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Climate Change

United Methodists Finalists for “Energy Oscars”

United Methodist Women "Driving Force" of Green Initiatives

By Pam Sparr

California hosts not one but two annual “Oscar” nights, and United Methodist Women were in the spotlight for the 2012 California Interfaith Power & Light (CIPL) Energy Oscar awards ceremony held on November 13th at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

The United Methodist Churches that belong to CIPL– Cambrian Park United Methodist Church in San Jose and The United Methodist Church of Davis were among finalists competing for awards in four categories. Davis was among three finalists in the Education category while Cambrian Park competed against three other finalists in the Green Building category. Other Oscar categories included Energy Efficiency and Advocacy.

Betty Dickey, the president of Cambrian Park’s United Methodist Women has been the driving force behind her church’s sustainability efforts for several years. Dickey also serves as the Green Ministries Mission Coordinator for the California-Nevada Conference United Methodist Women. She attended the festivities with six other members of her congregation, including fellow United Methodist Women member Rhonda Canale.

“It’s definitely been a passion the past few years,” Dickey explained.“ I have been working on things for the church since late 2007 and early 2008, and we still have lots more to do!"

Dickey said the Cambrian Park United Methodist Church initially stayed moving toward sustainability because of high water and electricity bills, but then turned its attention toward global warming. “I came at it from an environmental perspective – suggesting we can do something for both the earth and the money issues,” she said.

The San Jose congregation has undertaken a wide variety of energy efficiency measures, including the installation of a 24-kilowatt solar system. The system provides 90 percent of the church’s electricity needs and constituted the final touch to many energy efficient measures. Other steps undertaken by Cambrian Park United Methodist Church include a lighting retrofit to energy-efficient bulbs, new landscaping with water-saving native plants and low-flow toilets.

Dickey said that the Energy Oscars were informative and inspirational. “We got so many good ideas from other churches, which was one of the good things that happened at the Oscars,” she said. “I would love to explore some of them more carefully to see if we could do them at our church.” 

Davis United Methodist Church’s current United Methodist Women unit president Celeste Cron said that her entire church, including the president of the trustees, was involved in its green initiative. United Methodist Women member Helen Roland and her husband, Cramer, who was instrumental in leading this effort, attended the ceremonies.

The Davis congregation has undertaken many educational initiatives, including courses on healthy eating and simple living, an Earth Day celebration, and youth programs on climate change. Their “Grace Garden” grows and donates food to local food pantries.

In addition, Davis United Methodist Church has engaged in energy-reduction measures, including the installation of energy-efficient lighting, insulation, and weather stripping, and a solar system.

Davis United Methodist Church also recently received more recognition for its work. It was named the Greening Congregation of the Month for September 2012, by Earth Ministry, a national environmental organization with headquarters in Seattle.

Pam Sparr is a current climate change consultant and former staff for United Methodist Women.

Last Updated: 04/07/2014

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