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Nevada Church Applauded for Harnessing Power from the Heavens

June 19, 2008

Elko, NV – A local church's efforts to harness power from the heavens is getting national attention today. As part of a new, national "Faith in Action" report from the Sierra Club, Nevada's First Presbyterian Church in Elko is being recognized for taking the energy-saving step of installing solar panels.

Pastor Pat Mecham says some members of his congregation were enthused about powering the church in a way that would not harm the environment, while others were concerned with the almighty dollar. Such an installation is a major investment - but eventually, Mecham says, it will pay for itself.

"We see it as a way of investing in the future, being able to keep our doors open. When the price goes so high, we'll be producing electricity and staying afloat financially, so there is a financial motivation to it."

Mecham says it cost $150,000 dollars to add the solar panels, but the church got $50,000 back as an energy-saving incentive from the local power company, Sierra Pacific. The agreement is part of a "Solar Generations" program set up by state lawmakers to encourage the use of solar power in Nevada.

The roots of environmental responsibility go all the way back to the book of Genesis, according to Pastor Pat, who points to the Bible's account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

"The purpose for them to be in the garden was to tend the garden. So, there's a natural connection, I believe, between our faith and seeing ourselves as wanting to take care of the environment - because God told us to, in the very, very, very beginning."

Pastor Pat says he gets a call or two most every week from local schools and businesses who say they want to follow his church's lead by installing solar devices - and letting the sun shine in.

The "Faith In Action" report includes examples in every state of churches and other faith-based groups that have found innovative ways to practice energy efficiency, environmental stewardship, sustainable agriculture and more. It can be downloaded from the Sierra Club's Web site, at www.sierraclub.org.

Michael Clifford/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NV