Phoenix-based Religious Science church leads the way on environmental issues among the state’s faith communities.
Phoenix, Ariz - Valley-based Creative Living Fellowship is the first faith community in Arizona to be accepted into the GreenFaith Certification Program -- a two-year environmental leadership program for houses of worship, which already boasts national partnerships with some of the nation’s largest religious denominations. GreenFaith provides participants with guidance, mentoring and resources to help take their 'green' efforts to the next level.
“GreenFaith certification is the next step in the evolution of our church,” says Creative Living Fellowship’s Senior Minister Rev. Dr. Michele Whittington, “and is perfectly aligned with our 15-year vision to be a powerful voice for the emergence of a strong, vibrant and healthy Mother Earth and the protection and love of all sentient beings. We demonstrate God’s love for the planet and all life by being a role model of a community committed to sustainability as well as by educating others in sustainable living practices.”
Requirements for acceptance into the program include making a formal public commitment, and establishing a “Green Team.” According to Rev. Whittington, the response among the church’s membership was overwhelmingly positive, and a number of people have been enrolled onto CLF’s Green Team.Creative Living Fellowship already made a large investment in their commitment to green operations in 2009, when they commissioned a solar power installation at their facility. Completed in June 2010, the system consists of 132 Sharp NU235F1 photovoltaic panels and 4 SMA Sunny Boy SB7000US-240 inverters delivering 240 volts A/C to the facility’s electrical system. The PV system power output is 31.02 KW, resulting in an average electrical utility cost savings of up to 69%."We are proud to use solar as a renewable energy source and look forward to many more green initiatives on our church campus," adds Whittington.
GreenFaith provides extensive support to participating churches. Six webinars equip church leaders to complete the program successfully. An online center with over 200 resources helps congregations meet the program’s requirements. GreenFaith’s staff offers detailed feedback to congregations, and provides support via phone and email. And a network of congregations nationwide shares best practices and success stories. When churches begin the program, they audit their facilities and programs using templates that GreenFaith provides, and create an action plan. They ‘green’ their facilities, saving energy and water, using non-toxic cleaning and maintenance practices, increasing recycling, and offering healthy, sustainable food, among other steps. They conduct environmentally-themed worship services and education for children, teens and adults. They advocate for a healthier environment for vulnerable communities. They conduct interfaith programming, and share their progress with the media. As a result, they save money, achieve significant environmental projects, and experience the revitalization that comes from a deep commitment to caring for Creation.