Eco-justice ministries in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) grew out of the 1977 General Assembly resolution that called for the development of a Task Force on Ecology. This group, comprised of 18 persons, six of whom represented denominational staff, was active for a number of years and authored the Alverna Covenant. Eventually, as the lifetime of that group ran its course, its responsibilities were moved to the general unit of the denomination that works most directly with congregations, Disciples Home Missions.
From 2000 – 2010, as a DHM employee, Angela Hermann, built on the foundation laid by the Task Force on Ecology through her work as the coordinator of environmental education and advocacy. “Return to the Garden,” a community garden initiative, grew out of a project from her Master’s Degree program in 2005. Under Angela’s leadership, the DOC Coffee Project was started and the 2009 General Assembly was more sustainable and included a Green Learning Track. She authored or co-authored resolutions in 2001, 2007 and 2009 and wrote extensively for Disciples’ publications on caring for creation. In 2010, along with John Davidson and Church Extension, Angela created a Green Church program, now known as the Green Chalice Certification Program.
In the summer of 2007, by the invitation of the Kentucky regional minister, Greg Alexander, a group of concerned Kentucky Disciples came together to discuss how to better care for God’s creation. For over three years, under the leadership of Rev. Carol Devine, Green Chalice KY hosted green retreats, provided educational workshops, and supplied resources to churches. Congregations in Kentucky started community gardens, recycling programs, rain gardens, composting, using real dinnerware, eating local foods, praying for and celebrating creation in worship, planting trees and more. Churches lowered their carbon footprints by having energy audits, caulking old windows and installing new ones, and installing geothermal systems and programmable thermostats.
This Kentucky ministry captured the attention of Disciples Home Missions President, the Rev. Dr. Ron Degges. As a result, DHM and Christian Church in Kentucky formed a new partnership in May 2011. Green Chalice became the official ministry for the Disciples’’ stewardship of creation through DHM.
In January 2015, Green Chalice became a founding partner of Blessed Tomorrow, a coalition of diverse faith leaders committed to creating a path to a positive future for our families, communities and the world in order to raise awareness and respond to the climate crisis. Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri was hired as Associate Minister for Green Chalice because of the growing demands for time and expertise.
In response to racial tension and the subsequent spotlight on racial inequalities in the United States in 2013 – 2015, Green Chalice co-authored an Environmental Racism resolution with Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kentucky Pro-Reconciliation/Anti-Racism Team for the 2015 General Assembly in Columbus, OH.