Known for the stunning Leo Mol stained glass windows in its 63-year-old sanctuary, Westworth United Church, in Winnipeg, Manitoba is also broadly celebrated in the community for its commitment to supporting local groups and refugee families.
With its belief that God calls us to make a positive difference in the lives of others and in the world, Westworth United wants to be “the hands and feet of Christ within Westworth and beyond,'' and prides itself in demonstrating a living faith; one that is expressed not only in ministry, but also in mission, in and with the world. Part of this mission is to live with respect for Creation and to be ecologically and environmentally progressive. The congregation aspires to make a positive impact, and because of this commitment, they decided to green their sacred space by applying for a Faithful Footprints grant.
Two successful retrofit projects: How they got there
The Faithful Footprints retrofit projects perfectly align with Westworth United Church’s work of “being ecologically and environmentally progressive.”
-Faithful Footprints Prairies Regional Support Centre
Dr. Loraine MacKenzie Shepherd, the minister at Westworth United, knew their church needed additional renovations back in 2018. She had seen information about the Faithful Footprints Program on the Faith and the Common Good website and thought it would be a good fit, bringing it to the attention of the Westworth Outreach Team. This team works to inspire congregation members and the broader community to respond to environmental challenges, locally, nationally, and globally. They are responsible for a variety of environmental initiatives, including educational, promotional, and measurable environmental action. Their past efforts include upgrading the lighting in the building with LED, and replacing the original windows of the church with energy efficient ones.
The team contacted Stephen Collette, the Faithful Footprints’ Building Grants Manager, and filled out the program application after two consultations. Frank Wynes, the Property Team Manager at the time, said the process went quite smoothly thanks to the support of the Faithful Footprints team who kept him on track with every step in the application process.
After three months, their application was approved, which fit perfectly with their plan for the building renovation, as it came together with other grants they applied for. In the summer of 2019, Westworth United Church started their first Faithful Footprints project: removing and replacing insulation and roofing.
Upon completion of its first project, the church was motivated to continue their renovations. With continued support from the Faithful Footprints staff, Westworth United applied again for a grant. This time around, the church planned to install 20 new PVC windows – a suggestion recommended by Stephen, as the windows on the North side of the church which are on the ground level, were leaky, and were letting cold air enter into the building. In addition to raising funds for the project, the church received a second Faithful Footprints grant of $10,000 for the windows. The second project was completed by the end of 2020.
These two projects have helped Westworth United to decarbonize and become more energy efficient, supporting its aspirations of being environmentally progressive. A year following the projects, Westworth United has reduced its GHG emissions by 15.9%, and its natural gas usage by 16.0%.
“I would recommend the Faithful Footprints program for any congregation wanting to green their sacred spaces.”
-Frank Wynes, past Property Team Manager of Westworth United Church
Westworth United hopes to continue their climate efforts by pursuing additional energy saving upgrades, including:
- Preserving and ensuring that the stain-glass windows in the chapel are energy efficient
- Weatherproofing the gym windows with caulking and insulation
- Replacing the lights in the sanctuary and narthex with LED lights
- Installing low energy appliances
- Adding dual-pane glass to the vestibule doors
- Replacing dried caulking on older windows
- Weather-stripping entry doors
Faithful Footprints Program
The United Church of Canada (UCCan) Faithful Footprints program offers inspiration, tools, and grants to help its faith-communities reduce their carbon footprint. With the Church’s commitment to reducing its greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions by 80% by 2030, this one of a kind program offers up to $30,000 in grants towards energy conservation and renewable energy projects (conditions apply).
Faith & the Common Good is the delivery partner for UCCans Faithful Footprints program. To date, we have engaged over 300 congregations, camps, and buildings across the country. Your participation in the program puts your faith into action and helps the Church reach its target.
Kalen Taylor is the Prairies Regional Support Coordinator for Faithful Footprints and can be reached at [email protected]