Mercury Containing Light Bulbs Go to Church!

Anyone who goes fishing knows about the mercury pollution of New Jersey waters and fish. For this reason, frequent government warnings advise against fish from this or that area or tell the fishing population what fish to avoid, and how much of another species is safe to consume. But the issue is far bigger, because mercury pollution does not stop with the fish. Mercury is a problem in New Jersey.

Oftentimes I wondered, ‘Why mercury? Where does all this mercury come from?’ Until I learned that fluorescent light tubes of all sizes contain it. Have you ever counted how many of these we have on our church ceilings alone? The same holds true for our basements and garages at home.

But it is worse. The Federal government plans to phase out the traditional incandescent light bulb that has made Edison so famous. Instead, the new energy saving light bulbs are being promoted everywhere. This is a good thing, because it will save a lot of energy and can be seen as a contribution in our fight against global warming. Also, many of the new bulbs last for about seven years.

But here is the problem: The new energy saving light bulbs contain mercury! And there is only one single drop-off site in Middlesex County, accessible twice every month to the general public. This needs to change; otherwise, too many of these poisonous light bulbs will land in the trash.

We have therefore reached out to the Middlesex County Division of Solid Waste Management and received permission to support the Consumer Electronics Drop-Off Program by collecting fluorescent tubes and energy saving light bulbs here at church. So, if you have any mercury containing light bulbs you would like to dispose off, bring them with you on Sundays to church.

For us as good stewards of God’s creation, this is a small thing to do! And, who knows, if our collection becomes a success, other churches might follow, and our fish may taste a whole lot better some day.

About Rev. Dr. Hartmut Kramer-Mills

Hartmut Kramer-Mills, a native of Jena, Germany, began his theological education at Heidelberg University. After the Middle Exam in 1986 he received a scholarship from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches for McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He graduated from McCormick with a Master of Divinity in 1988. He graduated from Marburg University in Germany with the Ecclesiastical Exam in 1990, and received a Dr. theol. from Greifswald University, Germany, in 1997. From 1990 to 1991 he was vicar at St. Wenzel in Naumburg, Germany. He was ordained minister of word and sacrament in 1993 through the Protestant Church of the Church Province of Saxony. From 1993 to 1998 he served as assistant pastor in Stoessen, Goerschen, and Rathewitz, Germany. At the same time he was lecturer for Church History at Erfurt College in Germany. From 1999 to 2000 he served the Spotswood Reformed Church in New Jersey as interim pastor. Since 2000 he and his wife serve the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as co-pastors.
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