Four ELCA congregations were recognized this fall at the White House for their achievements in energy efficiency.
More than 25 congregations from across the country were honored, including Elim Lutheran Church in Duluth, Minn., First English Lutheran in Columbus, Ohio, First Lutheran Church in Bothell, Wash., and Reformation Lutheran Church in Media, Pa., for achieving the Energy Star designation, a nationally recognized energy performance measurement.
Both the 2009 and 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assemblies accepted proposals designed to encourage congregations to reduce their usage of carbon-based fuels and take better care of God’s creation, making energy conservation and efficiency a priority for the church.
“The four ELCA congregations honored are just a small sample of ELCA congregations doing critical work to protect God’s earth, not only through energy conservation efforts but also by planting community gardens, taking measures to protect their local air and water, and incorporating thanks and praise for God’s creation into their worship,” said Mary Minette, who serves as director for environmental education and advocacy at ELCA churchwide ministries.
The Rev. Jim Hagen, pastor of Elim Lutheran Church, was unable to attend the event but was grateful for the honor. “It was exciting,” said Hagen in an interview. “It was great to get this recognition.”
In the past six years, Elim has made a number of improvements to their building including replacing their boilers, light bulbs and roof with more energy efficient options.
“It made sense for us,”Hagensaid. “In the winter time we’ve reduced our heat bill. It’s half of what it was before.”
“There is a growing understanding that care of our neighbor, which is so rooted in our Lutheran traditions, and care of the earth are inextricably linked,” said Minette. “Energy conservation is good stewardship of both financial resources and God’s gift of creation.”