ReNew a green vbs

Monday, March 29, 2010

ReNew's blog has relocated!

Thanks to everyone for following ReNew: The Green VBS' blog!  You can now find our freshly redesigned (and relocated) blog at

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Q&A: VBS Director Lori Cotter Shares Excitement for Upcoming ReNew Program

Earlier this month, we sat down with Lori Cotter of Sugarloaf United Methodist Church in Duluth, Georgia. She so graciously shared her perspective on ReNew: The Green VBS, that she recently purchased for this year's VBS week, and how her congregation works to be good stewards of God’s creation.

ReNew: What is life like as the Director of Children’s Ministry at Sugarloaf United Methodist Church in Duluth, Georgia?
Lori: What can I say? Being the Children’s Ministry Director at Sugarloaf is the best job I’ve ever had! Sugarloaf’s goal is to be relevant, and I can do all kinds of things to reach kids. For example, we’re in our fifth year of rotation model Sunday School where we get to teach children in a variety of way.  We call the program BLASt (Bible Learning Adventure Stations). 

Amidst other VBS programs out there, what attracted you to ReNew?

We stepped a little bit out of our comfort zone to choose ReNew. Traditionally, we have gone with another publisher with programs that worked but had become routine. Sugarloaf Kids Ministry wanted to use something that had applications to today and the ReNew program really shows that one child can have an impact. I think it is so relevant to what is happening in the world today.

When do you plan to implement ReNew?

In our church, we call vacation bible school our Sugarloaf Kids Summer Sensational because, really, who wants to go to school in the summer? Our program will take place June 14-18, 2010, and it culminates on Children’s Celebration Sunday. We will conduct it over five morning sessions that will last 3.5 hours each. Each day has a unique focus.
  • Day 1: Planting Seeds (“A sower went out to sow…”) – God’s love is a seed in me.
  • Day 2: Taking Root (Path & Birds) – God’s love takes root in me.
  • Day 3: Growing (Rocky Ground) – God’s love is growing in me.
  • Day 4: Facing Challenges (Thorns) – The love of Jesus helps me face challenges.
  • Day 5: Living Together (Good Soil) – We live together in God’s love.
Of all the activities and resources associated with your “Summer Sensational,” what do you look forward to the most?

I love the whole idea of going to worship sites. The “self” site is really showing kids that they can make a difference, the “community” site shows kids how to help their immediate environment, and the “world” site shows the young, even though they are so little, they can have a big impact on the world.

Also, I love the idea of using the same story – Jesus’ Parable of the Sower – over the duration of the program by highlighting a different portion each day. The activities are relevant and applicable to today, showing children what God expects us to do with the Earth.

How will you be putting your own spin on ReNew? What sort of thoughts and ideas do you have?

We’re going to take each area and the ideas from ReNew and write our lesson plans to work for us. We’ll put our own spin on the “self” site with crafts and for the “world” site with a mission spin and a project offering for the Navajo reservation in New Mexico our church supports. We’ll ask children to fill bags with toys and school supplies and we’ll share them with the kids at Pueblo Pintado.  And, the program will serve dual purposes. We will reuse all the supplies during our mission trip to the reservation in July.

Also, with over 600 kids, we have too many children to walk outside, as suggested in the programming, so we will be showing a video about the earth in our World Center and with the lesson that will compliment each other. I’m also looking forward to incorporating our on-site garden called God’s Garden into our ReNew Summer Sensational.

What other activities does your congregation do to be good “green” stewards of the Earth?

We recycle! There are bins in every department and for the week of our summer program we will set out compost bins. Also, we will provide reusable water bottles for the children during the Summer Sensational. They can reuse them during the program at our “water holes” and at home.

This year’s program will be “paperless.”  We will be going electronic.  From registration forms to our daily newsletter, we will utilize our website to do everything online.

Are you doing anything special for Earth Day this year?

We will do something; we just don’t know what yet. It will probably happen during the whole month of April because this year is Earth Year. Also, we will have an “Impact Wall” during April. Our congregation will have an opportunity to make a financial donation to our summer program to sponsor a child, children or a family.

Finally, why is it so important to teach today’s youth about taking care of the Earth?

I think it is important because you can go to the Bible and see that we’re supposed to be doing. I think we’re at a point where we’ve almost taken advantage of the Earth so now is really the time to recognize that it is here for a long time and we should start making a difference. I believe God made the Earth for us and we have to take care of it.

We’d like to thank Lori for taking the time to talk with us about why Sugarloaf purchased the ReNew Starter Kit and how they plan on using it. We’re so excited to hear they will be reusing the supplies and making ReNew their own; keep us posted on how the ReNew-infused Summer Sensational goes!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Top 10 Tips for Making Your Congregation More Green

With the 40th anniversary of Earth Day around the corner (April 22nd) we are reminded that our concern for environmental sustainability is not some new fad. As people of faith, we are called to be good stewards of God’s creation and make each and every day Earth Day.

Clearly, there is a lot we can do together to care for our planet, but what can you and members of your congregation do to make a difference? ReNew has come up with 10 easy tips to infuse green activities into your every day lives.

  1. Walk, bike or use public transportation. If you must drive, combine trips and carpool when possible.
  2. Change you incandescent light bulbs to compact florescent. Don’t throw them in the trash, however. They contain mercury and must be disposed of properly.
  3. Plant trees or other plants.
  4. Use refillable bottles for water. Reusable, aluminum bottles are available everywhere.
  5. Pay your bills online. Doing this will save paper, fossil fuels and not to mention 44 cents on postage!
  6. Use reusable grocery bags. To help you remember, leave them in your car if you must drive.
  7. Cool down with fans and light clothing instead of cranking the air conditioning.
  8. Eat local foods and freeze seasonal fruits for the winter months.
  9. Unplug your devices when not in use. This includes unplugging cell phones when charged, DVD players, CD players and anything that drains small amounts of energy when idle. It all adds up!
  10. Install a low-flow shower head to save water.

Have we missed anything? Let us know how you take care of the Earth.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Earth Day 2010, A Call To Service

The first Earth Day was held back in 1970 so people around the world would celebrate the Earth and renew commitments to building a safer, healthier and cleaner world. Forty years later, a sister organization called The Earth Day Network (EDN) continues to focus on taking that mission and concept of Earth Day and translating it into real action.

The Earth Day Network of non-profit organizations, local governments, activists, and, not surprisingly, communities of faith reaches more then 19,000 organizations in 192 countries. The domestic program engages 10,000 groups and more than 100,000 educators coordinating millions of community development and environmental-protection activities throughout the year. That’s a whole lot of action!
One exciting resource from the EDN website is its religious outreach. There, you’ll be able to read all of the encouraging activities people of faith are involved in all over the world, including a list of “pulpit resources.”

As you and your faith community gear up for Earth Day this April 22, 2010, consider finding educational programming on caring for God’s creation, like our green vacation bible school program called ReNew, or exploring the EDN website that encourages you to do your part by joining the network or donating to the cause.

How will your faith community celebrate Earth Day this year?