Electrification: Resources for Congregations
In 2023, the delegates of the United Church of Christ’s 34th General Synod passed a resolution urging planning for and implementing electrification. Electrification is the process of transitioning from fossil-fueled equipment, appliances, and machines to new, far more efficient, electric ones. This can mean switching from gas-powered HVAC systems, stoves, and water heaters to heat pumps, induction stoves, and other alternatives. The resolution focuses attention on making such changes when equipment fails or becomes outdated. The theological and ethical grounding for electrification resides in the call “to protect all of God’s creation from climate changing emissions” while also addressing the multiple issues of justice intertwined with fossil-fuel pollution. Read the resolution in its entirety and make use of these five suggested actions a congregation can take:
(1) Begin with a Bible study. In preamble to the resolution, it says, “God calls on each of us and all of us together in community to act prophetically, to be role models, to be the Moses of our time.” Read the story of God calling to Moses from the burning bush. Reflect upon the ways in which we are called to act for justice today as we confront the climate crisis and the harms of pollution.
(2) Educate your congregation on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). This federal legislation will rapidly speed electrification through financial benefits to individuals and communities. One can learn about the basics of the IRA and also how it enacts specific measures to address societal inequities.
(3) Encourage congregants to calculate how they might benefit from the IRA when electrifying. There are rebates and tax credits from which both renters and homeowners can benefit.
(4) Direct members to Rewiring America’s “how-to-guide” for homeowners seeking to electrify. Learn what options there are for electric appliances, how to get started, questions to ask contractors, and more. This guide can also be helpful for churches figuring out how to electrify.
(5) Form a book group. Dive deep into the electrification revolution by reading Saul Griffith’s book Electrify: An Optimist’s Playbook for Our Clean Energy Future.
There are a lot more resources out there, including a UCC webinar on the environmental justice implications of stoves, the resources of Interfaith Power & Light, and a collaborative resource page managed by United Women in Faith that is devoted to energy and climate resiliency funding opportunities for houses of worship.
The Rev. Dwight Wagenius was a primary author and driver behind this resolution. He would love to hear from congregations about how they are living out the resolution and is also available to assist in discerning how to take action. Contact Rev. Dwight Wagenius.