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Local churches going green: Sentinel News

May 21, 2010: Sentinel News

Local churches going green

by Erica Dolson


“People expect it from Dickinson College or other environmental groups, but not from a church,” said Jon Hand, pastor of Engage Community Church in Carlisle. “I think churches could be, should be leaders.”

Over the last five years, churches across the country have conducted LEED-certified practices and energy audits, opened community gardens and installed non-pavement parking lots in greater numbers, said Matthew Sleeth, director of Blessed Earth, a Kentucky-based organization whose mission is to share the Bible’s teachings of stewardship with churches and colleges.


The Second Presbyterian Church in Carlisle recently dedicated a children’s garden with the intent to give children a greater understanding of food and where it comes from, Associate Pastor Jennifer McKenna said. The garden is one of the church’s latest efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. In the past, the church has upgraded its lights, audited its electricity use and been a proponent of community agriculture, encouraging its congregation members to buy locally, McKenna said. Second Presbyterian also hosts meetings of the Clean Air Board, she added.

“It will take a long time to re-educate people here, but we have options here,” she said. “I believe it’s God’s creation, and we’re just stewards of it…We need to pass on to the next generation the beauty.”

A few families in the congregation of the Unitarian Universalists of the Cumberland Valley share concerns about energy use; some drive solar cars and others are looking into solar heating, co-minister Duane Fickeisen said.

“We have a long tradition of being concerned with environmental issues,” he said. “We take our responsibility to the rest of the world very seriously.”

Housed in a building with parts that are over 100 years old, the Unitarian Universalists of the Cumberland Valley’s facilities were not created with modern energy standards and updates in mind, Fickeisen said.

Still, the church has made efforts to install new windows in the sanctuary that will allow more heat gain in the winter, install electric heat pumps and upgrade its lighting, Fickeisen said.


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