Community Voices - David Hill

davidhillpicDavid Hill has been Pastor of First Church in Oberlin UCC  for ten years. He serves as President of Oberlin Community Services, a local social services organization. Pastor Hill enjoys integrating music into worship experiences, especially jazz.

Q: What words or images would you use to describe Oberlin?

A: hopeful, engaged, concerned, green, spirited

Q: Would you care to explain any particular ones?

A: I think it’s hopeful because I think that in Oberlin we believe, rightly or wrongly, not only that we can change our community, but that we can change the world, so we look at problems or concerns and we immediately start thinking about “how can we make a difference?” and we believe we really can. We are concerned because we not only are tuned in to our community but also our nation and our world. We see areas of need and we are aware of them. Green, I don’t know how somebody couldn’t use that word in this town. The Green Arts District, the Oberlin Project, we have very sustainable buildings and sustainable practices. When we have a big event on Tappan Square, we try to compost things and recycle things, it just seems to be a regular part of the conversation. And spirited-there are a lot of folks who belong in faith communities, or who are members of faith communities. There are a lot of other people that may not relate to religious institutions but I think there’s more to it than describing them as just being a good citizen, I think there’s a spiritual element behind why they do what they do and what they choose to be engaged in.

Q: How would you define “sustainability” for yourself?

A: For me, it has to do with how do we go about our lives and practices in a way that the Earth can sustain, that are not detrimental to the planet which is so absolutely essential to our own personal survival. So, there are big picture things, but the little picture things that most of us are doing, like turning lights off, not leaving the water running, and conserving water in our toilets and our showers, when we buy new appliances, buying energy efficient ones, trying to eat locally, paying more attention to how we use transportation, they really feel like small little things that are barely making a dent, but I think that is what sustainability is for me and for a lot of other folks that are not involved in grander schemes.

Q: Is this a word that you would use to describe First Church as a congregation?

A: I think we’re working towards that. We have swapped out all the windows in the parlor for windows that not only seal better but are more energy efficient. All of our thermostats are programmable; we don’t use Styrofoam; we serve our Wednesday night suppers family-style on plates that go through the dishwasher. As pastor here one of the main reasons I switched to an iPad is so that when I go into meetings I have no paper, and when I come out of meetings, I have no paper.

Q: So how do you feel that these actions are important? What kind of impact are you having?

A: I don’t know how much of an impact we are having.  But, given this is Oberlin and given the descriptors I used earlier, I guess we have to believe that if everybody did something, it would make a huge difference. I think right now people just do it because they know it’s the right thing to do. For us it’s a faith issue.

Q: Is there anything you would like to tell your fellow community members regarding care for the earth or creation or respect for nature?

A: How do we make sustainability less scary to folks? We had an energy audit in our house and one thing they helped me with was that I thought that the energy audit was going to show that all of the windows in our house needed to be replaced, but what it really showed was that we needed to do some caulking. I guess I would like to tell folks in Oberlin to not be afraid of this issue, and recognize that the more they know the more they will be empowered to do because it’s not as scary as they might think it is, and [it can be] less expensive. 

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Anita Peebles is a 3rd year Religion and Environmental Studies major from Eaton Rapids, Michigan. She is a Bonner Leader, a member of the Interfaith Student Council and a co-leader of Girls in Motion.



Photographer Info: Yvette Chen is a photographer for the Dashboard Project who is interested in the power of media and images. Originally from Princeton Junction, New Jersey, Yvette is a first year student at Oberlin College planning to study sociology and economics. Other than photography, in her spare time, she enjoys cooking and running through Ohio's rural landscapes.

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Guest March 15, 2017

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Anita Peebles
Anita Peebles is a 3rd year Religion and Environmental Studies major from Eaton
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