Fundraising for our Solar Panel Project successfully reached the goal of $103,500, with broad support from the community! The system of 100 solar panels has been working since November 2019 with all systems/permits inspected and approved, and turned on to bring down our annual energy costs.
About the Solar Energy Project
To offset the growing cost of electricity required to sustain its much-needed community missions, South Congregational Church embarked upon a solar energy project in the summer of 2019. Vivint Solar is installed 100 solar panels on the church roof this summer, at a cost of $103,500. With the help of the community and grants, the church raised funds to pay for the cost of this energy-saving solar project.
- Read the Berkshire Eagle article, “Pittsfield church intent on catching some rays to help feed the hungry” (June 22, 2019).
- Watch The Lions’ Den Topic: South Congregational Church Solar Energy Project on PCTV with Mary Rentz and Pat Politis! (30 min)
More Than a Church
South Congregational Church is more than a church. Our historical downtown Pittsfield building is a welcoming complex that serves as a meeting house for many groups in our community.
Community organizations such as Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Pittsfield Squares, Music Together, and the Pembury Bridge Club meet regularly in the church’s spaces. South Congregational also serves as an ecumenical gathering space for area faith organizations and missions.
One of South Congregational Church’s primary missions is to address the issue of food insufficiency in the Berkshires, assisting the most vulnerable in our community. Our Community Food Pantry is the largest food pantry distribution in Berkshire County, serving 550 families each week.
The Food Pantry receives 7,000 pounds of food each week, much of which requires storage in our newly updated freezer and walk-in coolers — the most significant consumers of electricity in the building.
We also serve 80–100 hot, nutritious dinners each Wednesday at Saint Joseph’s Kitchen, and we recently began serving breakfast twice weekly. South Church is also home to the annual Thanksgiving Angels community collection and distribution of Thanksgiving meal ingredients to 1,300 local families.
Keeping Things Running
There are expenses associated with South Church’s community missions and services. In addition to manpower (780 volunteer hours per month!), electricity has cost approximately $9,000/year to power the refrigerators and freezers that preserve the food for our Community Food Pantry, Saint Joseph’s Kitchen, and Thanksgiving Angels. The church has decided to offset this cost of electricity by installing solar panels on the roof of the building.
Solar power systems derive clean, pure energy from the sun, combatting greenhouse gas emissions, improving pubic health, and reducing our collective dependence on non-sustainable fossil fuels.
The total cost of the project is $103,500. In addition to fundraising, the church investigated grant opportunities and Massachusetts (SMART) solar tax incentives.
With your help, solar panel installation offset approximately 85% of electricity used by the church.
There is no better time to go ‘green’ at South Church. Electricity prices have been rising steadily, while at the same time, Food Pantry supporters are seeking to increase access to fresh and healthy food which must be refrigerated for viability.
South Church has already made significant efforts to minimize energy use in the building, installing LED lights, and replacing old freezers & refrigerators with efficient walk-ins. Our kitchen was recently updated for efficiency, installing a new convection oven and stove (which doesn’t use pilot lights). Most church rooms now have newer, insulated windows.
We officially kicked off our Solar Energy Project on June 21, 2019 — the summer solstice! — at our June Bread & Roses Coffee House performance, which raised $500! An earlier pancake breakfast raised $620 for the project.
You helped us raise $20,000 by our July deadline, and The Left Coast Fund will match that amount with a generous grant as part of their 50-State Solar Project!
This project has been supported by a grant from the Berkshire Fresh & Healthy Food Fund of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.
Below is a list of donors to this project as of August 30, 2019 (grants, then individual donors listed chronologically). Thank you for supporting our vital community missions at South Church!
- GRANT — Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Berkshire Fresh & Healthy Food Fund
- GRANT — The Left Coast Fund’s 50-State Solar Project
- GRANT — Berkshire Bank
- Paula Morey — I donated because of the wonderful work that is done at South Church by all for benefit of the poor and for the Rev. Joel’s many contributions to the life of this community. Best of luck in reaching your goal.
- Darlene Berryman — One solar panel is $1035 installed. I believe in the future of the work at south church in feeding and providing care for the neediest in our community. I am grateful for all that is done day to day by so many volunteers. Our community is cared for in that old meeting house. Solar is our commitment to continue to do so together!
- Anonymous Donor
- Ann Tyler — in memory of Judie Grady
- Community — South Church Pancake Breakfast
- Laura Saldarini — I believe in the great work South Church does and support them going Green(er)!
- Debra Morawski — This church is a tremendous blessing to our community! Let’s support this project.
- Cindy Haven
- Lutitia Tibbetts
- Erin & John Murphy — South Church is a historic, central meeting place for ALL in our Berkshire community. Utilizing green, affordable energy is a great plan to keep the church’s community missions alive and strong into the future.
- Celeste Morton
- Robert Harris
- Peter & Mary Rentz
- Patricia Pritchard
- Erika Haverstick — Anything for Erin Murphy! Praise God for good people!
- Michael Nichols — This is such a worthwhile cause, plus would like to honor Sr. Kathryn for her legacy of St. Joseph Kitchen.
- Bobby & Dot Stowe
- South Church May Mattoon Class
- Community — Bread & Roses Coffee House with The Hoping Machine, June 21
- Pat Politis
- Kerry & Mike Sullivan
- Mary Wheat
- Ann Clark-Killan
- Meribah Haugey
- Patricia Woodlock
- Andrew Clarke
- Dale Prindle
- Patrick & Marie Gormalley
- A & M Jonas
- Christine & Gerard Hurley
- Julia Sims — in memory of her mother
- Lee Ann & Mark Pettus
- Sharon Mercier
- Sandy Russell, Central Berkshire Music Together — in appreciation for use of the building for many years
- Arlene & Bernard Flaherty
- Ann Lesser & Thom Lipiczky
- Margot & Kip Towl
- Virginia Akabane
- Robert & Carla Skidmore
- Rosie Bleyer & Sally Baumer
- Stacia Bissell
- The Hoping Machine
- James Amaral
- Nancy deForest
- Linda Leskovitz
- Joe Johnson — Good on you for doing the right thing!!!
- Elaine Lee
- Sisters of St. Joseph (Sister Kathryn & Sister Barbara)
- Thomas Damrosch
- South Church Ladies Benevolent Society
- Sandie Smith
- Dorothy Walchenback
- Jean & John Robertson
- Mary Pope Osborne
- Liz & Les Clifford
- Ginny & Paul Durwin
- Pat & Bob Hill
- Susan & Art Kaufman
- Paula & Scott Haskell
- Cheryl Zaccaro
- Debbie & John Rentz-Moore — Happy to support South Church’s sustainability as it supports our community!! This gift is in honor of Mary Rentz’s birthday.
- Kim Cobb — Thank you so much for hosting a lovely event on climate change on July 25, and for making the leap to low-carbon solar energy!
- Chester & Alice Gallup
- Kimberly Clark
- Judith Quackenbush — in memory of Harriet White
- Susan Cook
- Gretchen DeBartolo
- Polly Grieve
- Joanna Peverett
- Ruth Campbell
- John & Lois Moore
- Barbara & Doug Brand
- Community — Berkshire Eagle Climate Change Conversation Series
- Quentin & Amy Chin
- Ruth & Fred Austin
- Katherine & John Keenum
- Carol Messerschmitt
- Ruth Bass
- Robert & Kiyoko Mills
- Judith Thompson
- Bruce & Barbara Munson
- Dot Walchenbach — in memory of Roy Walchenbach
- Marjorie & John Demary
- Barry & Sally Kellogg
- Becky & Doug Crane
- Anonymous Donor
- Patricia Nixon
- Katherine Shanahan Kennedy
- Marcella Nevin
- Ann Brennan — In memory of Karen Allender on her August 8 birthday
- Audra & Dick Kinner
- William Sexton
- Barbara & Ward Johnson
- Pam Kueppers
- Anonymous Donor
- Anonymous Donor
- Nancy Easton — This was my home church growing up in the 70s in Pittsfield. So excited to see all that you are doing in the world!
- Albert & Susan Easton
- Dana & Richard Noble
- Fredric Rutberg & Judith Monachina
- Margaret Bordeau
- Sam Ellsworth
- Peter & Judith Giftos
- John & Ann Galt
- Nancy Steele (c/o Polly Steele)
- Rosamond Rice