Co-Pastors in St. Louis Lead Environmental Practices By Example

By Chelsea Blackmon

Rev. Clinton Stancil and his wife Rev. Christine Stancil are completely invested in the betterment of the community, starting with Wayman AME Church in St. Louis, MO. As pastors, they’ve been strategic in offering solutions to the problems in their community as best as they can. The Stancil’s long term goal is to represent a productive, well-rounded community.

Rev. Stancil is no stranger to standing at the forefront of social justice issues. His voice was frequently heard demanding for justice for Michael Brown in the wake of his murder by a white police officer. Something that really hits home especially in today’s racially charged climate.

Environmental sustainability is another issue that’s impacting the Black community. The facts are undeniable, climate and pollution impacts people of color and low income families more than anyone else. There continues to be a need for sustainable environmental practices to address these issues in black and brown communities. The good news is - the movement is slowly growing. The bad news is - not at the rapid pace that’s needed to act on climate. The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report in 2018 sounding the alarm that we have around 12 years to cut carbon pollution so we can reduce CO2 emissions to fight climate change & pollution. This means we have to act now!

Rev. Clinton Stancil has noticed how distant the topic was to the people in his community. ‘It wasn’t that they didn’t care, it was that they didn’t know’, shares Rev. Clinton. The Stancil’s took it upon themselves to educate their congregation, noting that they would have to lead by example.

After receiving the Growing Green Solutions Seeding Funding from Green The Church and The Nature Conservancy, the pastors began to make environmentally conscious improvements for their church. They have begun to seal windows and doors of the sanctuary to conserve energy. The Wayman AME Church takes up a block, so zoning for energy conservation is up next on the list. Then, solar panels for their power needs. However, because the church is substantially large and historical within the community, it’s been difficult for them to get approved on the upgrades they want to do to the church.

Prior to COVID-19, Wayman AME was able to provide fruits and vegetables from community gardens in the meals and groceries they gave to the members of their community.

When it comes to their goals for the surrounding community, Rev. Christine has been working for 3 ½ years to turn the property next to the church (that they own) into a senior living community to address the needs of many of their members who are getting older in the church. The vision is to provide a home that is close to the church, affordable, and encourages an active lifestyle. Unfortunately, this project has been put on hold as a result of red tape with the local government.

While COVID-19 has prevented in-house worship services, it has not been able to stop the efforts that Wayman AME Church has taken to help the surrounding community. During the quarantine, they have partnered with other nonprofits to deliver groceries to 45-50 families a week. The Stancil’s have also given out laptops to members of the church to help them with education and streaming online worship services. They also have been providing meals for seniors who have been at risk during the pandemic, so they wouldn’t have to leave the house. Rev. Clinton Stancil and Rev. Christine Stancil have also partnered with Barnes-Hewish Hospital to focus on mental health within their communities, working to become a safe space for their members during hard times. They’ve also partnered with the St. Louis school district to create after-school programs for at-risk students, however, it came to a halt when COVID-19 shut down schools.

Ultimately, Rev. Clinton Stancil and Rev. Christine Stancil are aware of the impact a church can have on the surrounding community and it is evident in how they intentionally approach their work. Teaching environmentally sustainable practices by applying them to the church is a great way to lead by example. Though there has been some difficulty in addressing all of the problems, it is clear that the Stancil’s won’t let it stop them from reaching their goals.

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