CLEVELAND, Ohio– For Pastor Richard Gibson, of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Cleveland, the cost of keeping the lights and heat on was starting to take its toll on finances. You see, there’s not only the church but the other buildings on the church’s small inner-city campus, which includes the Haven Home shelter. They are all older buildings that used to be part of the Catholic church that was closed and eventually sold to Elizabeth Baptist several years ago.
It’s a cost that is draining the resources of a church trying to go above and beyond.
“We had utility bills that sometimes would range 5,000 dollars a month,
there could be 40 to 100 people who might have their meals here, who would sleep here, and it’s one of the most difficult times of their life,” says Pastor Richard Gibson of the Elizabeth Baptist Church.
Elizabeth Baptist was approached by Doug Weber, who, along with his wife, started a nonprofit called Kingdom Solar. Weber’s wife in on the board of Haven Home.
“The way we look at it, for every dollar they don’t spend on electricity, they can put that towards their mission, particularly here, they’re doing tremendous ministry in this community,” says Doug Weber, President, Kingdom Solar.
The Webers used their retirement nest egg and experience working at First Energy, to start the solar panel installation company, focusing on churches and other nonprofit organizations.
“It’s clean, renewable energy. And it’s feasible even in the Cleveland weather,” says Weber.
Cynthia Rios is the Executive Director of the Haven Home and says she’s excited about the possibility of starting a cost-saving trend that’s also environmentally friendly.
“It’s about being a good role model in the community. We recycle here, we’re switching over to water-saving faucets, we encourage the families to turn the lights off when they’re not in use, and this is all about the bigger picture of caring about the environment,” says Rios.
Elizabeth Baptist Church in Cleveland might be one of the first churches in Cleveland to go solar, but Kingdom Solar hopes it’s not the last and wants to help others get solar panels soon.