Churches worldwide joined in green activities Sunday, ahead of this week's official Earth Day, engaging in everything ranging from teaching children to recycle to turning off unneeded electricity in the church building.
The special efforts were done in observation of the annual Earth Day Sunday, or Ecumenical Earth Day, which seeks to promote the care of God's creation. The church-focused event is held each year on the Sunday before the mainstream Earth Day, which will take place on Tuesday.
"We want to help people learn about earth stewardship and have a time of praise" for God's creation, said Cheryl Phipps, a committee member of the Ecumenical Earth Day celebration at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Dalton, Ga., according to Dalton-based The Daily Citizen newspaper.
Children participating in Dalton's Ecumenical Earth Day festivities worked on projects with their parents using recycled materials.
One 7-year-old boy, named Christian Amon, created a replica of a sprinkler system made with a two-liter bottle, empty toilet paper, paper towel rolls, a pie plate and straws with his mother. Meanwhile, three-year-old Libby Green made a pig out of recycled products with her father.
But aside from recyclable animals, the event also featured real live animals in its petting zoo, which included a pig, dogs, kittens and snakes.
"We always have something on taking care of God's creatures," Phipps noted. "We always try to have something on recycling, too. We have a lot of things to promote the earth."
Up north in Parma, Ohio, nearly 100 people – some still dressed in their church clothes – dropped off 800 quarts of old motor oil on Sunday at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall, according to USA Today.
Half way around the world, the Catholic church in the Philippines organized environmental clean-up and tree-planting activities in Manila for its weeklong Earth Day celebration.
The activities, which began this past Saturday and will end on April 27, will conclude with a forum on global warming and climate change and a Mass, according to Philippine-based GMA News.
Saturday's kick-off activities included an eco-painting contest for youths and a concert for nature in the evening.
On Earth Day, the Manila Catholic Church plans to hold a tree-planting activity and invite participants to turn off their lights, unplug their appliances and pray at 8 p.m. local time.
Back in the Unites States, many large-scale, non-church related, pre-Earth Day events took place on Sunday, including thousands of people picking up garbage, turning in old cell phones and computers, and taking nature walks, according to USA Today.
A massive pre-Earth Day event and concert at the National Mall on Sunday, which was expected to draw some 100,000 people, was canceled part-way through because of heavy rain. It is estimated that the crowd was about 30,000 throughout the day, according to The Washington Post.
Organizers of the major Earth Day events hope that on Tuesday, the official Earth Day, 1 million Americans will call their congressional representatives to press them to pass a stronger global warming legislation.
The first Earth Day in 1970 featured tree-planting and trash pickup.