Closures due to Covid have stymied many congregations in their work to improve their facilities in order to lower their carbon footprint. But First Plymouth Congregational Church United Church of Christ (FPCC ) has taken advantage of the temporary closure due to Covid to reduce emissions by replacing their fluorescent lighting with more efficient LED lighting.
At first they thought they would have to wait until the church reopened to replace the lights, but they were able to work within the Church Council and Colorado State guidelines allowing church maintenance employees and 2 volunteers to replace the interior lights while the church is closed.
The Creation Justice Ministry team at FPCC estimates they will save about $3800 per year and reduce their emissions by about 36 tons annually at their 55,000 square foot building.
This congregation leads the pack in terms of both establishing clear goals and engaging the community in the project. Before the COVID-19 pandemic the FPCC Facilities Team and the Creation Justice Ministry (CJM) jointly began a technical study to replace interior lighting with LED lights.
Congregants themselves (called the LED Team) determined how many fluorescent bulbs they used in the church building – 1,100 bulbs in 600 fixtures! Then they estimated the amount of electricity these consumed during an average week of church activities, and estimated the amount of electricity that would be consumed if the fluorescent bulbs were replaced with LED lights. All the while, the congregation has been very transparent about these plans, informing congregants through newsletters, church announcements, and a special “Adult Forum” explaining the details of the LED lighting project.
FPCC has a Green Energy Fund which is dedicated to church projects that will directly reduce the church’s carbon footprint. The Fund is supported by donations from the congregation and revenues raised in the electronic waste recycling project. FPCC also has a “Share the Plate” month whereby each month special contributions are made by the congregation to support a worthy non-profit organization. April is dedicated to an environmental organization selected by the Creation Justice Ministry team.
FPCC has been a UCC Whole Earth Ministry for over 25 years and have recently been designated a UCC Creation Justice Church. “As a UCC Creation Justice Church, we honor the interconnectedness of all of God’s creation and practice wise stewardship of the Earth.” Over the years they have installed energy efficient windows, doors, and mechanical equipment, conducted an annual community-wide electronic waste recycling event, and have used non-toxic chemicals on the church lawns.
They have received support from church administration, the Church Council, and the congregation (which is required for all FPCC organizations). And they have also collaborated closely with the FPCC Facilities Team with this project.
Now all that remains of their collaborative environmental study is to see what their electric bills are like after resuming church services so they can determine an even more accurate “before” and “after” result.
The joint team is already planning the second phase of the LED project which will replace the lighting in the parking lots and grounds of the church. Long-term, FPCC will explore the possibility of installing solar panels.
First Plymouth Creation Justice Covenant
We the people of First Plymouth Congregational Church, affirm the divine gifts of creation and affirm our connection to God, each other, and the world around us. We unconditionally commit ourselves as individuals and as a congregation to the intertwined responsibilities of caring for creation and seeking justice for the oppressed.
As humanity confronts the current and future crisis of damage to our climate, we pledge to commit ourselves with an urgent sense of calling and an awareness of how the abuses of creation will inevitably cause human suffering.
We understand that it is our responsibility, as individuals and as a church, to not only care for but also to help heal and restore creation.
We recognize that the impacts of environmental exploitation, degradation, and global climate change disproportionately impact historically marginalized communities, especially people of color, and that we have a calling and a responsibility, as human beings, to work on behalf of all those who face issues of social injustice and oppression.
We desire that these deeply felt commitments be reflected in all the dimensions of our congregation’s life. We desire that we launch ourselves beyond the walls of this church to make good on our promises to God our Creator, to Jesus the Redeemer of Creation, and to the Holy Spirit the Sustainer of Creation.
We, the people of First Plymouth Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, of Englewood, Colorado commit to be a Creation Justice Church.
For more information contact Larry Strawser at firstname.lastname@example.org