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Position announcement to pair with our April 9th letter — Alison is departing

Each person on our mailing list received this letter on April 9, 2020. We now have an important addendum to share: the official job announcement. The hiring committee will begin reviewing applications on June 12th, and will continue on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Dear PA IPL friends and supporters,

As the global pandemic invites us all to focus our priorities, make unanticipated changes, and answer to our best angels, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light remains committed to our mission while anticipating some big changes in our organization in the coming months.

This summer we will be saying goodbye to our talented and dedicated executive director, Alison Cornish, who is moving from Pennsylvania to be closer to family.

Alison has held this part-time position with PA IPL since 2015. She has led us in fostering effective conversation that crosses difference on climate change, promoting understanding, and inspiring collective action. In the past five years she has worked tirelessly to increase our base, strengthen congregational members, support chapters, and help steer the organization through a major strategic planning process. Her compassion, organizational savvy and pastoral skill have been a blessing and a gift to all who have worked with her on climate issues.

We will miss her immensely.

In these challenging months to come, the PA IPL staff and Board of Directors will continue to focus on tending to and strengthening the diverse relationships necessary to address climate change as a moral issue.  We look forward to further conversations with you as we focus on how best to apply the talents and resources of PA IPL to the challenge of the climate crisis in the current environment.


May Newsletter-Part 3: The New Carbon Footprint Calculator & Stimulus Priorities

New Carbon Footprint Calculator

The new Carbon Footprint Calculator national Interfaith Power & Light has been waiting for is finally here! And the developers describe it as “the most peer reviewed carbon calculator out there.”  Enter a few basics (like your zip code), and the calculator will automatically set the “default” average settings using information about electricity generation and weather patterns in your area.  Then there are a lot of places to play — see the impact of changes you’ve already made, and consider the next steps you might take.  Individual, household, and congregational changes are important because Changes we make serve as spiritual disciplines, linking us to stewardship, mindfulness, and gratitude.Individual steps, curious explorations of next steps, and celebrations of progress serve as invitations for others to join us in the work. Shared goals and actions serve to create and strengthen communities of support, curiosity, and care. Personal and community actions give us authentic voices when we speak with policymakers about the bigger changes we need. Some of you may have joined the webinar for a tour and intro.

IPL’s Cool Congregations webinar  is always available – you can watch it first, or just jump in to experiment with either the Household, or the Congregation version. 

If you think you might be interested in a future study group to learn together — and reach out in your own congregation — please let us know.

Stimulus Priorities

Are you wondering how we are engaging with lawmakers in these extraordinary times?  We are working with partners to articulate values and principles that should underpin any work on the urgent tasks of relief, recovery, and stimulus.  This use-right-now stimulus priorities sheet was developed by IPL leaders to use for our annual national-network Hill visits (by phone and zoom, this year); broader documents, signed by diverse values-focused partners, are in development. We believe all policy is a covenant with the future.  

Join our monthly Sustained Advocacy Policy Update calls — or just check out the summaries — for information and tools like holistic principles documents. 

May Newsletter-Part 2: Upcoming PA IPL Events

Engaging Active Hope: How to Do It

On June 2nd from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., this one-session event is for people who are interested in leading a book study in a small group that they convene.  For several years, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light has been offering practices from the book Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone. Going around the Spiral of the Work allows people to rest in gratitude for earth; honor our pain for the world and ourselves as we go through this pandemic; see with new and ancient eyes what we are experiencing is part of the Great Unraveling and the Great Turning to a life sustaining society; and Go Forth with a new vision for the future and a sense of community support.  

Register now for this one-session event will walk through the outline and details of the 6-session, online book-study-practice series we developed, and which we hope you will now offer either in-person (as circumstances allow) or virtually in your own settings, and with your own audiences/groups.

Daily Sustenance becomes Sips of Sustenance 

We are so glad our daily missives have inspired, soothed, touched and stirred you since we started sending them out the week Pennsylvania started its stay at home restrictions.  Now it’s time to recognize we’re in a marathon rather than a sprint, and so we’ll be offering sustenance in ‘sips.’

Starting May 17th, watch for two emails a week, one on the weekend, and one mid-week – and, please still send us your suggestions for contributions!

Bike Trip

Some of you may have noticed that it’s May!  This is the month when our website and newsletter usually feature wheels, pedals and bike helmets.  For years, you have read and prayed as the intrepid groups of cyclists pedaled from Pennsylvania to Washington, DC; you’ve “ridden along” with us as we visit, work, eat, and sing with members of host congregations and communities between here and there; and you’ve followed cyclists as they carried their stories (and your commitments) to Capitol Hill for important conversations.  

With no opportunity to have an embodied 2020 event like the ones in the past, we are planning a unique bike event celebrating its history, and reflecting on its impact.  There will be opportunities for you to participate! Do you have a story about your involvement in our bike trip?  Were you inspired to be a rider?  By a rider?  Tell us about it! 

May Newsletter-Part 1: Connectedness

We never know how our small activities will affect others through the invisible fabric of our connectedness. In this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question of ‘critical mass.’ It’s always about critical connections. 
–Grace Lee Boggs

In these upended times, connectedness is certainly taking new forms and dimensions.  In the past few weeks, we have met new friends from across the country at our Around the Spiral: Practices from the Work That Reconnects virtual workshops; attended the annual national conference of Interfaith Power & Light via Zoom; and received notes of gratitude and joy for the daily missives of inspiration we’ve been sending forth.  

As this pandemic stretches on, all of us are likely to be touched directly in some significant way.  If there’s any truth that shines clearly across the globe in this pandemic, it’s that we are truly, and inextricably interconnected, and interdependent. Again we embrace this truth: we cannot do what needs doing alone, and so are very grateful for all of you, and all you do; and we invite you to join us in these upcoming PA IPL events.

Faith Climate Action Week Videos

As Faith Climate Action week comes to a close, we can look back and reflect on this year’s theme, Love Made Visible, through a collection of videos posted by National Interfaith Power & Light.

A prayer for our Earth, Pope Francis, by Sr. Joan Brown, OSF

Join the the nationwide #ClimatePrayer at 12noon local on Earth Day, April 22nd. Sign up and download the prayer of your choice here: http://bit.ly/earthdayprayer
Then come back to FB to pray along! Why not say a prayer at 12noon local every day of Earth Week!
Sr. Joan is praying the Pope Francis Prayer for the Earth. She is a Franciscan sister and the Executive Director of New Mexico Interfaith Power & Light. She lives on a farm that supports many people and teaches sustainable living. You can hear the chickens and see the beehives behind her. She walks the talk of caring for the earth and one anothe #FaithClimateActionWeek #covid19 Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2020 COEJL Earth Day Network Lutherans Restoring Creation CA Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology Presbyterian Hunger Program @PresbyteriansforEarthCare United Church of Christ Parliament of the World’s Religions SojoAction Creation Justice Ministries Sojourners

Posted by Interfaith Power & Light on Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Rev. Patricia Mushim Ikeda prays the Shantideva Prayer

Join the the nationwide #ClimatePrayer at 12noon local on Earth Day, April 22nd. Sign up and download the prayer of your choice here: http://bit.ly/earthdayprayer Then come back to FB to pray along! Why not say a prayer at 12noon local every day of Earth Week! Rev. Patricia Mushim Ikeda, a core teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, CA is praying Shantideva’s Prayer. #FaithClimateActionWeek Ecumenical Advocacy Days Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life Earth Day Network Lutherans Restoring Creation CA Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology Presbyterian Hunger Program United Church of Christ Parliament of the World’s Religions Sojourners Creation Justice Ministries
NC Interfaith Power & Light Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light Interfaith Power & Light (MD.DC.NoVA) Faith in Place

Posted by Interfaith Power & Light on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

We Hold the Earth, A Climate Blessing

Join Rev. Susan Hendershot, President of Interfaith Power & Light in praying the interfaith Earth Day Climate Prayer at 12noon local today. Download the prayer here http://bit.ly/earthdayprayer, and come back to FB to pray along with Rev. Susan Hendershot. Share this video with your friends and members of your congregation. Prayer transforms our hearts and opens us up to compassion. #FaithClimateActionWeek #ClimatePrayer

Posted by Interfaith Power & Light on Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Rev. Ambrose Carroll offers a prayer for Creation

Rev. Ambrose Carroll, Sr. Pastor of The Church by the Side of the Road, Berkeley, CA and Founder of Green The Church, offers a heartfelt prayer from the Eden of his own yard. #faithclimateactionweek #climateprayer

Posted by Interfaith Power & Light on Monday, April 20, 2020

Rev. Brooks Berndt prays Pope Francis’ Prayer for the Earth

Rev. Brooks Berndt, Environmental Minister of the United Church of Christ, prays Pope Francis’ Prayer for the Earth in honor of Interfaith Power and Light’s Faith Climate Action Week and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Posted by Interfaith Power & Light on Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb Prayer for the Earth

Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb prays a beautiful prayer for the Earth from the Eden of his own garden.

Posted by Interfaith Power & Light on Tuesday, April 21, 2020

on Ramadan fasting: an excerpt from “A Taste of Injustice”

An excerpt from a reflection by Dr. Melinda Krokus, PA IPL’s Board Secretary, and a member of the Ansari Qadiri Rifai Sufi Order.

O ye who believe! Fasting (l-siyāmu) is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may be mindful/conscious of God (tattaqūna)

Qur’an 2:183

One can go to the dictionary to find out what sugar is and how it is used. That is the first (Sharia) Gateway to knowledge. One feels the inadequacy of that when one sees and handles sugar, which represents the second (tarikat) Gateway to knowledge. To actually taste sugar and to have it enter into oneself is to go one step deeper into an appreciation of its nature, and that is what is meant by (marifet) experiential knowledge. If one could go still further and become one with sugar so that they could say, “I am sugar,” that and that alone would be to know what sugar is, and that is what is involved in the final (hakikat) Gateway to knowledge.

Hajji Bektash Veli (d. 1271)

The following is a typical encounter with a non-Muslim who discovers that you are fasting for the month of Ramadan. At first there is a general reaction of incredulity – a mix of amazement and skepticism.

“You don’t eat anything?” No.

“All day from sunrise to sunset?” Well, actually we stop eating just before dawn prayer (sometimes you have to explain that dawn is before sunrise, i.e. it is the morning twilight when it begins to get light but the sun has not risen yet which adds more than an hour to the fasting day) to sunset.

“For a month?” Yup – from crescent moon to crescent moon.[1]

“You must drink water then?” Uh, no.

It is about here when the restriction of drinking water is understood, especially in the summer months with their long, hot days that a variety of responses emerge somewhere along the following spectrum:
“Bit extreme isn’t it?” or “That can’t be healthy?” or to the more sarcastic ones “Oh, that must make you very holy?” (wink wink) or ….
At first, I would explain to the person astonished by Muslim fasting practices, that Ramadan is a time of increased prayer and reading of the Qur’an, and self-restraint both physically and emotionally (it is easier to lose your temper and get annoyed with people when hungry). By the looks I get sometimes you would think I’m speaking a foreign language. I’ve had eyes roll, smirks given, and an occasional “that is very interesting” and frequent and matter-of-fact statements like “I could never do that.” However, when I mention empathy with the poor, their interest is sparked and yet I find little in the tradition that expresses the depth of that connection.

Over the years of fasting and reflecting on poverty and hunger during Ramadan, I have begun to respond to remarks like “that can’t be healthy” or “that’s a bit extreme,” with “Absolutely; It is extreme and it is not healthy.” A month of fasting can in fact have its health benefits, but prolonged and especially unwilling hunger and thirst do not. It is with the intent of making the connection between fasting and justice for the poor and hungry more clear that I write this piece called “A Taste of Injustice.” Poverty and hunger in any community is more often than not evidence of broader systemic, communal, and personal injustices that we only can address in the way of God, The Just (Al-Adl), with any lasting consequence.

Breaking the fast with dates after sunset. Image source

[1] Even if the person is Christian and may have performed a forty day Lenten fast, thirty days is little consolation especially when they learn about the part about not drinking water. 

With recognition for all the ways that climate change increases injustice and decreases food security, we give our thanks to Dr. Melinda Krokus, PA IPL Board Secretary, for sharing this reflection as we approach the eve of Ramadan 2020.