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Solar Leadership Celebration Generates Energy!
by Karen Smith, Creation Care Committee
Earlier this year, Trinity and five other Bloomington/ Indianapolis congregations received the exciting news that we’d been awarded an Indiana Office of Energy Development grant to install solar panels on our houses of worship. Besides helping us reduce our facilities’ electricity costs and carbon footprints, this project engages us to lead by example, giving us a unique opportunity to educate congregations and households statewide concerning wise energy stewardship.
On Sunday, March 3, Trinity’s Creation Care Committee and “green teams” from other grant recipient congregations began their outreach to the Bloomington community with a “Solar Leadership Celebration” at Beth Shalom, followed by a presentation at St. Thomas Lutheran on residential solar installations led by members of SIREN (Southern Indiana Renewable Energy Network).
What an amazing evening! The festivities began at 6 PM with a bracha or grace led by Rabbi Brian Besser, a bountiful potluck dinner, and keyboard/accordion music provided by the Newmans. Another highlight was a global warming-themed skit performed by clergy/ representatives of various faiths, including Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. Father Charlie had a role in this and raised our awareness of how uncomfortable those clerical collars can be when temperatures start to rise!
Trinity’s Creation Care Committee led the whole crowd (over 100 at the dinner alone!) in a rousing sing-along—a Solar Carol to the tune of Angels We Have Heard on High, with the chorus: “So-o-o-o-lar power, inexpensive energy!” We were followed by other presenters, including Rev. Lyle McKee (St. Thomas) with a serious reflection on Earth (capital “E”) care and singer Carrie Newcomer, who asked us to join in the chorus as she performed her moving song If Not Now: “If not now, tell me when…/We may never see this moment/Or place in time again/If not now…tell me when.” Finally we raised hands together and danced around the tables to the upbeat strains of klezmer clarinet-piano music.
When I went next door to St. Thomas Lutheran for the SIREN presentation, an overflow crowd (not including potluck attendees) was already assembled and the slide show/talk under way. In fact, so many people turned out that a second forum was conducted at 8 PM! After the first session, folks stayed to mingle and chat around the refreshment tables, and children were creatively engaged with solar-themed crafts.
It was truly inspiring to see people from so many faith traditions, including Trinity members, coming together in response to a holy call: to honor God by loving and caring for what God loves—this Earth and each and every creature sharing it. Here’s what the OED commented on announcing our grant award: “We were impressed by the diversity of faiths and by how many people across the state will be affected by this project, and we hope that your project can serve as a model for others.”
May Trinity continue to shine for God in the Bloomington community and beyond!
Photos from the celebration