Electric cars and organized religion aren’t necessarily seen as fellow travelers, but one megachurch is bridging the two in pursuit of its mission.
The Resurrection Fellowship Church in Loveland, Colorado, has installed a charging station in its parking lot–and its pastor, Jonathan Wiggins, has leased a BMW i3 electric car for his personal use.
The church plans to add a second charging station, giving the ability to charge four cars simultaneously, for the use of its parishioners, employees, and the public at large.
Pastor Wiggins (he prefers to be known simply as “Jonathan”) spoke with Green Car Reports about the intersection of the church’s mission and electric cars.
He admits to being “a bit of a car nerd,” and had actually test-driven a Tesla Roadster at the single Tesla Store permitted under Colorado state law. But that high-performance sports car was both impractical and very expensive.
It wasn’t until the recent crop of more affordable electric cars and lease programs arrived that the church could consider one for his use on official business.
An independent or nondenominational Christian megachurch that originally began as part of the Assembly of God, Resurrection now attracts 2,000 to 3,000 people to its weekend services.
Its mission, Wiggins says, is “to touch the community, the nation, and the world with acts of compassion, to spread God’s love” both locally and globally.
Personally, he said, he began to think about the connection to environmental concerns while reading the works of the pioneering U.S. conservationist John Muir.
Muir, he noted, was the son of a pastor–and Wiggins said that he personally came to view “the roots of the conservation movement as not all that far removed from caring for God’s earth.”
After absorbing the literature that showed that driving on grid electricity was far less harmful to the environment than burning fossil fuels, an electric car increasingly seemed like a way to pursue that mission.
Meanwhile, his local BMW dealer was offering very reasonable lease terms on the then-new BMW i3. He leased the battery-electric minicar in January 2015.
Church members have gently ribbed him about being “the pastor who drives a BMW,” he said, with one farmer suggesting he should hang the popular “bull balls” accessory from the back to reinforce his rural credibility.
The combination of state and Federal tax incentives on the car, however, kept the cost comparable to that of a similarly sized gasoline car from another maker.
Members of the congregation concerned about the cost of installing charging stations used by only a few vehicles were reassured that 80 percent of the cost of roughly $8,000 was paid through a grant from the Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge, in which Resurrection is apparently the sole church participant.
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SOURCE: Green Car Reports