Celebrating and Blessing the New Solar Panel Array at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

 

The congregation of St. Paul’s gathers in the back parking for the blessing of the parish’s new solar panels. Courtesy image (c) John C. Mitchell, 2015 all rights reserved
The congregation of St. Paul’s gathers in the back parking for the blessing of the parish’s new solar panels. Courtesy image (c) John C. Mitchell, 2015 all rights reserved

Submitted by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Rt. Rev. Bud Cederholm sprinkled the new panels with holy water and led prayers from above. Courtesy image (c) John C. Mitchell, 2015 all rights reserved

On Sunday, November 1, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church held a special blessing of its new solar panels, with retired bishop The Rt. Rev. Bud Cederholm presiding over the festive event, occurring on All Saints’ Day.

Beginning with a grand procession from the sanctuary to the rear parking lot, where the solar array can be seen on the south-facing back roof, the service featured drums, songs, prayers, and art. The choir and congregation sang the popular South African hymn, “We Are Marching in the Light of God (Siyahamba),” led by St. Paul’s warden Arthur Fergusson of Billerica and BHS senior Nate Presti on djembes, with Bedford Minuteman fifer Eliza Menninger on flute. The children of the parish joined in the procession, carrying posters with conservation messages created during Sunday School out of recycled materials.

Speaking at the blessing ceremony, The Rev. Christopher Wendell, St. Paul’s Rector, noted that the primary motivations for this solar installation were spiritual—not financial. “As Christians, we remember that the earth’s gifts, whether fossil fuels, clean water, or any other natural resource, are common goods meant to be shared by all and used sparingly by each. This blessing celebrates another step we have taken as people of faith to care more deeply for God’s creation and in greater harmony with all of God’s creatures,” he said.

Andrew Jeffrey, Rt. Rev. Bud Cederholm, Rev. Chris Wendell, and John Mitchell pose in front of the solar panels. Parishioners Jeffrey and Mitchell coordinated the solar project. Courtesy image (c) John C. Mitchell, 2015 all rights reserved
Andrew Jeffrey, Rt. Rev. Bud Cederholm, Rev. Chris Wendell, and John Mitchell pose in front of the solar panels. Parishioners Jeffrey and Mitchell coordinated the solar project. Courtesy image (c) John C. Mitchell, 2015 all rights reserved

St. Paul’s installed its solar panels over the summer, after more than a year of planning, utility analysis, community discussion, financial analysis, and vestry consideration. The parish purchased the solar array, which allows certain incentive payments and benefits to remain with the parish. Over the course of a year, the array is expected to generate 100% of the church’s electricity needs, providing a welcome boost to its operating budget.

SunBug Solar provided the installation and was present for the dedication. The system, which comprises 48 panels, generates a peak capacity of 12.28kW, and has already generated over 3 MWh of electricity since coming online in August. SunBug has installed solar arrays at several parishes within the Diocese of Massachusetts and at other local houses of worship, including St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Framingham and Temple Isaiah in Lexington. SunBug offers solar solutions for residential properties as well.

The solar panels represent just one of many green improvements to the parish over the past five years, including energy-efficient windows throughout the building; replacement lightbulbs in the sanctuary, library, and parish hall; and new insulation in the front sanctuary walls to prevent heat loss in the winter. Many of these improvements were supported by Green Grants, a program of the Diocese of Massachusetts to encourage greater environmental stewardship among parishes.

Bishop Cederholm was on hand to offer the sermon and lead the entire parish in blessing the panels. The bishop has been a tireless advocate for environmental stewardship and Creation Care initiatives within the Diocese and the wider Episcopal Church, including the Green Grant program.

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Image (c) JMcCT 2015 all rights reserved

For more information about St. Paul’s new solar array, please contact the parish office at 781-275-8262, or visit us online at www.stpaulsbedford.org.


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