Energy saving initiatives help church direct more funds to outreach
by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE – For members of First Presbyterian Church of Jeffersonville, Indiana, reducing energy costs means more than balancing the budget. They see it as an opportunity to redirect funds to ministerial outreach.
Last year, the southern Indiana church joined five other faith communities across the state to apply for state grant funds for solar panels on their church roofs. As a result, they were able to install more than 58 kW of solar panels, enough to supply nearly half of each church’s electrical power.
“We’ve worked for years to reduce the church’s energy bills so we could direct more money to our mission budget,” said the Rev. Don Summerfield, church pastor. “This includes adding insulation, installing high-efficiency HVAC and appliances, changing lighting and more. We also plan to install additional solar panels.”
Summerfield says members took it a step further by enrolling for home energy audits through Energizing Indiana, to learn how they can conserve energy at home. The church also hosts a winter farmer’s market, sells fair trade organic products and organizes electronic trash recycling.
“The church exemplifies the kind of holistic stewardship called for by our Christian faith and practice,” he said. “Stewardship of this world God made and gave us to call our home, and stewardship of the resources we’ve been given to use in bringing God’s good news to our neighbors far and near.”
Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light, a creation care organization, works to educate faith groups on environmental matters and establish green ministries and more. The organization is partnering with First Presbyterian to host a workshop this weekend (October 8) called “Using Energy Prudently.”
“This workshop will cover energy systems in worship buildings and help congregations make energy bill cuts as deep as 25 percent,” said the Rev. Patricia Tull, program director with Hoosier IPL. “Registrants will receive lunch and a notebook of good, practical information.”
Tull, who is also a member of First Presbyterian—a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) certified Earth Care Congregation—founded the church’s green team and began working for Hoosier IPL after she saw how effective its energy conservation programs have been around the state. “We were excited to find partners who cared as passionately as we did about making sure the environment we leave our children is as rich and beautiful as the one we inherited.”
“First Presbyterian Church is a great model of a congregation incorporating caring for God’s creation into their physical facility—from lightbulbs to solar panels,” said Rebecca Barnes, associate of Environmental Ministries for PC(USA). “They also highlight concerns for God’s creation in their worship and educational programs. This workshop demonstrates their wonderful capacity to work ecumenically and interfaith in their outreach into the community. They do wonderful work and I’m grateful for their witness.”
Workshop cost for the first participant from a congregation is $20 and $10 for each additional member. Click here for more information or to register.
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Categories: Advocacy & Social Justice, Environment, Hunger & Poverty
Tags: budget, earth care congregation, environment, environmental ministries, mission, pcusa, presbyterian, savings, solar
Ministries: Compassion, Peace and Justice, Sustainable Living & Earth Care Concerns, Presbyterian Hunger Program