Across regions, many faith communities are unable to meet annual fees and maintenance costs and are struggling to keep up with the operational needs of their buildings. As a solution, a number of United Church properties are retrofitting their buildings with the goal of reducing their energy bills. They are creating rental opportunities by renovating old and unused spaces within their buildings.
But all this involves upfront costs; community donations and ministry savings are not always enough to single-handedly pay for building renovations. Accessing funding is one of the key determinants as to whether faith communities have the ability to carry out their projects or not; often it’s the sole reason why properties don’t end up following through with their retrofit plans. Grants, rebates, and other financial incentives can help support congregations to complete these otherwise non-attainable renovations.
Seeking Funding: Middlewood United’s Retrofit Project
“It is our hope that by doing this project, we can reduce costs and lessen the financial burden on our members.”
- Philip Pulsifer, Treasurer of Middlewood United Church
As a small rural congregation trying to maintain its long-standing place within the community, Middlewood United Church, located in Middlewood, Nova Scotia, was one of the many faith communities in need of financial support to complete a building renovation and alleviate the economic burden on congregational members.
The church first began thinking about retrofitting its building in December 2019, when Rev. Vivan Moories, their minister at the time, brought the Faithful Footprints program to the attention of the congregation. Members at Middlewood United work very hard to offer fellowship and fundraise each year to help keep the ministry afloat and donate to the church’s building fund. Upon hearing about the 2-1 funding option the program offered, enthusiasm began to build among the church members, with particular support from the Trustee Chair.
An energy audit was done and the Trustee Chair gathered quotes from several contractors for insulating the congregation’s schoolhouse, replacing windows, installing a heat pump, and upgrading the electrical system.
Unfortunately, when the project proposal was shared with the congregation for approval, it was denied; the building’s roof (in need of replacing) was the priority concern, and funding for the overall costs of the potential projects was still to be obtained. Discouraged, the retrofit plans came to a halt.
Property Treasurer, Philip Pulsifer, refused to give up on the retrofit project, knowing that it would lead to long-lasting environmental and economical benefits for the church. He began brainstorming potential solutions that would bring his congregation aboard, investigating and seeking out financial support for the proposed projects and scraped up funds to replace the roof. A significant donation was made by a congregational member towards the roof, and funding for the retrofit project was secured from Lunenburg Municipal District in Lunenburg County, The United Church of Canada Innovation Fund, and Hunter United Church Building Fund, as matching funds in support of a Faithful Footprints grant.
With Philip’s determination, Middlewood United was able to redo their roof as well as proceed with the retrofit plan to insulate the schoolhouse and replace windows.
Searching For Funding: We’re Here to Help
Finding available grants, incentives, rebates, and programs is a time-consuming task, as
Middlewood United Church can attest, but we are here to help! The Faithful Footprints program aims to make it easier for your faith community to learn more about potential regional opportunities to assist with your retrofit project. Our Regional Support Pages are categorized by Western Canada, Prairies Canada, and Atlantic Canada. Explore your region and discover eligible provincial and municipal incentive programs, and find matching funds to support your Faithful Footprints application.
Connect with Faithful Footprints Regional Support Centre Coordinators to determine which government incentives might be applicable to your project, and for assistance selecting suitable energy auditors, energy professionals, and contractor recommendations for your retrofit.
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 gas (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 the 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.
Aleyxa Gates Julien is the PR/Communications Coordinator for Faithful Footprints and can be reached at [email protected]