Beginning in August 2019, a small group within the diocese began developing a plan to put solar panels on as many diocesan buildings as possible. Many contributed to this effort that was focused on care of creation with the hope to save a little money along the way. Given that energy prices in Ohio are some of the lowest in the country, this multi-building solar project was not economically viable and did not go forward.
The good news is that the group was encouraged by the interest generated within the diocese and by the interest shown from diocesan leadership. Solarize Ohio has reconfigured and broadened its scope. With the support of Diocesan Council, an official Task Force of the diocese is now formed and will focus on additional Creation Care and Environmental Justice ministry areas while we continue to work to make solar energy a reality.
We are happy to announce that the Trustees of the Diocese, responding to the new Creation Care and Environmental Justice Task Force, have allocated grants of up to $10,000 for energy efficiency and solar projects at parishes as well as low interest loans of up to $10,000. This program, administered by the Task Force through the Trustees of the Church Foundation, will be for projects between July 1, 2021 and December 31, 2022. There will be a special webinar on Friday, June 25 at noon explaining the program and how to apply. Register here.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has named Creation Care one of his three key priorities for the Episcopal Church (along with Racial Reconciliation and Evangelism) saying:
In Jesus, God so loved the whole world. We follow Jesus, so we love the world God loves. Concerned for the global climate emergency, drawing on diverse approaches for our diverse contexts, we commit to form and restore loving, liberating, life-giving relationships with all of Creation.
There have been many General Convention resolutions calling us into the work of Care of Creation. Here is a link to the resolutions passed at the most recent convention that frame the Presiding Bishop’s call to ministry for the rest of the Episcopal Church. They call us specifically to oppose environmental racism, shift to the use of renewable energy, support producers of locally-grown food, work to reduce our production of greenhouse gases while supporting a carbon tax, track our energy use and commit to efficient energy and water usage, and use church-owned land for regenerative agriculture and biodiversity, among other measures.
The Creation Care and Environmental Justice Task Force will do the following:
- Offer formation activities across the diocese to help people grow in their understanding of creation care and environmental justice as part of our expression of Christian faith;
- Assist congregations who wish to improve energy efficiency in their buildings, by helping them choose strategies. The Task Force will coordinate diocesan grants to parishes, launch creation care ministries, sponsor formation/education opportunities and advocacy opportunities, and support other innovative ideas that may come forward;
- Propose plans, for consideration by the Trustees of the Diocese, to establish a widespread, accessible and sustainable program by which participating parishes could transition their energy source from polluting sources to clean, renewable sources;
- Empower and support for creation care ministry teams and encourage them to consider land use, local food production, waste reduction, creation-based worship experiences, and other ministry concepts;
- Partner with other diocesan ministry teams to align activity in the areas of racial reconciliation, strategic planning, formation, advocacy, StorySharing, and others.
The Task Force’s first formation event, a talk by Dr. Adam Clark, Professor of Theology at Xavier University, was an in-person and Zoom webinar on April 25 called “Christianity as an Earth-Honoring Faith: A Call to Public Discipleship.” See video We are planning another formation activity this fall.