The largest solar installation in Elizabethtown, KY and also the largest solar installation on a church, in the state, is now happening at Memorial United Methodist Church in the Elizabethtown District. Traditionally, one of the church’s largest monthly expenses has been energy costs. In late summer, 2014, a committee from the church began exploring the possibility of installing solar energy. Solar energy is a renewable resource and is now available at historically low prices. The decision to install solar offered the potential to decrease the energy costs at the church.
In addition to the potential to save money, members of the Church were motivated by their belief in the need to affirm their faith through action to protect people’s health and God’s creation. Dr. Michael Gibbons, Memorial’s Senior Pastor, shares “Taking care of God’s creation is part of the responsibility and privilege God has given to all of us. God blesses us every day with the gift of the world in which we live. We are to be good caretakers of this gift not only for our enjoyment but also to provide for future generations. Our solar installation will save our congregation financial resources that can be used for other ministries to fulfill our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. But in addition to the financial savings this system enables us to help protect God’s resources that need to be shared by all persons everywhere.”
Trustee Chairman Bob Steen crunched the numbers and put together the financial case for installing solar. He presented it to the Church Council in November 2014, saying “that even in a worst case scenario the church would gain a positive return on its investment”. After a time of questions and answers, the Church Council voted unanimously to approve the installation.
The 51.150 kilowatts grid-interconnected system designed for Memorial is comprised of 165 310-watt Canadian Solar panels. The main array of panels is installed on the flat roof over the education facility, and a smaller array installed on the roof nearest the sanctuary. A ballast system is being used for installation to prevent the need to penetrate the rubber membrane surface. The system was sized to available roof capacity. It will produce an estimated 5300-6000 kWh per month. This will significantly decrease the monthly cost of the electricity used by the church.
Other steps the church has taken toward increasing its sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels include: replacing incandescent light bulbs with LED’s, installing motion sensor lights, composting, recycling paper and encouraging the use of reusable plates and cups.
The solar installation will be used also as a catalyst to educate church members and the larger community about the benefits of solar energy and the steps persons can take in their personal lives toward protecting God’s creation.
Memorial is hosting a potluck dinner on Wednesday, April 29 at 6 pm. Nancy Givens and Sam Avery will be present that evening to present an educational program on the benefits of solar energy. The educational program will begin at 6:30 pm. Both the dinner and program will be held in the church’s Wesley Café. The public is invited and encouraged to attend this time of learning. Memorial United Methodist Church is located at 631 North Miles Street in Elizabethtown (right behind Elizabethtown High School). For more information contact Audrey Myers, Creation Care Team Leader, firstname.lastname@example.org or call the church at 270-769-3331.