Past Conferences

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.)

2016 An Environment of Justice: Communities of Faith Responding to Climate Change
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.

2016 An Environment of Justice: Communities of Faith Responding to Climate Change

splashPA IPL’s 2016 conference was held at the Church of the Good Shepherd in State College, PA.  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.  Our 2016 conference year celebrated 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.

Following the conference, the annual meeting included a presentation of the 2016 Visionary Award to Dr. Nancy Tuana, a 2016 year in review/annual report, election of new board members, and celebration of the building success of the A Time To Build Up campaign.


—2016 Keynote—

Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome offered the keynote presentation, entitled Climate Change: The Path to Inner Resilience.

Climate change is one of the most pressing threats to the health of our communities, our cities and our nation.  The negative impacts of our changing climate are often felt by low income communities, and communities of color, whom are, in most cases, faced with multiple environmental insults on a daily basis.  As we acknowledge the 25th anniversary of the crafting of the Principles of Environmental Justice, the time is now to build awareness, to acknowledge the inequities, and encourage a movement that can facilitate a path towards building not only physical resilience to climate change, but enhance the spiritual resilience of faith and community leaders across the country.

— 2016 Workshop Leaders—

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.

jalonne_white-newsome-107_5x7 - CopyjpegA 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.

In addition to her keynote address, Jalonne will be co-leading a workshop titled Putting Environmental Justice Principles Into Action: Learning to Build Bridges to Make a Difference with the Rev. Dr. Horace Strand.

ballenger_photoBarbara Ballenger is a member of the board of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light and is the Director of Spiritual Formation and Care for the Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia.  She has a master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from Ursuline College in Cleveland and  has worked professionally for faith-based organizations in retreat work, advocacy, curriculum development and pastoral ministry for more than 20 years. Barbara and Marcia Berry are leading Activating Hope in the Face of Climate Change.

marcia-berryMarcia Berry, an activist, educator, organizational development consultant, writer, and coach, is active in the Harrisburg Cluster of PA-IPL and has been conducting workshops on Active Hope and the Work that Reconnects (WTR), after studying with Joanna Macy for several years. Marcia weaves this work into her practices in the Baha’i Faith and her activism for peace and racial justice. She has an M.A. in Linguistics and a certificate in Multiculturalism and brings over 20 years of communications, entrepreneurship, education and training experience to her consulting practice which specializes in language, culture, diversity, leadership and organizational development. Marcia and Barbara Ballenger are leading Activating Hope in the Face of Climate Change.

Dorothy Blair catDorothy Blair is a retired professor of Food Security, Department of Nutritional Sciences Penn State, who has worked abroad in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Philippines, and Bahrain. Presently she chairs the UUFCC Green Sanctuary Certification effort, works locally with Citizen’s Climate Lobby and local food groups, bikes to D.C. with PA IPL, and grows a huge garden.  Dorothy is leading New Views on Climate-Friendly Eating.

Alison CornishThe Reverend Alison Cornish
 is a Unitarian Universalist minister and the executive director of PA Interfaith Power & Light. She has a background in parish ministry, nonprofit management, multifaith work, advocacy for the marginalized — and a passion and commitment to care about, and for, the Earth, which has shaped her theology and activism over the past two decades.

A graduate of Wellesley College, the University of York (UK), and Andover Newton Theological School, Alison has also engaged in ongoing study with Gaian teacher Joanna Macy, and is a graduate of the GreenFaith Fellowship program, which is dedicated to preparing clergy and lay leaders for the challenges of ministry in a time of climate change.  She has served as PA IPL’s Executive Director since July, 2015.  Alison is leading But Are We Ready?  Faith Communities, Climate Change and Resilience.


Leland Glenna
 is an Associate Professor of Rural Sociology. His research and teaching interests are in the areas of environmental sociology, sociology of science and technology, and sociology of agriculture.   He is a member of University Mennonite Church.  Leland is leading Climate Justice and Rural America.

Cricket HunterCricket Eccleston Hunter was our first PA IPL staff person, and now serves as our Director of Programs.  A graduate of Mt. Holyoke College (in Biology) and the University of Michigan (with a Master’s in Science Education and Curriculum), her classroom teaching has dovetailed with a lifetime of experiences with diverse faith traditions to support her work with congregations and communities across Pennsylvania.  She is a member of Grace Lutheran Church in State College, and is leading Getting Past Getting Past Styrofoam.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-4-52-09-pmPresenters from POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild) include Terri Burgin, Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Paula Paul, and Frances Upshaw, all members of POWER’s Green Justice Committee.  POWER is a multi-faith, multi-racial social justice movement based in Philadelphia. Members integrate commitments to racial and economic justice in working for a planet that supports all lives.  Terri is a member of St. Vincent dePaul Roman Catholic Church in Germantown; Julie serves Congregation Levy Ha-Ir in Phildelphia; Paula is a member of St. Benedict’s Church and St. Athanasius Parish in Phildelphia; Frances is a member of Calvary St. Augustine Episcopal Church, Philadelphia.  Terri (not pictured)  Julie, Paula, and Frances are leading Voices from the Intersection: Race, Economics, Climate.

rev-dr-horacestrandThe Reverend Dr. Horace W. Strand, Sr. is the driving force for environmental justice in Chester, PA.  In the early 1990s, Rev. Strand of the Faith Temple Church founded Chester Residents Concerned for Quality of Living (CRCQL) to address the numerous environmental hazards that the people of Chester faced on a daily basis. He led his group to block the permitting of new hazardous waste facilities in Chester, and in doing so became a national figure in the suit Chester v Seif, PA DEP that went to the US Supreme Court.  In 2005, recognizing a greater potential to improve health and environment through cooperative action, Rev. Strand founded the Chester Environmental Partnership (CEP).  He is a member of the PA Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board, and is an appointee to the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Board (NEJAC). Rev. Strand and Dr. White-Newsome are leading Putting EJ principles into action: learning to build bridges to make a difference


Rabbi Daniel Swartz serves as the board president for PA IPL.  Currently serving as the spiritual leader of Temple Hesed of Scranton, he was the founding director of Greater Washington Power and Light, and he served as the Associate Director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.   He is the lead author and editor of To Till and to Tend:  A Guide to Jewish Environmental Study and Action, and his comparison of classical Jewish texts with sections of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si has been used in congregations across the globe.  He is the grateful spouse of Rabbi Marjorie Berman and the proud father of Alana Swartz.    The tree featured in the photo with Rabbi Swartz is found near the Meeting of the Waters in Brazil.  It is informally known as a “messenger tree” — the sound of a stick beating on the “fins” travels for mile. It is from the genus Swartzia, discovered by the Swedish botanist Olaus Swartz (no relation, as far as Daniel knows).  Daniel is leading Dealing with Overwhelm and Despair.

denice-wardrop-photoDenice Wardrop is a wetland ecologist by training, and is currently serving as the Director of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, whose mission is to lead and support the integration of sustainability into the University’s teaching, research, outreach, and operations. Her primary research area is the impact of human activity on the valuable ecosystem services provided by various aquatic habitats, from wetlands to estuaries, including such things as flood storage, water quality improvement, and habitat. She is struck by the beauty and wonder of the natural world, and of humans, on a daily basis, and tries to understand how both can bring out the best in the other. She’s been a member of Good Shepherd Parish since its earliest beginnings.  Denice is leading Pennsylvania Impacts: What Can We Do?

—2016 Workshops—

Putting EJ Principles Into Action: Learning to Build Bridges to Make a Difference
During this workshop, participants will engage in a facilitated discussion that will:

    • Describe critical moments and foundational documents of the Environmental Justice/Climate Justice movement
    • Provide examples of current federal policies that have unintentional consequences on environmental justice communities
    • Unpack the challenges and needs of climate leaders to build a more unified movement
    • Allow participants to share challenges and successes about the most effective/ineffective ways to educate, build capacity and advocate within and outside of your congregation, community, network of peers, etc. in a safe space
    • Leave hopeful, energized, with a list of resources, new partners and opportunities to inject equity and justice into your ministry and advocacy

Led by: Dr. Jalonne White-Newsome, and Rev. Dr. Horace Strand.

Want to learn more right now?  You can read a scholarly article by Dr. White-Newsome just published at the end of September 2016:  A Policy Approach Toward Climate Justice.

But Are We Ready?  Faith Communities, Climate Change and Resilience
Communities of faith have always been on the front lines of responding to needs in their communities, providing essential food, water and shelter in times of disaster; support to refugees; and food to those without resources to feed themselves.   But all of these conditions are set to intensify as the effects of climate change grow.  How can our congregations be the resilient, resourceful and responsive communities of faith that will be so needed?  And how will all faith traditions do this work in ways that correct, rather than perpetuate, injustice? Led by: The Rev. Alison Cornish.

Pennsylvania Impacts: What Can We Do?
As the science of climate change becomes more robust, we have greater confidence about identifying both future risks to the Pennsylvania environment and changes that we are already seeing. In this workshop, we will share our experiences of the changing climate and concerns and hopes about the future. We will also learn what individuals and groups can do to make our world more resilient and to help mitigate some of the worst effects of our warming world.  Led by: Denice Wardrop.

Dealing with Overwhelm and Despair 
We all lose hope sometimes.  The problem of climate change is so vast, with such dire consequences, and there seem to be countless obstacles to solutions.  But faith communities have unique resources to help ourselves — and other climate activists — walk through our grief and despair and come out of the valley.  Come together to share challenges and hear about possible paths forward. Led by: Rabbi Daniel Swartz.

Voices from the Intersection: Race, Economics, Climate
POWER, the multi-faith, multi-racial social justice movement based in Philadelphia, shares perspectives from its Green Justice group. Members integrate commitments to racial and economic justice in working for a planet that supports all lives. Challenging questions and the story of a powerful campaign to increase local solar jobs (a campaign at the intersection of race, economics and a livable planet) are part of this workshop. Led by Terri BurginJulie GreenbergPaula Paul and Frances Upshaw.

Getting Past Getting Past Styrofoam
Now that you have ditched the styrofoam cups and started recycling, what next?  Yours is not the only congregation that has taken a step or two and then gotten stuck.   Come join a rich discussion of possibilities and approaches.  Explore both big-impact projects and smaller ways we can enrich our stewardship by recognizing it as a spiritual practice in the more secular parts of our home and congregational lives.  Where is the soil rich and ready?  What are you hungry for?  How can you prepare the ground to continue growing the work over time?  Led by: Cricket Hunter.

Climate Justice and Rural America
Rural America faces persistently higher poverty rates than other parts of the country. Moreover, with their dependence on resource-based industries, rural people are likely to be disproportionately affected by environmental disruptions, such as those caused by climate change. Environmental justice will require sustained engagement with rural people. Led by Leland Glenna.

New Views on Climate-Friendly Eating
How do we eat to honor and preserve the Web of Life while reducing climate-changing gases? Is veganism the only option? This workshop explores participant concepts about food choices promoting greenhouse gas mitigation, as well as emerging views on the role of farm stewardship.  Earth-friendly diets may be different than you think.  Led by Dorothy Blair.

Activating Hope in the Face of Climate Change
What if the world as we know it is not unraveling before our eyes but is engaged in a Great Turning toward life and health and interdependence?  What if sharing our pain for a world beset by climate change would reconnect us to our deepest powers to act on behalf of life?

Based on Joanna Macy’s “Work that Reconnects”, this ACTIVE HOPE workshop provides an introduction to tools and practices for staying engaged for the long haul during this time of transition from an industrial growth society to one that is life-sustaining.

This workshop:

  • shares meaningful perspectives and frameworks that inspire hope and action;
  • engages participants in heartfelt conversation and truth-telling, interactive exercises, experiential learning, tools and practices that move people from overwhelm to empowerment;
  • equips participants to support others and receive support in the journey of going forth and taking meaningful action.

Led by Marcia Berry and Barbara Ballenger.

BONUS pre-conference workshop on SATURDAY on Habitat Restoration and Care for Climate Resilience.  Learn more, meet leader (and PA IPL board member) Greg Williams, and share the link and poster with anyone you think might be interested.  Greg will help your congregation do something similar.


2015 Hope in the Age of the Climate Crisis:
Finding Our Moral Compass 

Annual conference 2015 squareOur 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.


green-arthur-199x300Dr. 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.

DSC_0082Keya 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.

thumb_maryelizabethclark_1024Mary 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.


KarynWiseman.cropModerator 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.
Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 3.34.08 PMPaula 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.



dwayne-1Bishop 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.

photo! AW maroonRabbi 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.

image1424Rabbi 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
Paula Kline
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
Keya Chatterjee
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

photo credit: Jess BallengerOur 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.


joellenoveyJoelle 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.

JP at Bridgeport PlantJacqueline Patterson is the Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program. Since 2007 Patterson has also served as coordinator & co-founder of Women of Color United.

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.

VickyFurio - Version 2

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:
     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.

image1424Rabbi 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.


KarynWiseman.cropRev. 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 Listenerwas recently published by Pilgrim Press. Jump to Karyn’s workshop description.

SamShainSamantha 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.



image61612013  “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 (UUA and UCC), and door prizes rounded out the day.

Keynote panel: How do different faith traditions respond to climate change?


image14281Peter 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.

image1424Rabbi 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.

image1426Rev. 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.

image14521Sister 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

image1340This 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

image1419image1421image14071Stories 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.

image1362Groundswell 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.