The new Indiana Conference creation care team was formed to help our United Methodist churches and members become better stewards of God’s earth. In a culture of consumption and waste, we challenge churches and members to strive for the 3 R’s:
- Reduce what you buy and the energy you use;
- Reuse what you have; and
- Recycle paper, plastics, glass and metal.
The Creation Care Team challenges our 1,200 congregations in Indiana to set two specific goals for 2011: Reduce energy usage by 10 percent in churches and homes and establish green teams in congregations.
Save 10 – Give 10
Cut your congregation’s energy use by 10 percent and put the savings to work for mission. Here are six suggested actions:
- Stop the draft. Check all the doors, windows and corners of your church building. Seal the leaks and save money.
- Change the bulbs. Replacing incandescent bulbs with CFL’s or LED’s can save 75 percent of your lighting costs.
- Make it new. Replace old appliance energy hogs with new Energy star rated ones.
- Meet in the middle! Meet in a home or a coffee shop instead of warming up or cooling down the church for one small group.
- Fluff it up. Add insulation to the exterior walls or attic.
- Keep it controlled. Install automatic thermostats to turn heat down or cooling up when not in use.
Take the six-action challenge this new year and save at least 10 percent on your energy costs. Local churches and districts in Indiana have been responding in a variety of ways:
- The Central District has agreed to sponsor energy efficiency training for church trustees at its annual officer training events. Being more efficient in energy use will not only help the planet but will save the church money. Other districts are considering the same.
- Churches, such as Epworth UMC in Indianapolis, has had a very active Green Team for more than four years. Members of the team have taken a wide variety of actions including insulating a home the church owns, promoting reusable shopping bags, showing an environmental film once a month and encouraging members to sign up for wind generated electricity through their utility. Many other churches have green ministries such as St. Luke’s and Broadway in Indy.
- Many churches are eliminating disposable dishes and utensils for their dinners , using earth-friendly cleaning products or even installing a wind turbine for generating electricity.
Hoosiers have been so blessed with abundant and cheap resources for so long that they have become complacent and wasteful. The per-person energy use of Americans is twice that of the next nation (Great Britain) and 400 times that of the average Kenyan. The United Methodist Council of Bishops has recently called us to Hope and Action in caring for God’s creation. May we in Indiana respond in many ways, especially by reducing our energy consumption by 10 percent in 2011.
Many people may think reducing energy usage by 10 percent is too difficult or expensive, but Christians across the land are doing just that. I am a member of the board of Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light. This is a faith-based state chapter of a national organization concerned about the stewardship of the earth.
All Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light board members have agreed to reduce their household energy consumption by 25 to 50 percent. My wife, Diane, and I have had some long discussions about how to do this. We have spent considerable resources on a high-tech insulation of our attic space; installed an on-demand tank-less water heater; turned down the heat at night; installed CFL bulbs; will soon be purchasing a more fuel-efficient car; plus many other measures. Someday, our energy usage may equal that of the average person in Great Britain.
Let us hear your creation care stories. We want to know how United Methodist churches, families and individuals are helping care for creation.
Also, sign up for our creation care network and e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dennis Shock is a retired United Methodist minister and serves on the Indiana Conference Creation Care Team.