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Church groups hoping congregants will conserve energy during Lent

The Rev. Cody Schuler of Edgewood United Methodist Church in Fargo is having his congregation "carbon fast" for Lent. Schuler is planning to use his clothes dryer less. (David Samson/The Forum)

FARGO - Cody Schuler decided he could get along without his clothes dryer during the Lenten period of self-denial that many Christians observe.

In the storage room of his parsonage, Schuler strung a rope to hang his laundry to dry - his version of a "carbon fast," an energy conservation step to help reduce his emissions of greenhouse gases.

"Dryers are very energy intensive," said Schuler, pastor of Edgewood United Methodist Church in Fargo. "It's one of the ways people can reduce their carbon footprint."

Schuler's congregation is one of 26 faith groups in North Dakota that will ask members to consider conserving energy as a way to curb greenhouse gases during Lent, which begins Feb. 25.

The idea of asking North Dakota churches and other faith groups to participate in a carbon fast came from Renée Gopal, founder of the Prairie Climate Stewardship Network, which works with faith groups to address climate change.

Gopal believes environmental stewardship is an important religious concern for people who are bothered by the moral implications of the United States comprising 4.5 percent of the world's population, but producing 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

"As a person of faith, the question that comes up is how is that in keeping with the teachings of Christ?" she said. "And the answer for me is it's not in keeping with his teachings."

The Rev. Paul Schuster, a Catholic priest at St. Mark's Catholic Church in Bottineau, N.D., also is participating in the carbon fast and asking parishioners to consider making that part of their abstinence this Lent.

Schuster, who also serves St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Westhope, is making fewer car trips, including what normally is a weekly trek to Minot, and turning off his computer and television one day a week.

"They are little things, but that's part of the point, that little things make a difference," Schuster said.

Tips for observing a carbon fast

  • Switch off electrical equipment instead of using "standby."

  • Reduce travel miles.

  • Line-dry clothes when possible.

  • Eat less meat and seafood.

  • Wash laundry with cold water.

  • Select "air dry" on the dishwasher.

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