How This Black Church Went Green
A Washington, D.C., congregation is leaning on another higher power: solar.
and owners of Volt Energy
The church is also working with Volt Energy engineers to develop an after-school-program curriculum on renewable energy for middle school students. "We want this to be their introduction to what the possibilities are," Trent said. "When you ask a kid what they want to be when they grow up, they respond with what they see: a football player, a basketball player. But there's a whole industry out there that, unless they see it, they don't know. This makes it real to them."
Economic, environmental and educational benefits aside, Trent said that going green is chiefly a spiritual thing. "It comes out of stewardship, which is managing the gifts God gives you," he said. "It's part of our Christian responsibility to take care of this incredible gift [of the Earth] that was given to us. We haven't done such a good job. So we learn."
The Future Is Now
The concept of solar power may sound futuristic to some, but Campbell says that depends on where you live. "New Jersey, for example, is the second-fastest-growing state for solar after California," he said, "and it's not because New Jersey's a sunny state.
"In places with a high adoption of solar, like the West Coast, mid-Atlantic and Northeast," he continues, "the African-American community is very familiar with solar because they see it everywhere. Other parts of the country, like the South, are catching up."
In the faith community in particular, Trent said, the interest is growing. "They're calling me a solar evangelist," he said, adding that more than 30 other pastors have visited Florida Avenue Baptist Church to learn more. "At the end of the year, [the federal grant program] runs out, and we have no hopes that it will be renewed under the current Congress. So I tell them to get involved in this because the opportunity is now."
Most of all, Trent wants people to understand the viability of going solar -- a transition that his flock was able to make smoothly. "Look, we're a midsize church," he said. "I tell them that they don't have to be a mega-church with thousands of members. If we can do this, you all can do it. Anybody can do it."
Cynthia Gordy is The Root's Washington reporter.