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

New Carbon Footprint Calculator

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

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

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

Stimulus Priorities

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

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

May Newsletter-Part 2: Upcoming PA IPL Events

Engaging Active Hope: How to Do It


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

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

Daily Sustenance becomes Sips of Sustenance 

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

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

Bike Trip

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

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

May Newsletter-Part 1: Connectedness

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

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

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

Faith Climate Action Week Videos

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

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

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

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

Rev. Patricia Mushim Ikeda prays the Shantideva Prayer

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

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

We Hold the Earth, A Climate Blessing

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

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

Rev. Ambrose Carroll offers a prayer for Creation

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

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb Prayer for the Earth

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

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

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

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

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

Qur’an 2:183

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


Hajji Bektash Veli (d. 1271)

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

“You don’t eat anything?” No.

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

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

“You must drink water then?” Uh, no.

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

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

Breaking the fast with dates after sunset. Image source

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

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

Climate Action: What if it were easier? — Seth Bush of the Radical Support Collective

So many people wanted to be in more than one place at a time during our conference workshops, that we are inviting conference workshop leaders to contribute reflections for our blog. We hope that you will continue to engage with our workshop leaders, partners, and allies.

Climate Action: What if it were easier?

That was the title of a workshop led at the PA Interfaith Power & Light Annual Conference in Pittsburgh by Seth Bush, a coach for social change leaders working to heal the climate crisis.

And think about it for a moment, wouldn’t that be great if our work were even just a tiny bit easier?

Seth’s interactive workshop showed participants simple principles for taking climate action with ease rather than struggle, and they went home with a way to practice what they learned with their congregations.

Here’s what two participants had to say about the workshop:

“Being in Climate Justice work for the long haul can be very exhausting.   I have felt the heaviness, which is why I chose to attend Seth Bush’s workshop at our Pittsburgh PA IPL conference a few weeks ago.  I believe we need all the resources we can muster into our personal toolkits so we don’t get disheartened.  

Seth’s workshop did not disappoint.  I was able to come away with some simple, concrete steps that  I can take away to keep myself from feeling overwhelmed. One tip that I have already integrated into my daily life, thanks to Seth, is to keep a Gratitude journal.  I was not aware that the brain can’t handle anxiety and gratitude at the same time. Spending a few minutes every morning journaling has made an amazing difference in the management of the anxiety I was feeling.  

When my actions are frozen from feeling overwhelmed, another take-away from the workshop was to break a task that feels overwhelming into a smaller beginning step that I could easily accomplish so I will  be able to see a tangible result that will move me forward to the next step.

Seth’s workshop helped change my mind to see that in Crisis, there is Opportunity.  I would highly recommend his workshop.”

George Dempsie
Board member Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light

“PA IPL’s workshop with Seth Bush was a huge blessing in my life. The theme of doing meaningful activism with ease rather than struggle hit a chord with me. 

Activists often feel alone in their work, especially those working in faith communities. We have such high hopes and high expectations for our communities, but are often let down as complacency and fear of change are realized. Activist minded leaders see a beautiful future, but often struggle to know the small steps necessary to bring a community of people toward those potentials. Seth helped participants recognize the small steps that can be taken with ease to work toward big goals. I’ve already begun using what I learned and am excited to celebrate the small victories that will come as our church pushes, slow as it may be, toward a much greater goal of social and environmental justice.”

John Creasy
Associate Pastor, Pittsburgh Open Door

If any of this has you thinking, “Ease? I could use some of that!”, you might be interested in joining one of Seth’s Radical Support Circles. These by-donation, “drop in” coaching groups provide a space where you can get coaching to see ways to bring ease to your climate activism (and the rest of your life) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more about the Radical Support Circles here.

Or schedule a 30-minute interest chat with Seth to find out more about one-on-one coaching, group programs, and workshops.

You can read more about Seth and his work at www.radicalsupport.org/seth.