Black Churches in Daytona Are Saving Big by Going Green

Dr. Earl D. Trent said his D.C. church is saving at least $600 per month on electricity since making changes. (JOCELYN AUGUSTINO/URBAN NEWS SERVICE)
Dr. Earl D. Trent said his D.C. church is saving at least $600 per month on electricity since making changes.

The biggest challenge at Dr. Earl D. Trent Jr.’s historic Black church is raising enough money to do the Lord’s work.

Trent, pastor of Washington, D.C.’s Florida Avenue Baptist Church, was grappling with that very issue five years ago when he heard a presentation about how going green could reduce utility costs.

“We’ve always been somewhat socially aware,” Trent said. “So when we looked at the savings and the opportunity to do something good for the environment, we decided to give it a try.”

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The pastor and his board worked with an engineer to design a program to power the 103-year-old church with clean, economical energy. They equipped the roof with solar-electric panels. They replaced the aged HVAC system with a new, energy-efficient model and installed LED lights.

“We are saving at least $600 per month on electricity,” Trent said. “For a church like this one, that’s a lot of money. It has worked out so well that we are considering adding more energy-efficient features.”

As America continues to reel from an unsteady economy, many Black churches have expanded from places of worship to help centers. Many now operate food pantries, drug and alcohol programs and even work-training facilities, atop traditional church services.

Yet, even as need has increased, giving has slowed. Despite the biblical mandate that good Christians should donate 10 percent of their income to the church, many members have cut their offerings, religious leaders say.

“There are a lot of hands outstretched at church these days, but far too many of them are empty,” said one pastor. “We have to raise more and spend it wiser.”

Energy-saving programs
Energy efficiency serves two purposes, church officials said. It saves money that can aid members.

It also improves aging facilities.

Energy modernization can be cost-prohibitive, experts said, easily topping $50,000 for a moderately sized church. So, many jurisdictions offer no-interest or low-interest loans and will finance projects up to 100 percent.

Several private organizations and government agencies help churches go green. Washington, D.C.’s Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies partnered with the African Methodist Episcopal Church in a 2012 energy pilot program.

Con Edison covered $68,500 of the $178,000 cost of energy-saving boiler and pipe insulation last year at Harlem’s Riverside Church, site of a 1990 speech by Nelson Mandela and the 1972 funeral of baseball legend Jackie Robinson.

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Source: Daytona Times | AVIS THOMAS-LESTER