new hymn: O God, We’ve Prayed in Wind and Rain

The Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has recently returned to Pennsylvania as co-pastor of Overbrook Presbyterian Church.  She is a prolific hymn-writer, and has shared her newest hymn with the IPL community.  Carolyn wrote this piece in response to the storms of late August 2017 — Harvey, in the United States, and the devastating storms that hit India, Nepal, and Bangladesh that same week.

The language of this hymn is theistic, and while Carolyn’s own tradition is Christian, the language of the hymn is not specifically so — which opens the hymn to use in a variety of contexts, denominations, and traditions.

Carolyn has given her permission for free use in Pennsylvania congregations to support the relief efforts.  Contact us for a 1/2 sheet-ready version of the text sent to us by Rev. Gillette.  We’ve published the very beginning here, and linked to Rev. Carolyn’s website for the continuation… where you can also browse the full index of her hymns.

tune: Amazing Grace

O God, we’ve prayed in wind and rain and now we pray once more
For those who felt the hurricane and heard the waters roar. 

We pray for those who watched the storm destroy the life they knew,
Who wait in shelters, tired and worn, and wonder what to do.

We thank you, God, for acts of love not bound by race or creed,
For hands that reach across the flood to all who are in need.

We pray for others…      [jump to full text of this hymn and hymn index]

Tune: Virginia Harmony, 1831 Arr. Edwin O. Excell, 1900.
Alternative Tune: ST. ANNE CM Attr. William Croft, 1708 (“Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”).
Text: Copyright © 2017 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email Carolyn:   Website: www.carolynshymns.com

We know which way the wind blows. Testimony on air quality

Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline
Air Quality Permit Application
statement to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
by William A Lochstet, Ph.D.
Board Member, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light

Bill was Speaker 31 at the DEP hearing in Lancaster on August 14, 2017, and was quoted in Lancaster Online’s article about the hearing.

The Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company (Transco) is expecting to release 105.4 to 133.5 tons of NOx during the construction of the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in Lancaster County. Since this is a non-attainment area for the ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), such emissions would exacerbate already excessive ozone concentrations. As a person of faith, I find that many traditions proclaim some form of the rule that we should all do unto others as we would like to be treated. And so, Transco is proposing to offset the impact of these emissions by transferring 106 tons of NOx Emission Reduction Credits (ERC) from Harford County MD.

Because of activity in Harford County, the air contains less NOx, and when it comes here, it can cancel the ozone creating effect of the emissions from the pipeline construction activity. This cleaner air is carried by the wind, whose average directions can be determined by a wind rose from Millersville University for Harrisburg International Airport (attached)[1]. This diagram divides the circle into 16 segments with 3 segments from the more or less proper southwest directions to bring air from Harford County to Lancaster County. Each of these segments represents about a 3% probability, so that we could expect the clean air to arrive about 9 or 10% of the time. Thus we would expect that of the 106 tons of ERC that only 11 tons would arrive in Lancaster County.

Another approach would be to examine the data in the Atlantic Sunrise Plan Approval Application[2]. Environmental Resources Management found 60 days for which the ozone concentrations at the Lancaster monitor exceeded NAAQS. They were able to identify 14 days for which the air quality at the Lancaster monitor was affected by air parcels that passed through the Baltimore area. Then the probability of air moving from Harford County to Lancaster County is 14/60, or 23%, so that we would expect 23% of 106 tons, or 25 tons of ERC to reach Lancaster County.

These calculations predict that Lancaster County will benefit from an offset of eleven (11) to twenty five (25) tons of the ECRs which would   not offset 105 tons of NOx. It does not meet the rule of “Do unto others as we would like to be treated.” A statement in the Air Quality Technical Report[3] is:

Transco’s approach to use ERCs to offset the complete, conservatively estimated                   amount of NOx emissions from Lancaster County will present a net benefit to air quality environment in the local area.

This statement cannot be true. Furthermore, the Code of Federal Regulations requires that the offset have the result “that there is no net increase in emissions of that pollutant.”[4] This requirement is not met. Thus this Air Quality Plan cannot be approved.

Notes
[1]. Available at: http://www.atmos.millersville.edu/~wic/climo/local_WindRose_MDT.jpg
[2]. Available at:     http://files.dep.state.pa.us/ProgramIntegration/PA%20Pipeline%20Portal/AtlanticSunrise/ASR%20GC%20Plan%20Approval%20Application%202017%200711.pdf
Appendix E; Memorandum from Mark Garrison, ERM, 6 December 2016.
[3]. Available at http://files.dep.state.pa.us/ProgramIntegration/PA%20Pipeline%20Portal/AtlanticSunrise/ASR%20GC%20Plan%20Approval%20Application%202017%200711.pdf
Attachment C; Atlantic Sunrise Air Quality Technical Report, P. 9, bottom of page
[4]. At 40 CFR § 93.158(a)(2), and also 40 CFR § 93.158(b)(2)

Shining a light— this Fiscal Code and other budget measures are unfair and sneaky.

Mighty Ruler who loves justice,
It was You who established equity. (Psalm 99:4)
The diverse faith traditions that work together through Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light have a wide variety of names and conceptions of the Divine.  Yet we all agree on this: the Divine calls on us to love justice and establish equity, just as the Psalmist poetically describes God doing.
We have signed a coalition letter opposing a variety of harmful anti-environment, anti-health, and anti-justice riders attached to Senate budget bills because it does the exact opposite— degrading equity instead of establishing it, throwing roadblocks in front of justice instead of pursuing it.  Everyone in Pennsylvania deserves a clean, healthy environment, and it is the duty of our state government to ensure that that is what everyone receives.  For the sake of this generation and generations to come, we ask citizens and the members of the Pennsylvania House to join with us in opposing these destructive provisions.
Click through to read the letter from numerous groups concerned about climate change, clean energy, and environmental justice in Pennsylvania.  (8/21 signed version)  Many thanks to author Matt Stepp at PennFuture for a clear and focused distillation of concerns.

SIGN a letter from individuals via our friends at the Pennsylvania Council of Churches.

Making our Voices Heard— PA IPL’s Town Hall Toolkit

We recently introduced you to a new member of the PA IPL family: Chelsea Jackson.  Chelsea is with us for a short three months (August, September and October) to help make sure our elected officials hear loudly and clearly from communities and people of faith at congressional Town Halls about the importance of policies that protect public health.  

We want our Senators and Congressmen to know that protecting communities from the assaults on public health that would result from dismantling environmental safeguards —including the critical ‘Referees and Guardrails’ safeguards provided by the Environmental Protection Agency— is a moral imperative.  Chelsea is working with us as a Project Coordinator to provide messaging guidance and logistical support for members of faith communities to speak to decision makers.  Chelsea is well suited to her new role: she spent the past four years serving as an assistant pastor in a United Methodist Church, dedicated to service, social activism and environmental justice.

With Chelsea’s help and commitment, PA IPL has created a Town Hall Toolkit …  In addition, keep an eye out for emails from Chelsea that share important information about Town Halls in your neighborhood.  Or – don’t wait! Chelsea welcomes your questions and ideas, so feel free to reach out to her.

WEBINAR tour of the Toolkit and more!

Pray: May our eyes stay open.

Where to look when you can’t un-see.

Author Barbara Ballenger is a Board Member of PA Interfaith Power & Light, and Associate for Spiritual Formation and Care at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church, Philadelphia. 

The recent march of white nationalists and KKK members upon the city of Charlottesville, and the accompanying terrorist attack upon counter demonstrators, has again placed racism in the public eye.

At the moment, there are some things we cannot un-see: a car driving directly into Black Lives Matter members, killing one and injuring 19. White nationalists armed more heavily than the police. Young polo-shirted men marching with swastikas and shields.

The racism that undergirds our national infrastructure, and the bigotry that keeps it in place, is not a simple thing to dismantle. Just removing the monuments that celebrate its architects and defenders brings out the torches.

photo: Jess Ballenger

But while our eyes are open, it’s important that white people engaged in justice work take a hard look at the racist infrastructure itself, not just at its staunchest defenders. Because those of us with white privilege also benefit from that architecture. It shapes white-normed organizational systems, including how they are led, and who tells the story about what the world is like. That’s why white supremacy, which is invisible to too many, often undermines the effectiveness of organizations’ best efforts, leaving many of us scratching our heads about why the movements aren’t more diverse and leading many to jump to the wrong conclusions about why more people of color aren’t involved in the efforts.

This is true for climate justice organizations, whose leadership and membership remain predominantly white.

“Given the environmental threats posed by a Trump administration, it’s more crucial than ever that Americans work together to fight climate change. And in order to achieve broad, collaborative action, the mainstream environmental movement will need to take a hard look at how its overwhelming whiteness has thus far hobbled its efforts,” four University of Oregon journalism professors write persuasively in an article for Quartz.

The authors further point out that people of color are very much concerned with, conversant about and active in addressing climate disruption. Yet large-scale climate justice efforts do not reflect their leadership or membership.

Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light has also struggled with being a far less diverse organization than we hope to be.  We have been noticing and naming the dominance of white voices leading and engaging our work—people of faith responding to climate disruption as an urgent moral issue. We know, too, that wrestling with the legacy of white domination and supremacy is also a growing priority for many of the congregations and denominations involved in our work. This is a key moment for climate justice and racial justice to meet at the crossroads and begin speaking to each other.

In both of these movements there is great urgency and imminent threat.  At the same time, there are no quick solutions to undoing the legacy of racial exclusion and distrust that white-dominated justice movements have inherited and perpetuate.

photo: Jess Ballenger

But there are some immediate actions that we need to take. The first is that white people in the environmental movement must make it a priority to explore how the white privilege and supremacy learned from infancy affect the ability to be racially competent in addressing a crisis that affects many people of color first and worst.  As a black colleague puts it: “When white people do their work, I am safer.”

When white people do racial work with mindfulness—listening more than talking, learning what it is to be an effective ally, making space for long-silenced voices and experience—our hope and prayer is that environmental justice work will be done differently: in ways that shift power dynamics, that amplify voices that typically go unheard and quiet those that dominate, and that make visible the experiences of climate disruption that have gone unnoticed and unnamed.

The evidence of things hoped for, substance of things unseen, is the very definition of faith. As an organization committed to bringing people of diverse religious traditions together in common cause around environmental justice, a shared faith in the dignity and gifts of one another may be just the thing to help us keep our eyes open in the days ahead.

 

Images from Philadelphia rally and vigil, August 2017; Rabbi Mordechai Liebling in the upper R was in Charlottesville with other clergy gathered to stand together in that space.

 

profile and sermon: Chelsea Jackson — Climate Change, Faith, Challenge, and Transformation

Chelsea Jacksonphoto credit- Nori TadanoWith this post we are pleased to introduce you to Chelsea Jackson, who has begun working with PA IPL as a short-term Project Coordinator, supporting constituents who are raising hopes and concerns about  clean energy, climate change and the health of our Common Home with their legislators at Town Halls during the August Congressional Recess.

Chelsea writes “For the past four years I have served as an assistant pastor at a United Methodist Church in New Jersey, where I worked diligently to center faith-rooted conversation about climate change, and encourage the congregation I was serving to help protect the environment.  Earth care inspired many of the sermons I wrote, trips I planned and the two community Eco-Art Shows I created and curated.  As a person of faith I believe there to be a direct connection to how people view God and how they treat all of Creation, and I continuously tried to help my congregation see and make those connections for themselves.  Therefore, to understand me as a person of faith who clings tightly to Earth care, it may be easiest for you to dive into one of my sermons.  Below are excerpts of a sermon I wrote for the 2015 Interfaith Power & Light Preach-In.  The sermon was met with both thankfulness and angry outbursts.  Still: the most important thing was that it felt like a spirit-gifted message that needed to be said.  Please enjoy:

It’s no secret the Christian and Jewish Scriptures begin with the creation of the world, this ordering of Chaos into water and earth, light and dark, human and non-human creatures, and it is this Creation as a collective whole, that God deems ‘very good.’

The early Genesis story, along with countless other Bible passages, reveals that God is in relationship with the Earth itself, and often cloaks God’s-self with the Earth when interacting with humans.  For example, we see God emerge in fire, in a windstorm, a burning bush, as light or at the top of a mountain.  In these instances, as in so many others, it’s as if the Earth is a form of God’s expression; like a piece of art, and we often look at art as a part of the artist who made it.  We understand a painting isn’t the actual artist, but is rather an extension of who they are.  An imprint of the artist is in the art s/he creates, that is part of what makes it so beautiful and powerful.

What if it was the same with God?  What if we looked at not only humans, but also the Earth, as made in the image of God, as an extension of God’s-self?  How would we treat the Earth differently?

Would it change how often I drive my car?  How I use energy in my house?  Would it change how I interact with politics or how I raise my children?

Would it change how I act as a consumer?  Where I buy from?  How much I buy?  I mean everything we buy was at one time part of the natural Earth in some way; part of the original artwork of God.  And though using the Earth for provision is indeed necessary for our survival, when does production or consumption become empty of purpose, empty of thoughtfulness or meaning?

Eco-Art show installed at (1)If we dig deeper, recognizing God’s imprint on Creation would influence how we eat.  The most intimate way we interact with the Earth is how we use it to nourish ourselves; how we partake in, and literally internalize its provision.  That’s why it is so important to learn where our food comes from, and how both our plant and animal based food is raised.  Is it done in a humane, safe way that recognizes God’s artistry, or is it disrespectful and even damaging to the original work of art?

One of my professors really brought this point home when she talked about Communion and asked what it meant to partake in the body and blood of Christ when the grain was grown with pesticides or the grapes were farmed by someone who did not receive a fair wage?  How does it change the meaning of this sacrament meant to be loving and liberating?

These are all important and very difficult questions.  And when faced with them we can respond in a variety of ways.

1. We can become defensive:
When faced with the reality of climate change and all the ways poor environmental practices permeate our lives, we can automatically list off reasons why we can’t change our interaction with the Earth, including: “changing the way we do things is too hard,” “it would mess up the economy,” “climate change isn’t that serious and won’t affect us much in the U.S.”

All of these claims are not only false, they also ignore the larger issues at hand.  The fact is that real change is not a luxury at this point, we must change if we want to ensure survival for even generations 100 years down the road.

But even if we don’t want to focus on the impact of climate change on the future, another problem remains; treating climate change as a non-pressing issue means denying the reality, humanity, dignity and worth of the individuals and communities being affected right now.   Continue reading