Church lives mission with wind power

The sights and sounds associated with Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church are much like those of many older urban churches across America. Tall columns outside the entrance recall old-world neoclassical architecture. Inside, high ceilings and stone floors create a wonderful echo for the organ that plays every Sunday. But something a little extra special is energizing the church these days. Wind energy.

Recently, the Washington, D.C., church began purchasing wind power to meet its electricity needs. Mount Vernon Place United Methodist is the subject of the latest segment of WindTV, the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) vehicle to highlight how wind turbines works for America. In the segment’s poignant opening, the connection is clear: shots of the church are intermixed with frames showing outdoor rural scenes of operating wind turbines, the two contrasting sets of images linked by the echo of the church’s organ playing throughout the short sequence.

The move to wind power was a no-brainer for the church because, for starters, the purchase is saving the congregation money, said Rev. Donna Claycomb Sokol, the church’s pastor. And, every bit as important, the wind power buy is a way for the church to live its values. “We just felt like it was the right thing to do,” says Christopher Weathers, the church operations director who spearheaded the initiative. “I think all of us have a charge in our churches to not only work on a good rate for our churches but also to be responsible stewards of the environment.”

Mount Vernon Place United Methodist is similar to many places of worship in urban America that have suffered from shifts in population. The church is large, yet the congregation is comparatively small, creating a disconnect between operating costs and the funding pool. That makes saving dollars on things like energy bills all the more crucial. Meanwhile, besides wind, another kind of energy is surging through the church, for the congregation is now growing. “We also have a lot of young people coming in who are energizing the church,” says Weathers.

Part of that new energy is the move to wind power. Claycomb Sokol says that the church members have embraced wind power, with many opting to purchase the clean, affordable energy source for their homes.

Opportunities for the wind industry to energize homes and churches like Mount Vernon Place United Methodist, however, are in jeopardy. The federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), wind power’s primary policy driver, is set to expire at the end of the year, and already the industry’s supply chain is feeling the effects of the uncertainty. A recent study found that extending the PTC will allow the industry to grow to 100,000 jobs in just four years, while an expiration will eliminate 37,000 jobs.

“Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church’s embrace of wind power shows how this clean, affordable energy source is now woven into the American fabric,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “The very wind energy that generates jobs in factories across the country is energizing our nation’s institutions and places of worship—places like Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church. Congress needs to act now to pass an extension of the Production Tax Credit so wind power can keep contributing to the nation.”

Pastor Claycomb Sokol certainly understands the importance of wind power, and how it’s a no-brainer of a choice for America. Aside from being financially prudent through the wind power purchase, she says, “When we’re beginning to be a better steward of what God has entrusted to us with the earth’s resources, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

WindTV is a showcase of video profiles of Americans whose lives have been positively impacted by the wind energy industry. The site, located at, features a different video profile each week.

To hear more about Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church and its embrace of wind power, and how wind power works for America, go to WindTV.

A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 90 cosponsors, including 20 Republicans, and has received the endorsement of a broad coalition of more than 370 members, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Edison Electric Institute, and the Western Governors’ Association, while a Senate bill to extend it was introduced March 15 by seven Senators, including three Republicans. A PTC extension also has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes 23 Republican and Democratic Governors from across the U.S.

By Carl Levesque, AWEA Editor & Publications Manager,