The Rev. Malia Crawford shows off a heat pump at Church of Our Saviour.The Rev. Malia Crawford shows off a heat pump at Church of Our Saviour.

Among 5 national winners in Interfaith Power & Light test 

UPDATED: The Church of Our Saviour, in East Arlington, is one of the five national Interfaith Power & Light 2021 Cool Congregations Challenge winners. 

The annual contest accepts applications from religious congregations around the United States who are addressing global warming by reducing their carbon footprint as they create models of sustainability within their communities. The Church of Our Saviour won the Energy Saviour Award for replacing its rectory’s old oil furnace with new heat pumps, annually saving 15 tons of carbon dioxide and $1,700 on energy bill.

The small congregation at 21 Marathon St. has a church building and a rectory that are 100 years old. In celebrating its centennial year, the congregation considered what kind of legacy it wanted to leave and decided that decreasing their carbon footprint was high on their list of priorities, to leave a cleaner planet and greener church for future generations.

Faced with an old oil furnace on its last legs in the rectory, and a growing consciousness about the need to ditch fossil fuels to curb climate change, members wanted to reach for the stars and purchase an energy-efficient, all-electric heat-pump system. These systems save 30 percent in the winter and 60 percent in the summer of the energy used to heat and cool the building. 

Worked with Mass Save

Working with Mass Save, those involved improved the efficiency of the rectory and qualified for a rebate on the heat pumps. About half the cost was raised from parishioners, and members were racing the clock to find the remaining funds before the rebate expired. Then an unexpected bequest arrived from the estate of a beloved parishioner who had recently passed away, and they were able to install the new system. 

“This is wonderful news,” said the Rev. Malia Crawford, church rector. “In 2019, we had collaborated with a diverse group of Arlington faith communities and climate-justice organizations to host an Interfaith Carbon Fast Supper. From relationships that grew out of this, I learned about the HeatSmart incentive program to help switch to cleaner heating and cooling systems at a discounted cost. Building stronger relationships with our interfaith neighbors enabled us to work for a healthier planet for those who will live in this town a hundred years from now. We hope it will inspire even more people to work for climate justice.”

The Rev. Fred Small, executive director of Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light, which assists houses of worship in energy-conservation improvements, said: "Church of Our Saviour is a terrific example of people of faith embodying love of Creation in concrete action, from greening our buildings to advocating for environmental justice. When a congregation reduces its carbon footprint, it has a powerful ripple effect as members take pride in their achievement and start to wonder what might be possible in their own homes."

The Rev. Susan Hendershot, president of Interfaith Power & Light, said, “The Church of Our Saviour and the other four national winning congregations are casting a vision for the kind of world in which they want to live, and then carrying out that vision with practical actions that make a real difference in creating lasting solutions to climate change.”

Interfaith Power & Light is mobilizing a religious response to global warming in congregations through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Sept. 7, 2019: HeatSmart draws 85 contracts, satisfied customers in town

This news announcement was published Friday, April 23, 2021. It was updated the same day to correct the name of the church.