AUGUST 5, 2021
Washington, DC — More than 1,500 clergy and faith leaders from across the United States are calling on President Biden and EPA Administrator Michael Regan to support the strongest possible clean car standards.
The religious leaders stated, in part, that “the climate crisis is a challenge of racial, economic, and generational justice, and we call on the Biden administration to meet it with an eye towards the most vulnerable in our communities. Choosing to make less efficient vehicles isn’t just wasteful—it is a moral travesty. Children, our elders, low wealth and Black and Brown communities are all suffering disproportionately due to increased pollution and climate-fueled disasters.”
The religious leaders are asking the Biden EPA to:
OTHER SIDE OF THE HILL is a new film that was available July 10 – 25 through IPL for congregational screenings and individual viewing at home. IPL viewing period has now ended. However the screening kit is still available if you have access to the film elsewhere. Click below for more information and to purchase the kit.
“Where can East & West, Republicans & Democrats, find the common ground needed to address climate change? How can industry and environmentalists work hand in hand? And how can local economies find opportunity in a lower emissions future?
No matter where you are located this important story will inspire you to reach out and bridge the divide. We are more alike than we are different.
OTHER SIDE OF THE HILL explores the impacts of a changing climate in rural Eastern Oregon – as seen through the eyes of local leaders on the ground. From innovative timber operations to large scale solar, our film amplifies the voices of rural communities often left unheard, and shines a light on stories of progress & hope. In a time of unprecedented cultural divide between rural and urban communities, we find common ground in an urgency to address a changing landscape.”
The Cool Congregations Challenge shows that people of faith are united by concerns about climate change and are taking action! The winners provide strong moral role models for their communities, and their activities have a ripple effect with people in their own homes.
The annual contest accepts applications from religious congregations around the United States who are doing work to address global warming by reducing their carbon footprint as they create models of sustainability within their communities. The judges remarked that there were so many excellent submissions this year that it was difficult to choose!
There are five national Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) 2021 Cool Congregations Challenge winners and thirteen Runners Up. Read their whole stories here.
The Islamic Center of East Lansing in Michigan won the Cool Congregations Community Inspiration Award for putting up their own solar array AND inspiring their neighboring congregation, University Lutheran to install solar also. University Lutheran was awarded Honorable Mention in the Challenge.
“The solar project implemented by the Islamic Center is our attempt to care for God’s creation by generating electricity without a trace of carbon footprint,” Chaudhry said. “As a house of worship, we didn’t want to merely preach [but] put our words into action. By producing electricity from a renewable source, we are conserving the environment as required by our faith.”
RENEWABLE ROLE MODEL
Gesu Catholic Church and School in Detroit, Michigan won the Cool Congregations Renewable Role Model Award for their student-led collaborative effort to install solar on their building.
“We are thrilled that our Gesu students seized the opportunity to learn about sustainability, environmental justice, and the care of creation, while at the same time advocating for community health. Having IPL’s recognition will continue to enhance their learning and deepen Gesu’s positive impact on the environment,” said Rev. Phil Cooke, SJ.
Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, located near the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, won this year’s Cool Congregations Sacred Grounds Award for their collaborative effort to restore the four-acre habitat their church campus is built on.
“Our congregation is honored to be acknowledged for our environmental work,” said the Rev. Susan DeWyngaert, the senior pastor at Woods. “As a Presbyterian Church (USA) Earth Care Congregation, we have made a commitment to work toward sustainability by providing worship, education, prayer and service opportunities in our church and community. Receiving the Cool Congregations Challenge Award is thrilling for us. We hope it will model and inspire more emphasis on sustainability as a faith practice.”
The Church of Our Saviour in Arlington, Massachusetts won the Cool Congregations Challenge Energy Saver Award for replacing their old oil heater with new heat pumps. The rectory of this small church is now saving 15 tons CO2 per year with new heat pumps, with of total savings $1,710 in annual energy costs.
“As part of celebrating our centennial year as a congregation, we looked back on our church history, not just to see where we had come from, and how our values were shaped, but also to consider what kind of legacy we wanted to leave future generations. A vestry discussion revealed that decreasing our carbon footprint was high on our list of priorities, as we wanted to do our part in leaving a cleaner planet and greener church for future generations,” Rev. Malia Crawford.
First Plymouth Congregational Church United Church of Christ in Englewood, Colorado won the Cool Planner Award for their teamwork to swap out their lighting for efficient LED lighting despite pandemic restrictions.
The Creation Justice Ministry team at FPCC estimates they will save about $3800 per year and reduce their emissions by about 36 tons annually at their 55,000 square foot building.
These congregations also had awesome projects!
State College Friends Meeting, State College, PA
Congregation Kol Shalom, Bainbridge Island, WA
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lansing, MI
RENEWABLE ROLE MODEL
Genesis of Ann Arbor: Note that Genesis of Ann Arbor is a partnership between St Clare’s Episcopal Church and Temple Beth Emeth, Ann Arbor, MI
New Garden Friends Meeting, Greensboro, NC
Second Presbyterian Church, Little Rock, AR
St. John United Methodist Church, Anchorage, AK
Winchester Unitarian Society, Winchester, MA
West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, Rocky River, OH
Gesu Catholic Church and School, Detroit, MI
Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Wilmington, DE
West Raleigh Presbyterian Church, Raleigh, NC
Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Bayside, CA
“The national winning congregations are casting a vision for the kind of world in which they want to live, and then carrying out that vision with practical actions that make a real difference in creating lasting solutions to climate change,” said Rev. Susan Hendershot, President of Interfaith Power & Light.
IPL encourages congregations completing projects or plans in 2022 to apply for next year’s Cool Congregations Challenge by December 15, 2021. Due to Covid the project eligibility window has been expanded to projects completed in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Learn more here.
Thanks to our expert panel of judges this year! By category they are: Community Inspiration: Ashaki Scott, IPL National Office Manager and Program Assistant and Gregory Lopez, IPL board member. Energy Saver: Ryan Snow, Director, Market Transformation + Development at the U.S. Green Building Council and Hannah Bastian, Research Analyst from The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Renewable Role Model: Jerry Bernstein, Special Projects Coordinator and Dara Bortman, Board Chair of the American Solar Energy Socieity. Sacred Grounds: Tim Darst, retired Executive Director of Kentucky IPL and Carla Ellern, IPL DMV supporter, Registered Landscape Architect with Lila Fendrick Landscape Architects, member of American Society of Landscape Architects and a LEED AP (Accredited Professional) BD+C. Cool Planner: Mikelann Scerbo, Senior Associate, Research at the Alliance for Saving Energy.
This year for Earth Day, dig into a faith-based discussion with your congregation on the intersecting challenges of food insecurity, racial injustice, and the climate crisis.
Faith Climate Action Week is Interfaith Power & Light’s annual program of climate-themed worship services and sermons that spans ten days of activities around Earth Day. This year’s dates are April 16-25. Join the community of people of faith preaching, teaching, and acting to heal the climate in 2021!
The 2021 theme is “Sacred Ground: Cultivating Connections Between our Faith, our Food, and the Climate.” We will examine how our food systems contribute to injustice and to climate change, and how our faith traditions call us to respond with practical solutions.
Use the resources in this year’s Faith Climate Action Week kit for your congregational action.
The Organizer’s Kit includes a Sacred Ground Guide, with information on how the ways in which we grow our food can be part of the climate solution and also bring about a more just community. In the kit there are faith-based discussion materials; suggested short films; a Garden Blessing ceremony; and suggestions and resources for how to get engaged in supporting food justice and healthy soil. Also included are advocacy postcards addressed to the Secretary of Agriculture – consider printing them and including them in your congregation’s mailings.
Free digital download of the Organizer’s kit is now available. Click here to download.
Plan to screen this year’s featured film, Kiss the Ground, as part of your events for Faith Climate Action Week. People are calling it, “The Most Important Film You’ll Ever Watch”. This is a really big claim, but it just might be true!
Kiss the Ground is a new film how about how regenerating the world’s soils has the potential to rapidly stabilize Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems, and create abundant food supplies. This film explains why transitioning to regenerative agriculture could be key in rehabilitating the planet, while simultaneously invigorating a new sense of hope and inspiration in viewers.
Download the free screening kit (at the same link above) that includes faith-based discussion questions on the film page, and host a film discussion with your congregation.
Please follow the COVID-safe regulations in your area for your in-person screenings. Some congregations are planning to host outdoor, socially-distanced screenings projecting the film on a wall or screen. And some congregations are passing around a DVD to congregational families or COVID-pods for small screenings.
SAVE THESE DATES!
April 10 – 26
Thanks to a special arrangement with Kiss the Ground and Roco films, IPL will also offer a free online viewing period for home viewing. Registration required.
Registration for free online home viewing during Faith Climate Action Week will be released April 1. Watch IPL emails for reminders.
IPL will also host a webinar with the filmmakers on April 21. Details to come.
Worship Resources – Faith Climate Action Week 2021 offerings on our website also include sample sermons and talks, music, prayers, blessings, youth resources and more for your worship services.
IPL National Earth Day Climate Prayer – Join IPL on FaceBook on Earth Day at 12noon local to pray along with Rev. Susan Hendershot, IPL President as she prays the Interfaith Earth Day Climate Prayer.
Pin your events to the Faith Climate Action Week Map and calendar of events! Let’s show the world that people of faith and conscience are taking the lead on climate and post as many events as we can! During Covid many events are online and could be of interest to people beyond your own congregation. By posting them you give others the chance to join your online events. Be sure to include a link to register and contact information in your posting.
Thank you for joining the community of people of faith preaching, teaching, and acting to heal the climate in 2021!
Contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.