St. Paul's United Church (Magog, QC) is an example of folks working together to save the planet, while supporting a local green economy.

Members of St. Paul's United Church celebrate the "greening" of their church furnace on the steps of the church with banners and signs.
Credit: Courtesy of St. Paul's United Church.

As much of our national climate conversation focuses on the negative, we often forget that this crisis is also an opportunity to create a better world. St. Paul’s United Church in Magog, QC, is an example of folks working together to save the planet while acting as a catalyst for a stronger local green economy.

In 2018, the church’s furnace, in this case a gas-powered steam furnace named "Betsy," was given a year or so to live. While Betsy had done her job admirably for many years, her disrepair could result in the sanctuary closing. The options looked bleak. The use of steam or hot water to heat the sanctuary was no longer considered a viable option as the repair and replacement costs were close to $100,000.

At the suggestion of a trusted local contractor, St. Paul’s United discovered a Quebec-based company – EcoRad – that converts cast iron steam radiators into stand-alone electric units. The benefits were numerous: cast iron radiators are excellent heaters; reusing the radiators would keep them out of the landfill; and conversion from gas to electric would decrease the church’s carbon footprint.

This option was also considerably more affordable than the alternatives. The total cost of $37,200 was paid for with a United Church of Canada “Faithful Footprints” grant, fundraising efforts, and $1,800 worth of volunteer labour.

Ultimately, the greening of the St. Paul’s United congregation was a team effort. Rev. Lee Ann Hogle worked with the church’s Green Team to not only investigate the options and help with energy management, but to also support the furnace conversion itself.

“We are proud to support a Quebec-based green tech company and know we can work with them to make sure the heating system works well,” said trustee Garth Fields.

What better role for our communities of faith than to support local green job creation, while role modeling how we can all walk more gently on the planet?

 — Lucy Cummings, Faith & the Common Good

 

The views contained within these blogs are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of The United Church of Canada.