An Updated Cool Congregations Program from IPL
With the climate crisis causing unprecedented disasters around the world, people are asking what can I do as one individual? The answer? Multiply your power by acting as a group with your faith community! Together we can have far greater impact.
The word holy comes from the same root as whole. And I think that is apt for the holy action we need to address the environmental crisis we face. Humans created this problem by only thinking short term, of ourselves, and not looking at the whole impacts of our actions. But when we become more expansive in our view, considering nature, considering our neighbors, we become more connected, more complete, and whole. We become more holy.
What better place to celebrate and honor the beauty of the earth than our faith communities? Join the team of inspirational Cool Congregations responding to the crisis with holy action: reducing their own carbon emissions and greening their houses of worship.
IPL’s unique Cool Congregations stewardship program helps congregations reduce the carbon footprint of their facilities in a clear step-by-step process. Join us on the path to cutting carbon and modeling clean energy solutions for our communities. And as you progress, IPL will recognize your accomplishments to amplify your impact!
Here's the path…
- Measure the carbon footprint of your house of worship, your parish school, your retreat center, or your religious organization using our NEWLY updated calculator. The NEW report format now shows your progress from year to year. And you can create and name separate reports for each building you are assessing.
- Follow the steps to reduce your carbon footprint using IPL’s Start Up Kit. Once you have reduced come back to measure again using IPL’s calculator to check your progress.
- If you have reduced by 10% or more, apply to be a Certified Cool Congregation and we’ll send you a free window decal to post in your congregation’s window and a frameable certificate announcing your accomplishment. We’ll also amplify your story on our national website and through social media to inspire others to join the team!
We hope you will accept the invitation to join the Cool Congregations team. Together we can encourage each other as we create a healthier, holier relationship with nature, and healing for the whole earth.
Historic Joint Statement by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Pope Francis, and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on Climate Change
For the first time in the two-thousand-year history of Christianity, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the Pope of Rome, and the Archbishop of Canterbury have issued a joint statement. On September 1, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, His Holiness Pope Francis, and His Eminence Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury published this "Joint Message for the Protection of Creation," calling for urgent action to deal with the worldwide crisis of climate change and environmental degradation. Explaining with pastoral urgency the lessons of Scripture, they issue an urgent call for an effective collective response to this global threat.
For more than a year, we have all experienced the devastating effects of a global pandemic—all of us, whether poor or wealthy, weak or strong. Some were more protected or vulnerable than others, but the rapidly-spreading infection meant that we have depended on each other in our efforts to stay safe. We realised that, in facing this worldwide calamity, no one is safe until everyone is safe, that our actions really do affect one another, and that what we do today affects what happens tomorrow.
These are not new lessons, but we have had to face them anew. May we not waste this moment. We must decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations. God mandates: ‘Choose life, so that you and your children might live’ (Dt 30:19). We must choose to live differently; we must choose life.
September is celebrated by many Christians as the Season of Creation, an opportunity to pray and care for God’s creation. As world leaders prepare to meet in November at Glasgow to deliberate on the future of our planet, we pray for them and consider what the choices we must all make. Accordingly, as leaders of our Churches, we call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behaviour and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us.
The Importance of Sustainability
In our common Christian tradition, the Scriptures and the Saints provide illuminating perspectives for comprehending both the realities of the present and the promise of something larger than what we see in the moment. The concept of stewardship—of individual and collective responsibility for our God-given endowment—presents a vital starting-point for social, economic and environmental sustainability. In the New Testament, we read of the rich and foolish man who stores great wealth of grain while forgetting about his finite end (Lk 12.13–21). We learn of the prodigal son who takes his inheritance early, only to squander it and end up hungry (Lk 15.11–32).
Widespread floods, fires and droughts threaten entire continents. Sea levels rise, forcing whole communities to relocate; cyclones devastate entire regions, ruining lives and livelihoods. Water has become scarce and food supplies insecure, causing conflict and displacement for millions of people. We have already seen this in places where people rely on small scale agricultural holdings. Today we see it in more industrialised countries where even sophisticated infrastructure cannot completely prevent extraordinary destruction.
Tomorrow could be worse. Today’s children and teenagers will face catastrophic consequences unless we take responsibility now, as ‘fellow workers with God’ (Gn 2.4–7), to sustain our world. We frequently hear from young people who understand that their futures are under threat. For their sake, we must choose to eat, travel, spend, invest and live differently, thinking not only of immediate interest and gains but also of future benefits. We repent of our generation’s sins. We stand alongside our younger sisters and brothers throughout the world in committed prayer and dedicated action for a future which corresponds ever more to the promises of God.
The Imperative of Cooperation
Over the course of the pandemic, we have learned how vulnerable we are. Our social systems frayed, and we found that we cannot control everything. We must acknowledge that the ways we use money and organize our societies have not benefited everyone. We find ourselves weak and anxious, submersed in a series of crises; health, environmental, food, economic and social, which are all deeply interconnected.
These crises present us with a choice. We are in a unique position either to address them with shortsightedness and profiteering or seize this as an opportunity for conversion and transformation. If we think of humanity as a family and work together towards a future based on the common good, we could find ourselves living in a very different world. Together we can share a vision for life where everyone flourishes. Together we can choose to act with love, justice and mercy. Together we can walk towards a fairer and fulfilling society with those who are most vulnerable at the centre.
But this involves making changes. Each of us, individually, must take responsibility for the ways we use our resources. This path requires an ever-closer collaboration among all churches in their commitment to care for creation. Together, as communities, churches, cities and nations, we must change route and discover new ways of working together to break down the traditional barriers between peoples, to stop competing for resources and start collaborating.
To those with more far-reaching responsibilities—heading administrations, running companies, employing people or investing funds—we say: choose people-centred profits; make short-term sacrifices to safeguard all our futures; become leaders in the transition to just and sustainable economies. ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’ (Lk 12:48)
This is the first time that the three of us feel compelled to address together the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on persistent poverty, and the importance of global cooperation. Together, on behalf of our communities, we appeal to the heart and mind of every Christian, every believer and every person of good will. We pray for our leaders who will gather in Glasgow to decide the future of our planet and its people. Again, we recall Scripture: ‘choose life, so that you and your children may live’ (Dt 30:19). Choosing life means making sacrifices and exercising self-restraint.
All of us—whoever and wherever we are—can play a part in changing our collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and environmental degradation.
Caring for God’s creation is a spiritual commission requiring a response of commitment. This is a critical moment. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.
1st September 2021
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
Archbishop of Canterbury
A New Resource from The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Greening the Parish: A Resource Page for Environmental Stewardship
The Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical, and Interfaith Relations has released a Greening the Parish Resource Page. Designed for both the parish and home, this page provides resource material for navigating and fulfilling our vocation as stewards of creation and working towards greening our parishes together.
Especially featured are the ecological initiatives and activities of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, renowned as “The Green Patriarch” for his proclamation of “the primacy of spiritual values in determining environmental ethics and action.” Included are the September 1st Encyclicals for the Feast of the Indiction and Day of Prayer for the Protection of the Natural Environment, along with His All-Holiness’s works in global environment advocacy and action such as the Halki Summits.
Exploring a variety of practical and theological perspectives regarding environmentalism, the Creation Care Toolkit consists of Creation Care resources along with the Greening the Parish webinar series and manuals. Additionally, a variety of Orthodox perspectives are featured on the webpage including youth initiatives, books, and films along with a diverse resource section featuring the works of various Christian traditions, organizations (i.e., the United Nations, the Environmental Protection Agency, etc.), environmentalists, and academics.
This page is an effort to assist parishes and individuals to green our parishes and adopt a life of environmental stewardship.
The webpage and additional information may be found here.
We will be using this page to provide information and links to resources for our community to use in their response to the Climate Crisis. On this page, you will find information concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, statements in response to the murder of George Floyd and Environmental Justice, and our Vermont Interfaith Power and Light Film Library..
Vermont Public Service Department Releases A New Consumer Information Resource:
“A Vermonter’s Guide to Residential Clean Heating and Cooling”
A new, free guide produced for the Vermont Public Service Department will help homeowners navigate the process heating and cooling their homes with clean energy.
Montpelier, VT – Vermonters interested in heating their homes without fossil fuels have a new resource to help them navigate the path towards clean heating. The guide, titled “A Vermonter’s Guide to Residential Clean Heating and Cooling,” was produced by the nonprofit Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) for the Vermont Public Service Department and is available to download for free on the Department’s and CESA’s websites.
“Vermont has seen tremendous growth in interest in switching to clean heating sources and more efficient air conditioning” noted Public Service Department Commissioner June Tierney. “As thousands more Vermonters explore the possibility of switching to advanced wood heating and cold climate heat pumps, the Vermont Public Service Department is committed to providing quality information to help them navigate the process. It is our hope that affiliated agencies and organizations will help spread the word about this helpful new guide.”
About twenty percent of Vermonter’s heating needs are met local cord wood or wood pellets and over 25,000 cold climate heat pumps have been installed in Vermont. However, nearly eighty percent of Vermonters still heat their homes by burning fossil fuels which contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, are a drain on the local economy, and can worsen air quality. To align their interests in renewable, clean, and local energy with their home energy needs many Vermont homeowners are looking to transition to clean heating technologies. This guide provides information and guidance on how to make that transition.
Supporting the transition to cleaner heating and renewable energy is in-line with Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan, which calls for Vermont to increase the portion of renewable energy used to heat Vermont’s building sector to 30 percent by 2025. This goal builds on the state statutory goal to weatherize 80,000 homes and reduce fuel use and utility bills by 25 percent.
This extensive 60-page guide provides in-depth coverage of clean heating and cooling technologies. It is broken into ten sections:
1) Efficiency First: This section explains the role of energy efficiency and conservation in reducing the amount of heat and electric energy used by a household. It also explains the benefits of an energy audit.
2) Why Should I Install a CH&C System in my Home? This section examines CH&C benefits and the role they play in Vermont’s clean energy goals.
3) What are CH&C Technologies? This section provides a detailed explanation of each technology. Advanced wood heating options include wood pellet boilers, furnaces, and stoves. Sections on cold climate air source heat pumps, air-to-water heat pumps, and ground source heat pumps address heating and cooling with electricity.
4) Are CH&C Systems Right for my Home? This section examines why a homeowner should consider CH&C. These options include the need for addition space heat, for hot water, or to reduce fossil fuel consumption.
5) Assessing Your Home’s Current Distribution System for Heating: This section helps the homeowner assess the method her home uses to distribute heat, such as ducted forced hot air systems, hydronic systems, or space heating units and how to choose a CH&C technology that works with that distribution system.
6) Assessing Your Home’s Current Home Heating and Hot Water Systems: This section discusses how hot water CH&C technology can supply hot water in addition to space heating and cooling or can provide hot water only.
7) Cooling Your Home: This section describes how cooling can be provided with air source and ground source heat pumps.
8) Integrated Smart Thermostats and Controls: This section highlights technology available to remotely control heating and cooling equipment and to optimize temperature settings which can maximize efficiency.
9) Selecting a Contractor/Installer and System Maintenance: This section takes a close look at the importance of a qualified contractor’s evaluation of a home’s heating needs, distribution system, and compatible CH&C technologies. It also includes guidelines for CH&C equipment maintenance.
10) Incentives and Financing: This section contains a comprehensive listing of rebates, loans, and incentives available from the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, Efficiency Vermont, the federal government, and utilities. Financing through home energy loans is also covered.
About the Vermont Public Service Department’s Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF)
The CEDF, at the Vermont Public Service Department, has offered a portfolio of incentives and financing opportunities to accelerate the development and production of renewable energy in Vermont over the last 14 years. Since its inception, the CEDF has awarded over $66 million in federal and state resources for renewable energy and energy efficiency in Vermont, leveraging total investments of more than $259 million in the state’s clean energy infrastructure. Learn more at http://publicservice.vermont.gov/renewable_energy/cedf.
About the Clean Energy States Alliance:
The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) is a national nonprofit coalition of public agencies and organizations working together to advance clean energy. CESA members—mostly state agencies—include many of the most innovative, successful, and influential public funders of clean energy initiatives in the country. CESA works with state leaders, federal agencies, industry representatives, and other stakeholders to develop and promote clean energy technologies and markets. CESA facilitates information sharing, provides technical assistance, coordinates multi-state collaborative projects, and communicates the positions and achievements of its members. For more information, visit www.cesa.org
Clean Energy Development Fund
Public Service Department
Faith and Care for Earth in Times of COVID-19 March 2020
As we all face such uncertain times, including social distancing, isolation – self-imposed and otherwise - we at VTIPL want to reach out to our treasured community to share some words of inspiration, and links to meaningful activities and information with which you may wish to engage. We encourage you to worship in your homes, in nature, to connect with friends and loved ones virtually, and to reach out to those who may be especially vulnerable during times of disconnection. A phone call for reassurance can make a world of difference in helping people feel less isolated.
From VTIPL Board Member Pastor Nancy of Ascension Lutheran Church:
"How we respond to the virus, with strength, compassion, scientific knowledge, and deeply grounded in our faith tradition, will strengthen us as we encounter disruptions due to climate change. I offer this meditation." https://www.lutheranworld.org/content/resource-intercessory-prayer-midst-spread-covid-19.
As a GreenFaith Fellow, Pastor Nancy appreciates how GreenFaith works internationally through interreligious leaders to address climate change and other environmental problems. This includes a new daily opportunity to connect virtually, which is also posted on the VTIPL Facebook page. Green Faith writes, “We may be physically apart. Overwhelmed and frightened by the daily news. But we are coming together in care and resilience for some spiritual respite. Will you join us for a daily call that we are hosting? We are people of faith and spirit from around the world. Join us every day this week from Monday through Friday at 4 pm Eastern time. This is to connect with each other for 30 minutes of reflection, mutual aid, and solace, together with religious leaders from different traditions, and with readings of poetry and prayer. www.Facebook.com/greenfaith
The Deep Adaptation Agenda – a Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy, by Professor Jem Bendell, offers timely insights and suggestions for how we as a human community can not only consider the climate crisis, but also move through this current moment of upheaval and transition to a new way forward. Its essence includes 4R’s that seem particularly relevant right now:
-Resilience – How do we keep what we really want to keep?
-Relinquishment – What do we need to let go of in order to not make matters worse?
-Restoration – What can we bring back to help us with the difficulties?
-Reconciliation - What could I make peace with to lessen suffering?
Here is the link to Bendell’s full paper: www.lifeworth.com/deepadaptation.pdf
Of course, we encourage everyone to stay safe by continuing to follow CDC guidelines and those issued by Vermont Health Department guidelines, to be alert for notifications issued by our state and local governments.
Finally, this prayer/poem by Kitty O’Meara offers a note of optimism for the Earth and ourselves during these difficult times:
And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and
rested, and exercised, and made art,
and played games, and learned new
ways of being, and were still. And
listened more deeply. Some
meditated, some prayed, some
danced. Some met their shadows.
And the people began
to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living
in ignorant, dangerous, mindless,
and heartless ways,
the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed,
and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made
new choices, and dreamed new
images, and created new ways to live
and heal the earth fully,
as they had been healed.
We wish you all well. Stay safe and full of compassion for yourselves, your loved ones and the Earth.
Environmental Justice and Pandemic Response Resources from the Unitarian Universalist Association
The UUA has a website devoted to their Green Sanctuary program with numerous resources for communities seeking to address the Climate Crisis. It can be found at https://www.uua.org/environment/sanctuary
On that site, there is a specific page devoted to resources for communities during the time of pandemic. It can be found directly at https://www.uua.org/safe/pandemics
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has developed Guidelines for re-opening places of worship. A pdf version of them can be doiwnloaded here: Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith_CDC
A fukkl coipy of the CDC Guidelines, which also includes other facilities, e.g. child care, camps, etc., is available at https://www.pcusa.org/site_media/media/uploads/covid-19/cdc_reopening_guidelines.pdf
The Rev. Nancy Wright, VTIPL Board Member and Pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church in South Burlington Vermont, has shared links to two Care for Creation organizations whose websites offer many resources for communities of faith. In addition, she offers a detailed bibliography which she has prepared. That bibliography is shared as a PDF which can be downloaded.
A guide for talking with people of five different faith about Faith and Climate Change, produced by Climate Outreach and GreenFaith can be downloaded at: https://climateoutreach.org/resources/climate-change-faith/
As a reminder of the spiritual foundation for our Creation Care and to honor the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we offer this sermon delivered by a member of our board, the Rev. Nancy Wright.
Follow this link: Earth Day Sermon _Pastor Nancy Wright
Statements on the Murder of George Floyd
and Environmental Justice
Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light
Responds to the Murder of George Floyd
Our brothers and sisters in the Minnesota affiliate of Interfaith Power and Light have issued a letter responding to the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Their letter speaks to the people of their state, but it also is a reminder to all people of faith that environmental justice is a part of the demand for justice for all. We join with our Minnesota friends in calling all people to stand up for justice for Mr.Floyd and the human rights of people of color as well as every marginalized group of human beings in our society. You can read MNIPL's letter here.
A Statement from Interfaith Power and Light
on the Murder of George Floyd
We are in a Kairos moment
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, wrote, "I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action'; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a 'more convenient season.' Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will."
The concept of time is an important one. There is "chronos" time - the kind that is set by watches and calendars; and there is "kairos" time - sometimes called "God's time" - which speaks of ripeness, of opportunity, of something that can give the present moment new meaning.
We are in a Kairos moment.
We know that there are deep inequities in our communities, in our nation, and in our world. We are not blind to the grave injustices that have existed and that are even now being further brought to light with the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, one of many such killings borne of systemic racism in America. We grieve with our black and brown siblings who are afraid and angry, and who seek equality and equal protection under the law.
This is a moral issue, deeply tied to white supremacy, economic injustice, voter suppression, and even climate justice. Those who suffer first and worst are those living in communities that have historically been marginalized and excluded from policymaking and opportunities for growth.
We look for hope.
While we don't condone acts of violence and destruction, we know that protest and demonstrations of solidarity can and have led to social change in our society. Our IPL Board Chair, Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement in the 1960's. He saw firsthand the power of organizing and peaceful protest in order to make constructive change.
What will we do in our Kairos moment? It is our fervent hope that by coming together, standing with one another in solidarity in this time of great suffering and challenge, that we can be the moral leaders that communities need in this time. Let's take this moment of opportunity to develop a different interpretation, rooted in a bold, meaningful vision for justice and love in our world.
IPL Board of Directors
Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley – Chair
Rev. Susan Hendershot – President
The Rev. Sally Bingham – President Emeritus
Rev. Doug Bland
Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb
Rev. Vy Nguyen
This message can be downloaded at A Message from IPL's Board of Directors_George Floyd June 2 2020