Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times. Only about 25% of the plastic produced in the U.S. is recycled. The rest piles up in landfills, where it can take up to a thousand years for our detergent bottles to decompose. A church in Birmingham, Alabama has found a much faster way to turn today’s trash into useful items that create jobs.
Go ahead and do a double take, the Rev. Adam Burns looks like Jesus in sneakers and a Loretta Lynn t-shirt. But this United Methodist pastor walks the walk, ministering to the poor and seeing God in even the most broken souls.
Rev. Adam Burns, Church of the Reconciler: “Radical hospitality means that we welcome in active drug users, alcoholics, men and women who are addicted to drama And when you welcome in this diverse community of men and women living on the street, it is a powder keg of potential disagreements and arguments that often blows up. And we know that God believes in each and every one of them. And we try to embody that in what we do at Church of the Reconciler and believe that they can live differently, that they should demand more out of life.”
This ministry tucked into a warehouse in downtown Birmingham, offers beautiful spaces which provide a welcome haven from life on the streets.
Clients can pick up mail, get on-on-one help with resumes and job applications, and participate in support groups that change lives. Church of the reconciler is a place of potential and no one sees that better than pastor burns.
Rev. Adam Burns: “I recently became an EarthKeeper. And part of the EarthKeeper project is to start a recycling business at the church.”
Burns has a plan to increase awareness of creation care while creating jobs. A machine like this, purchased with a grant from the United Methodist Earthkeepers initiative will turn colored plastic into items like key chains and garden pots that can be sold in local stores.
Avery Rhodes, Church of the Reconciler:
“We can actually take waste out of the waste stream, clean it, shred it, melt it and create a brand new product. We have a city that currently doesn’t do a lot of recycling and wants to work on progressing toward doing more. And we have a population of people who are vulnerable but are endowed with many gifts and talents and skills who want to be a part of solutions.”
One of a city’s best natural resources is its people. By leading the way in green innovation church of the reconciler hopes to set an example as church of the recyclers.
Learn more about United Methodist EarthKeepers programs and training opportunities.
Learn more about the recycling process at Church of the Reconciler.