Green Team spearheads Bethel’s environmental ministry of caring for creation.
Bethel Goes Solar!
In September, 2010 Bethel applied to become a Green Congregation (via Lutherans Restoring Creation national program) and developed our Action Plan which includes transformation through:
Buildings & Grounds
Discipleship at Home & Work
Public Ministry/Political Advocacy
This work put us on the path to “develop an institutional commitment to energy conservation” as Greenfaith reminds us PEOPLE are the #1 priority to save energy.
By Fall, 2012 we were submitting our application to join the Energy Stewards Initiative to begin in January, 2013. ESI aims for congregations to increase energy efficiency, reduce their carbon footprint, and save money which can be used for other ministries. Happily, 2013 was also Bethel’s 100th Anniversary celebration. Caring for God’s creation was re-affirmed as a critical part of our mission for the next 100 years.
Bethel had an energy audit completed in September, 2013 and our Board of Property and Maintenance has been working faithfully to implement big and small building improvements:
*Installation of Solar Panels on our Education Bldg rooftop
– on-line 6/30/2014
Aug’13 – Rooftop coating & prep (Inland Coating RC-2000)
Mar’14 – StraightUp Solar completes panel installation
*Changed external porch lights to LEDs
*Installation of an energy-efficient dishwasher
*Insulation & weather-stripping; installed door sweeps on double doors of Educ Bldg; insulating heating return pipes
*Zoned heating approach; reduce dependence on old boiler with heating elements installed on 2 AC units (heat for offices & north side of Educ Bldg)
Aug’14 – Planned installation of new heat pumps & furnace for nave/chapel
In our first month of solar production, 4.2 MWh of sustainable, photovoltaic energy has been produced and is being utilized by others on the grid.
Green Team Highlights (as reported to the congregation in May 2015):
- Bethel continues to work with other Lutheran churches in the national Energy Stewards Initiative (ESI) which helps congregations measure & track energy usage in order to reduce our carbon footprint and lower our energy costs. Cindy Gross serves as our ESI contact. A lighting audit was performed in March; recommended upgrades are currently on-hold due to higher priority property and maintenance needs. Energy monitoring continues with additional actions needed to improve our EnergyStar score.
- Bethel Green Team members volunteered with Missouri ReLEAF on March 28 to help pot tree seedlings that will be made available to community groups this Fall.
- Bethel continues in its commitment as a covenant congregation with the Missouri chapter of Interfaith Power & Light. We participated in the prayer for climate healing on Valentine’s Day and Cindy attended a “Greening your house of worship” workshop on Feb. 22; program focus is similar to LRC’s energy stewards initiative. Valerie sourced “green” paper products for occasional hospitality needs from Eco-products; products are made from recycled materials and are 100% biodegradable. IPL’s next event is “helping green the Cardinals” by assisting with recycling during the May 17th baseball game; for more info: www.moipl.org
- The Green Team, with wonderful support from our Worship Band, organized our May, 2015 Center Celebration held at Memorial Park in Brentwood on Sunday, May 3. The wind, breath of God, & Holy Spirit moved among us as our pinwheels danced in the air and we shared food & fellowship with a vegetarian potluck. Tips to help members reduce ozone pollution were shared as well: 1) fuel up before 10am or after 7pm 2) avoid use of gas-powered lawn equipment & fire pits on poor air quality days 3) don’t burn yard waste 4) adjust your thermostat to warmer temps in summer, especially when not home 5) use propane gas grills instead of charcoal/lighter fluid
- The film, “The Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism, and Community” was shown at Adult Forum on May 10. Recommended in The Lutheran’s “Best this month” column, the film reminds us of our call to be co-creators and caretakers of the good Earth and to love our neighbors. For more info: olddogdocumentaries.org