Salem Lutheran Church caring for creation with energy-saving lights

Sanctuary and community center now feature LEDs

Seeing the Light

Salem Lutheran Church in Mahtowa, MN recently upgraded their lighting to LEDs in the sanctuary and their neighboring community center, Salem's Mahtowa Hall, with the support of a CERTs Seed Grant.

We spoke with congregant Caleb Anderson to learn more.

Can you tell us a little bit about the project?

Caleb Anderson: This project was led by our small rural Lutheran church. The church operates two buildings: Salem Lutheran Church and the neighboring old school that we use as a community center. Both facilities were fully lit by 202 incandescent bulbs and 4 foot fluorescent tubes. An energy audit completed through the local utility, Minnesota Power, forecast that the lighting upgrade would reduce the church’s electricity bill by approximately 45%. The beauty of this project was that it was by all measures a community project in a community space, which lent to significant transferability to church members’ homes and businesses as well as other congregations.

How did you share the project with your church community and beyond?

Caleb Anderson: The Church Council supported the project and made financial commitments on the church’s behalf. People in church were made aware of the project and its purpose. The same was true for people who read the press release in the local newspaper.

Any advice for others doing a similar project?

Caleb Anderson: There were four individuals involved in installation of the project. All of the screw in bulbs were installed with congregation volunteers and all of the 4 foot linear bulb replacements were made by a local electrical contractor. This worked well and was a nice way to keep costs down.

What’s next for your project?

Caleb Anderson: Our energy audit evaluated the cost of increasing insulation in the community center. This may be a good next step. The success of the project will be transferable to the homes and buildings of church members and others in the community, as well. 

Our organization leans very heavily on volunteer labor and too often a few generous souls to carry the brunt of the work. In the absence of this grant, it would have been difficult to carry out this project as it puts further demands on already overloaded volunteers. This grant was a fantastic way to tip the scales and get this project carried out to fruition!

Caleb Anderson, congregant at Salem Lutheran Church

Project Snapshot

  • Technology: Lighting upgrades
  • Northeast CERT Seed Grant: $1,000
  • Total Project Cost: $4,430
  • Other Funds: Utility rebate, NE MN Synod Creation Care Grant, donations from church members, Church’s annual budget, volunteer in-kind labor.
  • Project Team: Salem Lutheran Church members Caleb Anderson, Pastor Beth Pottratz, Chuck Porter
  • People Involved and Reached: 510
  • Annual Energy Savings: 3,081 kWh

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