Indiana Churches Can Apply For Solar Grants To Reduce Energy Use And Free Up Funds

(INDIANAPOLIS) – The application window is now open for evangelical churches across Indiana to apply for grants to install solar panels. 

Twenty grants with an average size of about $22,000 will be awarded to high-profile churches that will serve as models of caring for God’s creation. As part of the grants, the churches will aim to reduce energy use in their houses of worship and a third of their members’ homes by 25 percent, freeing up funds for operations and mission work. In addition, the churches will host energy conservation and solar workshops that will reach at least 200 additional churches with at least 30,000 members. 

The Indiana not-for-profit that will disburse the grants, Creation Care Partners, will provide technical support so that the churches can serve as prominent models in their regions and denominations of stewardship of the earth. The initiative will be guided by a diverse council of senior evangelical clergy from across the state. The complete application or a partial placeholder application is due on August 21 and the solar panels may be installed as early as October. 

To learn more about Creation Care Partners and to download the grant application, please visit www.creationcarepartners.org.

In explaining the motivation for these grants, the chair of Creation Care Partners, Pastor Bob Whitaker noted, “As evangelical Christians, we are called to share the good news concerning Jesus Christ. It is certainly true that, as evangelical Christians, we emphasize the salvation of souls. (Mark: 8:36).  However, the good news about Jesus Christ is broader than the redemption of individuals. The mission of Jesus was to restore all things to their rightly ordered design, that is, the restoration of creation itself reflected in the Garden of Eden. To follow the teachings of Jesus completely, his followers must commit themselves to care for God’s creation. The creation mandate in Genesis gives us a charge that is similar to the job of a master gardener. We have been given the responsibility to be caretakers of the beautiful creation that has been lovingly gifted to us by God. As stewards of God’s garden we believe that promoting activity which contributes to clean air and clean water is our theological responsibility. This mission is not only about us but also about our neighbors, those we are called to love as ourselves. Furthermore, our actions are done on behalf of those who are poor and disenfranchised and frequently are not in a position to make decisions that are economically costly in the short-term. Because of the commitment to our mission we are interested in promoting the option of renewable energy to our congregations and neighbors.”

“Reflecting this same sentiment, in  a 2015 Call to Action, the National Association of Evangelicals proclaimed, ‘Jesus, our redeemer, calls us to join him in caring for the poor, to whom the kingdom belongs (see Matthew 25:38-46). We cannot care for the most vulnerable among us without caring for the creation on which they depend.  All human beings are to be stewards of the rich abundance of God’s good creation. We are authorized to exercise godly dominion in using it for the sake of human welfare and needs… As we do so, we are also commanded to care for the earth and all its creatures, because the earth belongs to God, not to us. We do this for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the creator, owner, sustainer, redeemer and heir of all creation. A changing climate threatens the lives and livelihoods of the world’s poorest citizens,’” he concluded. 

Madeline Hirschland, executive director of Creation Care Partners, finds that “the potential of evangelical churches to respond to the crisis for God’s Creation inspires great hope. When we know that our neighbors’ lives depend on it, we can make huge changes with great speed.”

The funds provided come from American Electric Power (AEP), I&M’s parent company, under a legal settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, eight states, and 13 citizen groups. The settlement included an agreement by AEP to invest $3.5 million to improve air quality and to reduce pollution in Indiana through various projects. The AEP settlement monies are being overseen by an oversight committee that includes Citizens Action Coalition, Clean Air Council, and Indiana Wildlife Federation, with the Sierra Club as a non-voting member and Environmental Law & Policy Center as a non-voting legal advisor and facilitator.

To learn more about Creation Care Partners and to download the grant application, please visit www.creationcarepartners.org.

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