Keeping Cool and Saying Our Prayers
By The Rev. Stephanie Allen
I propose that rather than giving newly ordained priests gifts such as stoles or communion kits, we should gift every last ordinand with a copy of HVAC Systems for Dummies. Frankly, the newly ordained priest will at some point in her or her ministry find they spend just as much time talking to their junior warden about their HVAC system than they will talking about more spiritually uplifting topics like prayer or scripture.
I might be exaggerating just a bit, but most churches spend a good percentage of their budget and their manpower on the upkeep and maintenance of their buildings, and that includes climate control within the building. Our buildings can be both one of our greatest assets and one of our largest money-drains. What if I told you that being more intentional stewards of our HVAC systems could help reduce global warming? And what if praying about that brought us closer to caring for God’s creation?
The book Drawdown outlines 100 solutions to reverse global warming. According to the book’s website, “Each solution reduces green house gasses by avoiding emissions and/or sequestering carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.” “Managing Refrigerants,” a fancy, science-y way of saying “taking care of the stuff that heats and cools the air in our buildings,” is ranked #1 in solutions.
According to the site, while chemical refrigerants have been updated over the years to preserve the ozone layer, the depletion of which could be traced to those chemicals, the problem was not solved. The ozone layer was spared, but the new chemicals used, HFCs, have “1,000 to 9,000 greater capacity to warm the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.” And “because 90 percent of refrigerant emissions happen at end of life, effective disposal of those currently in circulation is essential.” The good news is that effective disposal is possible, and while a commitment to that is happening, newer, safer alternatives to HFCs are also being phased in by countries all over the world.
We pray for rain, for seasonable weather, for weather that yields food. We pray after every natural disaster for all the people affected by them - hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones. Maybe we should we start praying for our air conditioning systems, too?
We could ask God to help us be good stewards of the systems we have. We could ask for guidance when it is time to replace those systems. When we are forced to replace those systems, and perhaps because replacing them is better for God’s creation, and the health and well-being of all God’s children, we will be brave enough to trust that the resources we need will be there?
I think a certain amount of curiosity and openness is needed when we consider how the health of the planet is connected to our faith and our sense of God at work in the world. I wonder if I can be open to new ways of seeing and understanding the world, and the impact I have on it. I wonder if God will change my heart when I start to ask these questions. In the meantime, as silly as it sounds, I’m going to add my church (and my home) air conditioning systems to my prayers. I’ll pray for yours, too.
Tags: Creation Care