply: The two gospel words, “Saving” and “Restoring” have very practical implications for our use of the earth’s resources. Begin saving and recycling, newspapers. Donate money to an environmental organisation or to an international ministry among the poor. Use recycled paper for Christmas cards and gift wrap. Respect the environment in the gifts you select. Look for ways of saving energy (and money) in your home. When purchasing appliances, look for low-energy, high-efficiency models. Conduct a thorough audit of the energy use in your church buildings and programs. Look for ways that energy can be saved. Turn off lights, fans, and air conditioners when not in use.

  8. Gardening: Plant a corner of your yard or borrow a corner of someone else’s. Learn what crops thrive in your climate, what pests might be likely to attack them, and how you might combat those pests with little or no resort to chemicals. Find out what organic fertilizers are readily accessible. If you prepare your own food, begin composting vegetable wastes (such as rinds, pulp, eggshells and seeds). This need not be an overwhelmingly complex process. Simply bury your waste in your gardening area, or deliver them regularly to a friend who gardens. Talk to a Christian farmer about the issues he or she faces in working the land lovingly. Water - so ordinary, so taken granted - is a wonderful gift from God. Examine your water-use habits. How can you save water?

  9. Reduce carbon consumption as a spiritual exercise: CSI wants to equip its members to explain to others the reasons for their actions – which are excellent ways for your congregation to proclaim the good news and build up the body of Christ.

  10. Encouraging rediscovery of old agricultural techniques: Modern methods of agriculture with their inputs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides may lead to pollution of groundwater and other problems. Such pollution can produce health problems for human and animal populations. Chemical fertilizers fail to sustain the natural nutrients in the soil, resulting in reduction of crop productivity and eutrophication of surface waters. Often in the past, pests were controlled and the nutrient status of the soil maintained by practices such as crop rotation, inter- cropping, multiple cropping, etc. It is necessary to identify successful traditional practices and upgrade them as appropriate in order to develop or recover appropriate site-specific technologies which enhance crop productivity without degrading the environment.

Madhya Kerala Diocese has organized Eco pilgrimage to places like Thenammala.

5. Media and Advocacy

  1. International Ecological Conference: In 2008 the Madhya Kerala (Central Kerala) Diocese organized an International eco conference. This helped us to link up with International eco activities and organizations, and as a direct effect CSI is now working fully with the ARC-UNDP Seven Year Plan Programme, and has created this plan which will be launched internationally at Windsor in November 2009.

  2. Increase government support for environmental protection and energy conservation programs: Churches are recommended to keep track of how your governmental leaders react or respond on environmental issues. Make your congregation aware of the statements and actions through a regular column in your church newsletter. Ask people to consider this information when voting.

  3. Explore ways of getting media coverage for an issue that concerns you. Letters to the editor, paid advertisements, and public service announcements are avenues open to everyone. Public policy makers are far more likely to respond to an issue that has generated public concern.

  4. Bring people together in an annual Eco-Stewardship conference with invited experts. Stagger the Eco-Stewardship conference about six months apart from the Environmental Festival

  5. Use your own media to Publicize what is happening on the environment in your regular church/School newsletter and bulletin; in a periodic "Eco-Times" church/School publication; in the local newspaper, radio, and television; and in your denominational news outlets. Make it a key element within your church's website. Talk it up in the community as a point of significant expression of faith.

  6. Create a Diocesan Eco Calendar: All Diocesan eco committees are requested to publish an eco-calendar showing their activities, and get the approval of the Diocesan Bishop.

  7. Eco-news Bulletin: CSI has decided to publish an eco-news bulletin every six months. Reports of all the activities in the dioceses will be published. It is the duty of the ecological committee member representing the dioceses to collect all the materials from the Dioceses and send it to the convener.

  8. Books and CDs: the Synod Ecological Concerns Committee has recently published five books on this issue includingReconciling With Nature (in English, Telungue, Karnataka, Tamil and Malayalam), God is Green, Eco Vision and Mission (for Sunday School Students) A Christian response to ecological crisis and Green Gospel. It has also issued 1000 CDs containing ecological songs from Sunday School Children

  9. Manifestos: the CSI was a signatory to the Uppsala Interfaith Climate Manifesto 2008 of Faith traditions addressing Global Warming

  10. Advocate for clean air, both indoors and outdoors, and clean water: The principle that the “polluter pays” and that “one person cannot exploit or pollute another person’s source of living” must take account of who the polluter is. He or she is often the actual consumer on whose behalf the producer acts. Shaping technology so as to prevent pollution and or reduce it at source can often be much cheaper than cleaning it up later. The Bible insists that the environment be protected.

  11. Diocesan Action on Advocacy and Media: Madhya Kerala Diocese organises Youth Movement and Sunday School Eco awareness through Diocesan magazines, documentary films, Posters, street plays, as well as writing regularly on environmental issue in the Diocesan magazine.

6. Partneship and Eco-Twinning

“Gather information on soil contamination, air and water pollution and endangered species and make it available to church members. Invite learned persons to speak at your church”

  1. Arrange Dialogue and Programmes with other environmental groups.

  2. Create networks with groups with whom you thought you had nothing in common, but with whom the environment is a shared concern.

  3. Bring in experts, and work together

All the schools and Colleges of Madhya Kerala Diocese have eco clubs and networking with voluntaty organisations all over India and abroad

7. Celebration

“We need to recognise that what we do with God's creation around us will have a tremendous effect, for good or ill, on the lives of our grandchildren and on the generations of their children and grandchildren. By our attitude to God's creation now, we determine the nature of the society that will be inherited later this century by the children of our children.”

  1. Celebrate an Environmental Festival with all age groups participating. Make it an annual event. The theme for World Environment Day 2009 was “Your Planet Needs You-UNite to Combat Climate Change”. The CSI Synod has already conducted one seminar and a National Consultation on Climate Change to conscientize our Church leaders. We are really proud that as a Church we have taken the initiative in India in thinking Globally and acting Locally to mitigate the effect of global warming.

Madhya Kerala Diocese arranges annual gathering of eco-activists during the month of January. Madhya Kerala Diocese is also Celebrating World environment Day and Environment Sunday