Community United Church of Christ in Raleigh is one of three Cool Congregation 2016 winners! The Cool Congregations program, through national Interfaith Power & Light, is designed to support faith communities as they “walk the talk” by reducing their own carbon footprint, thus helping to cool the planet.
Community United Church of Christ (CUCC) took to heart the mission of making the world a better place. They did this in two ways:
- Installing solar panels to reduce the church’s own carbon footprint and
- Helping those in their community most impacted by climate change to weatherize their homes.
The results were impressive– the church was able to reduce its CO2 by 7 tons per year and the weatherized homes saved energy (6 tons of CO2 reduction), and benefited from lower energy bills and more comfortable homes.
As CUCC started thinking about this project they recognized that the biggest impact of a changing climate would be on the poor because they would not be able to adapt as readily as the affluent. As people of faith, this challenged them to address climate change and to ensure that the poor would not be left behind. The project was led and organized by the Justice in a Changing Climate Task Force (JCC) that was formed to explore and recommend solutions to mitigate the negative effects on nature and humanity from an atmosphere overheated by excessive fossil fuel consumption.
The task force invited 15 other congregations to participate in the weatherization program. To date 21 homes have been weatherized through the program by volunteers from the congregations. In addition to decreasing energy use and increasing home comfort, the program brings together and motivates volunteers from local congregations.
In addition to helping those in need in their community, the church wanted to reduce its own carbon foot print and decided to install a solar array to generate electricity from the sun and lower electricity costs. The congregation was in favor, but stipulated that the system could not be paid for from the church’s general fund. All the money was raised from a capital campaign with gifts from both congregational members and from people outside the church. The campaign was so successful that there was enough money to install the solar array and award seed grants to four other non-profit organizations to initiate their own solar projects. CUCC’s solar array was completed and went online in November 2015 and the church’s main building now receives half of its electricity from solar panels on its roof. One thousand dollars a year in energy bill savings is now being directed into church missions and the church building is setting a positive example for other congregations and nonprofits inspired to initiate their own solar projects.
Since its inception in 2007, the JCC, through its outstanding leadership, has inspired churches from other denominations and individuals to join the efforts to provide the poor with some relief from the real and potential devastation of climate change and championed the vision for a healthier stewardship of God’s creation.
To read about the other two winners visit the announcement link here!