East chestnut mennonite sign

Bonus-Drive Up Stop: East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church

The Creation Care Committee of East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church is committed to caring for God’s creation with an emphasis on our neighborhood. We commit to making changes both small and large to support a sustainable future for Lancaster City and the world beyond.

The church has done many projects from reducing reliance on fossil fuel-derived energy, to increasing tree canopy, to reducing waste:

Clean Energy: We installed two EV2 Electric Charging Stations for members and staff to charge their electric vehicles. The electricity is sourced from 100% renewable resources. We also have White Roofs and upgraded insulation on the houses which the church owns through the Chestnut Street Housing Cooperation. 

Urban Tree Canopy: The church provides ongoing support to Lancaster Tree Tenders. We were instrumental in securing funds to plant and care for 5 new trees to be installed in the neighborhood this fall. Past donations have paid for 25 trees for the Library. 

The youth of East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church are also very involved in Creation Care work by planting trees, and conducting stream-side and neighborhood trash cleanups. 

Other projects that the church has taken on include installing low-flow toilets, energy efficient light bulbs, onsite recycling, installing a rain barrel, composting kitchen scraps onsite, B.Y.O.P. (bring your own plates) group gatherings, mugs for coffee, and a much used bicycle rack! We’ve also led letter-writing campaigns to support a carbon tax.

The costs of projects were $9,122 for the two Electric Charging Stations, $591 for the White Roofs and insulation improvements and $1,065 for 5 urban trees. The electrical charging stations were paid for by a variety of grants and donations. We used a Drive PA Grant to cover 80% of the cost which was $7,298.

Most of the remainder was covered with a Pam DeYoung Grant through the Mennonite Creation Care Network, totalling an additional $1,800. Ongoing monthly costs are roughly $80 to $100 which our Creation Care Committee handles. We cover these costs through a voluntary gas tax and direct donations to our Committee. The cost of the urban trees through Lancaster Tree Tenders was paid for by the church and $50 each from 5 nearby homeowners who chipped in.

Another large project was our parking lot conversion. Your gas tax dollars at work…..

The church parking lot was converted making approximately 450 square feet less concrete and macadam on the church property.  Three new trees were planted in the parking lot and each existing tree along Sherman Street now has extra breathing room. There are several benefits to this project.  First there is less rainwater running off of the parking lot and into the city sewer.  Finding ways, even small ways,  to decrease rain water run off is especially important in urban areas where so much land is covered with buildings or concrete.  In Lancaster City heavy rains overrun the sewer system and dump raw waste into the river and eventually the Chesapeake Bay.  

And of course there are the many benefits of trees which absorb lots of carbon dioxide and help clean pollutants from the air.  Trees also provide more bird habitat and help to calm and beautify the neighborhood.  Eventually these trees will shade and cool some of the parking lot, meaning that there is less solar heat bouncing back into the atmosphere. 

Jonathon Towles and Reiff Excavation made the project go as fast as possible by sharing tools and expertise.  The project was planned by the Creation Care committee and paid for with gas tax dollars.  

Its been a year and a half since many members of ECSMC have been keeping track of how much gas they use in their vehicles and then paying a voluntary “gas tax” on each gallon of fuel they buy.   This gas tax money is passed along to the church’s Creation Care Committee which meets several times a year to decide how to use the money to make our church more environmentally friendly.  To date, over $6,000 has been collected and over $4,000 has been spent on greening our church facilities. We keep gas tax logs in a wood brochure rack in the foyer.  These logs make it easy to keep track of our gas use so we can each be a part if caring for God’s creation at East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church.

As you tour our site we offer this scripture for your reflection: "The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it." Psalm 24 verse 1

Thank you for participating in the Faith in Action walking tour! We hope you are inspired to take action! Remember to join us for the follow-up Zoom discussion on Wednesday, August 12th at 7 PM for a virtual discussion and get answers to your questions about what you saw today!  There will be inspiring remarks from Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck, Associate Pastor of Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster. You'll hear from representatives from each of the stops on the tour and get ideas and resources to help replicate these projects at your own congregation. For more information go to Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake's Events page on our website:  www (dot) interfaithchesapeake (dot) org/events

Thank you to our co-sponsor the Lancaster Interfaith Coalition, the Lancaster Conservancy for hosting and including us in Lancaster Water Week, our funder the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, all the participating locations and the wonderful Task Force members who helped us to coordinate this tour for you.

Faith in Action: Creation Care for Clean Water
  1. Grace Lutheran Church
  2. Moshav Derekh Shalom
  3. Unitarian Universalist Church of Lancaster
  4. Wolf Museum
  5. Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster
  6. Tour Stop Map- Two Options After Stop #6
  7. Saint James Episcopal Church
  8. Bonus-Drive Up Stop: East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church