Urbandale United Church of Christ becomes first church in Central Iowa to adopt the Paris Climate Pledge

Urbandale United Church of Christ voted to take the first step of the Paris Pledge, committing itself to reduce the carbon pollution from its church building by 50 percent by 2030. The church is the first congregation in central Iowa, and the first UCC church in Iowa to take such action.

“Our church wants to make a public witness that the earth is God’s and the fullness thereof,” said church moderator Tom Rendon, echoing lines from Psalm 24. “We, as Christians, have a moral responsibility to those affected by rising sea levels and by the extremes of climate change – such as floods and forest fires. This is a religious act.”

The Paris pledge was developed by Interfaith Power and Light to encourage congregations to take action to meet the Paris climate change conference goal to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius. The Urbandale church has raised funds for a feasibility study to outline options to reduce their carbon footprint by 50%. Potential options include tighter insulation and weatherization, equipment and appliance upgrades and controls, upgraded lighting, resource-efficient building operations practices, detailed monitoring, and solar panels.

The Urbandale church has sponsored workshops by the Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, including Cool Congregations—to help members calculate and reduce their household energy use—and Food, Faith, and Climate—to learn how food choices impact climate change. The group, named the Green Boat Crew, began as a result of a study of Mary Pipher’s book, “The Green Boat.” The ultimate goal is for the congregation to endorse the full intent of the Paris Pledge, which is to become carbon neutral by 2050. A “carbon neutral” building uses no fossil fuels and creates no direct greenhouse gases. It produces energy on site from “clean energy” drawn from the energy grid. It does not contribute to global warming.

The churches progress in reducing carbon emissions is below:

Yearly Totals of Energy Usage (Based on 365-day year)


If they incorporate all of of their 2016 MidAmerican Energy Audit recommendations – with a net cost estimated at $30,000 after rebates – they could potentially reduce an additional 27% of their carbon emissions for a total reduction from 2007 of 41%.

The feasibility study will provide more options and cost estimates to reach the 50% reduction goal.

Urbandale UCC brings the total congregations and institutions in Iowa who have signed the Paris Pledge to six! The other congregations who have signed the pledge are:

  • Metropolitan Community Church of the Quad Cities, Davenport, IA
  • Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities, Davenport, IA
  • First Lutheran Church, Decorah, IA
  • Luther College, Decorah, IA
  • Faith Lutheran Church, Eldridge, IA

Consider having your congregation sign the Paris Pledge today!

Contact the Rev. David Sickelka, Senior Pastor at 515-276-0625 for more information on Urbandale UCC’s efforts.

Contact Sarah Paulos, Iowa Interfaith Power & Light’s Program and Outreach Coordinator, programs@iowaipl.org for more information on how your congregation can sign the Paris Pledge.

Thank you to the Urbandale UCC Green Boat Crew for the information for this article.