Covenant Christian Church is a certified Interfaith Power & Light Cool Congregation at the 10% level! Covenant is a small church sharing their building with many other groups, and still has managed to make many small changes to their use of energy that have added up to saving over 5 tons of carbon emissions! Thus keeping a covenant to care for the earth.
The Green Chalice program of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, Covenant’s denominational body, gave them the framework to analyze Creation Care and energy conservation in four areas: building interior, building grounds, practices, and education. “This made it easy to organize, document, and communicate to the congregation a path for hope, action, and change,” says Tom Small, co-chair of their Creation Care Green Team. The team is led by college student Leah Denny, an environmental studies major, and the Rev. Loren Strait.
They performed a detailed analysis of their use of energy for every connected electrical device noting the hours used per week, cost per year, and savings they could achieve. This practical and methodical hunt for savings is replicable in any congregation. The idea for this action was inspired by former congregant, Rev. Susan Hendershot who is now the President of Interfaith Power & Light. Rev. Hendershot took her cues from the Cool Congregations program that offers resources for congregations to reduce their energy use as an act of faith. Reducing by 10% is like making a tithe to the Earth.
The two biggest conservation measures they took include changing to LED lighting and controlled adjustment to their six programmable thermostats. Covenant shares their building with two other congregations and several other community groups, which reduces the emission of these other groups because they don’t maintain their own separate building. To ensure that everyone uses the thermostats properly there is signage at each thermostat including an educational chart showing savings at different temperature settings.
All of the conservation efforts yielded a cost savings of $394 per year. With the cost of the entire project of $561 they will have earned back their investment in energy savings within less than two years
When the Iowa Derecho, a rare land hurricane, tore through the state in 2020 leaving disaster in its wake, the call to climate resiliency and disaster preparedness that is part of the Green Chalice program came sharply into focus for the congregation. “It made us realize how vulnerable we are to electrical outages, and the need to prepare for the next disaster to be able to assist our neighbors as well.”
Every year since 2011 Covenant has celebrated Earth Day with the youth group, and plans to continue their efforts to care for the Earth.