December 2016


In this issue

  • How has Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light touched you in 2016?
  • Upcoming Workshops: Solar Forum in South Bend, Using Energy Prudent Workshop in South Bend, Climate Boot Camp
  • H-IPL is HEC’s Sustainable Champion of the Year
  • Ten Pathways to Congregational Creation Care, by Marie F. Fleming, Installment Two: Study and Education
  • St. Thomas Aquinas Church Creation Care Ministry Project
  • The Environmental Movement after November 8 
  • Wind Power Facts
  • Consider a Donation

How has Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light touched you in 2016?

Have we helped deepen your love for creation? Inspired your passion for environmental justice? Supported your hopes for a sustainable future? Helped make the air you breathe cleaner?

HIPL Folks with SignsHave we helped you raise your voice for better policies in your community, in Indiana, or in the U.S.?

Have we helped your congregation or your household save money through lowered utility bills? Have we inspired a green ministry project in your congregation or community? Did we help you plant trees to refresh the air and provide cooling spaces on your grounds?

Irvington ArticleAre you benefitting from solar panels acquired through a grant that we found for you? Did seeing solar panels on a local house of worship inspire you to look into them at home?

Have you learned something new and invigorating through one of our workshops, through our website, or through our newsletters?Workshop in Action

Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light is not a utility company, we often explain. We don’t send monthly bills for our services. We receive no government handouts to administer and staff our programs. We are funded by donors like you.

Please consider a generous contribution to help grow our work in 2017, and ask your congregational leadership to remember Hoosier IPL in their mission giving this year and next.

Thank you for your support!

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Upcoming Workshops

Solar Forum in South Bend

You are invited to attend an upcoming solar forum hosted by a congregation that recently installed solar panels. The Islamic Society of Michiana (3310 Hepler Street, South Bend, IN) will host this informative workshop on Saturday, December 10, from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm. Hoosier IPL board vice-chair Ray Wilson will lead the workshop and answer questions about the benefits of solar power for homes, businesses, and congregations. For more information on the event, contact M. Jerry Mohajeri.

Using Energy Prudent Workshop in South Bend

Using Energy Prudently WorkshopThe next Using Energy Prudently Workshop will be held on Saturday, February 11, 1:00-5:00 pm, at the Islamic Society of Michiana ((3310 Hepler Street, South Bend, IN). H-IPL’s Using Energy Prudently workshops equip congregations with the tools they need to greatly reduce energy use in houses of worship and save significant funds for other purposes.

Gain practical information about sealing your building's envelope; maintaining and replacing HVAC equipment; using zoning and thermostats to slash energy waste; lighting technologies for various rooms; and detecting energy hogs in your building.

Who should attend? Send a team of two to four people, including a leader from the Building or House Committee, a trustee, and green team member.

Why participate? Savings: Your congregation can save a lot on utility bills by cutting out waste. And these funds can go straight into mission. One of our congregations cut its energy use by 50% – and is saving $10,000 a year.

How-To Help: You can do this! With stories and step-by-step tools, we’ll show you how to cut your congregation’s energy use and get your congregation on board. You’ll have time to figure out what will work for you. You’ll get just what you need to put your learning into action.

Support: And you’ll leave with a community. The workshop will give you a network that can support you as you save your congregation money for mission.

What is the cost, and what do we get?

  • $20 for the first congregation member attending
  • $10 for each additional member
  • Registration covers refreshments and a notebook of materials to take with you.
  • Registration will open soon on the H-IPL Calendar. Participants may also register at the door.

Climate Boot Camp

Climate Boot CampA workshop for faith leaders and members called “Climate Boot Camp” is scheduled on Monday, February 20, at Zionsville Christian Church (120 N 9th St, Zionsville, IN).

The workshop will be led by climate scientist Ben Brabson, biblical scholar and theologian Trisha Tull, and the Rev. Wyatt Watkins, who present the scientific, theological, and pastoral challenges and rewards of speaking out about climate change. We hope to help every faith leader speak confidently and boldly about global warming and its impacts, and to encourage their faith communities to respond with vigor and hope. To register for a workshop, go to the H-IPL Calendar and select the date.

According to a recent article in Grist, most people care about climate change but don’t talk about it, simply because they don’t hear others doing so. This is a pattern of inaction that we have a moral responsibility to break—by talking and acting! Go here for more information, and register today!

We are Sustainable Champions of the Year!

At its annual Greening the Statehouse Gathering on November 19, Hoosier Environmental Council assembled hundreds of Indiana environmentalists for a fascinating day of learning at the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds. The keynote speaker was clean water advocate Melissa Mays of Flint, Michigan, who described with candor and humor the heartbreaking journey of her family and community as they have battled both disease and bureaucracy for the right for drinkable, lead-free water in Flint. See a History Channel video about her story.

Panel discussions followed on environmental justice and quality of life in both urban and rural areas, advocacy training, and reasons for unexpected hope.

But the most exciting moment for the many Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light staff and volunteers in attendance was early in the day, when H-IPL was named HEC’s Sustainable Champion of the Year.

HEC Sustainability Champions

Thank you, Jesse Kharbanda, Indra Frank, Amanda Shepherd, Kim Ferraro, and all our friends at Hoosier Environmental Council for your partnership and commendation!

Ten Pathways to Congregational Creation Care

by Marie F. Fleming

Installment Two: Study and Education

4. BIBLE STUDY People of faith want to know “what the Bible says”. Two books that are insightful and engaging for Bible students, with discussion guides for use in small group study, are Norm Wirzba’s Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012) and Patricia Tull’s Inhabiting Eden: Christians, the Bible, and the Ecological Crisis (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2013).

5. EDUCATION and SPIRITUAL GROWTH Inspiring Eco-Consciousness in Kids Without a Load of Eco-Guilt: Five Ideas for Nature-Based Education”  offers ways to encourage kids to love nature without weighing them down with guilt or hopelessness. This brief article could form the basis for a short term Sunday School or youth group curriculum.

Green Church: Caretakers of God’s Creation: A Six-Week Study for Kids by Daphna Flagel and Suzann Wade. (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2010) helps children experience what it means to be good stewards of God’s creation. This curriculum Includes topical focus areas, Bible study and action steps. Amazon Link.

For teens, see Tim Gossett’s curriculum, Burst Green Church Leader’s Short-Term Studies. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2010. Amazon Link. Student booklets are available. Burst: Green Church is a 6-week program for youth groups that shows Christian teens how caring for the earth is a way to honor God and show love for our neighbors. It takes the usual "three Rs" of conservation - reduce, reuse, and recycle - and adds three more - reclaim, repent, and rejoice.

Simply in Season: Recipes that celebrate fresh, local foods in the spirit of More-with-Less by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert (Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press, 2015). In this cookbook, the recipes are arranged according to season. Throughout, there short writings about the current state of food production, devotional thoughts and prayers written by people of faith who celebrate local food. The book can be used as a small group study by downloading a free 6- to13-session Leader’s Guide.  This is a great resource for starting a “locavore” group in the congregation or neighborhood.

To be continued next month.

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church of Indianapolis
Creation Care Ministry Project

Early this year, the St. Thomas Aquinas Creation Care Ministry sought to assist those who had been inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, but didn’t know where to start. We sponsored a discussion on Christian Simplicity and Simple, Joyful Living, tying into the Lenten Program for Christian Simplicity. We used as a springboard the activities outlined by Marie Kondo in her bestseller The Life Saving Magic of Tidying Up, as well as the Christian Simplicity Discussion Course booklet from Lent 2013.

Our first follow-up project was designed to assist parishioners in responding to Pope Francis’ call to lead a simpler life by sorting their clothing at home, keeping only those items that really “brought them joy”. Discarded clothing items were brought to the church, where we “recycled” them by making them available to anyone who thought they could use them, keeping in mind the goal to simplify their lives. We had a tremendous response and after the event, we took a van and a carload of clothes to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, for distribution to those in need.

In April we celebrated Earth Day by reflecting with gratitude how the earth supports us with food. We provided information on numerous food-related topics such as: organic food, farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture (CSA’s), restaurants that showcase local produce, composting, the Cathedral Soup Kitchen, the Boulevard Place Food Pantry and the Shared Harvest Project (SHarP garden).

We continued our focus on simple living by inviting parishioners to bring their unneeded books for donation and distribution. The response was overwhelming, and although many participants took books that would “give them joy”, we still had 32 boxes of books left that we donated to Indy Reads.

Our next project is to encourage parishioners to purge their homes of unneeded papers that may be too sensitive to simply drop in the recycle bin. We will be offering a “shredding opportunity” in conjunction with a local business that will provide shredding bins at the church to be transported after the event to their business for shredding.

We are hopeful that this event will be as successful as the others were and will continue to assist everyone in meeting simple, joyful living goals.

The Environmental Movement after November 8

Paris COP21The future of environmental well-being seemed hopeful last year to many in faith communities, with the publication of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ in June, the finalization of the Clean Power Plan in August, and the successful outcome of the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) in December, one year ago.

2016, however, offered very mixed news. On the one hand, the Paris agreements were ratified by 114 countries representing almost 79% of global emissions, and went into effect on November 4, 2016. On the other hand, President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to pull the U.S. out of the agreement, and his stance remains uncertain.

EPAOn the one hand, the EPA announced a new methane rule that will not only prevent waste of natural gas but also cut greenhouse contributions from a gas that is far more potent than carbon dioxide, the second most deadly greenhouse gas. The rule’s goal is to cut methane emissions from oil and gas drilling by 35%, a move increasingly important as natural gas replaces coal. The Bureau of Land Management also introduced a rule limiting methane releases on public lands. Yet on the other hand, President-elect Trump can and will likely seek to reverse these rules, and has chosen Myron Ebell, notorious climate contrarian and energy and environment director at the coal-industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, to lead the EPA’s transition team.

What exactly will happen politically remains to be seen. Many analysts have been hard at work assessing which environmental policies are most vulnerable to erasure and which may stand more firmly.

It’s becoming increasingly clear, however, that while the next administration can and likely will deter climate action, it cannot stop it. At the November COP 22 meeting in Marrakech, nearly 200 countries reaffirmed their promise to tackle the challenge of climate change, refusing to allow one country, however significant, to “cancel Paris,” as the president-elect has pledged. In fact, the U.S. delegates presented a long-term strategy to reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

Business Backs Low CarbonAmerican businesses are joining them. In an open letter to Donald Trump, more than 360, including prominent names like Starbucks, General Mills, Kellogg, and Hewlett Packard, called on him to uphold the Paris agreements and to “support the low carbon economy at home and abroad.” Businesses you wouldn’t expect, like Monsanto, DuPont, eBay, Tiffany & Co., and Hilton, joined certified B Corporations well known for their eco and social values, such as Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, and Fetzer. Carbon-free mutual funds companies like Pax World, Trillium, and Green Century joined the list. And religious folks appeared as well: the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Unitarian Universalist Association, and many orders of Catholic sisters.

Perhaps most encouraging of all are the pragmatic numbers that underlie these business commitments. Corporations are realizing how much money they can save by reducing their energy waste. And the price of renewable energy is becoming comparable to that of coal and gas.

If environmental sustainability is the business choice of choice for so many industries, and if people of faith believe in loving and preserving God’s good creation, how long will be until every congregation in the U.S. boasts its own green ministry and its own solar panels?

Green and Grow Your CongregationSo much depends on our interpreting to our friends and neighbors that while climate disruption has been tragically politicized, at root its threat is moral: Do we love our neighbors, here and abroad, who have contributed the least to atmospheric carbon and stand to suffer the most from its effects? If we do love our neighbors, if we do believe in social justice, as the world’s religions teach, what will we resolve to do to show it?

Wind Power Facts

Wind FarmA great joy of driving through the midwest is seeing the growth of wind farms. Despite its poor record on climate preparedness, Indiana is ranked 12th in the nation in wind power. Fowler Ridge in northwest Indiana, for instance, with its 600 MW capacity, is one of the largest in the U.S., while the 500 MW Meadow Lake wind farm straddles I 65 north of Lafayette, Indiana on the way to Chicago (see photo).

Yet much misinformation still churns about wind power. A common claim without much basis in fact, for instance, is that wind turbines are devastating bird populations. Statistics about the leading human causes of bird mortality have shown that, on the contrary, it’s glass windows, electric transmission lines, and house cats, followed by cars and trucks, pesticides, communication towers, oil and gas extraction, and hunting that are responsible for the greatest numbers of bird deaths. Statistics specifically on wind farms show shockingly few deaths, the great majority of them attributable to one forty-year-old California wind farm, Altamont Winds, whose turbines had been badly sited, and have undergone replacement, saving a large majority of birds.

In his recent interview with the New York Times, President-Elect Donald Trump said the following about wind power:

The wind is a very deceiving thing. First of all, we don’t make the windmills in the United States. They’re made in Germany and Japan. They’re made out of massive amounts of steel, which goes into the atmosphere, whether it’s in our country or not, it goes into the atmosphere. The windmills kill birds and the windmills need massive subsidies. In other words, we’re subsidizing wind mills all over this country. I mean, for the most part they don’t work. I don’t think they work at all without subsidy, and that bothers me, and they kill all the birds. You go to a windmill, you know in California they have the, what is it? The golden eagle? And they’re like, if you shoot a golden eagle, they go to jail for five years and yet they kill them by, they actually have to get permits that they’re only allowed to kill 30 or something in one year. The windmills are devastating to the bird population.

AmericanWindEnergyAssociation.jpgIn response to these claims, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) published the following documented facts:

Americans overwhelming (83%) favor expanding wind energy, according to a Pew Research Center report.

There’s real, authentic support for wind power while manufactured opposition spreads misinformation, according to an AWEA report.

Over 21,000 U.S. factory workers make a majority of American wind farm content right here in the USA, according to an AWEA press release (PDF).

A typical wind project repays its carbon footprint in six months or less, providing decades of zero emission energy that displaces fossil fuel energy, according to a Science Daily report. Wind power is one of the biggest, fastest, cheapest ways states cut carbon pollution and avoids 132 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year in the U.S. – or 28 million cars worth of carbon emissions, according to an AWEA press release.

Wind power has among the lowest impacts on wildlife of any way to make electricity. Leading wildlife groups like the Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, and the World Wildlife Fund support responsibility sited wind turbines. Wind energy is the low-cost solution to carbon pollution in particular which threatens all wildlife. Unlike all other human sources, the wind industry works to minimize and offset the limited impacts it has on individual birds, building on a legacy of care for birds and environment. AWEA report.

All forms of energy have incentives, most of them permanent in the tax code. The only ones preparing to phase out their incentives are wind and the other renewable industries. The wind Production Tax Credit is set to phase out starting next year. Thanks to performance-based tax policy, the U.S. is number one in the world in wind energy production, supplying enough electricity to reliably power 20 million American homes. AWEA report.


Check the Events Calendar

Check the H-IPL on-line calendar for future events in your area, including movies, lectures, and workshops.

Consider a Donation

This is a crucial time in our work to address climate change. Please consider a gift to help H-IPL continue to grow and build the movement to care for creation in 2017.

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