Located in Madison, Wisconsin, St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, founded in 1958, has embarked on a notable journey towards sustainability and environmental responsibility. This warm and inclusive congregation, comprising approximately 200 households, places a strong emphasis on creation care, welcome for all, and the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ individuals. Their recent venture into renewable energy underscores their commitment to their faith and environmental stewardship.
St. Dunstan’s has long been aware of its carbon footprint. In 2016, the church established a Creation Care mission statement, outlining its commitment to nurturing a reverence for the natural world, reducing its ecological impact, and broadening its involvement in environmental initiatives. To this end, the church had previously sourced all its energy through MGE’s shared solar and green energy programs. However, with mounting concerns about climate change, the congregation sought to take more direct action.
In the fall of 2022, St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church received a grant from RENEW Wisconsin’s Solar for Good program. This initiative supports nonprofits in the state in installing solar arrays, marking the inception of an ambitious effort to generate renewable energy on-site. This decision aligned with the church’s pre-existing commitment to environmental stewardship.
The resulting 29.7-kilowatt solar array, installed by Full Spectrum Solar, consists of 55 panels and is anticipated to offset 75 percent of their estimated annual energy consumption.
Financial backing for the project was a collaborative effort. St. Dunstan’s secured a generous gift from a donor, further complemented by pledges from congregation members and friends. Additional financial support was provided through grants and incentives, including the MadiSUN Backyard Solar grant and Focus on Energy support. Enthusiasm surrounding the project sparked additional donations from congregation members.
Beyond achieving self-sufficiency through energy generation, St. Dunstan’s remains firmly committed to community service and outreach. The solar project aligns harmoniously with their mission of social justice and community support. As energy costs rise and budgetary pressures mount, the solar project is anticipated to alleviate some of these financial burdens, enabling the church to reallocate funds back into its mission.
In the summer of 2023, St. Dunstan’s hosted a solar dedication event. This event served as an opportunity to celebrate and promote their 29.7-kilowatt solar array to their congregation and the wider community. It included information sessions on the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy, as well as details regarding financial incentives for installing a solar system.
St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church’s commitment to renewable energy is a shining example of how faith-based organizations can lead by example in environmental stewardship while simultaneously nurturing a sense of community, social justice, and environmental consciousness. Their dedication to their values and the environment serves as a compelling illustration of the positive impact such initiatives can have on local communities and the broader world.