When you think of being eco-friendly, what images come to mind? Do you see solar panels and electric cars? What about an HVAC system?
Well, that’s exactly what Hillside Christian Church (HCC) thought of when it decided to replace its 20-year-old, bandage-covered boiler chiller unit. Members of the Kansas City, MO congregation didn’t want to continue repairing it, they wanted to replace the boiler with high-efficiency HVAC units to reduce their carbon footprint, quit burning fossil fuels, and move to electric.
HCC prides itself as a community center. On any given month it has a dozen social assistance agencies using the space for their own program needs, whether it’s for people with debilitating brain injuries, support groups for folks with addictions, or youth and children sports and homeschool groups. Multi-Nation Christian Church (a Haitian-American congregation) nests in its chapel every Sunday afternoon. HCC members even have a Christian youth theater group in their community that uses the church’s classrooms and its fellowship hall three times a week for four different sessions during the school year. That amounts to hundreds of children and teenagers over the course of a month.
“Replacing the HVAC system was not just about the comfort for us, but was an extension of hospitality to our own community,” says Senior Minister Rev. Andrew Beck.
Rev. Beck was on staff at a congregation that received a church construction loan from DCEF, so he knew that the ministry offered Green Loans and assistance with Capital Campaigns.
“It was a no brainer to go with DCEF because of the work that it does to further our congregational interest,” recalls Rev. Beck. “We wanted to make the connection between Hillside as a congregation and DCEF as a manifestation of our denomination, so that our congregants know how the larger denomination can function in partnership with a local congregation.”
DCEF offers Green Loans at competitive rates to churches that not only want to upgrade heating/AC systems, but to replace or repair inefficient windows, insulate, rewire or weatherproof a facility, and/or improve operations that contribute to a more energy-efficient building. As for capital campaigns, DCEF advisors provide expert guidance to help churches reach their fundraising goals.
“What we learned as a congregation was that the larger body of Disciples really is there to support congregations further their ministry in their local settings, and that DCEF serves as a resource so that congregations can focus their attention on serving their communities,” notes Rev. Beck.
As the Building and Capital Services Advisor for the Greater Kansas City Region, Craig Walls joined the congregation on its journey. His experience as a church planter himself made a great impact on Rev. Beck.
“With us, he expressed his personal desire to see Hillside succeed, because he knows what’s at stake. For me that really stood out as he guided us through this process,” remembers Rev. Beck.
Once HCC had DCEF’s help on the loan, it was able to activate a team of volunteers to raise funds, not just committing resources to the capital campaign, but being actively engaged in it. Part of this campaign was mailings – one of the things Rev. Beck was adamant about was to involve homebound church members in stuffing and labeling envelopes. It allowed them to be directly involved in this moment in the life of the church. Staff members made sure that Hillside’s newsletter acknowledged the people who stuffed and labeled the envelopes.
“The work that they did was why we had such a successful capital campaign,” states Rev. Beck.
Another reason why the campaign was such a success was that the congregation followed Craig’s recommendations to the tee. Congregants used many of the samples and templates, made available to them on the DCEF website, for giving guides. They had some folks do video testimonies. The congregation even bought piggy banks for kids and printed out logos for them, so that children and families could participate together.
“Craig kept saying over and over to not be surprised when we get that one huge gift. And we thought there wasn’t anyone around here who would give something like that,” admits Rev. Beck.
But on one Tuesday afternoon, a household that had been members of the church their whole lives made that one huge gift. They wanted to leave a legacy, and they believed in the ministry of Hillside.
The congregation is also in the process of modernizing their church building’s hallways and ceiling. That’s the phase that they’re running concurrently with the campaign as they make their loan payments to DCEF for the HVAC.
“Any congregation that is looking at doing any kind of remodeling that affects the carbon footprint should get in touch with their regional DCEF advisor and really consider how a Green Loan can be utilized in the church,” remarks Rev. Beck. “Our experience has been a really helpful way of getting our capital campaign done and beneficial to our goals as a congregation to be good stewards of the resources people give us.”