Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

We are Advocates for the Environment

The KMUCC Green Team

The KMUCC Green Team leads our efforts to be protectors of the environment.

Link: Take the UCC Environmental Justice Quiz

KMUCC Green Team Logo

Green Team Statement of Purpose

In partnership with God and in gratitude for God’s gifts, Kairos-Milwaukie UCC seeks to honor the integrity of creation, minimize our congregation’s impact on the environment, raise awareness of environmental and sustainability issues in the wider community, and advocate for the equitable distribution of resources throughout the world.



Mary CrockerFrom the KMUCC Green Team Organizer, Mary Crocker, in her own words:

Being a member of the Kairos-Milwaukie green team has been a gift to me. We learn from each other, co-conspire to take on meaningful projects and just have fun. Anyone is welcome to join our Green Team. Our overall mission is simply to explore ideas and ways to protect our amazing and life-giving earth.

I believe the love of our natural world is embedded in our DNA and enhanced in the opportunities we have to witness and explore nature. I spent most of my early years roaming in the hills above my home in Pendleton, unblocking creeks, running in the fields and stepping over rattlesnakes. During this pandemic, I look for hills to climb every day to marvel at what I witness and to refresh my soul.

Both of my children share my passion for nature. When the Green Team received a grant for a church pollinator garden, my son, Rian, was instrumental in designing and planting the two native gardens. He is a gifted native landscaper and is currently the groundskeeper for the Gladstone School District. Brenna buys huge bags of critter mix and has turned our plant-filled yard into a wildlife refuge. We actually had three skunks and three raccoons in our backyard at the same time this summer.

During these tumultuous days, remember to take the time to breathe in nature and marvel at the beauty and bounty of early fall.

A Green Team tip:

Local libraries have this wonderful collection called “The Library of Things.” Instead of buying and having items shipped, there are dozens of things to check out such as food dehydrators, tools and puzzles. Give it a try.

Image: © iStock.com / Janine Lamontagne (image #9086577)I was contemplating how these times have shaped my thinking, and one thing they’ve prompted is a lot of searching for good initiatives helping with climate change. I’ve compiled a little list, which is abbreviated here. Some of it may be of considerable use.

Rehydrate California


This organization of scientists and other stakeholders is working to combat drought in California by repairing water cycles. This work has obvious implications for the Northwest.



This is a Germany-based organization, and a hub to connect various local movements exploring post-capitalist alternatives to an economy based on perpetual growth.



Speaking of the Germans, Ecosia is web browser, founded by a German company, that uses a portion of its revenue to plant trees.

Carbon Neutral Now


Carbon Neutral Now is a UN initiative that allows individuals to purchase carbon credits to support alternative energy and carbon capture projects in the developing world. 

Carbon Engineering


This company is producing machines for direct air capture of carbon from the atmosphere. 

Billions in Change


This non-profit, founded and largely funded by billionaire Manoj Bhargava, aims to develop cheap, efficient solutions to provide for food, water, and energy needs of the developing world.

Texas Energy Lab: Moses West Brings Water to the Thirsty


Moses West has developed a condensation machine to provide fresh water to communities like Flint, Michigan.


Image: © iStock.com / solarseven  (Image ID# 1193095410)Plastics have been with us commercially since 1922 with Bakelite. "In 2018, manufacturers created almost 400 million tons of new plastics, and production is expected to almost quadruple by 2050." "Reliable research now shows that tiny bits of plastic are in our food, drinking water, the air we breathe, and, yes inside our bodies." It is unclear what the effects are. Some plastics have been linked to health issues. In 1999 Consumer Reports warned parents about possible health effects to young children with phthalates and BPA (bisphenol A) exposure.

Anyway, this is their list of 6 ways to use less plastic.

Do: Drink tap water. Fill up a metal reusable bottle for on the go use.

Don't: Rely on bottled water.

Do: Heat food in or on the stove or by microwaving in glass. For frozen meals in plastic trays to minimize your exposure to plastics follow the
cooking directions and avoid overheating. Or you can pop the food out of the tray and transfer it into a glass container for heating.

Do: Buy and store foods in glass, silicone or foil. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said that plastic food containers with recycling code 3,6, and 7 may contain potentially harmful chemicals unless labeled "biobased" or "greenware."

Do: Eat fresh food as much as possible. Food cans are often lined with bisphenol A.

Do: Vacuum regularly. The dust in your house could be loaded with microplastics and chemicals that found in plastics, such as phthalates. Vacuuming regularly with a HEPA filter is best for trapping dust.

Do: Work with your community. Encourage legislation to limit the use of single-use plastic and plastic production. Recycle and encourage community recycling. When possible shop at markets that source goods locally.

Hope this is helpful. We can keep learning and adjusting.

Will Fuller

Will Fuller 2020Will is a busy guy. As church moderator, he is an ex-officio member of all KMUCC’s missions and teams. “I am curious about a lot of things and how they relate to each other,” he says. Though he can’t be deeply involved in every aspect of the church, he remains an active member of the Green Team.

Spiritually, Will centers on the word connection. “We humans are spiritually connected to the non-human parts of nature, and we Green Team members are connected to each other as we share the work and play. How we congregate is how we serve God,” Will says.

He calls his personal connection to sustainability and the environment “partly genetic.” His sister runs an energy-efficiency nonprofit, Natural Capitalism Solutions, and has published several books and articles on the subject, most notably “Natural Capitalism.”

Will has a special interest in relating the physical environment to social justice issues such as racial and economic inequalities.


Carolyn and Pete Rux

Carolyn Rux 2020Pete Rux 2020Carolyn's and Pete’s involvement with the Green Team has been a big part of their church life as long as they can remember. The team began as a small group of people concerned with global warming and caring for the environment. “We worked to increase our awareness of these issues and tried to identify activities and changes to make a difference,” Carolyn says.

She says, “The Green Team has always been stimulating, sincere and fun. It has taken on exploration in many directions from reading, discussion, special guests, viewing
films, to attending conferences. This has led to plant sales, PACE articles, energy audits, plastic and Styrofoam collections and sharing of useful information.”
Pete notes some of the issues and tough questions the group has tackled include how to take better care of the Earth, climate change, food practices, how certain foods are more eco-friendly than others, how to become more energy-efficient and reduce our carbon footprint both as consumers individually and as a church community.

For Carolyn, the idea of caring for the earth is a basic part of her faith. “This faith, in part, comes from the awe and wonder the earth provides in abundance each day, which sustains me and gives me life,” she says.


Johnette Orpinela

Johnette Orpinela 2020Johnette was attracted to Kairos Milwaukie UCC largely because of its commitment to the environment through the Green Team. “I’ve been concerned about the environment and the various ways we are destroying the planet as long as I can remember,” she says.

Johnette lives out her commitment to the environment at church and at home. “The Green Team has been a very consistent and vocal presence in the congregation through the things we do such as recycling and the bee garden,” she says. Johnette would like to see the Green Team take on the bigger picture of environmental and sustainability issues. One way to do that is by partnering with other organizations in the area who have similar missions.

At home, Johnette and her family live their beliefs. When they built a studio next to their house, they installed an eco-roof.

Like most church groups, the Green Team has been challenged during the pandemic to keep their plans moving. However, in June they met in person outside the church, masked and distanced but with the same energy they have found in each other throughout the years. “It was great to see everyone, to talk in person. I felt safe doing it,” Johnette said.

Chris C Green TeamKairos-Milwaukie UCC Green Team creator Chris Christensen has felt a connection to nature as long as she can remember. “I spent most of my childhood in the woods around Astoria,” she says. “I mourn that most kids today don’t get that experience.”

Chris began actively working for environmental causes in high school, when she attended the National Youth Conference on Natural Beauty and Conservation, sponsored by Lady Bird Johnson. After the conference, Chris and other Oregon and Washington delegates became spokespersons for a local anti-litter campaign, speaking to groups such as the Kiwanis Club, Lions Club and veterans’ organizations. In the 1990s, in the newly created AmeriCorps, Chris was part of a team that planted trees in the national forest, pulled ivy and other invasive plants in Forest Park, and helped students start recycling centers while raising awareness about conservation. Later, while working at the Multnomah County Court House, Chris joined their active Green Team.

She brought that same energy to Kairos-Milwaukie UCC, where — soon after she joined — Chris and several interested members started the Green Team. Chris still actively participates in the group’s many functions. For example, the Green Team received a grant from Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon to create a bee pollinator garden, which another member’s son designed. They also participated in an energy audit of the church, resulting in several improvements.

Arwen and Iselie Green TeamArwen Spicer and her daughter, Iselie, are the newest members of Kairos Milwaukie United Church of Christ’s Green Team, which has been working toward sustainability for a decade.

Arwen says she participates in the Green Team because of its goals: “We work toward a circular economy – one that’s sustainable for the environment and has minimal waste.” Arwen is a long-time environmental steward; her doctoral dissertation in English was on ecology in utopian science fiction and teaches and writes about workable utopias. Arwen says being on the Green Team allows her to give something back and get to know people better. “I’m also really glad to do this with my daughter,” Arwen stresses.

The Green Team has lively discussions of how they can advocate for a sustainable environment and social justice. They’ve created a healthier church building and grounds, including designing and creating two bee pollinator gardens (thanks to a grant from Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon) and free recycling of Styrofoam and #6 plastics – two of the hardest-to-reclaim materials. On one Sunday, the Green Team took three carloads and two truckloads of recycling to Agilyx in Tigard.

The Green Team also hosts speakers. Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba recently discussed the city’s climate change plan. Iselie, a student at Stephenson Elementary School, wrote a thank you letter to Mayor Gamba from the team. “Being involved with the Green Team is a great opportunity for her,” Arwen says.

Photo: © iStock.com / studioworxx (image #180424028)Sunday, April 7, 2019 at 10:00 am

Come and join us for an inspiring service celebrating Earth Day. A special guest who is the Sustainability Management Analyst for the city of Lake Oswego will be joining us to give us tips on things we all can do to protect our precious earth. The KMUCC Green Team will host an information table of where and what to buy to replace plastics. The Green Team is also hosting an earth-centered coffee hour after worship.

Join us for this special celebration of our earth!

For more information about going plastic free and Earth Day 2019 visit: