Jo Randolph wants to be a good environmental citizen. From driving a Smart Car to renovating her kitchen with earth-friendly products to teaching about sustainability in interior design, Randolph wants to be a protector of the planet and the people on it.
So when Randolph, adjunct professor, interior design, saw a posting for a certificate in “Environmental Ministry and Leadership” at the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, she signed up. She was already on the peace, justice and environment committee at her church, so why not discover how to further combine her spiritual life with her environmental stewardship?
After discussing protection of the Earth in biblical scriptures and contemplating creation, participants then turned to hands-on application of the philosophy in their own churches.
Randolph’s capstone project involved retrofitting the lighting fixtures in her church, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Overland Park. The church is located on College Boulevard less than a mile east of the college. She enlisted the help of fellow congregant Mike Lorimer, who received his residential energy auditing certificate from JCCC.
With a grant from Environmental Ministries Action Network of Presbyterian Church USA and the fundraising efforts of the congregation (which has netted more than $6,000 thus far), fixtures containing a magnetic ballast and four T12 fluorescent bulbs will be modified to accommodate an electronic ballast, two T8 bulbs and a reflector instead.
“The end result will have the same brightness of light as they had before, but with less energy consumption,” Randolph said.
The implementation is expected to save the church close to 66 percent in energy costs and eliminate more than 22 tons of greenhouse gasses from the environment.
The project not only helps the environment, Randolph explained, but it helps the church use its funds more wisely.
“The money that we save on energy costs can be used to support our advocacy programs. We can direct that money to programs for homelessness, hunger or other mission outreach programs,” she said.
Once the project is completed, remaining T12 bulbs will be donated to other religious congregations, Randolph said, since the federal government has mandated the phase-out of the manufacture of T12s, and replacement bulbs are becoming difficult to acquire.
“Until these other churches can afford to make the changes to their fixtures, these bulbs will help them with their costs,” she said.
Randolph has been teaching at JCCC since 1998. Her one-credit Sustaining Design class, ITMD 189, begins in November.“What this certificate has done is opened my eyes to the fact that I’m not the only one doing sustainable efforts out there,” Randolph said. “We are all connected.”