NWPA Congregations Innovate in Hunger Ministry to Care for Creation

Just as congregations innovated with worship, learning and service in response to COVID, Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod’s Green Team is encouraging innovation in creation care as we emerge transformed from the pandemic.

The Good Hope/Zion Lutheran congregations of Oil City are leading by example. A Thrivent Action Team grant allowed them to try eco-friendly green ware instead of polystyrene for their free take-out community meals. According to Green Team member Yvonne Paranick, the products worked just as well, at a cost of just 17 cents additional more per meal. The products held up – even when it came to serving chili, Paranick said.

“Yes, they cost a little more, but the cost is worth our care of creation,” said Paranick. “They are being conscientious about the impact take-out containers have on the environment and are setting an example for the community.”

Paranick and the Green Team are encouraging other congregations in their synod to do a little online research to find cost-efficient eco-friendly substitutes for cleaning and office supplies as well as paper products, noting that the cost to our health and that of the rest of creation is not fully reflected in the price we pay for many of the products we use.

“I was raised to be a good steward of Creation,” Paranick said. “I was raised in the country and recycling is just what you did. We composted food scraps or the horses ate vegetable scraps… Plastic wasn’t as popular, so we used a lot of glass containers. We canned and froze the produce from the garden, so not many tin cans either. We cooked from scratch, so not much prepared food and all the packaging that goes with it. You carried your lunch to school or work using reusable containers or waxed paper in a paper bag or reusable metal lunch box….We didn’t put chemicals on the lawn. We rotated use of fields. I was raised close to the earth, I guess.”

Active members in their church, her family helped neighbors in need with food or labor. “My Dad was always helping someone fix something,” she said.

When COVID prompted feeding ministries to expand take-out meals, her desire to serve married with her passion for creation care. These supportive congregations made the switch to eco-friendly servingware one more innovation that hunger and creation care advocates can carry forward in transformed ministry that emerges from the challenge of the times.


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