Posted by: mcgurker | March 20, 2009

People of Faith Take Leadership to Green Their Communities

On Tuesday, I attended the monthly DC Eco Women Hour where women working in the environmental field get together to chat and hear from someone working on a relevant environmental issue.  This month’s speaker was Susan Piedmont-Palladino Architect and Curator for the National Building Museum.   Her most recent exhibit entitled “Green Communities” is on display now.  In her speech, Piedmont-Palladino talked about how we can green our communities. She referred to technology as the easy part and suggested that cultural solutions were by far the most difficult piece of the puzzle. 

In my opinion, it is in addressing the difficult piece, in finding the cultural solutions that communities of faith have the most to offer. Every day I learn about congregations who make caring for God’s Creation a central value to the life of their community. Some communities of faith do this by installing solar panels, geothermal wells or utilizing other forms of renewable energy. Many others are finding low cost ways to increase the energy efficiency of their worship spaces. Still others do this by focusing on water or habitat conservation or waste reduction. All of these congregations, whether they do one of these things, or all of them do them because they are compelled by a culture of faith that values protecting God’s Creation and those among us who are most vulnerable, who will suffer the most from environmental degradation.    

This is not necessarily to say that these values are unique to the faith community alone, or that we as people of faith have always acted on them (many of us still don’t).  However, our practice of gathering together as a community, through worship and study, to reflect on the issues facing our world and to seek out ways that God is calling us to respond, positions us to challenge and change the aspects of our culture that are part of the problems and to strengthen those aspects of our culture that affirm an abundant life for all. We begin by educating ourselves and continue by making personal and congregational lifestyle changes to reduce our dependence on unsustainable sources of energy.

In addition to making personal and congregational lifestyle changes, people of faith are helping to change the culture of their larger communities by raising climate change as an issue of moral concern that must be addressed immediately to their members of congress.  This past weekend over 800 people of faith came to Washington DC to lobby for effective, just and sustainable legislation to address climate change as a part of the Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference.  They attended various workshops to learn about the different aspects of climate change and the ways their effects will impact the core ministries of the church.  They also committed to taking the information they learned back to their home communities to help educate others.  These people of faith have become low carbon lights unto the nations, helping to spread a culture of sustainability, justice, and compassion.

The National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program has a variety of resources for congregations and individuals who are ready to answer the call to care for God’s people and God’s Creation and explore what exactly that call means.  In fact, our office has just launched a carbon reduction campaign, an online carbon calculator that tracks the carbon congregations, youth groups and individuals prevent from escaping in to the atmosphere by making a few changes in the way they use energy.  Some of these changes include purchasing energy efficient technologies like CFL’s, Occupancy sensors, and low flow devices, but some only require a simple change in behavior (turning down your thermostat and recycling).  In addition to offering suggestions for action, the Carbon Reduction Campaign is a resource providing theological education and step by step instructions for taking action. So far people of faith have reduced carbon emissions by 157957 lbs of carbon!

If you are ready to green your life and aid in the greening of your community click here to sign up for the Carbon Reduction Campaign! 

Looking for funding for energy efficient technologies?  Click here to search for incentives by state and denomination.

Want to start a conversation about the stewardship of God’s Creation?  Click here to download the 2009 Earth Day Sunday Resource Celebrating and Caring for God’s Creation

For ideas on how to engage your congregation in the political process and speak out to your elected officials click here to see our climate activist toolkit.

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