PA Interfaith Power & Light’s annual conference and meeting is the state’s largest gathering for people of faith concerned about climate change—a time for interfaith worship opportunities, workshops, resource gathering, and networking with others who are responding to climate change as a moral issue. The conferences take place in different regions, generally staying in each area for 2 years. Thanks to the many volunteers, attendees, and leaders who make these so successful! (The first couple are links to our Facebook albums — we moved to our new Web home in 2013.)
2015 Hope in the Age of the Climate Crisis: Finding Our Moral Compass
2014 Climate Justice: Faith in Action
2013 One Creation, Many Faiths: Call to Action on Climate Change
2012 Power for Pennsylvania: Ethical and Religious Responses to Climate Change
2011 The Human Face of Climate Change.Food, Faith, and Other Necessities of Life
2010 PA IPL Kickoff!
Other events (past and upcoming) are viewable in our Events listing.
2015 Hope in the Age of the Climate Crisis:
Finding Our Moral Compass
Our 2015 conference was held in the Brossman Center of the The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and was cosponsored by both LTSP and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and additionally supported by a grant from the Rock Ethics Institute, food donors, and our program book sponsors. The conference brought together clergy and lay leaders of all faiths and none for a dynamic afternoon of nationally-recognized and behind-the-scenes movers and shakers.
Following the conference, the annual meeting included a presentation of the 2015 Visionary Award to Rabbi Arthur Waskow, a 2015 year in review/annual report, election of new board members, and celebration of the initial success of the A Time To Build Up campaign —including hiring of Executive Director Rev. Alison Cornish.
Dr. Arthur Green was the founding dean and is currently rector of the Rabbinical School and Irving Brudnick Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Religion at Hebrew College. He is Professor Emeritus at Brandeis University, where he occupied the distinguished Philip W. Lown Professorship of Jewish Thought. He is both a historian of Jewish religion and a theologian; his work seeks to form a bridge between these two distinct fields of endeavor.
Educated at Brandeis University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he received rabbinic ordination, Dr. Green studied with such important teachers as Alexander Altmann, Nahum N. Glatzer, and Abraham Joshua Heschel, of blessed memory. He has taught Jewish mysticism, Hasidism, and theology to several generations of students at the University of Pennsylvania, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (where he served as both Dean and President), Brandeis, and now at Hebrew College. He has taught and lectured widely throughout the Jewish community of North America as well as in Israel, where he visits frequently. He was the founder of Havurat Shalom in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1968 and remains a leading independent figure in the Jewish Renewal movement. Dr. Green is author of over a dozen books.
Keya Chatterjee is Executive Director of USCAN, and author of the book The Zero Footprint Baby: How to Save the Planet While Raising a Healthy Baby. Her work focuses on building a movement in support of climate action. Keya recently appeared in the documentary ‘Disruption,’ promoting the People’s Climate March. Keya’s commentary on climate change policy and sustainability issues has been quoted in dozens of media outlets including USA Today, the New York Times, Fox News, the Associated Press, The Washington Post, and NBC Nightly News.
Prior to joining USCAN, Keya served as Senior Director for Renewable Energy and Footprint Outreach at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), where she worked for eight years. Before that, Keya was a Climate Change Specialist at USAID. Keya also worked at NASA headquarters for four years, communicating research results on climate change. Keya was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco from 1998 to 2000. She currently serves on the board of the Washington Area Bicycling Association. Keya received her Master’s degree in Environmental Science, and her Bachelor’s in Environmental Science and Spanish from the University of Virginia.
Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ, Director of the Sisters of Saint Joseph Earth Center is Special Assistant to the President for Sustainability of Chestnut Hill College. She is also an Ambassador for the Catholic Climate Covenant building on the work and statements of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Moderator Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman is the Associate Professor of Homiletics and Director of United Methodist Studies at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. She is an Elder in The United Methodist Church and has fifteen years of experience pastoring churches in Kansas and New Jersey. Her degree is in Liturgical Studies, with major study in both Preaching and Emerging Trends in the Church. She studied with Dr. Leonard Sweet and received her PhD from Drew University in 2006.
Dr. Wiseman is especially interested in engaging the 21st century church for vital ministry, equipping established communities to take on new models and methods for church, and employing postmodern ideas to reengage younger generations in preaching and worship. Social media is a big part of her work. Her most recent book, I Refuse to Preach a Boring Sermon: Engaging 21st Century Listeners, was published in 2013 by Pilgrim Press. She has written numerous commentaries for Working Preacher, ONScripture, Feasting on the Word, Feasting on the Gospels, and others.
Paula Kline, EdD, is a Quaker educator and a peace and environmental activist. She is passionate about the fossil fuel divestment movement and organizing schools and communities to begin the transition to renewable energy. In addition to climate work in the U.S., Paula coordinates a cloud forest restoration project in Mexico.
Bishop Dwayne D. Royster is POWER’s (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild) Executive Director and the founding Pastor of Living Water UCC located in Oxford Circle in Northeast Philadelphia. He has served in Pastoral ministry for the past 23 years, including in the United Methodist, Mennonite, and Baptist Churches as well as the United Church of Christ. He is the Assistant Presiding Bishop of Higher Ground Christian Fellowship International. Bishop Royster also has extensive organizing, social advocacy and political experience, including serving on City Council in Norristown in Montgomery County. The Bishop is graduate of Geneva College’s Center for Urban Theological Studies and the Lutheran Theological Seminary In Philadelphia. He was born and raised in Philadelphia.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Ph.D., founded (1983) and directs The Shalom Center. In 2014 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award as Human Rights Hero from T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. In 2015 the Forward named him one of the “most inspiring” Rabbis in the US. Among his 22 books are Down-to-Earth Judaism, Godwrestling — Round 2, and Torah of the Earth. He also wrote the pioneering essay “Jewish Environmental Ethics: Adam and Adamah,” in the Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics. His most recent arrest of about 22 was in an interfaith climate action at the White House before Passover & Palm Sunday, 2013. He is a member of the Steering Committee of Interfaith Moral Action on Climate (IMAC). In the spring of 2015 he initiated the Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis, now signed by more than 400 rabbis from every stream of Jewish life.
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling is the founder and director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College of which he is a graduate. He is the President Emeritus of the Shalom Center and serves on the boards of T’ruah: A Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and of the Faith and Politics Institute. He was the founding chairperson of Shomrei Adamah: Guardians of the Earth. He is a member of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable and of the Green Hevra, a coalition of Jewish environmental organizations. He has published numerous articles. He is married to Lynne Iser; their family was the subject of the award winning documentary Praying With Lior.
IPL Climate Advocacy: Sharing a Moral Voice
We know spiritual and moral messages are critical in preventing a climate and humanitarian catastrophe, and yet we sometimes struggle with how best to share our deepest commitments. Due to our state’s legacy and current role in fossil fuel production, our trusted voices are essential. In this workshop we will share our new advocacy strategies and role play face-to-face meetings with elected officials and policy makers. Join us to strengthen our public witness across the state.
Speak my Language: Racial Justice and Environmental Justice
Bishop Dwayne Royster
This workshop will explore the need for intersection between the racial justice movement and environmental justice movement in America. Ideas will be presented that should help activists and leaders on both sides to hear and affirm the other as a bridge to collaboration and intersection.
Prayer as if the Earth Really Matters
Rabbi Arthur Waskow and Rev. Dr. Karyn Wiseman
An interfaith conversation about liturgy, prayer, and crafting worship experiences that honor the earth. We will also talk about how we might honor the work necessary for communities of faith to engage climate change issues in meaningful ways.
Living a Zero Footprint Lifestyle
In this workshop we will discuss what lifestyle changes are most important to make, what the barriers are to change, and why individual action is relevant for policy makers.
A Jewish Creation Theology for the 21st Century
Dr. Arthur Green
A study session with teacher and theologian Rabbi Dr. Arthur Green, author of over a dozen books, including Radical Judaism: Re-thinking God and Tradition.
Green Justice Philly
Mordechai Liebling with Susan Saxe
Green Justice Philly is a coalition of diverse community, neighborhood, environmental, public health, faith , labor and civic organizations (including Philadelphia- IPL), and local businesses working to promote a clean, sustainable and just energy future with good jobs for the Philadelphia region. We are embarking on a campaign to have city council pass an ordinance that no new permits will be issued to consistent violators, this will prevent the growth of the dirty energy hub in Philadelphia; we are also working on developing renewable energy options in Philadelphia. Come learn about our work.
2014 Climate Justice: Faith in Action
Our 2014 conference was held at Summit Presbyterian Church, Mt. Airy, Philadelphia
Following the conference, the annual meeting included a video message for PA IPL from Bill McKibben, presentation of the 2014 Visionary Award to Andrew Rudin (by 2012 recipient Donald A. Brown), 2014 year in review/annual report, election of new board members, and announcement of (and voting on) the A Time To Build Up campaign.
Joelle Novey is the director of Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light, which works with hundreds of congregations of many traditions across Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia to save energy, go green, and respond to climate change. Joelle lives with her partner Ethan Merlin at Eastern Village Cohousing in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is active in two independent Jewish communities, Tikkun Leil Shabbat and Minyan Segulah.
Read her recent testimony on carbon pollution on our blog.
Watch her in action in clip from a previous interview on our conference preview.
Check out Joelle’s workshop description.
Jacqui has worked as a researcher, program manager, coordinator, analyst, advocate, and activist on a wide range of health, justice, and human rights issues in the US, Africa, and the Caribbean. Her broad background provides her an extraordinary foundation for communicating the wider justice implications of climate change. She currently serves on the International Committee of the US Social Forum, the steering committees of Interfaith Moral Action on Climate Change (alongside Philly PA IPL luminary Rabbi Arthur Waskow) and the Gulf Guardian Fellowship Program, on the leadership body of the Climate Justice Alliance, as well as on the board of directors for the Institute of the Black World, Center for Story Based Strategy, and the US Climate Action Network.
Read her recent testimony on carbon pollution on our blog.
Watch her in action in clip from a previous interview on our conference preview.
Check out Jacqui’s workshop description.
Victoria Furio With over 30 years devoted to social justice, Victoria Furio has worked on the local, national, and international levels in education and advocacy within the religious community. She is currently on staff at Union Theological Seminary in New York and convenes the Climate Justice Initiative there. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read her piece on climate justice for the Union Forum on our blog.
Listen to her recent testimony on carbon pollution on our conference preview video.
Check out Vicky’s workshop description.
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling will serve as the discussion moderator. He is the founder and director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College of which he is a graduate. He is the President Emeritus of the Shalom Center and serves on the boards of T’ruah: A Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and of the Faith and Politics Institute. He was the founding chairperson of Shomrei Adamah: Guardians of the Earth. He is a member of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable and of the Green Hevra, a coalition of Jewish environmental organizations. He has published numerous articles. He is married to Lynne Iser; their family was the subject of the award winning documentary Praying With Lior.
Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman is the Associate Professor of Homiletics at Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia and an Elder in The United Methodist Church. She has pastored churches in Kansas and New Jersey and holds a Ph. D. from Drew Theological School. Her book, I Refuse to Preach a Boring Sermon: Engaging the 21st Century Listener, was recently published by Pilgrim Press. Jump to Karyn’s workshop description.
Samantha Shain When she’s not working at Common Market distributing locally sourced foods, Samantha can usually be found knitting, cooking, reading, traveling and organizing. She’s a big fan of Philadelphia and anything related to food, hand-crafts and social justice. Samantha has been organizing to stop PNC from financing mountain top removal coal mining with the Earth Quaker Action Team for years. She loves working with teams ready to take risks while being grounded in ritual, faith and practice. Her social justice work is rooted in her Jewish heritage. Jump to Sam’s teen workshop description.
Talking About Climate Change as if Feelings Mattered Joelle Novey
After speaking with groups in congregations about climate change for five years, Joelle Novey has learned that people have feelings when they are asked to think or talk about what’s happening to our climate. We’ll talk about some of the emotional obstacles to folks being open to climate science, and discuss some ways to help groups find hope and form community that emboldens them to take action.
Increasing the Fold Victoria Furio
We will work with, “Renewing the Covenant,” published in the Union Forum as a tool for initiating the process of awareness-raising on the climate crisis in local congregations. Resources for Discussion Leaders will be provided as well as a Study Guide by issue, leading to “What Can We Do?”
Speaking Our Minds for the Earth Samantha Shain
We are most powerful when we are grounded, authentic and speaking our truth. Building on the Quaker concept of “speaking Truth to Power,” this workshop will equip leaders to speak faithfully, honestly and powerfully in public spaces. We will build community with young leaders and get time to practice a new skill called, “street speaking.” While this workshop is designed for youth and teens, it will be friendly for folks of all ages!
Preaching on Climate Change Rev. Dr. Karyn Wiseman
This workshop will explore texts from different traditions that connect with climate change themes, provide resources and address constructive and faithful ways to deal with resistance and controversy in the congregation. Interactive! Connect with colleagues of different faiths.
Building the Communities In Which We Want to Live:
Advancing Systems Change From the Ground Up Jacqueline Patterson
Whether it’s coal burning in New Castle, or flooding in Eastwick, communities across Pennsylvania are caught in the crosshairs of the intersection between being impacted by the drivers of climate change and the results of climate change, thereby placing inhabitants of the state in double jeopardy. However, we don’t have to accept this as an immovable set of circumstances. Across the country, communities are rising up in resistance against dirty energy which harms communities and advances climate change. Others are doing place based organizing to build resilience against the climate change impacts we are already feeling. During this workshop we will talk about the circumstances we are facing, the resources that exist to aid us in advancing reform, and the models of communities that have taken progressive action that have resulted in thriving neighborhoods with good health and economic prosperity.
2013 “One Creation, Many Faiths: Call to Action on Climate Change”
held at Colonial Park United Church of Christ, 5000 Devonshire Rd, Harrisburg, PA 17112
In addition to the Keynote panel and workshops detailed below, a green resources fair, lunch and network-building time, and a lower-impact vehicle display an Q and A (with owners of an all-electric Tesla Roadster, a plug-in Ford Focus, a hybrid Toyota Prius) and our annual meeting, Visionary Award, and door prizes rounded out the day.
Keynote panel: How do different faith traditions respond to climate change?
Peter Adriance, joined the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs in 1990, and works nationally and internationally in collaboration with other organizations on issues of sustainable development, climate change, sustainable consumption and production, and related fields. He helped found the US Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and serves as co-chair of its Faith Sector team and secretary of its board of directors. Allied with that, Peter develops educational programs for sustainability in the U.S. Baha’i community. He also serves on the governing board of the International Environment Forum – a Baha’i-inspired organization addressing the environment and sustainable development.
In 2009, Peter received the Interfaith Bridge Builder’s Award from the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington DC, “for his passionate commitment to inter- religious care for the earth.” He holds an MBA from the University of Massachusetts and a B.A. from Alfred University.
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling is the founder and director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College of which he is a graduate. Prior to this he was the Executive Vice-President of Jewish Funds for Justice. Earlier he was the Executive Director of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation. He is the President Emeritus of the Shalom Center and serves on the boards of T’ruah: A Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and of the Faith and Politics Institute. He was the founding chairperson of Shomrei Adamah: Guardians of the Earth. He is a member of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable and of the Green Hevra, a coalition of Jewish environmental organizations. He has been trained in The Work that Reconnects by Joanna Macy, a founder of deep ecology and has completed the Jewish Meditation Teacher Training program. He has published numerous articles. He is married to Lynne Iser, they have five children and their family was the subject of the award winning documentary Praying With Lior.
Rev. Dr. Gil Waldkoenig is a professor of Church in Society at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. He works in ecological ethics, ethnography of religion and the church in rural society. His recent courses have been Ecology and Religion; EcoTheology in Northern Appalachia (immersion seminar); Places of Faith: Ethnography of Religion; Rural and Small Church Ministries and Environmental History of Christianity. Gil has taught also for Lancaster Theological Seminary and Payne Theological Seminary. He serves in the BB Maurer Chair for Town and Country Church Ministry and directs TCCI, and collaborates in the Blessed Earth Seminary Stewardship Alliance, GreenFaith: Interfaith Partners for the Environment and Lutherans Restoring Creation. Education: B.A. Gettysburg College, 1985; M.Div., Gettysburg Seminary, 1989; Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1994.
Sister Pat Lupo, OSB, a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, has worked for decades to spread the message that faith and environmentalism share important common themes of stewardship and the care of Creation. The former education director for Earth Action at Environment Erie, Sr. Pat does Environmental Education and Advocacy for the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA and currently leads children in the after-school programs at the Inner City Neighborhood Art House and the John E. Horan Garden Apartments, focusing on helping her students become catalysts for change in their communities.
Pat is a long standing member of the Citizens Advisory Committee for PA Department of Environmental Protections and she is a PA representative on the Great Lakes Commission. She also serves on local boards such as PLEWA, the PA Lake Erie Watershed Association; LERC, the Lake Erie Region Conservancy; the PA Sea Grant Advisory Council; and she chairs Hands Across Borders, a group that supports Central Americans locally and in El Salvador.
In 2005, Pat traveled to Katmandu Nepal to participate in the World Wild Life Conference and to accept an award, Sacred Gifts for A Living Planet, for the work that she and the staff at Lake Erie Allegheny Earth Force were doing with youth in Erie. Twenty-six awards were given out world-wide, six in the United States. The program was hosted by WWL and ARC, the Alliance for Religion and Conservation. Prince Phillip presided. In 2000, Pat participated in a 2 week conference in Ohito Japan also hosted by ARC. It was the Major World Religious Task Force and provided an opportunity for 18 representatives from across the world to share common creation based tenets and make recommendations to World Religion Leaders. There were 2 representatives from the US and 1 from Canada.
Sister Pat has been recognized for her efforts by a number of groups. Recent recognitions include Lighting the Way (2005 – Recognition by Governor Rendell for Environmental Leadership in PA), Mercyhurst College Distinguished Alumni Award for Outstanding Service to the Community (2011), John C. Oliver Environmental Leadership Award (2012 – Tom Ridge Environmental Center), Keystone Environmental Education Award (2013– PA Association of Environmental Educators.
WORKSHOPS highlighting practical actions congregations can take and work to be done in our communities
1. Walk Thru Energy Audits: The Whys, Hows and Whats with a Tangible Example
This workshop will examine various aspects of a walk thru energy audit conducted at Colonial UCC by PA IPL Energy Auditor Barb Donnini, developing an understanding of how energy audits save money for mission and model good stewardship of God’s creation for faith community members and the wider community.
Rev. Bill Thwing is a “retired” United Church of Christ (UCC) Minister currently serving as a supply Pastor at St Paul’s UCC in Johnstown, PA. He is the outgoing president of PA Interfaith Power & Light and a certified residential energy auditor who concentrates exclusively on walk thru audits for faith community properties.
2. Climate Change and Health
This workshop, offered by two members of the Harrisburg chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, will cover Climate Change and its effects on health and the world. We will cover the causes, and how all of us are involved and affected. Some solutions will be discussed and we will be sure to have time for group discussion.
Dr. Jim Jones is a retired pediatrician with 35 years of practice in the Harrisburg area. He also directed the Cystic Fibrosis Center in Central PA for many years. He graduated from the Wharton School of the U of Penn, served in the USAF, and then back to Medical School at the U of Penn.
Dr. Jones has always been interested in public health, especially for children and thus active in Physicians for Social Responsibility, as well as serving on the Board of PennFuture. He and his wife Sandy are also active with the environment and peace issues at Market Square Presbyterian Church, as they care much for the future of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Dr. Robert Little is a family physician who has been practicing in Harrisburg for 40 years. He began his career at the Hamilton Health Center in mid-town Harrisburg, where he served indigent patients for 16 years before starting his own practice. For the past 5 years he has worked for the Pinnacle Health System.
Dr. Little has been active in the American Cancer Society, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and his local church, and he is on the Board of the Hamilton Health Center and Lycoming College. He has participated in mission trips to Haiti and to Nicarauga. He has three grown children and lives with his wife of 48 years in Harrisburg.
3. Shout Out and Share your “Green” Dreams and Stories
Stories inspire, stories communicate, stories create a shelter in which wisdom and hope can grow. Join the dialogue of green success stories, and get ideas for your congregation to become even greener. As congregations and church members become more environmentally aware, and want to reduce their carbon footprint as good stewards of Creation, what are some best practices? Be prepared to share what your congregation has already accomplished in “greening up” and what next steps you hope your congregation will take.
Marty Blessing, Libby Loser and Gail Landers are members of the Penn Central Conference, United Church of Christ Green Justice Ministry Team. Marty is from St. Paul’s UCC in Selinsgrove. Libby is from Dover UCC, Dover and Emmanuel UCC, York. Gail is from New Covenant UCC in Williamsport and was on the Energy Conservation Committee at Penn College of Technology.
All three lay leaders are very active in their churches, as well as at the Association and Conference level. They were invited to the National UCC LINK Environmental Conference in April of this year, held in the midst of this year’s national 50-day Pentecost challenge: Mission 4/1Earth (Pentecost began on April 1 (4/1) this year). They will be coming to Harrisburg fresh from a September Environmental Justice Training conference “emphasizing a spiritual foundation for a deeper conversation on justice and the transformation of our worldview” that their committee organized!
4. You CAN Afford to Unplug from Fossil Fuels: Mission-Driven Organizations Working Together to Live their Values.
Groundswell is a longstanding partner of Greater Washington IPL. Their Community Power Project program has been working in Maryland and Washington, DC to create groups of organizations, and calling for bids from energy suppliers for regionally-generated, clean-energy, good-labor electricity. [2014 edit: now for households, too] Groundswell has a legal team in place to watch carefully for consumer protections, and has had great success making certified “Green-e” electricity fit in existing electricity budget lines.
PA IPL is actively exploring a partnership, with the intent to pilot programs in the areas of the state served by PECO and WestPenn Power in the near future. With those successes, we hope to spread the partnership to the rest of the state! Institutions connected with faith communities (retirement homes, schools, etc.) will also be welcome. Come learn with us about this foundation-supported nonprofit program. [2014 update: now available in service areas all across PA for both households and congregations]
Eric Rubin oversees Groundswell’s commercial programs including the Community Power Program and Commercial Energy Efficiency Project. In this role he is responsible for strategy and overall commercial program expansion. Eric works closely with local and national partners to bring the economic and social benefits of aggregated consumption to a growing network of organizations.
Prior to joining the team at Groundswell, Eric led business development efforts at Salsa Labs, an online technology company that supports non profit movement building. Previously he helped implement the Pepsi Refresh Project – a crowdsourced philanthropy campaign – with the non profit GlobalGiving. He also spent several years working for the UN Refugee Agency running economic integration projects for Colombian refugees in Costa Rica.
Eric holds a BA from the University of Michigan and an MA from American University. In his spare time, he is currently a Jeremiah Fellow with Jews United for Justice and a mentor in the Big Brother/Big Sister program in DC.