...to live with respect in creation... We didn’t start off trying to be green. We started off with a budget deficit. It started with our pipe organ. Some of us thought that turning down the heat in the Sanctuary during the week might help the deficit, but there was the pipe organ to consider. Someone said someone had said the pipe organ had to be at 65 degrees all winter to be preserved. Our elders observed that we used to have a coal boiler, and they didn’t remember shovelling enough coal to keep the Church at 65 degrees all winter. The younger people suggested that if the organ died, they preferred guitars and drums and keyboards anyway. We needed to talk things out, and we needed to do something.
At first, we just lowered the temperature on the old thermostat. But somebody, frustrated that the Church was not as warm as they were expecting, shoved that little lever all the way over, and it was 84 degrees in the Church the next morning. We knew that wasn’t good for the organ. So we talked some more, and wondered if investing a little over a hundred dollars in a 7-day electronic set back thermostat would be worth it. We decided we could try one, and set it up to be warm when people were going to be there, and cool when people were not going to be there. Why keep our Church warm when no one is there—especially overnight, when it is colder and takes more fuel? By the time a year had passed, the heat bill was $1000 less. The organ was fine. Six years later, the organ is still fine, better, perhaps, for the leathers not getting all dried out from the heat in the winter.
Our Congregational culture was changing. We didn’t know we were getting greener, but we knew something was happening. People were beginning to let us know when they needed to be warm in the Church, and asking if someone would show them how to set the thermostat. If someone forgets to turn the heat down when they leave, the thermostats (we have four now) remember and do it for us. In one way, we were going backwards, trying to recreate the days when if you wanted to be warm at Laidlaw, it involved shoveling coal; in another way, we were embracing new technology.