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Church gives back to environment for Lent

Posted March 20, 2008
Updated April 30, 2008

— When you hear about people fasting for Lent they probably give up a food or drink or maybe smoking.

While some people give up a food or drink for lent, United Church of Chapel Hill decided this year to do something good for the environment – reduce carbon usage.

The church went on a 40-day carbon fast for Lent, by cutting down on the greenhouse gases produced when burning fossil fuels.

Church member Rich Leber reuses collected rainwater and is adding insulation to his home to reduce the amount of heat he needs.

Leber also has switched to LED lighting, which uses tiny amounts of energy.

The church has put in compact fluorescent lighting and is installing a computer-controlled heating and cooling system.

Each week of Lent the church focused on getting members to cut consumption from different sources of carbon emissions.

“We now walk to the grocery store, walk or bike to church,” Leber said.

Pastor Richard Edens says that the carbon fast is a way to serve God by saving the planet.

“God has given us stewardship over the earth; that’s the very first commandment we were given, and I think it’s our opportunity to see it’s not about stewardship to exploit but a stewardship to honor,” Edens said.

United Church of Chapel Hill went on the carbon fast for the first time last year. Members calculated that they had reduced their consumption by 25 percent.


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  • davido Mar 21, 2008

    Todd: "Am I being a bad steward of the earth by driving to work everyday? I don't believe so as I don't think humans are to be the judge of that. Only the Creator can really answer that. We're putting too much faith in unproved science."

    Well, we have to be honest with ourselves. Our addiction to driving is one of the leading uses of fossil fuels. How many of us carpool? Not me. Rather than trotting out the "unproved science" argument, why not use common sense? One thing that is certain is that fuel prices are going up. If only out of self-interest we should be interested in using less fuel. But back to stewardship, there are reasonable steps we all can take to reduce energy usage. There is no doubt that reducing energy use reduces pollution, right? I would say we have to lead with a respectful attitude toward the environment. What's so radical about that?

  • melbee Mar 21, 2008

    Awesome idea. Good for them. More people need to do this.

  • Wet Willy Mar 21, 2008

    This article makes me want to cut down a tree.

  • yhwhoverptah Mar 21, 2008

    "As for a pastor "mandating" or "guilt tripping" the congregations to do anything - is obviously a bad idea..." ~ fl2nc2ca2md2nc

    I disagree Fl2, I think it is a horrible thing that pastors are no longer mandating things from the pulpit, especially things of God. Now, I'm not saying that battling global warming is a missive from Christ given to a pastor for his congregation... in fact I don't believe that. But I think our churches are moving away from a pastor's telling us how we should live our lives (i.e. don't cheat, read the Bible as a family, cut back on television for 30 minutes and pray instead) and instead have begun to tell us how they feel about certain world views. I don't care how a pastor feels, I want to hear the Word of God!

  • btruds Mar 21, 2008

    The pastor said nothing of "being good stewards of the Earth" being one of the Ten Commandments. God has delivered multiple commandments since the beginning, and I don't believe it appropriate to think we only have Ten to follow.
    As for conservation being unproven, there is a difference between general conservation and the controversy over global warming. I for one don't choose to not believe something isn’t factual because the general consensus says its not. Throughout history inventors and forefathers have pushed forward countless ideas that we denounced for years before they were ever "proven," or should I say "believed" by society in general.
    Either way, I would much rather conserve whatever I could to insure that the world is a better place for myself and future generations than to wait on scientific evidence to tell me to do so. Some things are just common sense. No one had to prove to you why you shouldn't litter. Sometimes the same concept continues past our convenient lives.

  • colliedave Mar 20, 2008

    Romans 1:25 (HCSB) 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is blessed forever.£ £Amen.

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Mar 20, 2008

    CuriousT, you're absolutely right. It does extend to everything in our lives...

    Have a great night everyone!

  • CuriousT Mar 20, 2008

    I believe that we're supposed to be good stewards over everything that we've been blessed to have; jobs, money, good health, children, etc. Having said that, believe me when I say I'm not perfect.

    We should all strive to be good stewards. Sometimes, there just isn't any "more".

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Mar 20, 2008

    It's not necessarily a commandment but a directive if you will. The Bible states that we should be good stewards of the Earth.

    As for a pastor "mandating" or "guilt tripping" the congregations to do anything - is obviously a bad idea...

  • wynnediii Mar 20, 2008

    I think it is a good idea to conserve when possible. However, I don't think you should cutback to please a "movement" on questionable science. To use God as a guilt trip is unconscionable. I don't know what commandments the pastor uses, but I don't see it in the ten commandments much less the first one. Has he created his own?