Cumberland church nets eco-friendly certification

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CUMBERLAND — In the case of the Congregational Church in Cumberland, perhaps it is easy being green.

The 282 Main St. church is Maine’s first to earn certification from GreenFaith, a pro-environment interfaith coalition founded in 1992, according to a church press release.

To celebrate, the church will host tours of the buildings and its grounds for the general public on Sunday, Sept. 7. The event, which includes a slide show and ice cream on the lawn, starts at 9:30 a.m. with a church service. Much of that service will be devoted to the GreenFaith news, and the other activities will follow around 10:30 a.m.

“The church is delighted about earning GreenFaith certification, which is why we’re celebrating on Homecoming, the first Sunday after summer, when people pack the church,” Lalla Carothers, the church’s Green Team coordinator, said in an email last week. “The congregation has been very supportive throughout the process.”

Carothers said she has been especially touched by people sharing how much the program has inspired changes in their own lives – things like turning off the water while they brush their teeth, installing solar panels, and teenagers collecting trash during a 20-mile Habitat for Humanity walk.

“We realize that small steps do make a difference, in spite of the larger challenges we face,” Carothers said. “I’m also grateful to Diane Bennekamper, our minister, who has supported our work from the beginning, when she first encouraged us to start a green team in 2007. Many people had already been working on greening the church when we learned about the Certification Program. GreenFaith pushed us to go further and document our efforts, providing support and expertise along the way. I suspect we’ll continue the work.”

The church’s steps to go greener include increasing its amount of recycling each week from a small cardboard box and curbside bin to a 50-gallon container, replacing traditional bulbs with ones that significantly reduce energy usage, installing solar panels on the roof to heat dishwasher water, while another lights the parking lot.

The church saved more than $400 in electricity costs between 2010 and 2012, according to the press release.

Log onto greenfaith.org or email lallacarothers@mac.com for more information.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.