Annual Conference Workshops

Saturday, October 5  2:00 to 3:30 p.m.

Workshops for the annual meeting and conference aimed at making our conference theme (A Call to Action on Climate Change) relevant on the levels of Congregation, and Community.

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

image1419 image1421 image14071Stories 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.