June 14, 2004




Conservation's Time Has Come - Again


Remember conservation? It’s the simple idea that we can use ingenuity and technology to reduce energy consumption without compromising our lifestyles.


Today, conservation sounds like a quaint idea from the 1970s – along with earth shoes, John Denver songs, geodesic domes and the 55 mph speed limit – but it’s a concept Christian stewards should take off the shelf and polish up.


The urgency is occasioned by two unconnected phenomena: One, gasoline prices spiking over $2 a gallon signals the end of the era of cheap energy, experts say. Worldwide demand for oil is rising, stretching capacity for supply and distribution. Yes, we'll have energy for years to come, but experts say it will cost more.


Two, a drop in giving is forcing church leaders from denominational department heads to local pastors to slash programs and staff. A lot of good ministry is going by the wayside.


For stewards, energy conservation brings double benefits: It cuts down on environmental pollution and it reduces costs. This week’s offerings include several resources on how churches can – and are -- leading the way.


For example, an article in The Lutheran magazine tells how Resurrection Lutheran Church, Franklin Park, Ill., spent $10,483 to switch to energy-efficient lighting fixtures and saved $250 a month on electricity. At that rate, the investment will pay off in 2 ˝ years, and then the church will have $4,000 a year for ministry. In an era of tight congregational budgets, that makes a big difference. 


And Resurrection’s experience was in the late 1990s, when energy was much cheaper than it is now. There are also easy ways to conserve energy in the area of heating and cooling -- often a major line item in a congregation budget. Check out the story about how churches in Maine are collaborating on projects, and how Presbyterians are dreaming big.


With energy costs skyrocketing and dollars for ministry shrinking, conservation is a 1970s concept worth resurrecting. But of course, we can still do without the earth shoes.


-Rob Blezard


New This Week: June 14 - 20


Four Gospels, One Stewardship: An Introduction to the Gospels with a View of Stewardship as a Way of Faithful Living
Wow! Here's a free online course on biblical stewardship that your congregation can really sink its teeth into. 4G1s pays attention to the stewardship-of-life underpinnings of the four Gospels as it provides a scholarly overview of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Be prepared to consider the "two-source hypothesis" and "redaction criticism." By Dr. Mark Vitalis Hoffman, New Testament professor at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. Did we mention it's free?



 We Have All the Time in God's World
You see, the scarcity of time is all in my head, and in the mistaken thought that I have to accomplish everything.  The more time I spend with God, the more I understand that we are all working God's will -- or better, that God's will is working through all of us and it is not so much what I individually accomplish as what gets done.  You see God has all the time in the world.” In Dana Reardon's weekly reflection.



Endowments: Hidden Miracle or Hidden Peril?
"Many congregations are doing marvelous things with their endowments and are empowered. There is a sense of mission, purpose, and empowerment in these congregations as they reach out beyond their own needs to address the needs of others. Other congregations are gasping, suffocating, or even dying because of their endowments. Why? Because they have yielded to the temptation that we all have experienced. Let's take an easier road."  By Duane Englehardt, in the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.



 Put Your Money Where Your Faith Is
What does it mean to be a steward who thinks globally? It means acting on the assumption that God has given the human race enough resources to meet every need. This 2003 article in the publication of the Presbyterian Church (USA) suggests four concrete ways to put this vision of stewardship in action. From Presbyterians Today.


 Power play
Congregations slash their utility bills — and contribute to a cleaner planet. Churches find that making the move to energy-efficient lighting and other simple conservation measures pays big dividends. "We cut our electricity usage about 30 percent," says Jim Schwab, who worked on the project when his congregation, Augustana, Chicago, became the first ELCA church to make the investment in 1992. >From The Lutheran magazine.