Search PNC News for stories of people and churches in our UCC Conference:

Solar panels will provide 40% of energy for church

Group unloaded the panels from a truck that shipped them from a warehouse in Boise, Idaho.

Crew mounts solar panels on the roof of First Congregational UCC in Walla Walla.
Photo courtesy of Nathaniel Mahlberg

First Congregational UCC in Walla Walla’s Adopt a Panel campaign “generated a lot of energy,” said Nathaniel Mahlberg, pastor, and now the solar panels are installed and generating electrical energy for the church.

“It took passion and leg-work on the part of a few core people, to find panels that were more affordable for us,” he said.

Erik Gryler, a church member catalyzed the project, with assistance of the church moderator J.R. VanSlyke.

They made a flier with a photo of some members holding a solar panel and asking:  "Let’s Raise this Solar to the Roof,” inviting people to adopt a solar panel to help keep on lights for the “life-saving work” at the church. 

They asked for donations of $155.67 to cover the cost of a panel—or donations of any amount.

“The fundraising was a moving outpouring of generosity,” Nathaniel said, sharing some of the “cool stories”:

• A couple recovery groups who meet at the church each adopted a solar panel as a group. 

• A few college students who were graduating threw in together to adopt a panel. 

• Some people who don’t attend the church but support what it stands for in the community who have adopted panels. 

• The church found a local grant, which it will receive.

• They have also applied for a grant with Pacific Power, and will hear back early next year. 

Every Sunday as part of our statement of identity, we say, ‘It is our mission to enable personal spiritual growth, collective outreach to the community, and stewardship of God’s creation,’” Nathaniel said.

“Folks are happy for how this is a real expression of our commitment to be good stewards of Creation,” he commented.

“It’s also stewardship of our church building, because this will save the church thousands of dollars on utility bills for years and years to come,” he said.

When the panels wear out in several decades, they can be replaced with panels that will likely be more effective and less expensive.

“Now we’ll work step by step to improve the efficiency of our lighting and heating/cooling,” he said.

The church’s consultant on the project said that with modest improvements they should be able to break even between solar generation and total electricity usage.

Right now they estimate that the panels will cover 40 percent of their usage. 

“We’ll throw a Solfest party the first Sunday in October after worship to celebrate and to thank all the donors and community partners,” Nathaniel said.

One church member is proclaiming: “We’re powered by the Son in more ways than one.”

For information, call 509-525-8753, email pastor at or visit




Share this article on your favorite social media Bookmark and Share