Congregants see light, raise money to retrofit lighting in Oakville church


Published May 17, 2023 at 9:41 am

St. Paul's United Church in Oakville got some help from its congregants with the cost of retrofitting the lighting through its entire building and reducing the total energy it uses. ST. PAUL'S UNITED CHURCH PHOTOS

When it came time to Turn on the Lights at an Oakville church, the generosity of its congregants helped light the way.

St. Paul’s United Church was looking for a way to retrofit the lighting through its entire building and reduce the total energy it uses.

To carry out the long-term energy saving solution, the local church launched the Turn on the Lights campaign and completed a Green Audit through Faith & the Common Good’s Faithful Footprints program.

The United Church of Canada’s program offers inspiration, tools, and grants to help its faith communities reduce their carbon footprint.

With the total cost of St. Paul’s project estimated to be around $23,000, the local church qualified for the Faithful Footprints grant and had approximately $15,000 of that cost covered.

After receiving conditional approval for the grant, St. Paul’s United had to come up with around $5,000 to undergo the planned lighting renovations which were estimated to cost around $23,000.

Along with what was in the church’s building maintenance fund, the church launched the campaign to come up with the rest.

Within just four weeks, St. Paul’s United had raised enough money from the congregation to cover their share of the total project costs. In total, $7,508 was raised.

With the building in relatively good shape, the church was advised that the quickest energy-saving opportunity was to switch to LED lights.

The local church was able to expand its bulb replacement to include replacing 84 bulbs and fluorescent tubes in their gymnasium, 21 light fixtures in one of their halls, and 23 small dome lights in their sanctuary and narthex, which were mini fluorescent bulbs.

“I was pretty confident that they were going to come up with the amount for the lights,” Harold Devenne, St. Paul team lead, said on the United Church of Canada’s Faith & the Common Good website.

“I was surprised when we exceeded our goal and had enough to use for other building upgrades.”

The church explained to the congregation that they would start the project with the balcony lights and slowly move towards the lights in the sanctuary.

Devenne explained that seeing the difference their support made would make it easier to fundraise.

“Because we don’t have a lot of extra cash, the best way to raise funds is to give our congregation a specific project to fund,” said Devenne. “I find that if there’s a project, show them pictures of it, tell them what it is, tell them what it costs, and let them find a way in. As long as they can see and understand it, the money comes in fairly quickly.”

Congregants were encouraged to make their donations in an envelope titled “Let There Be Light,” with the church providing the specific costs for the lighting retrofit by categorizing the renovation into three levels of lights (Pendant light $272/Hall bulb $57/Dome light $36).

“It’s a way to make them feel like they can contribute to any level, and understand what they are spending the money for,” said Devenne.

Even with the recent light retrofit, St. Paul’s said it will continue to look for opportunities whenever possible to reduce their energy consumption.

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