Valley CRC Signs up for Community Solar
In 2015, Valley CRC of Binghamton, N.Y., looked into installing solar panels on its roof, but due to expense, aesthetic, and structural concerns, they decided not to pursue the project at that time. In 2018, however, the option of community solar became available in the area, and it seemed like a natural fit for Valley CRC. Earlier this year, they officially signed up with solar company Nexamp for community solar. Valley CRC sees many benefits in pursuing community solar:
Renewable solar energy helps the church be a better environmental steward.
They’re supporting a project run by a local company.
They’re supporting New York State's Energy Plan (50% electricity will come from renewable energy resources).
They will save 10% on their electric bill, with no capital expense required.
It encourages members of the congregation to follow suit in their own homes.
Valley CRC has taken additional energy stewardship steps as well, including installing roof insulation, an energy efficient boiler, and LED lighting. In the future, Valley CRC hopes to explore ENERGY STAR certification.
‘All Things New’ Children’s Nature Space at Centrepointe Community CRC
Centrepointe Community CRC in Edmonton, Alta., has been teaching its children about creation care and have followed up with a special project that includes building compost bins and planting trees and fruit-bearing shrubs. These elements will be part of a new children’s nature space that Centrepointe is building. The transformation of the space so far has gone from a very hot southern exposure with grass and weeds, to now having the start of shade plants and the ability to make new soil. The long-term plan is to continue developing the space, and the church plans to include as many creation-care components as possible. The “All Things New” theme of the nature space is intended to teach children that God will make all things new on earth, and that we are called to participate in this work.
Houston CRC's Creation Care Sunday
Houston CRC in British Columbia recently held a special creation-care service featuring a slide show of local plants and animals with the A Rocha Blessing playing in the background. The pastor spoke on Colossians 1:13-20 and talked about how creation is created in, for, and through Christ, and how his acts of redemption on the cross are for all things. The service was well received and served as another example of Houston CRC’s dedication to creation care. The congregation has maintained a community garden for the past eight years that helps to mitigate climate change. The garden reduces pollution due to its lack of pesticides, provides food for refugee families and others, and serves as a place for the church to connect with community and the soil.
Solar for Churches Workshop
On May 23, 36 church leaders from 19 congregations gathered in Grand Rapids, Mich., to better understand the feasibility of their churches’ going solar. They heard from representatives of Michigan Interfaith Power and Light, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, and Solar Winds, as well as from three area churches that have already invested in solar panels: Church of the Servant, the Ann Arbor Campus Chapel, and Plymouth United Church of Christ. Interested churches will receive a free assessment from Solar Winds this summer.
In the fall, the organizers will reconvene and present various financing options and host an open house with installers, financial experts, utilities representatives, and consultants. They are hopeful that a number of these churches will be able to see their way to powering their buildings with renewable energy.
Before the Flood Documentary Screening
On Sunday evening, Oct. 15, 2017, about 40 people gathered at Bethel CRC in Waterdown, ON for a viewing of the documentary by Leonardo DiCaprio, Before the Flood. As we entered the building, we were invited to take a piece of pumpkin pie and whipping cream, left over from a luncheon earlier in the day. What a way to start! On each table in the sanctuary, where we were invited to sit, were popcorn and water (in real glasses!). Thanks to our hosts for providing these treats.
In this 2016 documentary, DiCaprio takes viewers around the world to meet experts and politicians in order to reveal the scale of climate change, the reasons for skepticism, the consequences of inaction, and potential paths towards a solution. The film attempts to find a balance between making clear that the earth is facing a massive danger while also offering audiences a glimmer of hope that catastrophe can be averted. The message is rather somber, but then, the issue of climate change is a challenging one that will seriously affect future generations. During the discussion following the viewing, various issues were raised:
- North Americans are the highest per capita users of fossil fuels and must cut back their dependence.
- How can people, like DiCaprio and Gore spread a message of tackling climate change when they themselves are such high users of fossil fuels in their lifestyle?
- It is important that, as concerned Christians, we contact our politicians to let them know that we support them in their efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
- Will there be enough resources in the world to build the necessary infra-structure to have all nations in the world switch to sustainable forms of energy?
- Conservation must also be an important part of the solution – we must use energy wisely and efficiently.
- We tend to become immune to the many deaths from weather-related events in many of the troubled areas of the world.
Creating awareness of the impacts of climate change, one of the goals of the Climate Witness Project, is an important first step to taking action.
Medowlands CRC and LED Lighting
Meadowlands Fellowship CRC in Ancaster, ON recently upgraded its lighting, replacing about 380 fluorescent tubes (32W) with 325 LED tubes (18W, 2200 lumens, 3500K colour; designed for use in existing electronic ballasts). This will reduce the lighting energy demand in the building by about 50%. Many of the fixtures that had multiple tubes (two, three or four) were replaced with one less LED tube, without noticeably affecting the light output. This is because not only are the LEDs brighter, the light is also directed downward, rather than in all directions as with fluorescent tubes. This project received a grant of $7 per tube from the Save On Energy program in Ontario (saveonenergy.ca); as part of that program, old fluorescent tubes must be returned for proper recycling. The estimated pay-back period is less than two years. Several years earlier, the outside lights, which used mercury vapor bulbs, were replaced with LED lamps, leading to an 80% decrease in energy demand.
On September 27, 2016, this worshiping community turned on 44 rooftop solar panels and began producing our own electricity for the Campus Chapel. This moment was the culmination of a year-long process of exploring options for producing renewable energy for their building. Learn more about their experience installing solar panels and the connections they see between creation/energy stewardship and faith in this article.
Last fall, Dr. Henry Brouwer was able to show the Director of Physical Plant and Security at Redeemer University College that changing the common fluorescent tubes used throughout the academic building to LED tubes would have a pay-back of generally less than two years. In addition, through a rebate program in Ontario each LED tube received a rebate of $7.00. Initially about 1,000 fluorescent tubes that were on most of the time were replaced, leading to an estimated cost savings of at least $12,000 per year, along with a reduction of about 44% in energy usage. An added benefit is reduced maintenance (as the LEDs should last longer than the fluorescent tubes) and more light. Based on the success of this initiative, Redeemer has replaced nearly all of the fluorescent tubes in its academic building. Read more about their efforts here.
Calvin CRC Meets with Congressman Dan Lipinski
Last month, members from Calvin Christian Reformed Church in Oak Lawn, IL met with Congressman Dan Lipinski to discuss climate solutions. Consensus by the end of the meeting was that, for too long, the narrative about climate change has been dominated by political agendas. Perhaps more than ever, people of faith must increasingly be found adding their voices to declare that our world belongs to God and that we have a moral and ethical obligation to protect it.
Bethany CRC in Gallup, NM was named a 2017 Cool Congregation Challenge winner by Interfaith Power and Light. Bethany received this honor because of its installation of more than 100 solar panels atop a carport in the church parking lot. The solar energy from the panels now supplies the electrical needs for the church building. According to Interfaith Power and Light, the Cool Congregations Challenge is meant to highlight how people of faith are taking action on climate change, regardless of the support of government policies. As a winner of the challenge, Bethany serves as a strong moral role model in their region, encouraging other churches to follow suit. Read more about Bethany’s efforts in this CRC News story.
A group of approximately 25 Christian Reformed Church members involved in the Climate Witness Project joined a crowd of more than 200,000 people at the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. in April 2017. Their participation in the march was part of a broader event called Acting in Faith: Evangelical Climate Advocacy Days, organized by the Office of Social Justice, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA), and Climate Caretakers. The group that attended the three-day event included evangelical Christians from across the United States. Group members marched in the People’s Climate March on Saturday, attended advocacy training and worship on Sunday, and met with members of Congress on Monday. Read more about their experience here!
Several churches in Classis Red Mesa have been able to install energy-efficient lighting and take other steps to save money and protect the environment thanks to financial support from the CRC Foundation and OSJ. Read more about their efforts here.
Hope CRC in Oak Forest, Illinois was the first church in the Christian Reformed Church in North America to receive ENERGY STAR certification! Read about their energy-saving efforts here.
Church of the Servant CRC in Grand Rapids, Michigan was the second church in the Christian Reformed Church in North America to receive ENERGY STAR certification! Read about their efforts here, including solar panels, recycling initiatives, and more.
Lagrave Ave CRC in Grand Rapids, Michigan was the third church in the Christian Reformed Church in North America to receive ENERGY STAR certification! Read about their journey to achieving the certification here.