San Jose Church Accepts Bishops' 'Call to Hope and Action'

May 13, 2010

By Carolyn Sue Bowling
Almaden Hills UMC

We cannot change the world until we change our way of being in it. This challenge, offered by the Bishops of The United Methodist Church, opened the special Earth Day service on April 18 at Almaden Hills United Methodist Church in San Jose.
The service, sponsored by the church's Green Ministry, started with a sung call to worship: Move me, move me, move me to do thy will.
The focus of the day's message was the Pastoral Liturgy Letter, God's Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action. The body of the letter was presented by our pastor, the Rev. Jane Schlager, and was interspersed with song, media presentation, and a variety of readers for the laments, confessions, and responsorial readings.
Some of the highlights: The Lord's Prayer was said in conjunction with hand movements representing the different facets of prayer – and the children's moment was a song by the children, "Wow, Look What God Has Done!", in which the entire congregation participated. It was a beautiful sight to see people throwing their hands up in the air during the refrain.
During the offertory, the people were asked to bring forward their thoughts and concerns, their prayers and confessions, and hang them on pledge scrolls which offered these commitments to God's creation: to live and act in hope, to prayerfully examine our lives, to practice social and environmental holiness, and to work toward God's holy vision of renewal.
In keeping with our commitment to be green, live plants were brought in to decorate the altar; bulletin items, hymns, and prayers were projected for all to see, rather than printed; announcements were printed on recycled paper; and coffee hour featured Fair Trade coffee and tea, as well as local foods. New banners were commissioned for this special occasion and represented running water and the Tree of Life. The pledge scrolls were made by hand from recycled and un-dyed materials, and earth flags were positioned in the corners of the Sanctuary.