Mennonite Church Canada will provide grants to congregations that wish to upgrade their facilities in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Grants will cover 50 percent of project costs, to a maximum of $6,000.
Eligible projects include upgrades to insulation, lighting, windows or doors, as well as energy efficient heating, cooling and appliances. Installation of solar panels is also on the list.
MC Canada will approve grants totaling $20,000 this year, with the annual total rising to $25,000 next year if donations to the fund increase.
Funds will come from MC Canada’s Creation Care Fund. The bulk of the roughly $100,000 in that fund comes from a dormant church building fund.
The deadline for the first round of applications is September 30. Qualifying grants will be announced by November 4. Grants are open to MC Canada congregations and can cover hardware costs and installation as well as costs of an energy audit.
A subcommittee of MC Canada’s Joint Council will determine which applications are approved, based on recommendations from MC Canada’s Sustainability Leadership Group. The aim is to balance small and large projects, as well as considering regional representation.
According to the MC Canada website, “The ideal applicants will be working in multiple ways to reduce their building’s carbon footprint, with the goal of being able to reduce energy usage or generate renewable energy equivalent to or greater than the energy they need for electricity, heating and cooling.”
Governments and utilities in various jurisdictions have provided incentives for similar projects for many years. Greening Sacred Spaces, an ecumenical initiative, has been promoting the greening of church facilities since 2003.
The United Church of Canada’s Faithful Footprints program is currently working with 260 congregations to make their buildings more energy efficient. To date, 56 projects have been completed with annual emission savings equivalent to 628 tonnes.
MC Canada will launch its own initiative with a webinar on energy efficiency of faith buildings on June 14.
The success and future of the program depend on the response at ground level. Congregations need to engage and people and congregations need to donate to the Creation Care Fund.
MC Canada executive minister Doug Klassen notes that amid the discussion of insulation and kilowatt-hours lies a deeper dimension. Drawing on the teachings of Cree elder Stan McKay, he says “the climate crisis is primarily a spiritual problem.” Climate damage is the effect of a spiritual crisis that we need to face, he says.
To congregations wondering whether to engage in climate response, Klassen has simple counsel: “Ask your youth and young adults what they think.”
For more information about the webinar or the grant, or to donate to the climate fund, see mennonitechurch.ca/climate-action or contact MC Canada’s climate action coordinator Sandy Plett at firstname.lastname@example.org.