Following Christ’s teachings to care for the earth and all its creatures has been a Forest Hill priority for over 30 years.
Our Earth Care Team,* along with the Justice & Mission and Stewardship ministries, focuses on conservation and sustainability practices within our building. Building on past efforts while looking for new ways to reduce our energy footprint, Forest Hill was the first church in Ohio to be certified as an Earth Care Congregation by the Environmental Ministries department of the PC(USA), and has qualified every year since 2011. Qualifying is a big undertaking – of the 9000 or so churches in our denomination, there are less than 250 Earth Care Congregations.
How did we change our building practices to meet this goal? We:
- Conducted a comprehensive energy/facilities audit with an outside consulting firm
- Increased insulation in main areas
- Installed triple-track storm windows
- Installed new boilers with computer controls for increased efficiency
- Replaced paper tableware with china and silver usage in Fellowship hall
- Upgraded exhaust system for sanctuary and restrooms
- Converted 80% of lighting to fluorescent
- Replaced large kitchen appliances and cooler with more efficient units
- Established a paper waste recycling center open to the community
- Switched to “green” cleaning chemicals
- Replaced playground surface with 13 tons of rubber mulch recycled from 2,000 ground-up tires
- Recycled the old bark playground mulch by re-using it to mulch the trees throughout our grounds
- Added bicycle racks to our parking area for those who bike instead of drive to church
Pastor John Lentz and member Mark Chupp participated in the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Project. Knowing the intense interest at Forest Hill for this mission, John volunteered to be part of a small group asked to write a document expressing the vision of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 project. Read the initial draft of this statement here. You can also follow the Sustainable Cleveland Project on Facebook, and track the Sustainable Cleveland project at GreenCityBlueLake Institute.
FHC Earth Care Team
Care of the Earth is central to all discipleship and stewardship in our lives and is achieved through encouragement and education, enabling change within our individual lifestyle, church and greater community.
-Consciously living healthy and sustainable lifestyles
-Inspiring our church community to embrace Earth Care practices through worship, education & communication
-Enabling change in how FHC manages the building, operations and staff
-Providing thought leadership for surrounding community on Earth Care Practices
1. Design FHC Earth Care Strategy (Essence) and Action Plan
—Explore strengths/weaknesses and identify opportunities
—Brainstorm ideas/goals and draw in expertise from congregation
2. Develop Earth Care Education Programs for our church community
—Adult Education (e.g., 2 week program in Fall)
—Invites to adults and mid-sr. high groups.
—PreK-6th grade programs (e.g., 2 week program in Fall)
3. Study & recommend for Waste & Reduction, Recycling & Building Operations methods
—Work with local faith-based procurement team to determine opportunities
—Implement improved recycling/waste programs
—Encourage alternative transportation opportunities
4. Develop Earth Care programs as part of Worship
5. Create a portal of information to share across communities
*Earth Care Team members: Dave Neff, Mark Chupp, Dale Dannefer, Kemp Jaycox, Keith Logan, Steve Sedam