Congregational Highlight: First AME, L.A., a Champion of Climate Justice
First American Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angles, was founded in 1872 by Bridget (Biddy) Mason, a formerly enslaved woman. After moving to California and, with the help of local black and white abolitionists, she successfully sued in court to win her freedom. Support for civil rights, social movements, and empowerment of and ministry to local communities are the bedrock of this beloved church. And for the last 16 years, First AME has been an example of Creation protection.
Rev. Leonard B. Jackson guided the church – one of CIPL’s earliest members – on an energy efficiency journey in the early 2000’s. The church underwent an energy audit, installed compact fluorescent light bulbs and lighting sensors, and upgraded to low-flow toilets. Rev. Jackson demonstrated First AME’s support for strong and just climate policy – he is one of 165 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders that signed a 2006 letter to California’s Governor and Legislature urging leadership on global warming.
Today, action on Creation-friendly efforts continues with Pastor J. Edgar Boyd. The church took advantage of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power‘s Direct Install Program, which provided an energy and water audit, energy-efficient lighting, and water-saving measures. But what has made a real difference in energy reduction is Pastor Boyd’s decision to have an analysis of the church facilities’ Demand Charges done.
Go Solar America, an energy management company that has worked with other congregations in L.A. County, performed a free walk-through and audit of First AME’s facilities’ energy use. By installing devices on some of the biggest-use appliances and educating staff on timing and demand, the church is saving thousands of dollars each month.
Pastor Boyd calls the assistance of CIPL and Go Solar America a “Godsend” in facilitating energy savings and money. The money saved goes to operations and the multiple ministries that First AME supports. “The church is front and center in maintaining a good environment,” states Pastor Boyd. “We are commanded, from the Garden of Eden, that our first priority is to take care of our Garden. Taking responsibility for the environment is a blessing and a savings.”