Let there be light. And lower energy bills.
Church leaders in Decatur have embraced money-saving technology and energy-saving improvements to houses of worship courtesy of an ambitious statewide initiative and "green" grants from a locally based non-profit, Georgia Interfaith Power & Light.
The Power Wise grant-making program has allotted $600,000 to run and fund the initiative. Eight Decatur churches have benefited or soon will, recieving grants totalling approximately $53,000.
Geogia Interfaith Power & Light's offices are located in downtown Decatur at the First Christian Church. The organization makes energy- saving grants available to faith communities across the religious spectrum.
"We have yet to meet with a church that is not spending too much money on gas and electricity," said executive director Alexis Chase. "We want them to be spending their money instead on their mission and vision."
Pastor Winston Lawson from was delighted when his church recieved a grant for $4,508 to upgrade insulation in the 55-year old building and to replace old lighting fixtures with newer, energy efficient ones.
"Our concern for the environment and not spending unnessarily were motivating factors in applying for funds, " Lawson said, " I went to a GIPL workshop and learned what needed to be done."
He stressed the church leaders and congregation's concern for what he called "creation care".
"We are aware of the fact that the whole of creation is a gift from God, and we take care of it to the best of our ability, rather than pollute and destroy," he said.
Oakhurst Baptist Church was one of the first to benefit, in 2006. Sam Collier, chair of their property committee at the time, reported that the church's energy bills prior to utilizing the grant had reached $30,000 annually.
Holy Trinity Episcopal used their grant to install solar panels on the sanctuary's roof this year. The panels were then blessed by clergy in a special ceremony.
Geogia Interfaith Power & Light continues to reach out to churches across the state with information, grant opportunities and energy audits.
"Our goal is to do outreach to all 15,000 committees of faith in Georgia," Chase said.