First Parish Dedicates its Solar Panels with Appropriate Ceremony, and a Touch of Whimsy

Image (c) First Parish in Bedford, Unitarian Universalist 2019 all rights reserved

By Meredith McCulloch

A blast from First Parish’s traditional Streamer Cannon capped the dedication ceremony with a touch of whimsy – Image (c) Bob Bass Photography, 2019 all rights reserved

The sanctuary at First Parish was festooned with smiling sun balloons on Sunday, June 9, as the congregation celebrated the completion of its solar panel project.

Click this link to read Rev. John Gibbons’s remarks

Four years in the making, the project began when the congregation voted to raise funds for a solar initiative to reduce energy consumption from fossil fuels.  The desire to utilize solar power was based on concern about global warming, a responsibility embodied in the Seventh Principle of the Unitarian Universalist Association, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”

Sunday’s Order of Service featured a quote from Falter, environmentalist Bill McKibben’s newest book: “Now you can point a pane of glass at the sky and out the back flows light, and cold, and information. That’s Hogwarts level magic.”

Raising $125,000 to purchase the 92 black panels was perhaps the easiest step.

The church first presented the proposal for solar panels to the Historic District Commission on June 1, 2016. The Commission which has jurisdiction over exterior changes to properties inside the Historic District turned down the request. Eventually, First Parish sued the town, and a ruling by the Superior Court in August 2018 was favorable to the church.

To make the panels less visible on the historic building, the church chose black panels for the black roof. Ironically, on this day in June, Mother Nature chose to conceal both under a blanket of green pine pollen.

Following Sunday’s service, the congregation moved outside to dedicate the panels with a poem composed for the occasion by Lois Pulliam, music by the Groves Family. To cap the celebration, a blast from First Parish’s ubiquitous streamer cannon and ice cream sundaes for all.

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