Together, spiritual power and solar energy can transform communities.
Case in point: Florida Avenue Baptist Church, which, for nearly a century, has served as a pillar of strength and hope for the people of Washington, DC. Recently, this important institution made history: It became the first African American church in the nation’s capital to utilize solar energy.
It’s a monumental achievement. The LeDroit Park community celebrated the landmark occasion by organizing a rooftop ribbon-cutting ceremony — surrounded by the 44 newly installed solar panels.
The $60,000 dollar project is expected to lower the church’s electricity costs by roughly 15 percent, according to the Washington Post. And, just as importantly, it sends a powerful message to others about the importance of building a sustainable future.
“We see this as a viable model for other churches to reduce their electricity cost, reduce their carbon footprint and step into the future,” said Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Earl D. Trent, Jr. This is “the first step in establishing a new green ministry.”
FABC plans to advise and encourage other spiritual institutions to consider investing in renewable energy. It will also host workshops to educate the community about the benefits of energy efficiency and sustainability.
This is important work; African Americans have the most to gain from energy efficiency initiatives. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson told the National Urban League in 2009 that electricity bills “cost African American families 25% more of their income than others.”
Speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Administrator Jackson talked about the EPA’s “Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Initiative”, and stressed how important and inspiring “it is to see our faith community take leadership on our energy security.”
FABC’s emergence into this leadership role began last December when Gilbert Campbell, III, co-owner of Volt Energy, a clean energy company, encouraged Dr. Trent to consider transitioning to solar power. By January, they announced an agreement for Volt to install a 10-kilowatt system on the roof — an effort that gave four local residents an opportunity to learn new skills, according to BET.
Green For All is proud to have played a small role in this history-making work; Volt Energy is part of our Capital Access Program’s Accenture Mentorship initiative, which helps promising green entrepreneurs grow their businesses. We are thrilled that they’ve found this guidance helpful, especially as they take part in important work — like the Florida Avenue Baptist Church project — that will change neighborhoods, lives and futures.
All Americans should be inspired by this century-old church, which is leading the way into the future, shining a light on energy efficiency issues and helping others live healthier lives.
Now, it’s up to all of us to spread the green gospel to transform our own communities.