Peace Lutheran powers Christian mission with light from the sun

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

Peace Lutheran demonstrates its faith by the cross that rises high atop its steeple.

The solar panels that were installed recently are also a demonstration of the congregation’s faith.

“Here’s a faith expression that God is resourceful and generous,” said Pastor Deb Conklin. The solar panels fit in its Creation Care ministry.

The solar panels were paid for by a behest from long-time neighbors Leonard and Margaret David.

On Sunday, Feb. 5, at 10:30 a.m. the church will dedicate and give thanks for the solar panels and donation as part of its 10:30 a.m. worship experience.

The donation was a surprise, Conklin said. The Davises were not members of a congregation, though Mrs. Davis did attend some of the church’s many community functions.

Conklin had already been considering what environmental action the church could do and had attended an Ohio Interfaith Power & Light conference.

She’d also discussed the environment and what the church could do with local activist Neocles Leontis.

Then in 2014 the lawyer handling the Davis estate stopped by the church with a $5,000 check. That was, he informed her, just the start. She wasn’t at the church, she said, when the rest came. A check for $120,000.

Conklin said the church already had a vision fund in place and that’s where the money was put. Working with Harvest Energy Solutions of Jackson Michigan, the solar panels were installed this winter, and have been operating for several weeks.

The contractor also provided an app that allows the congregation to monitor how much electricity is being produced.

Conklin said the church expects to save 25 percent on its utility bill with the solar panels.

That won’t just come off the budget’s bottom-line, she said. That money will be used for its ministry. “That’s what’s important,” she said, “not to save money for us but to do more ministry.”

That means “to enhance our vision to create a Christ connection to the community.” The goal is not to proselytize “but we’re trying to connect people with the best in Christ.”

Part of that is being good stewards of the earth and its resources. It’s up to people to use what God gives them and that includes science, to take care of the creation, the pastor said.

Using solar power is a way of achieving that by reducing the church’s carbon footprint.

The solar panels are not the only way the church is looking to reduce its carbon footprint.

The church is working with Ohio Interfaith Power & Light and its Energy Stewards program to monitor and analyze its energy use and to advocate for creation care and smart energy consumption.

It has also upgraded to LED lighting .The church purchased a solar picnic table equipped with lighting and outlets.
The church is also using money from the Davis trust to sponsor a Syrian refugee family.

And it has purchased a new playground set.

Peace plans to host another Creation Care Celebration during on April 23. The church hosted the event last April as well.

The event drew people from all segments of the community. “This is what we share in common, our earth, and we should take care of it,” she said. “That’s what we’re trying to do.”

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