SUBMITTED BY STEVEN SCHAFER for the Neighborhood Extra
Aldersgate United Methodist Church, located at 84th and South Streets, has received official notification that it is a Certified Cool Congregation after implementing energy improvements that are expected to reduce utility consumption by 22% and the carbon footprint of the church building.
Over the past three years, the church has insulated 75% of the bare concrete walls of its original building, replaced four windows and changed the heating and cooling systems serving 50% of the original building, installing instead of high efficiency heat pumps.
Certification as Cool Congregation comes from Interfaith Power and Light, a national organization that mobilizes a faith-based response to global warming by promoting energy conservation and renewable energy in churches. One of its programs is to recognize congregations that have taken steps to significantly reduce their carbon footprint.
In 2020, Aldersgate UMC also won the Interfaith Power and Light National Sacred Grounds Award for transforming its 1.9 acre lawn and deteriorating playground into a neighborhood park, which features a landscaping plan that benefits the environment and serves the community by providing wildlife habitat, nature immersion, and nature-based play for children.
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Work on the neighborhood park is underway. Since 2017, the church has planted 115 trees, 659 shrubs, 870 perennials, 393 grasses, and 4,708 grass plugs. This includes a wide variety of plants, many of which are native to this region. When the trees are mature, they will sequester about 8 tons of carbon per year.
Joseph Rafique, pastor at Aldersgate UMC, praised church members for their work on the environment. “The congregation has always supported projects aimed at applying the principles of biblical stewardship to our own church.”