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Church ready to go green for God

A wind turbine and solar panels popping up in a quiet Cottage Grove neighborhood wouldn't seem so far-fetched in these days of skyrocketing energy prices -- but on a church?

All Saints Lutheran Pastor Jules Erickson doesn't see the problem, though. In fact, to her it makes perfect sense.

Going off the grid with green energy just means powering the church "with the energy God already gave us," she said. It's not a reality yet, but Erickson hopes to make it happen as All Saints starts to plan for some major renovations at its Belden Boulevard locale.

The church recently completed a strategic plan that assessed its programs, staff, and how its building functions and serves the needs of a congregation of roughly 1,000.

"We realized our current facility wasn't functioning the way we needed it to," Erickson said.

Top on her list is adding a lift to make the church's two-level basement accessible to everyone. And after being turned onto a Web site, Caring for Creation, which calls on the faithful to combat global warming, she added another -- going green.

"It's really about stewardship ... it's a lifestyle," Erickson said. "It's a way of living. It's not something you do when you feel like it, it's a way of being good to this creation God has given to us."

All Saints has already taken the first step toward that goal, replacing the church's old light fixtures with new, energy efficient ones. Erickson has also pushed recycling and has tried to limit unnecessary paper use, electing to communicate with her congregation electronically to avoid waste.

Bigger renovations, she says, have to wait until All Saints can pay off its $270,000 mortgage and until a consulting firm submits a report to Erickson this autumn.

Whether her aim of wind and solar power is "financially feasible, I don't know," she said. "We're obviously not going to spend a million dollars on this." Erickson is, though, looking for help to apply for grants in an effort to ease the financial burden of becoming an eco-friendly church. Because caring for the environment is, she says, and should be a Christian value.

"I think part of the issue is that when congregations start talking about going green I think the first impression people think is, 'Oh man, they're environmental freaks over there at All Saints," Erickson said. "It's about an environmental stewardship as well as internal stewardship."

Jon Avise can be reached at