Retired pastor divests holdings for solar panels

Jean Franklin
Special to The Black Mountain News

The Rev. John and Olivia LaMotte have donated Exxon stocks, valued at $10,000, to Black Mountain Presbyterian Church as seed money toward a $40,000 array of solar panels. The LaMottes made the donation to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.

The array of 48 panels will save the church about $325 per month, or $3,900 a year in electric bills, according to Haynes Electric.

Friends of Creation, the church’s Earth Care committee, has been charged with raising the balance needed for the solar panels. David Kaylor, the group’s chair, said that fundraising is nearing completion and that the panels should begin capturing the sun’s energy in early summer.

“These stocks, which we inherited from my father in 1991, provided a steady income across 25 years and let us borrow against them in emergencies. We were grateful,” John LaMotte said. “Then we began to learn what our culture’s dependence on fossil fuels is doing to God’s creation. Our massive burning of coal, oil and gas is trapping the sun’s heat and changing our climate so that the polar ice is melting and irreversible damage is being done.

“We hadn’t known, and we can’t completely stop using oil and gas. But at least, now that we do know, we don’t want to keep profiting from the use of fossil fuels.”

Putting the panels on the church roof “will show everybody that our church is taking seriously our calling to be good stewards of God’s creation,” he said. Some of the money formerly spent on electricity can be used to defray the costs of upgrading to energy-saving LED lighting in the sanctuary and fellowship hall.

“I hope the time will come when solar panels will be as common on the roofs of Presbyterian churches as red doors are on Episcopal churches,” said Heath Rada, who has served as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA for the last two years.

Black Mountain Presbyterian has renewed its certification for 2016 as an Earth Care Congregation by the national denomination. This designation means that the church is promoting activities which care for God’s creation in the areas of worship, education, mission and property. For more, contact Kaylor at 669-7937 or