NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - An outdoor Earth Day Service sends the message of environmental awareness at Austin Heights Baptist Church. At times it was as if chirping birds were joining in with the singing and guitar accompaniment in the forest located behind the Appleby Sand Road church.
Austin Heights Baptist Church is introducing its Earth Care Ministry. The church pastor says some people find it kind of weird.
"A lot of popular mythology says that if you love good creation that you're some kind of weirdo tree hugger and that's usually the way it is," said Pastor Kyle Childress. "It has little do with that, and everything to do in trying to be faithful Christians who care about what God cares about."
The church doesn't shy away from controversial subjects. The week prior to Earth Day it sponsored films concerning coal mining destruction and discussion on land ethics.
The Center for a Livable World, a research effort at Stephen F. Austin State University recognized the church for supporting its mission of supporting the social aspects of sustainability.
"So this church takes that seriously and it's been involved in environmental causes for years," said Jerry Williams, a professor at SFA and Austin Heights member. "We know it's not often times not very popular, but we do feel like it's our calling to do so."
The mission also promotes good stewardship in pretty common ways.
"We replaced our air conditioning system with a more efficient model,' said Denise McDonald, a leader of the Earth Care Ministry. "We're looking into doing some water collection stuff, maybe even if we can get enough sun, doing something with solar. We're really trying to do something about energy efficiency."
Earth care missions are crossing all denominations and ignores political labels. Similar programs have begun at churches across East Texas and the nation.
"So called conservative Christians and so called liberal Christians, but all of them are working about being faithful Christians caring for the environment," said Childress.
Another important aspect of the mission is to pursue environmental justice for present and future generations of all species. Children have been led on walks in the woods and taught the importance of protecting the environment.