Organize an event to clean up trash and debris in your community as a way to show your church cares and to commemorate Earth Day, April 22.
Turlock Covenant Church in central California has found that its regular “alley cleanups,” held about three times a year, touch the hearts and minds of local residents and are an example of the Gospel message, Pastor Steve Carlson says.
“Our church has a real heart to try to make a difference in the community and be missional,” Carlson says. “We want to love our neighbors and make our neighborhood a safer place. The goal is we are trying to express the love of Christ to people with hopes to build bridges.”
Turlock Covenant, which averages a weekend attendance of 150, is located on the west side of town, a poorer area that grapples with homelessness, crime, gangs and drugs, the pastor says.
On the west side of Turlock, every street has an alley, many littered with tons of garbage and overgrowth, he says. At the cleanups, church members aged 7 to 70-plus haul away tires, mattresses, televisions and other trash left behind, and then rake and remove piles of weeds and other debris.
“This has helped people,” Carlson says. “People will come out and thank us.”
Cleanup volunteers also include members of the church’s youth ministry, many of whom live in or near the neighborhoods they tidy up.
“Rather than tagging the alleys, this gives them a sense of pride in their own community,” Carlson says.