BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Energy was a topic at the Brookdale Reformed Church on Saturday, Nov. 7. For one thing, a serve-yourself, sit-down pasta dinner was prepared to kick off a campaign to raise funds to replace a gas furnace in the basement. The furnace heats the church and its attached Fellowship Hall, where a day-care center and nursery school are located.
The church is also about to “go green,” with solar panels scheduled to be installed on the roof this week. The project will provide electricity to the church and its attached buildings.
The co-chairwomen of the pasta dinner were Jean Browne and Marjorie Tiedemann. Browne and Tiedemann planned the menu, found food donations and volunteer cooks, collected donations of $1,000 to pay for the event and sent out an advertisement. They estimated 70 people would attend the meal. Among them was 2nd Ward Councilman Nicholas Joanow.
The entree for the dinner was a choice of four pasta dishes. Tiedemann said the vodka sauce was donated by Christine O’Keefe, and Bloomfield resident Michelle Bruhn prepared all the desserts and salads. Desserts included a chocolate truffle tart and a cherry tart. Browne said she expected the event to raise $1,500.
“That’s the prayer,” said Pastor Susan Dorward, adding that the furnace they
are replacing is 47 years old.
The furnace is maintained by Jim Thompson. He is the chairman of the church properties committee and has a doctorate in chemistry, a qualification for boiler duty.
“We can no longer get replacement parts,” he said. “The pilot light went out a month ago when we went to turn the furnace on this fall. We had to pull out a flame spreader to reach the sensor that controls the pilot light.”
He said the sensor senses if the heat is on to activate the entire furnace.
“We can get the sensor but we can’t get the flame spreader,” he said. ‘So, we have to use the old spreader. But the metal has gotten so thin, it can’t support its own weight.”
Thompson said the furnace has eight flame spreaders which heat the water in the boiler, producing steam for the building. He said he called all over for a replacement spreader, but no luck. The new furnace, when installed, will use 50 percent less gas than the older model.
“Every year we have to do something,” he said. “Every year, something goes wrong.”
Dorward gave a blessing to the meal.
“Lord Heavenly Father, bless the food and the people who prepared it,” she said. “And thank you for all the people attending. Lord — you be the glory.”
Thompson also said the church was going green.
“We’re putting up solar panels this week,” he said. “They will supply 100 percent of our electricity.”
Joanow, who was with Thompson at the time, said he believed the Brookdale Reformed Church was the first Bloomfield church going green.
Thompson said 137 panels were going to be installed.
“PSE&G has to reduce, by law, its carbon footprint,” he said. “The company doesn’t have the space for panels so they say to people, ‘you put them up on your property and we’ll help you pay for them.’”
The panels will collect solar energy that will be converted into electricity measured in kilowatts. The electricity will be deposited into the PSE&G electrical grid for future use.
“In the daytime, the electricity goes into the grid,” Thompson said. “At night, it comes off the grid.”
According to Thompson, the church received a loan of $145,000 from the Regional Synod of the Mid-Atlantics of the Reformed Church in America, to purchase and install the panels. The organization oversees and supports reformed churches through a variety of services, including funding. PSE&G will pay the church $230 for every 1,000 kilowatts of electricity the panels produce.
“The synod will allow us to pay back the loan through credits,” he said.