Meet the 2012 Cool Congregations Challenge winners

The “Window Dressers” from the First Universalist Church of Rockland, Maine

In a year marked by increasing climate disruption, dozens of faith communities from across the nation have received recognition in the 2012 Cool Congregations Challenge sponsored by Interfaith Power & Light, a national organization mobilizing a religious response to global warming. The annual challenge offers religious congregations an opportunity to show leadership in saving energy and responding to climate change. The winning congregations in four categories are:

Energy Efficiency and Conservation – Mercy Center (Sisters of Mercy), Madison, CT
Mercy Center strategically renovated and restored its mission center to save energy and reuse materials. The Catholic spiritual center is in a coastal area that has been dramatically impacted by severe weather.

Engaging Congregants and Communities – First Universalist Church, Rockland, ME
First Universalist is leading interfaith efforts to help low-income Mainers cut heating costs through community workshops to build thermal window inserts that are given away or sold at low cost.

Grounds and Water Conservation – University United Methodist Church, Austin, TX
University UMC has extensive recycling and composting programs to minimize waste from the free meals it serves to hundreds of homeless neighbors each week.

Renewable Energy – Federated Community Church, Flagstaff, AZ
This Methodist-Presbyterian church meets in a century-old building that now gets 96 percent of its power from the sun. Congregants can monitor the system’s performance via a link on the church website.

In addition, five congregations attained runner-up status and 28 more received honorable mentions.

“This year, we have witnessed the catastrophic impacts of global warming, from Superstorm Sandy to widespread drought, floods and wildfires,” said The Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, founder and president of Interfaith Power & Light. “As people of faith, we know that it’s not enough to talk about climate impacts. We need to take action now, and these congregations are leading the way with their creative and meaningful projects.”

2012 Cool Congregations Challenge Runners-Up and Honorable Mentions


  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation – United Parish Church, Upton, MA
  • Renewable Energy – Congregation Etz Chaim, Lombard, IL
  • Engaging Congregants and Communities – Church of the Resurrection, Dubuque, IA
  • Grounds and Water (tie) – Throop Unitarian Universalist, Pasadena, CA, and St. John United Lutheran, Seattle, WA


Honorable Mentions

Energy Efficiency and Conservation
St. Thomas Lutheran Church, Bloomington, Indiana
First English Lutheran Church, Columbus, Ohio
Congregation Beth El, Bangor, Maine
The Church of the Redeemer, Baltimore, Maryland
Unitarian-Universalist Church of Bloomington, Indiana

Renewable Energy
Temple Sinai of Glendale, Glendale, California
Westminster Presbyterian Church, Knoxville, Tennessee
Mercy Center, Madison, Connecticut
First Unitarian Church of Cleveland, Shaker Heights, Ohio
North Presbyterian Church, Williamsville, New York
Euclid Av. United Methodist Church, Oak Park, Illinois
Church of the Brethren, Modesto, California
South Church Andover, Andover, Massachusetts

Grounds and Water Conservation
Warren United Methodist Church, Denver, Colorado
Trinity Episcopal Church, Santa Barbara, California
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Seattle, Washington
Congregation Agudas Achim, Austin, Texas
All Peoples Gathering ELCA, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Temple Isaiah, Fulton, Maryland

Engaging Congregants and Communities
Unitarian-Universalist Church of Bloomington, Bloomington, IN
North Presbyterian Church, Williamsville, New York
Lutheran Social Service (UT), Salt Lake City, Utah
Salmon Creek United Methodist Church, Vancouver, Washington
St.Paul’s United Church of Christ, Johnstown, Pennsylvania
The Church of Reconciliation (PCUSA), Chapel Hill, North Carolina
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Chicago, Illinois
Parkway United Church of Christ, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Trinity Episcopal Church, Santa Barbara, California
University United Methodist Church, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
St. Luke’s School Garden/Nature Club, Barrington, Rhode Island

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