We at Mennonite Creation Care Network are pleased to announce that in late April, we received a check from one of our members with the instructions to get it onto a congregation’s roof as quickly as possible. Thus began the Pam De Young Net Zero Energy Fund.

The new energy fund is focused on solar panels and electric car charging stations. It is provided by the generosity of Russell De Young, Newport News, Va., in memory of his wife, Pam De Young. Pam’s compassion, her delight in the natural world and her attention to household habits such as recycling made her a shining example of what creation care looks like on a daily basis. Pam and Russell are pictured at left.

An attainable goal

The purpose of the fund is to inspire congregations to lead their communities toward a net zero energy future. Properties are described as net zero energy when they are able to generate renewable energy equivalent to their needs for electricity, heating and cooling. While net zero communities are rare at this point, Russell points out that the drop in the cost of solar panels makes this an attainable goal.

Russell’s concern about climate change grows out of his work as a NASA scientist. His job description has included both designing instruments that measure gases in the atmosphere and helping his institution adapt to climate change. Hence, he is well aware of the harm caused by carbon-based fuels and the urgent need to move toward renewable energy.

Funds Available

About $9,000 will be awarded annually to assist Mennonite Church USA congregations who are installing solar panels. About $1800 can be awarded to congregations installing electric car charging stations. A subcommittee of MCCN’s Creation Care Council will administer the fund and select recipients.

Applicants will be required to show that their request is part of a larger creation care plan that includes exceptional energy conservation, engages many members and is a public witness to the community. Instructions will be posted on MCCN’s website by July 1 and applications will be accepted from August 1 to October 31. The committee will announce recipients before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, drop us a line at mccn@goshen.edu if you think your congregation might be interested in either grant. Your questions will help us shape the process and we will then send you the application materials.