Bethel Lutheran Church
Goal: Make the top 5 churches on the Minnesot Energy Challenge
Progress: Bethel recently reached 5th place in the top congregations with 165 members and an annual reduciton of 922,161 lbs of CO2
Since 2006 the Creation Care Team at Bethel Lutheran Church in Northfield, Minnesota has been encouraging environmental sustainability among congregation members. As part of their efforts they revitalized their Minnesota Energy Challenge campaign in the spring of 2013. To kick-start their campaign Tolby gave energy presentations to over 130 youth and Creation Care Team members also tabled after Sunday masses. Connie DeGrote, a Creation Care Team member, was kind enough to share how the MN Energy Challenge has impacted her congregation.
Bethel was fortunate to host one of the Will Steger events, “Eyewitness to Global Warming”. Bethel formed a Creation Care Team soon after that presentation. About a year later the MN Energy Challenge was begun, and we were on board right away.
Why did you bring the Energy Challenge to your church?
The MN Energy Challenge provides a way for individual members to be a part of working responsibly on their use of energy. Working individually and as a congregation to care for the Earth is one of the Bethel vision goals, so the MN Energy Challenge is a match for the goal.
What responses have you gotten from the members of your church?
The Creation Care Team sponsors signup Sundays two or three times a year. We also provide education through small articles in our monthly church newsletter. In the first years, we participated in “Change a Light, Change the World”, and we offered a free CFL bulb if households committed to replacing 4 other incandescent bulbs with CFLs. It was very successful, and now the Creation Care Team is focusing on other areas of energy use.
This year Tolby & Emma made a visit to our congregation’s Wednesday afterschool program and it was a big hit. Many parents have commented on how excited and engaged their children are about turning off the lights and more.
Our Children’s Ministries Director planned curriculum for a Sunday following the presentation that focused on energy use. The Creation Care Team provided follow-up about Tolby during opening and closing exercises of Sunday School.
What Changes have you made in your own life?
We have implemented many of the changes suggested by the MN Energy Challenge, including all light bulbs with CFLs, turning down the thermostat 8 degrees at night, turning down the water heater to 120 degrees, running our air conditioner as little as possible, composting, recycling and reusing. There are more changes we can make. Being a diligent steward of the Earth requires daily choices.