Solar Panels Installed!

PeaceLutheran_solarPeace Lutheran Church in Bowling Green recently installed solar panels along the south side of their building –“they look great and they are operating great!” Using a web based application, the church can access productivity reports and view real time energy activity. Peace expects up to 25% utility savings to be applied toward other ministries!


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In Memoriam

Sister Paula Gonzalez-Visionary and Role Model

In loving memory, from Sara Ward, Director, Ohio Interfaith Power & Light

Sister of Earth, Paula Gonzalez, SCI’ll never forget the first time I met Sister Paula Gonzalez, PhD.  She was the keynote speaker for the National Weatherization Assistance Program conference that was hosted in Columbus, Ohio by my office in the late 80’s.  She spoke powerfully of our call to care for all of God’s creation through the work we were doing to help low income families reduce their heating and cooling costs by weatherizing their homes.  She artfully connected the dots, speaking to this secular crowd of over 400 from every state in the country, helping us to understand how weatherization for the poor was also helping to reduce our use of fossil fuels which were polluting our air.  She was a scientist, biologist, teacher, visionary, and a woman of deep faith; on fire with her message.   Known as “the Solar Nun” from Cincinnati, Ohio,  Sr. Paula never missed an opportunity to teach about her beloved “Pacha Mama”, Mother Earth.

Often, as I have reflected upon my own career in state government, I am aware that it was an inner call that was the driving force behind my own determination.  Sr. Paula gave voice to that inner call and in many ways, inspired us all to be better at this work.   This expression of sacred activism was spread by Paula where ever she spoke, gathered, taught and lived.  For such a tiny person in stature, her voice was sure and strong, full of the story of the Universe and our Oneness with all of creation.  She was a mentor to me, a courageous role model and full of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

SisterPaula_KeithSr. Paula co-founded, with Keith Mills, Ohio Interfaith Power & Light in 2007. Paula moved from founder to active board member to inspirational advisory council member during her time with OhIPL.  When we gathered in Cincinnati at EarthConnection in June this year for our board retreat, I knew that we would find renewal and hope just being in that special place, which she also founded.  Even in her limited physical capacity Paula mustered the strength to join us each day for a few hours, lifting us all with her presence and yes, her still strong voice for caring for God’s amazing creation.  She praised us often for being her beloved community and we all knew that it was our good fortune to be included in her inner circle.  My colleague, Deb Steele, said it best when she commented, “Sister Paula had such vision that made our home better.  We stand on the shoulders of this giant.”

I know for certain that it will be her voice echoing in my soul that will give me the strength, courage and hope for our future.

We love you dear Sister Paula and are joyful that you now reside in eternal wholeness.


View this wonderful interview of Sister Paula by Mary Evelyn Tucker as part of the Journey of the Universe Educational Series. Sister Paula narrates the efforts of Catholic sisters to harness solar power and other natural systems as a means of protecting the Earth community. Scroll down to # 16. CLICK HERE.

Please share your own reflections…Sister Paula touched so many lives.


St. Casimir Church implements green infrastructure practices

St.Casimir_1-ResizedblogSt. Casimir Church, in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, received a Green Infrastructure Grant by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to implement green infrastructure practices on its property.

The grant will fund a variety of stormwater management practices installed at the church over the next several months. Those practices will include permeable pavers in the parking lot that will allow water from storm events to soak into the sandy ground at the church instead of flowing into the storm drains and bio retention areas behind the church and convent to allow the roof water to collect into basins and drain into the sandy soil instead of running off to the nearest sewer.

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Care for Creation: Get Involved

catholicConference_resizedIn anticipation of the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical regarding the environment, we’d like to spotlight some of the Catholic Care for Creation initiatives in Ohio.

Catholic teachings have always stressed the importance of care for the environment. The Catholic Conference of Ohio, which represents each Catholic diocese in the state, has an environmental stewardship campaign, Environmental Justice Program, and an environmental issues awareness website, Care for Creation. The programs aim to reflect the religious, stewardship, and moral values that are central to Catholic teachings and faith. All of the programs work to encourage involvement and issue awareness. Continue reading

First Unitarian is a solar Cool Congregation

UUofClevelandFirst Unitarian Church of Cleveland has been recognized as a Certified Cool Congregation by national Interfaith Power and Light. Driven by a common mandate to be good stewards of Creation, the first 20 Certified Cool Congregations averaged 42% greenhouse gas reductions, showing that where there’s a will, there’s a way. In announcing the first twenty congregations to receive this recognition, The Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, says, “These congregations are leading the way. They are putting their faith into action and bringing moral responsibility to the forefront of the movement to protect the climate.”

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First Presbyterian Church of Athens wins EPA Recognition

AthensFirstPresbyterianChurch-OhioFirst Presbyterian Church of Athens crossed the finish line in EPA’s 2013 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings. In its fourth year, the competition featured buildings from across the country racing to improve energy efficiency, lower utility costs, and protect health and the environment. Together, competitors cut their energy costs by more than $20 million. Continue reading

Green Sanctuary

Orie Loucks, founder of the Green Sanctuary at HUU and members of congregation

Members of The Hopedale Unitarian Universalist (HUU) congregation are not only devoted to providing welcoming religious and spiritual inspiration to all people, but also dedicate time to steward and take care of the environment. The congregation is the first Unitarian-Universalist congregation in Ohio to receive the denomination’s official recognition as a Green Sanctuary. The Green Sanctuary Program accredits UU congregations committed to environmental stewardship and creating a sustainable lifestyle for members of the specific faith community. This Green Sanctuary creates a harmonious bond between religion and the environment that cares for the Earth. Continue reading

Goodness Grows

CommonGround_July2013Common Ground Church Community is an Earth Care Congregation that was started by Steve Fortenberry. At first, it was a small home study group that was outreach oriented. During their house church stage there were approximately 10 people, but as the church grew Steve recognized the need for a new church development to fill the need for corporate worship, as well as the programming it could provide. In the fall of 2004, members were interested in purchasing property to build the Common Ground church. In 2005, Common Ground received their church charter and in 2006 purchased land in North Lima to make a place of their own. The faith community built their church on a 30-acre lot that was previously a garden center. They chose the site because they believed they could steward the site and create a blessing to the community. From this site Goodness Grows was formed, which, indeed, became an inspiration and a true blessing to the community.

Goodness Grows is a faith-based organization that works with community groups, congregations, workplaces, and individuals to help families “grow their way out of hunger and poverty.” Goodness Grows provides leadership and education to help create a healthier and sustainable community for future generations through agriculture. Steve and his faith community believe in caring for God’s creation and being good stewards of the earth, and their hard effort has paid off. In July 2007, Goodness Grows became their own separate 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Goodness Grows promotes local and organic agriculture rather than our conventional food distribution system. This creates high-value, healthier, and environmentally friendly food that the community can both appreciate and enjoy. This congregation, now about 80 worshiping regularly, has shown that they can have an impact.

Goodness Grows’ efforts have been well received by the local community and at the national level. Goodness Grows has completed range of projects—from community and school gardens to forming a community supported agriculture group that serves those with limited access to fresh food. Goodness Grows also has a Crop Grower Apprentice program which trains individuals to become agricultural entrepreneurs who can start their own self-sustaining farms. Goodness Grows’ hard work has won the organization multiple awards, and it has even been invited to local, regional, state, and national events.

Goodness Grows has been featured on TV, newspapers, and in Farm and Dairy. It has also been invited into several regional and state projects by Ohio State University. They have been invited to The White House for a USDA press event as well as a major summit in Washington D.C. to the Academy of Evangelical Scientists and Scholars. In 2012, Youngstown State University awarded Goodness Grows with a MLK Jr. Award for community service. Goodness Grows truly is an award winning organization that can be an incredible inspiration to not just the faith community, but to everyone.

To learn more about Common Ground Community Church or Goodness Grows please visit:
Common Ground Church Community
2310 W. South Range Rd.
North Lima OH, 44452
(330) 549-9408


This Congregational Highlight was contributed by Richard Oldham, OSU student


Buried and Returned to the Forest

On June 21, 2012, EcoEternity LLC and Lutheran Outdoor Ministries in Ohio (LOMO) signed a contract to implement LakeSide EcoEternity Forest at LOMO’s Camp Luther. This forest is the second of its kind in Ohio, and seventh in the country.

Camp Luther's director, Corey Wagonfield, standing with one of the earmarked trees to serve as a memorial tree at the LakeSide EcoEternity Forest

Camp Luther’s director, Corey Wagonfield, standing with one of the earmarked trees to serve as a memorial tree at the LakeSide EcoEternity Forest

EcoEternity Forest, LLC, was started back in 2006 in White Stone, Va., by Jack Lowe and Axel Baudach with the intent of partnering with businesses and landowners to create these alternative burial forests. However, the idea of a memorial tree is not a new one. The concept for these trees has it roots in Europe, where Ueli Sauter, from Switzerland, founded the first “Friedwald”. In 2000, Mr. Baudach discovered the work of Sauter and began establishing EcoEternity Forests in Germany. In June 2006, Baudach and Lowe founded EcoEternity LLC with the intent to adapt the concept to American culture and laws. Since the founding of the organization, EcoEternity has been partnering with municipalities, churches, and private forest owners to plan and preserve their forest property for extended periods as a burial ground and implement these memorial trees.

When an individual passes away, should they choose to be buried in an EcoEternity Forest, their body is cremated, put into a biodegradable urn, and buried at the base of a chosen mature tree so that their body may be returned to the earth and assist in the growth of that tree. Continue reading