The Katy Gerke Memorial Program
The KGMP at Work
One example of a Vermont faith community that has used the Katy Gerke Memorial Program to take actions to address the climate crisis and the threat it presents to Creation is the United Church of Dorset & East Rupert.
The Green Team at the United Church of Dorset & East Rupert
Founded in 1784 the Dorset Church, now the United Church of Dorset & East Rupert, has a history of almost 250 years of spiritual commitment to its community and to Creation. Now, with its active Green Team it’s preparing for its members and their grandchildren through its commitment to reducing its carbon emissions.
Originally heated with locally cut wood, the church at some point switched to heating with fuel oil. Recognizing their commitment to Creation and the negative effects of burning fossil fuel, the Green Team’s purpose is to reduce their church’s carbon emissions while also saving money. To pursue this the Green Team has lead the congregation in making the following changes:
- Replacing the oil-fired water heater with an energy efficient heat pump water heater.
- Installing cold-climate heat pumps to heat their administrative rooms
- Installing a cold climate heat pump to heat/cool the sanctuary
- Installing programmable thermostats when the heat pumps were installed.
A portion of the cost for these changes was provided by a grant from Vermont Interfaith Power and Light, www.VTIPL.org.
These changes have enabled them to reduce their heating fuel use by approximately 50%. And, although their electricity use has almost tripled, all of their electricity is clean, renewable solar generated. They’ve met their immediate goal of reducing their carbon emissions while saving money.
These are not the first things the Green Team has undertaken to reduce their energy use and carbon emissions. In 2013 they had an energy audit done with help from a Vermont Interfaith Power and Light grant and had weatherization and air sealing done. The also switched their incandescent lights to LEDs and in 2016 replaced fluorescent fixtures with LEDs.
Until COVID took over, they were running a van- pool once a month to take parishioners and neighbors to Aldi’s in Bennington for grocery shopping. It was a boon to some who were not confident about driving and certainly a gas saver. Each chipped in $2 for gas and had a good time to boot. They look forward to resuming and perhaps expanding this service.
But, the Green Team is not done. Future plans call for further reducing their heating oil use for the Sunday School rooms, the Pastor’s study and the Vestry. They’re also looking at the manse, which is heated by oil, and they’re discussing carbon-free transportation, composting and “natural burials.
The Green Team at the United Church of Dorset & East Rupert has made a meaningful commitment to Creation and is continuing to look for ways to further that commitment.