Cumberland First Baptist Church, led by H-IPL board chair and volunteer, the Rev. Wyatt Watkins, has the most remarkable story of all. It is the only one of our first five Acclaimed Congregations not to have participated in a solar grant. Even as H-IPL negotiates large grants that help a few Indiana congregations, we know that thousands of congregations across the state would likewise benefit from energy conservation and renewable energy.
Cumberland First is one of these. They undertook not only to put panels on their roof but to enter into the serious commitments of being a Using Energy Prudently congregation, conserving electricity and natural gas in their facility, engaging members in conservation at home, and reaching out into the surrounding community with the message of this work’s importance.
They completed the Task of the Month program in 2015, with 1/3 of their members reducing their energy by more than the standard asked for. They reduced energy use in their building by at least 30 percent. They raised $9000 by inviting members to adopt solar panes in a program called Catching Rays, received a small resource grant from ICC, and installed a 9 kilowatt array.
In addition, and very generously, they instigated a “pay it forward” system, helping a neighboring church, Eastgate Christian, to obtain solar panels in 2016. Even without a grant incentive, and without the tax credits that individuals and businesses receive, Cumberland First members estimate a 10-year payback period, meaning that over the 30 year life of the panels they will more than triple the investment made.
Cumberland First’s green team works hard to raise awareness about global warming and earth stewardship, and supports actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions so that the worst effects of climate change can be averted.