Across the country, United Churches are doing their part to address the climate crisis by getting their houses in order and reducing their own carbon emissions. Through a partnership with Faith & the Common Good, the United Church of Canada is offering grants and support for churches to measure their energy use and reduce their climate pollution, in ways that save money and strengthen congregational renewal. The initiative, called Faithful Footprints is about living climate commitments, for future generations, and for all of creation. To inspire your congregation to get involved, we have stories lined up from three participating congregations from across the country. Crescent Fort Rouge United Church, in Winnipeg, Manitoba is the first.
As well, stay tuned for a full feature of Faithful Footprints in the February 2020 edition of the United Church of Canada’s Mandate Magazine.
Check out more inspiring stories from United Churches across Canada at Faithful Footprints Inspiration Stories.
The following piece is written by Sandi Howell, [email protected]
In 2018, Crescent Fort Rouge United Church participated in a National Trust and Faith & The Common Good seminar in our building and benefitted from an energy audit. We discovered the possibility of a Faithful Footprints grant for energy upgrades which aligned perfectly with planning and built on our activities to date.
As with many churches, CFRUC has considered its future. In 2012, CFRUC explored possible building development with EDGE National. In 2015, we began a further clarification of values by turning to community consultation to mine the wisdom of the congregation and external partners. Our thinking was that we needed to build on our strengths – who we are and our success to date which includes the asset that the building provides to external partners, especially to the arts. A key question at every turn is “What is God calling us to do?” Thus, in 2017, the congregation of CFRUC approved outreach missions in three areas: 1. Children, Youth, and Families 2. Seniors 3. Hospitality to the Arts. We live out our ministry in these multiple ways.
CFRUC sees the arts as transformative, revealing of truth and new ways of seeing feeding spirit, and a means of serving others outside our walls. Opening our doors to the arts and using art in our programming with children and seniors helps us to live out our values of inclusion and engagement with the community.
CFRUC boasts a large, acoustically acclaimed sanctuary that seats over 700, a fellowship hall, a second floor hall with stage and small kitchen area, several small meeting rooms, a basement child care facility with large gymnasium and outdoor play area. CFRUC seeks to become a multi-use community facility offering hospitality and care to our missional areas with energy and reciprocal benefits between the arts initiatives and the programming for children, youth and seniors.
CFRUC continues to explore change and ways to sustain and increase operational funding. At the same time, we are not currently financially threatened and can continue should we not be able to create any substantive additional change. The congregation at CFRUC has always been steadfast and peaceful about the way forward. They do not wish to trade their values for economic decisions that are presented to them because of their prime real estate in Winnipeg. They are not willing to incur debt to keep the doors open. They are willing to increase their effort to better serve their mission and vision.
CFRUC has the asset of skilled, experienced and energized volunteer congregation members added to by engaged and committed external partner networks and expertise. to increase our activities. We have been blessed by a property management team that are skilled and dedicated and who have kept our building in good shape on top of its sound foundation and have made small and steady progress in energy improvements.
Faithful Footprints offered us an opportunity aligned with our values and we are grateful! It allows us to participate as a partner in addressing climate change while adding funding to our own monetary and in-kind contributions. We are replacing two fridges, a freezer and a dishwasher with energy-efficient appliances which will impact the electricity bill. We are also replacing dated and inefficient light bulbs and fixtures, also reducing the bill. We are replacing the baseboard heaters in our Fellowship Hall on the main floor with infrared heating panels, and replacing caulking and seals on the windows, thus also reducing the electricity bill and potentially the natural gas bill. These efforts, along with our commitments to recycling, composting and buying locally, demonstrate our dedication to climate justice.
Preparing a grant application can be daunting, but Stephen Collette, Grant Project Manager for the Faithful Footprints program is here to help! Stephen ensures your application form is properly completed and that your energy efficiency package will actually save you money. Stephen’s assistance helps expedite the application approval process tremendously, with typical turnaround times under two weeks, and often in a matter of days.
The Faithful Footprint program also features support hubs for United Church congregations in the Prairies and Atlantic Canada. “We know that lack of capacity is one of the major obstacles to “Greening” our sacred spaces, so we are proud to be working with Ecology Action Centre in Halifax and Purpose Construction in Winnipeg to pilot how to provide in-person support to United Churches around energy efficiency action,” said Cummings. Guided by regional multi-faith advisory circles, the hubs are lead by local building and energy efficiency experts and aim to connect congregations with municipal and provincial energy incentives, recommend contractors, and foster collaboration among other local places of faith facing similar challenges.