From:           Peter Bakken, ESI Director ( and 

                    Warren Gaskill, ESI Co-director (

To:               ELCA Congregations and Camps

RE:              The “Energy Stewards Initiative”—an LRC Program to Lower Energy Use of congregations


Our Invitation:

Lutherans Restoring Creation invites you to be part of a one- to two-year project designed to assist ELCA congregations and Lutheran Outdoor Ministry sites in lowering their energy use, lessening their energy costs, and reducing their carbon footprint. This program will offer a step-by-step process with other participating congregations and camps, a training program with regular conference calls and webinars, and an online “platform” to track history and changes in energy use, for a minimal cost of $10 a month.


Background: The Challenge

At the 2009 churchwide assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American, a Memorial resolution was passed, to request that the ELCA develop a plan to enhance energy efficiency and reduce the use of carbon-based fuels throughout all levels of the church. This led to the formation of an informal group working to develop a proposal for the ELCA to address this issue. In 2010, this group worked closely with 10 of the 65 ELCA synods to pass resolutions encouraging their congregations to reduce their energy use and carbon footprint. An additional 5 synods passed similar resolutions in 2011. A national ELCA resolution affirming these synodical resolutions and identifying recommended actions to be taken passed at the ELCA churchwide assembly in August, 2011.


The Response: Energy Stewards Initiative from Lutherans Restoring Creation

Many synods have developed steps to respond to this energy-lowering challenge with programs designed to address energy use. Lutherans Restoring Creation is a national grass roots organization dedicated to fostering care for creation throughout the institutions and organizations of the ELCA. LRC has developed the Energy Stewards Initiative (ESI) to help spur wider efforts.


This ESI program works in conjunction with a national organization, Rapid-Improvement Associates, to make use of their Energy Stewards online platform as a means to encourage, record, and report congregational energy-reducing activities and progress. The platform is automatically connected to the EPA’s ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager with capabilities to calculate changes in carbon output over time.


LRC’s vision for the Energy Stewards Initiative is that it will inform, motivate, and empower congregations to save money and redirect those resources for other areas of ministry and, at the same time, reduce their use of carbon-based fuels as an expression of their care for creation.

The goal is to reduce, on average, at minimum 5% of the energy used for each year of the two years a congregation is engaged in this program for a total of 10%. The ESI program will provide the resources, encouragement, and accountability to help make this happen.


Energy Concerns

The ELCA has a strong interest in charting the progress of congregations in reducing the use and cost of energy for their buildings. Many congregations are suffering with older and inefficient buildings. Congregations have a desire to receive practical advice on these matters and to be able to monitor and report progress in energy reduction to their members. ESI address all of these areas and also help free up needed funds for other areas of ministry and mission.


The ESI program will provide access to experts who can help guide you in your efforts to improve your operations. Participation will involve data collection on your building’s energy use, evaluation of that data, and recommendations on building energy performance targets as needed, along with advice to achieve these targets.

By participating, property committees, building managers, and maintenance staff will have the tools to track, evaluate, and improve the energy efficiency of their buildings in relation to EPA ENERGY STAR® ratings. The program includes similar features as a means to track water usage.  


Participate in the Energy Stewards Initiative: Register by May 1, 2014 for a beginning in June, 2014

We began with a group of 10 congregations, which have already completed their first year of the two year pilot program. Our second ESI “group” began in February, 2013. This group includes congregations and camps. 

To participate, fill out and submit the Covenant Agreement by May 1, 2014. The form needs to be signed by the pastor and chair of the church council (for congregations) or the camp director and chair of the camp board of directors.  Include your payment for the program with the agreement (see below).

You will need to appoint an Energy Steward from your congregation or camp, along with a small support team. These folks may already be serving as the property committee of the congregation. Your Energy Steward will be the point person who participates in phone calls and webinars. The time for this is limited to an hour or so each month and set up at convenient times. 

The Energy Steward and the support team will work together to carry out the actions appropriate to your congregation on a time table that spreads the actions over the two-year period. Actions include both efficient technology and conservation practices. Directions and explanations will come from the conference calls, an Energy Stewards Handbook, and brief online videos. We are eager to make this program as accessible, as efficient, and as manageable as possible. ESI will also make available a program for members to address energy concerns in their homes.


The cost to participate in the Energy Stewards Initiative

The cost will be $10 dollars per month for support of the online services, which may be paid annually at the beginning of each of the two years in the amount of $120.00. This fee applies to the services of the online platform. All administration costs for LRC are covered by grants independent of this program’s cost to congregations and camps. Our expectation is that the savings from this program will quite adequately cover your monthly fees. You may want to request a special offering, or invite one or more members to help fund the program. If you believe this cost prohibits you from participation, please contact the director of LRC for an alternative arrangement. We have a limited number of grants: David Rhoads at


We invite your participation in this program. We believe it will save money for your congregation and help you to be faithful stewards of God’s creation. Review the Covenant Agreement to see the full services offered and what is expected of participating congregations.


Sincerely yours,

Peter Bakken and Warren Gaskill, ESI Co-Directors

For more information: