Our Annual Conference 2016 – Sunday, October 30th – in State College – Keynote Speaker Announced!

We are delighted that Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome will be offering the keynote presentation at our 2016 Annual Conference, ‘An Environment of Justice,’ Sunday, October 30th, in State College.   Dr. White-Newsome will be speaking on ‘Climate Change: The Path to Inner Resilience.’  jalonne_white-newsome-107_5x7 - Copyjpeg

Our conference this year celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the Principles of Environmental Justice, and the growing awareness of the intersection of racism, economic justice, and care for our common home in a time of rapid climate change.

Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome is senior program officer at The Kresge Foundation, responsible for the Environment Program’s grant portfolio on sustainable water resources management in a changing climate. Jalonne also leads the foundation’s work addressing the intersection of climate change and public health.   Before joining Kresge, Jalonne served as director of federal policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a community based, environmental justice organization, where she was involved with leading national campaigns to help ensure that the concerns of low-income, communities of color were integrated into federal policy, particularly on clean air, climate change and health issues.

A native of Detroit, Jalonne earned a Ph.D. in environmental health sciences from the University of Michigan School of Public Health; a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Southern Methodist University; and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University. She currently serves on the board of US Climate Action Network and was recognized by Grist Magazine as “The 50 People You’ll Be Talking About in 2016.”  Jalonne’s career has spanned many sectors, private industry, government, non-profit, academia and now philanthropy.  She is a professional lecturer at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and an adjunct professor at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan.

Jalonne is also an active member of her Baptist church, teaching Sunday school, and serving as a deacon.

Board Profile: Barbara Ballenger

This Board member profile is one of a series that will roll out from now through the early fall.  Board members are active PA IPL volunteers who live and serve across Pennsylvania.  Barbara Ballenger was elected to the Board for a 3-year term in October 2015, and currently serves as board Secretary.

ballenger_photoBringing to the earth and her changing climate the same urgent compassion that I have felt for people in poverty, for the victims of war and violence and for those who are the victims of injustice is something that I have come to gradually.  Part of it has been in learning and understanding how climate justice intersects with all the issues that affect vulnerable people. And part of it has been the result of wiser people continuing to turn my attention to the complexities of climate change, when I wanted to wander off in directions a bit easier for me to understand.

My husband, Jess, is one of those people. I first got involved with the climate care conversation that ultimately produced PA IPL when I sat in for him on a local meeting to plan a climate change conference at Penn State University in State College. That’s usually how it begins for me — one meeting becomes another and another and I’m hooked. Maybe he secretly had that in mind.

The issue wasn’t new for me.  It resonated deeply with my professional work as a pastoral minister, first in the Catholic Church and then the Episcopal Church. Engaging and empowering people of faith in the religious obligation to “do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8)” pretty much sums up ministry for me.

So I worked with other people of faith in Continue reading

ARTICLE Faith in Action: Opposition to Fracking —and other new fossil fuel infrastructure— Is a Moral Imperative

Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein and the Rev. Cheryl Pyrch, co-chairs of Philadelphia PA IPL, wrote the guest editorial for the June 2016 GRID Philadelphia Magazine.   

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (Nevei’im) (Old Testament)

Cheryl.MalkahBinahA low-level but corrosive despair and cynicism pervades our common life. We see it across the political spectrum, from politicians and CEOs who deny climate change, to ordinary folks who acknowledge the science but who feel too overwhelmed to do more than change lightbulbs. This despair is understandable. Predictions of ecological collapse are frightening. Moving to a new energy future is daunting, and it seems to move further out of reach with each presidential campaign speech. It’s tempting to believe half-measures and incremental change will be enough.

It’s tempting to believe the claims that hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—offers us a “bridge fuel,” that industry estimates of methane leakage are correct, that taxes on fracking are the answer to the public school funding crisis. It’s tempting to believe that jobs and income from fracking will revive the rural economy, that water contamination is a minor problem that can be solved, that carbon sequestration or some new technological breakthrough will be the “answer” so we can continue with business as usual.

But these claims are false, as most readers of Grid know. The evidence becomes stronger by the day: Methane leakage makes natural gas nearly as dangerous as coal. Building new wells—and continued use of old ones—will lock us into a future of ecological and economic chaos where those who have contributed the least to climate change—the poor, the young and future generations— will suffer the most.

This injustice, along with the wanton destruction of plant and animal life, makes climate change a moral issue.

Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light (PA IPL) opposes fracking because we are people of faith and hope. We are individuals and communities of many faiths, drawing from the deep wellsprings of our traditions, inspired to work together for the sake of our collective future. We are strengthened by multiple ways of understanding hope: We may point to the divine light within, to the words of the biblical prophets, to the promises of Allah in the Quran, or to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

GRID Philly coverAs people strengthened by faith and hope, as people of many backgrounds who are learning to pray and work together, we believe that a clean energy economy is within reach. We believe that we can build a world where all people have enough to eat and clean air to breathe. We believe that we can live on this earth in a way that allows all creatures to thrive. We believe that we can make the transition in a way that is just, that provides jobs and guards the welfare of all people in the state of Pennsylvania. We believe in a future with hope, and we know that future cannot include fracking—or fossil fuels of any kind. We are therefore focusing our efforts on preventing new fossil fuel infrastructure, including—but not limited to—that for natural gas.

We are a founding organization of Green Justice Philly, a growing and diverse coalition committed to building a healthy, sustainable and economically just Philadelphia region that opposes the development of Philly as a fossil fuel hub. In our resolution, “Covenant with the Future,” we ask the commonwealth to halt the march toward new fossil fuel infrastructure.

We call for…[finish reading at Grid Philly]

REFLECTION: How Getting to Zero as a congregation changed me personally

T2016 05 iphone 196his essay is a (slightly) longer version of the back-page GRID Magazine article (June 2016) entitled Web of Life, and is reprinted here with permission of the author, Jane Dugdale. Our thanks to Jane, and to GRID for reaching out!

I think of myself as a pretty savvy environmentalist.  After I read Paul Ehrlich’s  Population Bomb in the 1970s I volunteered with Planned Parenthood. My Sierra Club card says I’ve been a member since 1976. But when the Ecology Mission Group at my congregation, Central Baptist Church in Wayne, decided to focus on climate change as a moral and spiritual issue, including a campaign for “Getting to Zero” emissions, I was in for a pretty steep learning curve. My participation in that effort connected me to efforts going on nearby and far away, made me aware how differently people of good will think about what can be done, and led to some happy realizations.

Nearby, in my own congregation, we have people like Andy Smith and Chuck Marshall, Continue reading

SERMON: Love God with All Your Heart

This sermon was given by John Dernbach at the Church of the Nativity & St. Stephen in Newport, PA on April 17, 2016.  It is reprinted here with permission.

john-c-dernbach[1]          Good morning.  I have known your rector, Rebecca Myers, for many years.  She has honored me, with her invitation to speak today, in ways I cannot express.

This coming Friday is Earth Day.  Every year since 1970, people in the U.S. and around the world have set aside April 22 to celebrate our environment, to learn about it, and to discuss how to protect and restore it.

I am going to respond to your Rector’s invitation by venturing an answer to a question that has concerned me for my entire adult life–What does our faith have to do with the environment?   This is a huge question, and one the churches have not—until recently—done a particularly effective job in answering.

I am from St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Harrisburg.  About fifteen years ago, at Stephen’s, we were planning to convert an old parking garage—one that used an elevator to move cars to Continue reading

Sermon: The Passing of New Things

The Rev. Alison Cornish delivered this sermon, entitled The Passing of First Things, on April 24, 2016, at PA IPL member congregation Tabernacle United Church in Philadelphia.


Good morning, and thank you so very much for the invitation to be with you here this morning.  Having an opportunity to participate in worship of many different faith communities is one of delights I cherish as Executive Director of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light.

Vincent Van Gogh Ravine

I sincerely doubt that the common lectionary that lays out the cycle of scripture readings for so many Christian communities intentionally aligns itself with the relatively new, and entirely secular, holiday of Earth Day – officially 3 days ago – but what a gift they have given us this morning!  First, those beautiful images from Psalm 148 that Susan read earlier – words, in fact, that are the basis of St. Francis’ Canticle of the Sun – words that one author describes as ‘a symbiosis of praise involving humans and nature.’  And then, the vision from Revelation of a new earth, a new creation, of almost Edenic quality, coming to pass at the end times.  I’ll dig deeper into each of these in a few moments, but for now, let us savor these images, connecting perhaps to moments in our own lives when the qualities of our environs have elevated us, inspired us, nurtured Continue reading