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Member Spotlight – Rock Spring United Church of Christ

jackie, September 14, 2018

Four years ago, Rock Spring United Church of Christ was in the midst of plans to upgrade buildings on campus. In addition to making energy efficiency improvements, the congregation decided to put aside at least 10% of the budget towards living out their values. With this in mind, the congregation approved two mission projects: one to help integrate refugees locally and the other to tackle climate change — a major source of refugee flight. Through the Green Accelerator Project (GAP), the congregation partnered with the Solar Village Project, which brings solar power systems to homes in India and Africa who have no light source other than kerosene lanterns, which cause lung disease and are a dangerous source of burns for children.

GAP asks congregation members to live out their values by reducing their individual carbon footprint at home by adding insulation to the attic, upgrading to LED bulbs, buying electric and hybrid vehicles and purchasing Green Energy from their electric provider. GAP educates congregation members through workshops on energy efficiency and green transportation alternatives. GAP then asks congregation members to donate their energy savings to microlending proposals by the Solar Village Project, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of reducing energy impact at home while creating a green energy pathway for those in developing nations — helping close the “gap” between the two.

By partnering with the Solar Village Project, GAP helps rural households choose clean energy from the start rather than dirty fossil fuels that further exacerbate climate change. Additionally, the solar powered systems allow households to charge cell phones, gain access to the radio (equivalent to the internet in remote areas) and achieve 8 hours of extra light for reading and entrepreneurship in the evening. Considerable economic, social, and health impacts are thereby achieved for rural villagers — particularly for women for whom the household is often their domain.

GAP also calls on congregation members to care for their local environment by partnering with EcoAction Arlington which provides volunteer opportunities for trash clean up, invasive plant removal and expanding the tree canopy. This month GAP is holding a stream clean-up at Four Mile Run on September 23rdCongregation members are also trained to become Energy Masters who can make energy efficiency improvements in low-income households.

The actions of Rock Spring United Church of Christ prove that tackling massive issues like climate change is not a hopeless task. The congregation believes that, with intentional responsibility, their carbon footprint can be reduced, alternative energy can be expanded for rural villagers in developing nations and our local environment can be protected. Through GAP, Rock Spring is living out its core values while creating lasting impact on the world.

For more information on how to implement this program into your congregation email jackie@faithforclimate.org