by Mary Bates
Piney Mountain United Methodist Church in Candler will reduce carbon emissions by 386 tons and save $72,000 over 10 years as the result of a new initiative to care for God’s creation.
The church received a grant to purchase and give away 1,152 LED lightbulbs to the community. Each household that receives the bulbs will save an estimated $100 per year in energy costs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1,000 pounds per year, which is the equivalent of planting 15,000 trees.
The church said they decided to pursue the project because of their Christian call to care for God’s creation and love their neighbors.
“We live in a time of great ecological crisis, in which the local church must provide a theological and tangible response,” said Rev. Kevin Bates, the pastor of Piney Mountain UMC. “By giving out LED lightbulbs to our neighbors, which will reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, we are embodying our faith.”
Bates referred to Genesis 1-2 and Jesus’s call to love our neighbors.
“God made creation good, pleasing and delightful—a gift to be cherished and cared for, not exploited and abused,” said Bates. “It’s also about loving our neighbors. How can we love our neighbor and not care for and love the air she breathes, the water she drinks and the land that feeds and sustains her?”
The project was funded in part by a Thriving Rural Communities Kickstarter Grant.
“Through this project we are modeling love towards our neighbors and towards creation,” said Bates. “We are inviting our neighbors to respond in love toward creation by using the LED bulbs.”
LED lightbulbs are 80 percent more efficient than traditional incandescent lightbulbs, and they last six times longer than other types of lights. The recipients will save money on energy bills, in addition to helping the environment.
The bulbs will be given to 35 households in the neighborhood near the church, as well as to the households of families that attend Piney Mountain UMC and 15 other households identified by Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM) as needing help paying their energy bills.
Bates said the lightbulbs are just the beginning of a series of projects that Piney Mountain UMC is doing to help the environment. The youth at the church recently planted a community garden that provides free produce to the community. Other initiatives include classes in partnership with the Creation Care Alliance of WNC on recycling, composting, canning and theological reflection on the need to care for God’s creation. Those classes will take place at Piney Mountain UMC and are open to the public. The full schedule will be available at www.pineymountainumc.org.
The community is invited to a community cookout harvest celebration on Saturday, August 26 at 5 p.m. at Piney Mountain UMC. For more information, visit www.pineymountainumc.org.