Abundance Acres vegetable garden. Started in 2009

Since the late 1970’s, Forest Hill Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights has been working on energy conservation and environmental awareness. Starting out with a focus on energy efficiency in their building, the church has also developed environmental values. Forest Hill Church’s mission statement for Earth care is “Care of the Earth… is achieved through encouragement and education, enabling change within our individual lifestyle, church and greater community.” They focus on encouraging the individual all the way to working with the community as a whole.

Longtime member, David Hunter, has been improving the building’s energy efficiency for many years. He has been a pillar in the church’s efforts to conserve energy for the past 30-40 years, with a significant focus the past 10-12 years. In his opinion, the church’s most important success in terms of energy conservation has been reducing the church’s fuel usage by nearly one-third.

The sustainability goals that the Forest Hill Church members and staff have set for energy conservation and environmental awareness are extremely encouraging. These include goals ranging from developing an Earth Care Strategy to educational programs targeted at different age groups. The strategy helps to identify how to devote time and energy to expressing environmental values. The educational programs serve as an effective way to get the word out to those who are interested, but unsure as to where to start. The other goals that Forest Hill Church has developed are: examining recommendations for waste and reduction as well as recycling; implementing Earth Care programs into worship; and sharing their ideas and information with other organizations throughout neighboring communities.

Forest Hill Church has taken several different steps toward environmental sustainability through building improvements and by sharing the experience with others in their community. For instance, the church has done an outstanding job in improving their building “greenness” by installing new insulation, switching to more environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals, and even changing their lighting to 80% fluorescents. Forest Hill Church has also built a garden to help feed needy families in the community and share the greatness of what a garden can bring.

The work that Forest Hill Presbyterian Church has completed is received very well among the members of the church, encouraging a better understanding of the importance and values of the environment and energy conservation. Also, the community around Forest Hill Church is gaining knowledge and supporting the church through projects such as the church’s vegetable garden.

The dedication that Forest Hill Presbyterian Church displays to energy conservation and environmental work is a model for any faith based community. They hope to continue their work and educate others to do the same.

For more information about the church’s sustainability ministry, click here.

 This congregational highlight was contributed by Jordan Bernsdorf, OSU student