199 solar panels installed at St. John’s Lutheran Church

Published 12:20 am Sunday, March 19, 2017

By Andie Foley

The Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — At the end of February 199 solar panels were installed on the roof of St. John’s Lutheran Church.

The panels were installed over the church’s education and office buildings. They will provide the church with a minimum of 30 percent of its energy needs.

Installing the solar panels came as part of the church’s broader project to prioritize environmental stewardship. In recent months, St. John’s congregation and staff have eliminated the use of Styrofoam and plastics on campus.

Natural lighting is a prominent feature in the church’s new Faith Center, an addition completed in fall 2015. The worship space has expansive windows, and all its lighting fixtures are equipped with LED bulbs.

LED lightbulbs use one-sixth of the watts of an incandescent bulb. One LED light will last as long as 21 incandescent bulbs.

“The Bible has this expectation that we be good stewards of the environment and of creation,” said Pastor Rhodes Woolly. “We certainly preach that message a lot, but when we can act on it as a congregation that’s a real good day.”

The solar panel project was the brainchild of Mark Ritchie, a lifelong member of St. John’s Lutheran Church. Ritchie has attended many of Catawba College’s “Faith, Spirituality and Environmental Stewardship Workshops,” run through the school’s Center for the Environment.

“I believe it is part of our faith responsibility to be environmentally conscious,” Ritchie said after one of these conferences in 2013. “I have an interest in photovoltaic panels for . . . the opportunities that exist for our church. We have a lot of flat roof in our educational building, and I believe installing (solar panels) is the right thing to do if the strategies can be identified.”

Four years later, Ritchie’s interest has moved into reality.

Woolly said the multiyear project would not have been possible without the support and involvement of Ritchie and his family. Woolly also noted that efforts to increase environmental responsibility on the church’s campus will only increase in months to come.

“We’ll just continue, because it’s a priority of ours to be good environmental stewards,” he said. “We certainly have a little ways to go, but we’re excited about this new step forward.”

St. John’s Lutheran Church offers an 8:30 a.m. chapel worship, a 9:27 a.m. contemporary worship, and an 11 a.m. sanctuary worship. For more information, visit the church’s website at www.stjohns-salisbury.org or call 704-636-3431.