Campbelltown Uniting Church- Our sustainability journey
The Synod Climate Action Strategy asks congregations to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a means to limit global warming and live out our care for creation. Campbelltown Uniting Church shows what is possible when we act on our convictions.
Three years ago Campbelltown Church had a visit from Jessica Morthorpe, then Uniting Earth Advocate in Uniting Mission and Education, encouraging our congregation to act more sustainably. What Jessica told us had a real impact. Later, watching ABC’s War on Waste TV series, added to our sense of needing to do something. We knew as a congregation we had to find ways to live more sustainably and take action on our greenhouse gas emissions.
One of our first decisions was to put a 6kw solar panel system on our church roof.* We wanted this to be in the shape of a cross which proved to be a real challenge. Several potential installers we approached told us it could not be done. But we persisted and finally found someone to do it. There is a significant up front cost involved- in our case it was $6000. We were fortunate though that two congregational members donated the entire amount. This sort of thing may be an option in other congregations who don’t have the up-front cost to hand. As well as knowing we were living more sustainably, the solar panels have provided a real cost saving in terms of electricity bills. In the last three years we have produced 8.6MegW of power and our last electricity bill was $38.
Since the church panels were installed we have added another 8kw system on the UnitingCare building (see the photo). This was paid for by Campbelltown UnitingCare. We encountered no opposition to these actions within the congregation. It probably helped that individual people/bodies had agreed to pay for them for them and everyone could see how beneficial they were. Taking these steps have spurred us on to do other things.
We formed a Sustainability Action Group two years ago and this has been vital to keeping our resolve and generating fresh ideas- faster than we can do them! So far we have installed LED lights in the kitchen and meeting rooms which use only one third of power, provide brighter light and have a life of 10 years. This means we don’t have to change them as often. We have put in dual flush toilets and recycling has become a major focus as well. We are concerned about our local issues- the local Koala population is one- alongside wider concerns about climate change. For example, we hosted a Bee Day where 60 people came together to talk about climate change and its effect on Bees. We built Bee Motels, sold honey and encouraged planting of flowering plants. Our plans are both shorter and longer term. Next week we are installing a metal water tank and we have plans for a native garden sometime after. For July next year we are planning an event as part of the Plastic Free July movement (now operating in 170 countries). And down the track we plan to install batteries, but we are waiting for the price to come down a bit.
All these things have come from taking those first decisions and steps.
For more information about exploring solar panels for your church or home try the Clean Energy Council, the peak body for renewable energy in Australia.
Campbelltown Uniting Church