Not having heard of such a thing since the only churches I've been too all used the common communion chalice complete with the obligatory, yet not quite sanitary, "wipe" across the cup. So, on one hand, the hypochondriac in me was pleased that such highly delicious communicable-by-mouth diseases wasn't something to fear in these churches, yet the environmentalist in me was horrified at the amount of cups a church must go through every year. Well, that and the cost.
I'm sure most churches, in this day and age of fear and swine flu, wouldn't go back to the shared chalice, but there are other alternatives, such as glass or stainless steel cups. The stainless steel ones are a little harder to come by in the U.S. but the glass cups seem more available. Better yet, why not BYOC. Or is packing your own shot glass a little too over-the-top for church? What if it's got some great biblical quote etched on the side? No?
Anyway, how about reducing the energy used at the church either by investing in solar panels or wind power? From the Sierra Club website:
The Energy Star web site, a program of the U.S. EPA, has devoted a number of pages to helping congregations get started on saving energy. Some projects are simple, like changing lightbulbs or installing occupancy sensors in light switches so lights turn off when no one is present. And then there are the more involved projects, like upgrading heating and ventilation and landscaping with plants native to your climate.
Some other ideas for greening your church include using green cleaning products and encouraging church-goers to take public transportation, carpool, walk or bike to church. Hosting a sewing circle for making reusable cloth grocery bags or even making them out of plastic shopping bags that could be auctioned or sold to support greening the church would be a good place to start.
Holding a canning session in the church kitchen for using the season's surplus and providing for the poor would be invaluable. Better yet, start a community garden to provide an additional source of food for the poor. And replacing disposable eating utensils with good old-fashioned silverware, glasses and plates that are washed for reuse would cost more to start, but would save money in the end.
Finally, providing recycling services for those who don't have it at home is a valuable resource since people would, ultimately, be showing up once a week for church/recycling drop-offs.
For more ideas, check out what these Presbyterian churches are doing. What efforts is your church doing to be greener?