Aldersgate UMC (Lincoln): A Nebraskan "Cool Congregation"
Aldersgate United Methodist Church at 84th and South Streets is now a Certified Cool Congregation after implementing energy improvements that should reduce the church building’s utility consumption and carbon footprint by 22%. In the last 3 years, the church insulated 75% of the bare concrete walls of its original building, replaced four windows, and changed out the heating and cooling systems serving 50% of the original building, installing high efficiency heat pumps instead.
Certification as a Cool Congregation comes from Interfaith Power and Light, a national organization that is mobilizing a religious response to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation and renewable energy in churches. One of their programs is to recognize congregations that have taken steps to reduce their carbon footprints by a substantial amount.
In 2020, Aldersgate UMC also won the Interfaith Power and Light’s national Sacred Grounds award for transforming its 1.9-acre lawn and deteriorating playground into a neighborhood park featuring a landscaping plan that benefits the environment and serves the community by providing habitat for wildlife, immersion in nature, and nature-based play for children.
Work on the neighborhood park continues. Since 2017, the church has planted 115 trees, 659 shrubs, 870 perennials, 393 grass plants, and 4708 grass plugs. This includes a large variety of plants and many that are native to this area. When the trees are mature, they will sequester an estimated 8 tons of carbon per year.
Joseph Rafique, pastor at Aldersgate UMC, praised church members for their work on the environment, “The congregation has consistently supported projects to apply the principles of biblical stewardship to our own church.”