The St. John Neumann Creation Care Team of Lilburn, Georgia is following in the Lord’s footsteps, doing what they can one step at a time to fulfill a great vision for the restoration of God’s kingdom in their very own backyard.
St. John Neumann Church of Lilburn, Georgia
Lilburn is a small town of about 15,000 people, located in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, just a little over 24 miles from the heart of the city. The church’s creation care team has taken seriously the Laudato Si’ Action Plan passed down from Pope Francis with the aim to implement the plan in both the church’s school and all of its ministries.
The congregation at St. John Neumann has recognized the moral imperative of creation care to address climate change and environmental degradation. When first presented to the congregation from the pulpit, 45 people signed up to join the creation care team.
A steering committee for the team meets every other month to identify what strategies and tactics they want to implement next.
Since its inception, the creation care team has achieved significant advances in education, conservation, and advocacy.
Spreading the Word about Creation Care to the Congregation and Beyond
To introduce the subject of creation care to their community, the creation care team created a Creation Care video to share on Earth Day. Parishioners are regularly reminded about creation care tips through Green Shortz, which are featured on screens throughout the parish to provide tips on green living, and classes on the Laudato Si’ have been offered to parishioners so they can become familiar with the action plan.
Creation Care in English and Spanish
Recognizing the diversity in their midst and the necessity for a unified approach to creation care, the church is committed to providing resources and activities in both English and Spanish. From curriculum to weekly eco-tips during appropriate liturgical and natural seasons, the creation care team has made it a priority to make sure everyone in their community is informed about the importance of caring for creation.
Campus Improvements for the Good of Creation
In addition to educating their community about the importance of creation care, the creation care team at St. John Neumann is committed to doing the hard work of getting their hands and feet dirty for the sake of our planet. They have planted a variety of native trees on their campus to contribute to their campus’ biodiversity as well as to build solidarity between other denominations that are committed to this same cause.
In addition to native trees, twelve master gardeners and volunteers joined together to develop and maintain a sustainable landscape on campus. Over time, they’ve removed invasive plant species, connected the landscape to an adjacent urban forest, created a water-wise landscape, planted native shrubs and plants, reduced their lawnscape to less than the recommended 40% of the landscape, created a compost pile for landscape waste, minimized pesticide usage, installed a pollinator garden, and followed best practices for mulching and planting to reduce weeds and irrigation.
Through a partnership with the Georgia Interfaith Power & Light over the last decade, St. John Neumann reduced their energy consumption by 20%. After performing an energy audit, the collaborative team switched out conventional lighting for LED bulbs, insulated their attic, installed motion sensors for chapel and restroom lighting, adjusted the thermostat for energy conservation, and implemented ongoing HVAC and A/C settings and maintenance to optimize equipment efficiency. To conserve water, campus restroom faucets are on sensors, low flush toilets were installed, and plumbing leaks were repaired to save gallons of water.
The community has also implemented practices on their campus to reduce waste and expand recycling measures, from banning styrofoam to opting to repair as much as possible rather than buying new replacements. Because of their efforts, they’ve reduced waste headed to landfills by 50%.
Community Outreach and Partnerships for People and Planet
The work of St. John Neumann’s creation care team extends beyond their own campus to the community at-large. Working together with their county officials, they have made improvements to reduce the flooding of a nearby stream.
The parish supports a local food pantry and community garden for fresh produce, all of which have been supported by area experts in raised beds, vegetable gardens, and fruit tree maintenance.
These initiatives and more have brought the people of St. John Neumann Church together around a common cause that will benefit their community today and for generations to come.