In this Issue
- From our Executive Director, Holly Jones
- Faith Voter Guides Available
- Upcoming Workshops: Using Energy Prudently and Climate Boot Camp
- Exploring the “I” in Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light: Indiana Disciples of Christ
- H-IPL’s First Acclaimed Congregation Awards Given
- International News: Paris Agreement Will Be Finalized November 4th
- National News: Clean Power Marches Forward, Despite Bad News
- State News: Coal Burning in the Evansville Area
- Green Light Award in Evansville
- More Sacred Solar Panels Installed
From our Executive Director, Holly Jones
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to respond to climate change.
Along with our board members, I've been looking closely at other successful programs in the Midwest. Trisha Tull, H-IPL program director, and I attended the Faith in Place Green Team Summit in Chicago last weekend. We both left inspired and full of new ideas about how our congregations and affiliates can better work together in our collective response to climate change.
I had the pleasure (and sometimes, frustration) of speaking twice this week at public hearings in Indianapolis. At the same time I heard from many of our fellow Hoosiers, and I realized again that there is so much our faith-based communities can do to help educate and empower each other.
I hope you will take a few moments this month to help those around you become more active in raising our voices to promote the cause we all care so deeply about. While some of these climate issues may not seem directly related to politics, it is clearly a moral imperative that we reach out to make sure public leaders know how important caring for our environment is to all of us.
Consider ordering the voter guides “Faith, Values, and the 2016 Election: Toward a Politics of the Golden Rule” provided by our national organization, Interfaith Power and Light, to share with your congregation. See the following article for more information.
Consider using this link to email a question for the third gubernatorial debate. We want all three of Indiana's candidates for governor to know just how important climate change and planning Indiana's future to thrive in ways that are more sustainable and healthy for all Hoosiers.
If Indiana voters have a clear indication about what candidates understand about climate change and how they intend to address it in setting our state priorities, then we can make a more informed choice at the polls.
Together our voices can rise above the political din.
Whoever wins in November will have a great impact on how we proceed. We hope and pray that our state leadership will decide to develop a climate plan that makes climate change a high priority. When that happens, we can get down to the work of responding in stronger and more effective ways than ever before!
With hope and enthusiasm,
Faith Voter Guides Available
First Come, First Served
Interfaith Power & Light is making available copies of “Faith, Values, and the 2016 Election: Toward a Politics of the Golden Rule.” These brochures, produced in cooperation with a variety of leading religious organizations, provide a framework to think about moral issues key to coming elections, including not only global warming, but immigration, economic equality, gun violence, restorative and racial justice, and protecting our nation while affirming our values. They are endorsed by a large variety of Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Evangelical, and Protestant leaders, including Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Rev. Fletcher Harper of GreenFaith, and Rev. Sally Bingham, Interfaith Power & Light’s founder, as well as many seminary presidents, professors, and religious orders.
To order the guides for your congregation in batches of 50 or 100, please write to Holly Jones at email@example.com, and include your name, congregation, and mailing address. You will be asked later to report back with the date they were distributed and the number given out. Thank you so much for your efforts to promote the Golden Rule as we approach the coming election.
A PDF version is available online.
Using Energy Prudently
The 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.
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.
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
Two 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.
Participants in the September Boot Camp at Peace Baptist Church in Gary
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 Marie Fleming highlights the creation care ministries in Indiana Disciples of Christ congregations. We should also note that two Disciples congregations, Downey Avenue and Eastgate in Indianapolis, have installed solar panels and are engaging in energy conservation measures. See the announcement about Downey Avenue’s Using Energy Prudently Workshop in this newsletter.
Indiana Disciples Equip Congregations for Creation Care
By Marie F. Fleming, firstname.lastname@example.org
Two years ago a small group of Indiana Disciples came together to equip Hoosier congregations for creation care. We named ourselves Indiana Green Chalice, after the denomination’s Green Chalice creation care ministry, and developed a half-day event to- provide fellowship, inspiration, and practical help for individuals and congregations wishing to know more.
The pilot Green Chalice Café was held in October, 2015, in Indianapolis. It featured a Bible presentation by H-IPL’s Trisha Tull, short workshops on various pathways to congregational creation care, and community time around locally sourced or fair-trade snacks. Representatives from ten congregations attended, including a contingent of ten folk from the host congregation, Central Christian Church.
The event proved to be a turning point for Central, as they immediately decided, “Let’s do this!” They have since become a Green Chalice congregation—promising to engage in specific Earth-honoring changes to congregational life. Over 100 signatures were garnered for the Green Chalice application, signifying the congregation’s deep commitment.
The intervening year has seen a wealth of enthusiastic and creative activity. They have established recycling stations in the church. A rotating display in the community hall highlights various topics related to creation care. A Rogation Sunday observation in the spring included a special children’s sermon and coloring book created by the worship pastor. On Earth Sunday, 2016, the creation-centered liturgy led to a post-worship Earth Fair in nearby fellowship space featuring displays and presentations by a dozen or so members. One family sold a chicken coop to raise money for missions. Another set up a display on bees and honey. A neighboring pastor brought his solar display. Locally produced refreshments were served.
In another development, the leader of Central’s Baptism class for older elementary children created her own Creation Care curriculum to use with the kids. This fall, A Harvest Festival will again draw the congregation into community and celebration of God’s bountiful provision. The possibilities seem endless as the congregation embraces its identity as an Earth-loving community.
Today, the Indiana Green Chalice ministry team is still small but our aim is clear: To equip Hoosier Disciples for Creation Care by connecting them to resources and to one another. A recent regional Disciples gathering in Indianapolis brought over 30 people to IGC workshops, indicating a strong interest in starting and strengthening congregational creation care ministries.
Another Green Chalice Café will take place on November 19 from 9:00 to noon at Central Christian Church in Indianapolis. All are welcome to attend. (For more information and to register, please use the email below.) In addition, we would be glad to talk with others who would like to organize on the judicatory level. We are available to provide presentations and workshops on a variety of topics, including how to organize a creation care ministry, how to incorporate creation care in congregational worship, various pathways to congregational creation care, gardening basics, introduction to Permaculture, and resource consulting to help congregations find the resources they need to address specific challenges and opportunities.
Contact Indiana Green Chalice at email@example.com.
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.
H-IPL’s First Acclaimed Congregation Awards Given
We recently celebrated our first five new H-IPL Acclaimed Congregations, who have successfully reduced their electricity and natural gas use by at least 25% through energy conservation. They engaged members in energy conservation at home, and challenged their surrounding communities by partnering with H-IPL to offer workshops on these topics. We expect many more congregations like these in coming years.
In-depth stories about each congregation can be found at this webpage. Here are highlights:
Trinity Episcopal Church in Bloomington was part of the first round of Community Conservation Challenge solar panel grants awarded to H-IPL in 2012. It’s the church in downtown Bloomington with the green sign outside that says, “Not just a roof—it’s a power station.” They attended not only to reducing electricity and gas, but water, installing low-flow toilets throughout the building. New windows went in, more efficient lighting, energy star refrigerators, sealing of air leaks, and insulation. They engaged their congregation with Task of the Month, and succeeded in filling their goals. Watch their installation here.
The Unitarian Universalist Church in Indianapolis began working to conserve energy in 2000, replacing all five furnaces with energy-efficient models. More than half of their members demonstrated double the energy conservation at home that was expected. They participated in the Energizing Indiana home energy audits, Task of the Month, and made a bold move to set church thermostats high in the summer and low in the winter—their most important single action to conserve energy. As a result of these efforts they have reduced energy use in the church by more than half—even more than this when their 10 kW of solar panels are counted.
UU Indy’s close ally and friendly rival is the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington. They planned ahead enough on aging HVAC equipment to buy highest efficiency in their most-used rooms. Their members saved half a million pounds of carbon dioxide at home through the Task of the Month program—created by member Stephanie Kimball—earning their congregation honorable mention as an Interfaith Power & Light Cool Congregation. Member generosity, along with the CCC grant, allowed them to install 24 kilowatts of solar panels. Both of these UU congregations have received Green Sanctuary certification.
Three-fourths of the congregation at Englewood Christian Church in Indy live within half a mile of the church, some in multifamily dwellings, enabling them to save a carbon and share resources. Englewood replaced an old boiler system with a high efficiency HVAC system. They hired a professional energy auditor to find $20,000 worth of energy investments, and their lighting retrofits alone save between $3000 and $5000 per year. They established the first Indiana Solar LLC, which leveraged investments to expand their CCC grant. Then they won another grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to create Indiana’s first net positive energy multifamily development, the Oxford Place Senior Apartments.
Cumberland First Baptist Church’s green team works hard to raise awareness about earth stewardship, and supports actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions to avert the worst effects of climate change. Acting without an incentive grant, Cumberland First not only installed 9 kW of solar panels but reduced electricity and natural gas use by 30%. Using Task of the Month, 1/3 of their members reduced their energy by more than 14%, and they generously instigated a “pay it forward” plan, helping a neighboring church to obtain solar panels.
We are proud of these five congregations and the examples they are setting for faith communities throughout Indiana!
International News: Paris Agreement Will Be Finalized November 4th
A global agreement to combat climate change will take force after support from European nations sent the accord across an important threshold on Wednesday, prompting U.S. President Barack Obama to hail it as a "historic day" for protecting the planet.
European nations raised backing for the 2015 Paris Agreement to countries representing 56.75 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions, above the 55 percent needed for implementation, a United Nations website showed. The deal will formally start in on Nov. 4, four days before the U.S. presidential election in which Republican Donald Trump opposes the accord and Democrat Hillary Clinton strongly supports it.
National News: Clean Power Marches Forward, Despite Bad News
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan has been back in the news this week, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard arguments both for and against its enforcement. Not only is the CPP our nation’s first national attempt to set limits on carbon pollution from power plants, but it’s the cornerstone of our country’s fulfillment of the agreements we made in Paris with the world’s nations to limit our contribution to climate change.
Politicians in 27 states, including Indiana, brought suit to stop the plan. But a solid majority of citizens in those same states actually favor it—even respondents working in the coal industry itself. What’s more, sixty cities, including both Bloomington and Carmel, Indiana, filed an amicus brief last spring supporting the plan. And power companies nationwide are already shifting to cleaner or zero-carbon fuels, so much so that we are already two-thirds of the way to the 32% reduction in greenhouse gases that the Clean Power Plan calls for.
State News: Coal Burning in the Evansville Area
News about the Evansville area this week dramatically underscores what is at stake for immediate and long-term human health. Research at the Center for Public Integrity revealed that a full one-third of all toxic air releases in 2014 came from just 100 facilities, and that one-third of all greenhouse-gas emissions likewise came from just 100 facilities. Twenty-two of these super-polluters appeared on both lists. Four of these doubly polluting sites sit in one small section of Indiana: Duke’s Gibson power plant in Owensville; AEP’s power plant in Rockport; AES’s power plant in Petersburg; and Alcoa’s Warrick manufacturing complex in Newburgh. Together with two other power plants along the Ohio River and two more nearby in Kentucky, these create a hostile climate for people trying to breathe in southwestern Indiana. According to this report, “more toxic pollution from utility coal plants was sent into the air within 30 miles of Evansville than around any other mid-sized or large American city in 2014.” Evansville’s county, Vandenburgh, has lower life expectancy and a higher rate of adults reporting fair to poor health than similar areas across the country, despite lower poverty, obesity, and unemployment rates.
Actual results for health in southwestern Indiana are alarming, as the Ecowatch report narrates. Yet the fact that such a large percentage of toxic emissions comes from such a small number of plants means that our problems are solvable, given the political will. Citizens must vote for officials responsive to our voices, raise our voices to be heard, and insist on action to close facilities that are endangering public health. Health is a crucial motive for change, but there are also economic benefits to modernizing our power sources: a report from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a market-based program to reduce greenhouse gases among nine states, shows that clean-up not only improves the environment and human health, but actually proves economically beneficial: for every dollar invested in energy efficiency, $4.55 returns to citizens in bill savings.
And perhaps the tide is turning even among politicians. The Friends Committee on National Legislation reported in mid-September that a new bipartisan climate bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. It would require the Department of the Interior to publicly disclose the amounts and sources of greenhouse gas emissions coming from public lands. This matters, since these emissions comprise nearly 25% of all energy-related emissions in the U.S.
Want to find out more about moving to a clean energy future? The Clean Power for All collaborative recently published a series of downloadable toolkits, including guidance for investing in frontline communities, making polluters pay, creating good jobs, moving to a just transition, and community engagement. Get yours today!
Green Light Award in Evansville
Congratulations to Evansville Area Creation Care (EACC) and its outgoing chair Carol Oglesby, which has been inducted into the Green Lights Hall of Fame by Sustainable Indiana 2016. They will receive a "Green Light" award on October 16 at Bethlehem United Church of Christ in Evansville.
More Sacred Solar Panels Installed
Congratulations to First United Church in Bloomington, whose new solar panels were dedicated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 18. They now have the distinction of having the largest array on a church in Indiana. They raised nearly $164,000 to install an 82.9 kilowatt system consisting of 307 solar panels, and expect to produce about 100,000 kilowatt hours annually, saving the church about $9000 each year, more than half of its electricity use.
“Churches typically make decisions based on their beliefs of what is important, like fairness, justice and compassion,” said Darrell Boggess, of Solar Indiana Renewable Energy Network (SIREN). “Millions of people around the world are suffering because of climate change, mostly due to the presence or absence of water (droughts, rain, floods, typhoons, melting glaciers). Many faith traditions recognize that climate change may be the dominant reality of this century.”
First United’s solar panel project began with a memorial gift from member Al Ruesink, Earth Care leader and one of Hoosier IPL’s charter members, who died two years ago. The church joins 28 other congregations in Indiana in generating some of its power from the sun.
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.