A Faith-Based Organization Taking Action on Climate Change
Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) works to help members of Vermont's faith and spiritual communities understand that the climate crisis, which is threatening the world, is, at heart, a spiritual crisis. This spiritual crisis demands recognition that Earth is a precious gift; global climate change is a moral challenge; global climate change is disrupting the natural balance; we live our faith through our actions; and there is no peace without a planet.
Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) seeks to empower members of faith and spiritual communities to advocate for our Earth and future generations. Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) helps people take action in their houses of worship, homes, and workplaces to conserve energy, use it efficiently, and increase the use of renewable energy.
Welcome to Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL)
Transition Time in Vermont
Calls Us to Reaffirm Our Commitment to Care for Our Home
Information and Photos from Past Events
Film Screening and Conversation
To close the year, VTIPL hosted a special screening of "Mission: Joy," a film about finding happiness in troubled times, featuring His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Following the film, Pastor Nancy Wright, pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church in South Burlington and VTIPL Vice-President, facilitated a conversation.
You can visit the film's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/missionjoyfilm for more about the film.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu passed away on December 26, 2021, at the age of 90, shortly after VTIPL presented the film, Mission: JOY, about the extraordinary relationship between Tutu and His Holiness The Dalai Lama…and their fabulous laughter! Tutu, who played a key role in ending apartheid in South Africa and led South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was also a climate activist.
On Being with Krista Tippett recently shared a wonderful 2010 interview with Nobel Laureate and Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Tutu. Listen.
“Faith and Science: Towards COP26.”
On October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the Vatican organized “Faith and Science: Towards COP26.” This day-long gathering brought together religious leaders and scientists to issue a joint appeal for COP26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held November 1-12 in Glasgow, Scotland. At the meeting, they released a joint message saying that “The world is called to achieve net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible, with wealthier countries taking the lead in reducing their own emissions and in financing emission reductions from poorer nations.” Learn more from the Vatican News, Reuters, EarthBeat, and the Catholic News Agency. Read Pope Francis’ address here. Watch the broadcast here.
(from the October 2021 Newsletter of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology)
BUTTON UP VERMONT
Preparing for winter is an annual event for Vermonters. Maybe this year is the time for individuals and faith communitites to explore how weatherization is an important tool in our effort to address our personal and house of worship climate footprints. Efficiency Vermont has a program to help you do that. For the month of October, Button Up Vermont offers ideas, contacts, and support for Vermonters as they prepare to deal with the cold, snow, and ice that winter is sure to bring. Vermont Interfaith Power and Light is exploring the possibility of offering an event for faith communitites to learn about this program. In the meantime, get started on your own by visiting their website at Button Up Vermont to learn more and get started on your personal or faith community's winter accomodations.
Climate: What Can We Do?
VTIPL had strong representation at this recent event. Though it is in the past, the effort to stop the pipeline continues, and VTIPL will continue to share updates and action suggestions around this issue.
VTIPL’s Water is Life virtual event with film & panel discussion marks World Environment Day & World Oceans Day, Thursday, June 3, 7 p.m.
On Thursday, June 3, at 7:00 p.m. VTIPL hosted a special water - themed virtual film screening and panel discussion marking and celebrating World Environment Day and World Oceans Day.
Our event opened with a screening of the short film, “One Word –Sawalmem” about indigenous perspectives on water in a beautifully moving story about the West coast Winnemem Wintu tribe (Mt. Shasta, CA) and their activism to save wild salmon.
After the film, we were joined by panelists: Jon Groveman, Vermont Natural Resources Council’s Policy & Water Program Director who shared about the Council’s campaigns to keep PFAS out of our water supplies (see more information on this from VNRC at About PFAS ); VTIPL Vice-President Rev. Dr. Nancy Wright, waterkeeper and author of the Watershed Stewardship Manual, and two of the filmmakers, Michael "Pom" Preston and Natasha Deganello Giraudie. See bios of the panelists below
Watch a trailer for the film here: One Word Trailer
For more information, please contact VTIPL Coordinator Donna Roberts: email@example.com
A Gift from the Filmmakers
In addition to the film viewing on the day of the event, the filmmakers are making available to VTIPL friends a one-week access pass to view the film. Follow this link to the filmmakers' site and a special "VTIPL gift” page:
and enter your email address. You will receive 7 days of access from the day you register.
VTIPL has also made available a recording of the virtual community conversation portion of our June 3rd Water Is Life! event which followed the showing of the film One Word - Sawlamem. This recording can be accessed at Water is Life!, using the access code @p3FsG5d. We suggest you watch the film first and then view the conversation.
Announcing The Bristol Community Solar Coop
(Image courtesy of Donna C. Roberts)
The Addison County Interfaith Climate Action Network (ICAN) has invited VTIPL to collaborate in a groundbreaking project to engage the Vermont faith community in addressing climate change, reducing their electricity costs, and supporting an important Vermont-based racial justice organization.
Soon to be built on the capped former Bristol town landfill, a community-owned solar array will generate clean, sustainable electricity, and our communities are invited to participate. Individual investors and houses of worship may purchase units and become part of a co-op that will manage the system. Electricity generated will be allocated to Green Mountain Power; revenue will be credited to purchasers through their GMP electric bills according to Vermont State regulations. Information regarding the specifics is outlined in materials distributed by Acorn Energy Systems that will be shared with interested parties by email. Of the 1840 units available, 20% will be designated to ICAN and VTIPL to offer to faith organizations, their members, as well as friends of VTIPL who may not be members of congregations.
To participate in the charity component, faith communities, their members, and VTIPL friends who are Green Mountain Power customers will work with Acorn Energy Systems to determine their electrical need, and then sign up to purchase units. The unique part of this program is that VTIPL and ICAN purchasers will be asked to donate a tithe (10%) over the cost of the units, to support the Clemmons Family Farm, an African-American cultural organization located in Charlotte.
This is a project with a minimum 25-year lifespan and the opportunity to stabilize electricity costs, leading to low-cost electricity.
As this is a limited opportunity, interested congregations and individuals should contact VTIPL/ICAN Coordinator Richard Butz as soon as possible here
There is no obligation.
A flyer describing this project can be downloaded here:
The Bristol Community Solar Project Successfully Wraps Up
Earlier this week the Town of Middlebury Selectboard voted to approve the purchase of the remaining available Bristol Community Solar units pending a town bond vote at the end of August. Given that the project was 80% subscribed at that time, any new requests to purchase units will be held in obeyance pending the bond vote and the availability of any more units. Closing is expected in mid-September with construction to start soon after and full operation by the end of the year.
The project, which included a tithe component to benefit the Clemmons Family Farm in Charlotte, VT, was supported by the Addison County Interfaith Climate Action Network (ICAN), and Vermont Interfaith Power and Light (VTIPL). Those who chose to participate in the tithe project agreed to donate 10% over the cost of their units to purchase units for the farm, which is “dedicated to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the African-American and African diaspora, history, arts, and culture”.
Community solar projects, such as this one offers local residents the opportunity to invest in clean electricity, made in their own community. This gives them a sense of control, and enables them to contribute to Vermont’s goal of becoming energy neutral by 2050, in a way that benefits them personally along the way. And, in this project they are able to support better racial understanding and equity.
(update provided by VTIPL Board Member Richard Butz)
The Clemmons Family Farm
Most of us have had the chance to read about the Vermont Human Rights Commission report that Vermont law enforcement agencies discriminated against the Clemmons family during an ongoing problem with a disruptive tenant. It has been found that law enforcement agencies were guilty of racial and gender discrimination in their response to the Clemmons' call for help.
The Clemmons Family Farm (CLF) is an African American farm and cultural center in Charlotte that offers programs, arts exhibits, and workshops regarding the African-American experience. Their goal is to “build a loving multicultural community around the African/American diaspora history, arts and culture.”
We at VTIPL are particularly concerned about this episode because we have been trying to raise funds to purchase solar units for Clemmons Family Farm, through the tithe program connected with the Bristol Community Solar project. Those who agree to the tithe program add 10% to the cost of the units they purchase for themselves to pay for units for the farm.
We can help in another way: donate directly to purchase solar units by downloading a Donation Form that will enable you to send a check to support this project. Donating solar units will provide low-cost electricity to the farm for years to come. Download the form here: Tithe Donor's Form
Our Ongoing Programs
Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL)’s Watershed Manuals
Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) has created two manuals, one with a Christian emphasis, “Congregational Watershed Discipleship Manual: Faith Communities as Stewards of the World’s Waters (1st Christian Edition)” and another with an interreligious emphasis, “Congregational Watershed Manual: Religious Communities as Stewards of the World's Waters (1st Interreligious Edition).”
In 2018, Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) joined with local organizations to create a model for watershed stewardship based on the experience of Ascension Lutheran Church in South Burlington, Vermont. The Reverend Dr. Nancy Wright, pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church, and Richard Butz, a member of the church, are co-authors of the manuals.
These are high-resolution print copies, spiral-bound to lie flat conveniently. Print copies of these manuals are available through Pastor Nancy Wright. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Katy Gerke Memorial Program
The Katy Gerke Memorial Program is a matching grant program created to honor the memory of Dr. Katy Gerke. it was established, endowed, and defined by her family and has been used over the years to make houses of worship more energy efficient.
The stipulations for the program and its availability are described at a dedicated page on this site: The Katie Gerke Memorial Program
On that page you will also find links to a downloadable brochure and application forms for energy assessment and energy efficiency projects.
For more information. about this program or to make a contribution toward establishing an additional grant please contact Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) Coordinator, Donna Roberts by email at email@example.com.
Water Is Life Virtual Event
VTIPL’s Black History Month Event a Success!
VTIPL Film & discussion
Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil narrated by Alice Walker
Nearly 60 friends gathered for our virtual event on February 23 to view and discuss the film Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil. Narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, the film explores the Afro-indigenous spiritual tradition of Candomblé in Bahia, Brazil, often called the religion of nature. Unique in traditional African religions, many of the most revered Candomblé communities are led by elder Afro-Brazilian women. The film’s director, VTIPL Coordinator Donna Roberts, introduced the film offering some background on the project’s long evolution commencing during her first trip to Brazil in 1997 (for the Rio+5 Forum on Sustainability.)
After the film screening, we were joined by panelists, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Shannon MacVean-Brown, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wright of Ascension Lutheran Church, and The Rev. Rachel Field of Mission Farm/St. Thomas and Grace Church. An unexpected guest was lawyer and prof. of Africana Studies Dr. Danielle Boaz of University of North Carolina, an expert in religious intolerance and violence in Brazil which she prefers to call religious racism.
Care for Earth
in Times of Covid-19
As people of faith, we begin with love for all, and are called to care for Creation.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt our lives, our jobs, our schools and our worship.
Many things are opening up, but not like it was before, nor should we expect life to go "back to normal.”
In many ways, a new normal would be welcome - a more caring, sustainable way forward for all of humanity, and for all of life, reimagining what and who we value as essential.
Some faith communities are slowly returning to prior worship patterns, but others have chosen to continue to meet and to worship virtually. Each community needs to decide for itself how best to proceed.
Regardless of how we choose to worship, we must remember and reach out to thosewho have been impacted the most, especially the most vulnerable who have become even more so during the pandemic. They are all our neighbors.
Look on our RESOURCES page for words of inspiration and links to resources for returning to worship together.
Statements on the Murder of George Floyd, Racial Justice, and Environmental Justice
We at Vermont Interfaith Power and Light are deeply saddened and outraged at the latest in a series of despicable murders of black and brown people across our country - the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. “Black Lives Matter” protests around this nation in response to these shootings are an expression of a built-up anger at injustice, frustration with the many forms of white supremacy that are inherent in our culture, and a deep longing for human dignity and justice for People of Color. The systemic racism that allows this kind of police brutality must stop and we must do our part. There can be no climate justice without racial justice. Around the world, people of color and people with fewer economic means - typically people of color - are those most affected by climate change, while contributing the least to the causes of the climate crisis. This is injustice. Issues of climate, economic and social justice are intrinsically interrelated. In recognition of this moment, we share some of the statements made in our movement as a response. It is our hope that they might deepen our thinking, raise our understanding, and prompt compassionate action.
Additional Statements can be found on our Resources page.
The national Interfaith Power and Light organization has created a new page on their site with resources to help make the connection between environmental justice and racial justice. Check it out at:
Another Way to Make Your Voice Heard
Visit this site to design a postcard which they will send to your senators, representatives, and the governor, urging them to move our state to 100% renewable energy.
Vermont Interfaith Power and Light is affiliated with the national organization, Interfaith Power and Light. Information about their work and connections to other state affiliates can be found on their website at
A flyer describing several IPL initiatives is available for your information and use:
Climate Change and Health Documents
Changes to the website of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have raised concerns about the availability of educational materials related to the impact of climate change on human health. To be sure that they remain available, we have downloaded the documents and made them available. Below is a list of available pdf files that you can download.