Washington, DC—The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies today announced a partnership with AME Church Bishops Vashti Murphy McKenzie and Adam Jefferson Richardson, Jr., and GREEN DMV to help local congregations raise their environmental awareness, make their churches more energy efficient and redirect cost savings to carry out the churches’ mission.
GREEN DMV, a non-profit organization that promotes the use of clean energy and the development of green jobs as a way out of poverty, will work with selected churches in the bishops’ districts to assess their energy use and to implement low- and no-cost strategies for reducing energy use. The results will be shared with other AME congregations when thousands convene in Nashville, June 27-July 4, for the 49th Quadrennial Session of the AME Church General Conference.
According to Bishops McKenzie and Richardson, this green initiative is built on the premise that environmental responsibility can be a part of a church’s stewardship, yielding both financial and community-oriented benefits.
“We want to help our congregations and communities save energy and generate dollar savings that can be used to extend their work,” said Bishop McKenzie, whose 13th Episcopal District includes Tennessee and Kentucky. “Some of our churches are very large and consume a great deal of energy, so there is the potential for significant savings,” she said.
“AME churches come in all sizes and states of repair, with some dating back more than 100 years, so there is great potential for savings from becoming more energy efficient,” said Bishop Richardson, whose Second Episcopal District includes Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia and North Carolina. “We will explore how to go about recovering costs. We want to be on the cutting edge and still contribute savings to the environment.”
The Environmental Protection Agency, which maintains an Energy Star Congregations Network to provide information and technical support for churches that want to go green, will provide guidance during the launch of the project. The EPA estimates that if the nation’s 370,000 congregations reduce energy use by 10 percent, they would save nearly $315 million and provide 1.8 billion kilowatt hours of electricity without additional cost or pollution.
“African American churches have been integral players in every movement for positive social change throughout the history of this nation, so the leadership of the AME bishops is part of a long and honored tradition. We view this collaboration as a unique opportunity to achieve farreaching results in a sector that will determine the kind of planet we leave for our children and grandchildren,” said Ralph B. Everett, President and CEO of the Joint Center.
“We are excited to be part of this groundbreaking partnership with such visionary leaders, and look forward to sharing environmental best practices that will benefit churches around the nation.” said Danielle Deane, Director of the Joint Center’s Energy and Environment Program.
The initiative is supported by a grant from the Walmart Foundation.
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is one of the nation’s leading research and public policy institutions and the only one whose work focuses primarily on issues of particular concern to African Americans and other people of color. To learn more, please visit www.jointcenter.org.