As part of the observance, the first of five Sundays in the church's Creation Season, a guest speaker will preach the 10 a.m. sermon: the Rev. Fletcher Harper, executive director of the interfaith environmental coalition GreenFaith.
GreenFaith is a New Jersey interfaith coalition for the environment that works with houses of worship, religious schools and people of all faiths on issues of sustainability and environmental justice. Its stated mission is to assist faith communities to become better environmental stewards.
The group offers a rigorous two-year GreenFaith certification program allowing faith communities to become environmental leaders. The organization provides resources, one-on-one coaching, support and networking opportunities to help worship spaces do holistic environmental programming. Only 10 religious institutions so far have earned the certification; nearly 70 nationwide are involved in the program.
Parish Administrator Ali Dockery told Patch that St. Bernard's is "working toward certification as we speak."Helping to lead the charge is the church's Priest-in-Charge, the Rev. Franklin Vilas, who has a deep and personal connection to GreenFaith.
"I came aboard as Priest-in-Charge six months ago, and as a founder of GreenFaith, I felt that their program would help this congregation in its mission for the future," Vilas explained. "I feel strongly that the stewardship of the environment and eco-justice are moral and spiritual imperatives for religions in our day.
"By participating in the certification process, St. Bernard's is affirming God's creation and at the same time working for the future of our children and grandchildren."
According to Dockery, the Episcopal congregation has a Green Team made up of parishioners in place to research ways in which the church can become more green-friendly in its operations. The group also works to develop and implement strategies and initiatives to put St. Bernard's more firmly on the side of ecological responsibility and sustainability.
One push, the administrator said, involves educating parishioners of all ages about the importance of conservation and about the connections between environmental stewardship and spirituality.
"We did an interfaith children's camp in August called 'Splash' with GreenFaith last August," she said, adding that the church plans to offer its members an opportunity to visit the New Jersey Highlands Coalition's Highland Festival on Sept. 21 in the Waterloo section of Sussex County's Byram Township.
Becoming a green church is "something we've been actively working on for a long time," Dockery said.
Sunday's Rally Sunday service will be followed by a picnic at 11 a.m. on the church grounds. St. Bernard's is located at 88 Claremont Road in Bernardsville.
Editor's note: The text initially said the service began at 8 a.m.; in fact, it begins at 10 a.m. We regret the error.