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Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change

Faith and Environmental Stewardship

Many faith traditions connect their spiritual faith to environmental stewardship or care of creation. 

This page is a resource on clean energy, climate action and sustainability for Dane County's faith communities. Here you can learn about:

When faith communities address environmental stewardship they influence the practices and values of their members. An effort that begins aiming to save money at the church facility might well inspire dozens of members to be more sustainable at home or work, reinforcing shared values and delivering multiple benefits to the community. Our office is delighted to collaborate with faith groups in their efforts around clean energy and climate action. We created this page as a resource for faith communities and we welcome your feedback.

 

 

Connecting Faith & Environmental Stewardship

Lit candle
Many faith traditions include a commitment to environmental stewardship. For example:

If you want to learn more about the connection between faith and stewardship, visit the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology, which has a terrific set of resources, covering a broad set of religious traditions. 

In addition, many groups, including the Ho-Chunk Nation that first occupied our region, share a commitment to sustainabilty, to using resources wisely, with an eye toward the needs of future generations.

All of this is relevant to Dane County's climate efforts.

Dane County’s climate action plan aims to prioritize strategies that reduce emissions while also:

The discussion of these co-benefits in the climate action plan provides a powerful summary of important moral arguments for addressing climate change. Many of those moral arguments are likely to resonate with faith traditions.

 

 

 

Green Your Facility and Operations

If your faith community is committed to environmental stewardship then you may want to start by greening up your operations--so that you are an inspiration to members. Your focus might be energy usage at your facility, waste issues or broader emissions--including the emissions associated with member commutes to and from services. 

Resources for Greening Facilities
    Resources for Greening Fleets

    Let us know if you find other useful resources we should add to this list!

 

 

Examples of Local Successes

Faith communities across Dane County have been doing great work to green their operations and to engage members. You can learn from their efforts.

Bethany photo
 

Bethany Free Church 

Bethany Free Church pursued energy efficiency including insulation, heating and ventilation. They found that these efforts were the most cost effective at the time (2010).  They have also upgraded lighting, with exterior lights on a smart timer to minimize time that light is on using energy and causing light pollution.  

FUS photo
 

First Unitarian Society

First Unitarian Society reduced their energy use by 25% via efficiency measures. They also installed a solar energy system, which reduced their their carbon footprint by another 25%. Learn more in our Success Stories

Learn more

St John's solar on roof
 

St. John's Lutheran Church 

St. John’s Lutheran in Oregon recently installed solar that reduced its energy use 26%.  

Aerial view of solar on Memorial UCC
 

Memorial UCC

Memorial United Church of Christ installed solar and inspired several members to install solar as well. 

Learn more

St Dennis Interior
 

St. Dennis Parish

St Dennis installed solar and then challenged members to do a household carbon footprint.   

Blessed Sacrament
 

Blessed Sacrament

Blessed Sacrament recently completed efficiency upgrades for its heat plant and upgraded most of its lighting to LEDs. 

Learn more

Middleton UCC solar panels
 

Middleton Community Church UCC

Middleton Community Church UCC installed solar in 2016.  It also upgraded most lighting to LEDs.  It has switched from single-use dishes to reusable ones, and invites members to keep their own mugs on shelves at church for fellowship times.  In 2020 a bike rack was added at the church to encourage biking to church. Several members have been inspired to purchase hybrid or electric vehicles.     

 
 

 

 

Let us know if you've got a success story from your faith community to add to this list! 

 

 

 

Engagement Strategies

There are a lot of ways faith communities can engage people on climate action. Some potential ideas include:

It is exciting to think about how you might inspire deep change across your community. Making sustainabilty the 'new normal' means that everyone would share a commitment to environmental stewardship.

There is a lot of great research on what works--and doesn't work--to influence practices. Some important rules of thumb as you think about inspiring change:

As you inspire action be sure to celebrate milestones and share successes widely. As people hear about the efforts of their peers that will inspire more action too. Plus talking about your sustainability efforts can help you attract new residents and new businesses to your community. So as you become greener and greener be sure to share the news widely! (And remember, we are always ready to share your success stories as well.)

 

 

 

Connect to Other Faith Communities on Stewardship, Clean Energy & Climate Action

Collaborating with other like-minded faith communities is powerful. You can learn from what others are doing, challenge your community to achieve similar goals, or team up with other faith communities on bigger initiatives.

The Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change convenes a group of faith leaders interested in climate action and stewardship quarterly. The aim is to promote idea sharing and collaboration--both among the leaders and back to our office. (This page is a result of those discussions!) If you would like to learn more or join the discussion, let us know.

Additionally there are a variety of state, national and global initiatives where your faith community can connect to others. To learn more about specific faith-based climate initiatives check out the following coalitions and resources:

And check back often because this list is always growing!

 

 

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