Global Ministries

The United Methodist Church

Connecting the Church in Mission

The view from here

A five-part series by Christie R. House* on EarthKeepers’ projects across the United States

EarthKeepers are an emerging network of United Methodists trained by Global Ministries as part of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to lead their communities in acts of environmental stewardship. Since 2016, Global Ministries has trained four classes of EarthKeepers with one more training sessions scheduled yet in 2018.

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Solarize Dunwoody advocate Tina Wilkinson (right) with Green Team members of St. Luke Presbyterian Church. PHOTO: COURTESY TINA WILKINSON

EarthKeepers commit to spending at least 10 hours each month working on creation care projects in their communities. Their projects vary depending on their point of view—or what they view in their communities and environment. The view changes depending on their culture or background, their professional work, or where they live. Story four of five is on EarthKeeper Tina Wilkinson and Dunwoody, Georgia.

We are in process—Dunwoody, Georgia

The reception for sustainability measures is mixed. But the Jewish community is receptive. Now we have three faith-based nonprofits looking to solarize—the Jewish Community Center, St Luke’s Presbyterian, and Kingswood United Methodist Church, which stated, “We want this to be part of our brand.”

Tina Wilkinson, in Dunwoody, Georgia, was a stay-at-home mom for several years and volunteered in her community, school district, and church. She helped expand the elementary school’s recycling program. When her kids got to middle school, she was involved in its garden program. She worked with her community’s sustainability program to bring recycling into all the schools. “When I look back on those activities—they all had to do with sustainability,” Tina mused. “I didn’t plan it, that’s how it worked out.”

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The Solarize Dunwoody Coalition with the City of Dunwoody mayor, Denis Shortal. The mayor and city council declared Jan 31, 2018 as Solarize Dunwoody Day in honor of Tina’s program. PHOTO: COURTESY TINA WILKINSON

Tina joined Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, an organization that helps faith-based nonprofits reduce their carbon footprints. They work on reducing electric and water use and trash. She was aware of opportunities around Georgia to help residents and institutions solarize their buildings, but they weren’t available in her area. Then Solarize Decatur-Dekalb started up and the Wilkinsons signed up. Solarize Decatur-Dekalb sent an agency to evaluate their house and provide an estimate for free, and now their house is outfitted with solar panels. Another EarthKeeper, Beth Bond, was involved in Solarize
Decatur-Dekalb.



Tina decided her EarthKeeper project would focus on developing a solar program in her church’s area—Solarize Dunwoody (www.solarizedunwoody.com). The program was open to the community, as EarthKeeper projects extend beyond the UMC, but Dunwoody UMC decided the time was not right for the church to solarize. Still, some families were interested, and she found the Jewish community to be receptive as well.

Any home owner or institution can find solar companies on their own and get bids and estimates. But going with a coalition of community groups like Solarize Dunwoody provides advantages. Savings are realized through the bulk-purchase of materials, focus on a limited geographic area, and a tiered pricing schedule. Solar contractors are vetted by the community coalition and discounts apply as more people sign up. Solarize Dunwoody includes a free solar evaluation, preliminary site design, energy usage profile, and financial analysis. Free workshops and events offered throughout the duration of the solar campaign inform the public of the benefits of solar power.

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Wilkinson took a quick selfie with Mark Ruffalo, who was attending the same 100% Campaign event as the Wilkinsons. PHOTOS: COURTESY TINA WILKINSON

The good news, says Tina, is: “we’ve had three faith-based nonprofits sign up for Solarize Dunwoody. The Jewish Community Center, St Luke’s Presbyterian, and Kingswood UMC. They are all in process, trying to close their deals. I didn’t even reach out to Kingswood UMC, but a Kingswood trustee showed up at one of our meetings and said his congregation wanted solarization to be part of their church brand.”

*Christie R. House is the editor of New World Outlook magazine.

Copyright New World Outlook magazine, Summer 2018 issue. Used by permission. Email the New World Outlook editor for more information.

Upcoming EarthKeeper Training Events

• November 1-4, Wasatch Retreat Center, Salt Lake City, Utah (Deadline Oct 11)

For more information, please contact Rev. Jenny Phillips, Creation Care Program Manager at jphillips@umcmission.org.