Community Garden and solar panels
A view of the community garden and original solar installation.

Like our Bloomington neighbors, people in this congregation are concerned about the environment. We think humans have misused Earth’s resources and damaged global environments. We’re concerned that unprecedented changes in climate threaten people, animals, and whole ecosystems through storms, droughts, and wildfires. And—like our neighbors—we’re working on renewable energy, recycling, sustainable agriculture, and responsible use of resources. 

Because we are a faith community, we have a special perspective on these issues. Creation Care expresses our deepest convictions about our roles as co-creators and caretakers of God’s good creation, working to heal the damage we have done to what God has made. Our work is a sign of our hope and trust in God’s healing of the world. 

Here are some of the initiatives we’ve undertaken to care for creation—

  • 1989 – We ban Styrofoam and start using mugs for coffee. 
  • 1990s – We start recycling and using recycled paper. 
  • 2003 – We begin using fair trade coffee and tea. 
  • 2007 – Construction project includes on-demand hot water, better insulation, zoned heating, and programmable thermostats. 
  • 2011 – We help create the nonprofit Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light, now Faith in Place
  • 2011 – Our Community Garden is established. 
  • 2012 – LEDs replace incandescent lighting in the sanctuary,  reducing power use by over 90% while tripling illumination. 
  • 2013 – We install 27 kilowatts of solar panels on our roof, producing about 33,000 kilowatt hours annually. 
  • 2015 – We upgrade roof insulation and replace outdated appliances with new energy-efficient models. 
  • 2015 – Our expanded Community Garden now has  raised beds, water hydrants, and a labyrinth. 
  • 2018 – New LED lighting in Heritage Hall reduces power use and improves illumination. 
  • 2022 – We replace four furnaces with high-efficiency units and install new Energy Star roof shingles. 
  • 2022 – We add an additional 11 kilowatts of ground-mounted solar panels to offset 100% of St. Thomas’s electricity use.  
  • 2022 – We replant the prayer garden area with native plants to attract pollinator insects, also benefiting the Community Garden. 

We’re not done!  On behalf of the congregation, the Creation Care Committee is always seeking new ways to honor creation, heal the Earth, reduce waste, live more simply, reduce energy usage, produce clean energy, and build resilient, sustainable community. Your ideas are welcome! Please contact the church office to get in touch with the committee. 

Our Community Garden and Labyrinth

Our Community Garden is on the hill south of the church building. Whether or not you attend St. Thomas, you are warmly invited to apply for a garden bed, participate in Community Garden workshops and events, and visit the garden for quiet meditation. It’s a beautiful place—take a look at some pictures! 

This garden has a mission. We hope that our St. Thomas Community Garden will foster vital connections among people and God’s good creation by modeling sustainable caring for the Earth, building a community of gardeners, and offering contemplative space. Gardeners are covenanted to practice organic gardening and to share their harvest with Bloomington’s community food distribution programs. 

The Community Garden is laid out as a labyrinth. For centuries, Christians have walked labyrinths as a spiritual exercise, a tool for prayer and contemplation. Moving into the center and back out again are symbols of an inner spiritual journey.  Walking the path can offer insight, depth, or revelation. We invite you to remember that God is beside you as you walk. Enter the labyrinth near the east gate. Information cards are available to guide you.