November 2016


In this Issue

  • Upcoming Workshops:Using Energy Prudently and Climate Boot Camp
  • Exploring the “I” in Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light Indiana’s Presbyterian Community
  • Ten Pathways to Congregational Creation Care, Installment 1, by Marie F. Fleming
  • Movie Opportunity: Before the Flood
  • Encouraging News about Solar

Upcoming Workshops

Using Energy Prudently

UEPWorkshopsThe next Using Energy Prudently Workshop will be held on Sunday, November 13, 1:30-4:30 pm, at Downey Avenue Christian Church in Indianapolis. 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.
To register, go to the H-IPL Calendar and select the date.

Climate Boot Camp

Climate Boot CampTwo workshops for faith leaders and members called “Climate Boot Camp” are scheduled in coming months: At Bethlehem United Church of Christ in Evansville on Monday, November 14, and at a location to be determined in Central Indiana on Monday, February 20, 2017.

The workshops are 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 of your choice. 

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! 

Exploring the “I” in Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light

Hoosier IPL includes Indiana congregations and people from all faiths whose religious beliefs lead them to environmental efforts. You can find recent stories here on our website. This month Presbyterians practicing Earth Care are highlighted.

Indiana’s Presbyterian Community

The Presbyterian Church (USA), headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, includes about 190 certified Earth Care Congregations throughout the United States. Three of these are in Indiana, and a dozen other Presbyterian churches throughout the state are associated with Hoosier IPL.

The Rev. Rebecca Barnes, the Presbyterian Associate for Environmental Ministries, lives in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Rebecca says, “As a Presbyterian, I believe we're called to live our faith in the public square, to interact with society through key elements of faith—such as gratitude for the gift of God of this beautiful creation, love of our brothers and sisters who are most impacted by environmental destruction, and humble confession that the world is not to be used and disposed of for selfish human interest.”

Several Presbyterian congregations throughout Indiana contributed to this article describing what Presbyterians do for Earth Care. Three of them have the same name. You guessed it….

First Presbyterian Church in Fort WayneFirst Presbyterian Church in Fort Wayne, a member of H-IPL’s regional affiliate Evansville Area Creation Care, became a certified Earth Care Congregation in 2015. They then transformed a centrally located room in the church into an attractive, well organized center for recycling, collection of reusable goods, and distribution of earth related materials.

The artistic talents of their Green Team, including those of their leader Patty Griest, shine through in many of their other projects: For Earth Sunday last spring, emphasizing “Stewards, not Subduers,” the pastors wore stoles made by members from discarded ties collected by the children throughout Lent. The church’s Art Gallery featured “Tossed and Found,” an invitational exhibition of the work of eight local artists who used recycled, reclaimed materials to create incredible new works of art. In conjunction with the exhibition, FPC offered a workshop to emphasize the worldwide problem of trash polluting the planet and to encourage others to reduce, reuse and recycle, and to reclaim and honor the va
lue of discarded items for other uses.

On Arbor Day the congregation planted six trees on the grounds of another church. They continue to encourage support for the programs of H-IPL and the Sierra Club, currently concentrating on the closing of the Rockport coal-fired power plant.

First Presbyterian Church in Bloomington’s nearly decade-strong Green Team, Earth Stewards, “envisions a world in which all people treat God’s creation with reverence and gratitude.” They too host weekly recycling. Working with the church’s Property Management Committee, they have reduced their building’s energy footprint and costs by approximately 30% by, among other things, replacing an old gas-fired boiler with a high efficiency unit and installing LED lights as well as high efficiency appliances in their newly remodeled kitchen. A commercial grade dishwasher has enabled them to practically eliminate use of disposable dinnerware.

First Presbyterian Church in BloomingtonFirst Presbyterian was one of the first congregations to use Task of the Month to help households reduce energy use, and their “Wrap Rap,” written and performed by Buff and Lilly Brown, made wrapping hot water pipes very cool indeed. First Presbyterian belongs to H-IPL’s affiliate in Bloomington, Earth Care, and one of their key members, Allan Edmonds, is H-IPL’s faithful newsletter editor.

Jeffersonville Presbyterian ChurchFirst Presbyterian Church in Jeffersonville, Indiana’s first Earth Care Congregation, has had a green team cheering the congregation’s environmental efforts along since 2008, but First Prez celebrated outdoor worship and had Blessing of the Animals long before that. Working with H-IPL program director Trisha Tull, they host recycling of difficult items such as batteries, CFL bulbs, cell phones, and wine bottle corks. They brought back real dishes to both communion and church dinners, introduced an annual winter farmer’s market in their gym, and designed and installed unique bike racks in the form of Presbyterian symbols.

They’ve held electronic trash recycling days for the community and regular earth care worship cycles. The congregation has had home energy audits with Energizing Indiana and used Task of the Month to help educate themselves on changes at home. The green team regularly sells Equal Exchange Fair Trade coffees, chocolates, and other products. Most recently they were instrumental in installing one round of solar panels and are working on a second round, and led the congregation in a drive for reforestation, sending funds to the Africa Inland Church in Kisumu, Kenya to build a tree nursery that will supply seedlings to congregations in western Kenya. First Prez’s property committee and the green team have worked together to reduce the building’s energy use by 18% so far, and are currently replacing most of the fluorescent lights in the building with LEDs.

Hanover Presbyterian Church, besides recycling and installing energy efficient lights, has very active gardeners sharing their produce with other members. Their annual outdoor worship services highlight the call to care for the environment, and their Blessing of the Animals reminds them of their love for all God’s creatures. Hanover’s pastor, the Rev. Katrina Pekich-Bundy, says, “I believe God created the earth to work together as a system—plants, animals, and humans—and we have to live together peacefully. That isn't always easy, especially with new technology that can damage creation. We have to do what we can to help care for creation, even if it is something small.”

Unity Presbyterian Church in Terre HauteUnity Presbyterian Church in Terre Haute is Indiana’s second Earth Care Congregation. Green committee member Dawn Chapman says their intergenerational green team encourages recycling in the church. They host a Family Organic Garden that helps feed food-insecure families by donating ten percent of their yield to the church’s Potts Food Pantry. They contribute funds for water wells in Africa, and they have improved their building with occupancy sensors to save on electricity in several rooms.

Every fifth Sunday, the Green Committee takes charge of Sunday School to teach about earth stewardship. They have collected enough plastic soda bottle caps to recycle into three benches for the church property. The dedication of the green committee has spilled out to the rest of the congregation. Member Bess Enright in particular summarized Unity’s values, saying, “As a person of faith I feel responsible to make our environment cleaner. Even one person can make a difference.”

Irvington Presbyterian Church in IndianapolisIrvington Presbyterian Church (IPC) in Indianapolis embraces the theologically-sound idea that “we are all in this together.” They retrofitted 200 windows in the church, making them double-paned; replaced 137 lightbulbs and 25 fluorescent tubes with higher efficiency lighting; and added motion detectors to shut off restroom lights. They have encouraged members to conduct energy assessments in their homes as well.

The church has built six raised garden beds to grow vegetables for the local food pantry. They also began “Project Eden,” planting fruit and nut trees instead of ornamental plants on their grounds. They sell Equal Exchange Fair Trade products to assist small farmers in developing countries, and several members have participated in delegations of the Presbyterian Hunger Program in Nicaragua and Peru, bringing back inspiring stories of how others are making an impact in environmentally sustainable practices. The church has offered retreats and classes using curriculum based on food justice. They also support food justice by providing a low-cost apartment for VISTA workers volunteering in Indianapolis.

Irvington’s pastor, the Rev. Bob Heimach, says that the church’s leadership understands that “we are only hospitable to God if we are hospitable to God’s world. So, IPC is always seeking ways to grow in hospitality by promoting actions that will make our worldwide community cleaner, safer, and more sustainable to all of God’s children.”

Ten Pathways to Congregational Creation Care

The fall and winter months are a peaceful season to reflect on the year that is ending and to plan for the year about to begin. In that spirit, we are delighted to present Marie F. Fleming’s “Ten Pathways” in four installments that will take us almost to the spring….


There are many ways for a congregation to engage in creation care ministries, and there are increasing numbers of excellent resources to help along the way. Each of the pathways and resources described here has the potential to lead to greater impact. Find the path or paths that work for you, take a step, and see where the Spirit leads!

1. Building

It isn't hard to argue that saving money on utilities strengthens the congregation's ministry by strengthening its bottom line. In addition, by reducing our congregational and household carbon footprints we model what it means to care for God's good Earth.

Using Energy Prudently: Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light’s Program to Help Your Congregation ‘Walk the Talk’ of Caring for Creation” is a free downloadable guide, with tips and tools for reducing your carbon footprint. It also contains an excellent step-by-step guide to starting a creation care ministry in your congregation. (Check out the many practical handouts here as well!)

Task of the Month” is an all-congregation energy-reduction program that suggests one simple action each month that will reduce energy usage. This free resource includes a guide for organizing, tracking and celebrating your progress.

Monroe Fritz, author of Chasing Sacred Air: A Common Sense Guide to Energy Efficiency in Sacred Buildings, is an energy efficiency expert who specializes in congregational facility assessment. He is also available to do presentations that translate the technology of energy efficiency into common-sense terms specifically for congregations. Contact him at

2. Grounds

Most congregations have land that must be tended. By replacing lawns with edible landscapes, native plantings and rain gardens, you can reduce the need for irrigation and toxic chemicals while providing a more hospitable outdoor space for all God’s creatures. Find resources on resilient landscape design through Permaculture here. Persons of faith will recognize kinship with Permaculture’s ethics of Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share (Just Distribution).

Learn how one Indiana congregation, St. Peter’s UCC in Carmel, transformed their high-maintenance lawn into an award-winning native prairie installation here.

3. Outreach/Evangelism

Church GardeningCongregation-sponsored community gardens are cropping up everywhere—in urban suburban, small town and rural settings. In addition to providing nutritious food with a minimal carbon footprint, gardens foster community within and beyond the congregation.

Disciples Home Missions’ “Return to the Garden” is a free resource detailing how to start a community garden ministry. For a conversation on congregational readiness, read this article by Kendra Juskus, “Extending the Front Porch: Is Your Church Ready for a Garden?” “Much like a front porch, a garden welcomes us into a relaxed, fresh air setting and encourages curiosity among passersby, strengthening community ties.“ Even without an actual front porch, congregations can develop a “front porch culture” by creating garden spaces. For those who wonder whether a garden project is right for their congregation, there is a ten-point readiness questionnaire with a checklist of basic considerations.

Another model for outreach is to offer community weatherization. Find examples of simple, low cost fixes in the “Task of the Month” program mentioned above.

To be continued in December.

Marie F. Fleming is a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor certified in Permaculture Design and Teaching, and is co-founder of Indiana Green Chalice.

Movie Opportunity: Before the Flood

Before the Flood, Leonardo DiCaprio’s important documentary movie on climate change, is now released, and will be aired on Sunday, October 30, to Sunday, November 6, on the National Geographic channel. The film, directed by Fisher Stevens, is also now available to watch for free from just about any website or device that streams online videos, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, Sony PlayStation, and GooglePlay.

“There is no greater threat to the future of our society than climate change, and it must be a top issue for voters this election season,” said DiCaprio, an Oscar-winning actor-winning actor and prominent environmental activist. “Fisher and I set out to make a film to educate people around the planet on the urgent issues of climate change and to inspire them to be part of the solution. I applaud National Geographic for their commitment to bringing this film to as many people as possible at such a critical time.”

Read more and watch a trailer or the full movie here.

Encouraging News about Solar

Solar is growing by leaps and bounds, according to this article by Bobby Magill, senior science writer at Climate Central, in a recent article entitled “U.S. Energy Shakeup Continues as Solar Capacity Triples." According to monthly data from the U.S. Department of Energy, coal power continues to fade. Renewables, expected to be 9% of the U.S. power supply by next year, still have catching up to do, but solar is taking the lead, due to ever cheaper panels and the federal tax credit, which has now been extended beyond 2016.

What’s more, according to a new Pew poll, even though Americans remain very divided politically on the question of climate change, what they do agree on is the need to expand wind and solar power. Some 89% of those polled favor building more solar farms, and 83% support expansion of wind farms. In contrast, a majority of Americans disapprove of expanding offshore drilling, nuclear power plants, fracking, and coal mining.

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.

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