Planning meeting: stopping the dirty energy hub

photo credit: Rev. Jesse Brown ImagesByJesseBrown
photo credit: Rev. Jesse Brown ImagesByJesseBrown

RESCHEULED from 1/24 (weather)
New place and time below.
The coalition that demonstrated outside of the Energy Hub Investors conference (including Philly PA IPL — see Rabbi Malkah Binah Kline  to the left and Rabbi Mordechai Liebling below, and catch glimpses of others you know by linking through to other photos.) at Drexel University on December 5 invites people from that demonstration and interested others to an open strategy session to develop a campaign for a cleaner, greener energy future for Philadelphia.  Planning participants will work out sub-campaigns and next steps.

The recent oil train derailment has underlined the urgency of this work.

Interfaith Service and a Call to Action on Dr. King’s 86th birthday

Our friends at Interfaith Moral Action on Climate  have held public events calling for climate justice on Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday (the actual one, not the federal holiday).  This year, that date coincides with a 3-day party retreat for Republican Senators and Representatives from Washington.  That retreat is at Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA.

A Call to Action on Dr. King’s 86th Birthday
“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today.
We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.
In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.
This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Interfaith Moral Action on Climate leaders plan to hold a public interfaith service outside of the Hershey Lodge, followed by a spiritual procession around the building. We will call upon those inside to remember what day it is, the day of Dr. King’s birth, and to reflect upon what they must do with their Congressional power if, like him, they are to be about justice, love and concern for “the least of these.”

2015 will be a year of unprecedented opportunity, with international climate talks set to conclude with an agreement in Paris in December.  The United States must lead the international community in dealing with the climate catastrophe we have done so much to create, and Congressional support for responsible climate policies here at home is an important part of that needed action.

We will invite retreat participants to join with us and the many millions of Americans who want to make a fast, fair transition from the profligate combustion of the 19th and 20th centuries, toward energy conservation, efficiency and renewable energy from the sun, wind and water.

In Pennsylvania fracking is a particular concern as massive methane leakage is intensifying our climate impacts here.  Fracking of PA shale stresses communities, endangers our drinking water and the air and land of those living near fracking wells, pipelines or compressor stations, and fracking of North Dakota “Bakken” shale produces the particularly caustic oil that is traveling in unsafe rail cars the length of the state.

Faced with the dangers posed by continued reliance on fossil fuels, our climate justice movement will continue to grow, with or without Republican Congressional support for, as Dr. King said, “we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

This party retreat is an ideal time to remind Republicans that they can be good Republicans and seek decisive, positive action to limit climate change and step boldly toward a clean energy future.  We invite them to stand with Dr. King and millions of morally concerned Americans.

For more information about participating in this action and/or to endorse this Call to Action, please go to, or contact Cindy Harris at

Review PA IPL’s statement on fracking here:

Read more about Dr. King, poverty, and the environment in this piece by Rabbi Daniel Swartz.

UPDATE: Parking, meeting up, and signs & banners

Additional information from IMAC, reposted here: Meet outside the main entrance of Lodge (also Forebay Lounge entrance) – 325 University Drive.   Look for grassy area with gazebo and pond just outside the main entrance.

From University Drive, turn into Lodge entrance on Briarcrest Drive. 

Parking is legal and free where ever you can find a space at the Lodge.  We are told that it may be full (although there were spaces available today).   If the Lodge parking is full, we suggest you drive back on Briarcrest Drive, and cross over University Drive to the other side of Briarcrest.  On the right side of the street, there is a shopping mall with spaces.  You can also drive on Briarcest Drive to Centerview Lane.   Turn right and park on the street, OR turn left and park at Briarcrest Apartments.   Today there were many parking spaces not marked for residents.

All these places are a short walk to the Lodge entrance.

Regarding Signs:   IMAC will be bringing some banners and posters.  If anyone wants to bring a sign, general is better, such as Climate Change is a Moral Issue.   Signs that reference scripture and faith wisdom are also a great idea.

NEW: Invite Senator Toomey and your Congressman.
(Jump down below the directions to learn about the event)
How to send the invitation:

  1. Click to download the attached Word document: INTERFAITH MORAL ACTION ON CLIMATE
  2. Look up your Congressman using the link on the letter.  If he* is a Republican, copy his name in the appropriate blanks on the letter.  (The conference outside which the service will take place is a Republican Party Conference.)
  3. “Sign” the letter by typing your formal name and home address.
  4. Remove all highlighting, and save as a PDF.  Email it to Mr. Toomey’s scheduler, and to your Republican Congressman’s scheduler (Google to find right name) if applicable, using the formula
  5. Set a calendar alert to get yourself to the Hershey Lodge, or pause to pray from your own office at the appointed time.
  6. Shoot us an email to let us know you sent an invitation!

*Pennsylvania’s representation in Washington is now all male, so there is no need for inclusive language, alas.


johnbechtelFor new readers, we are one of 40 state chapters of Interfaith Power & Light (IPL).  While we have four related purposes, for me our primary mission is to mobilize all people of faith who feel an urgent moral duty to reverse the trend of climate change.

PA IPL is a fledgling. Born in 2010, we were under the wing of a “parent” until August 2013, when stand-alone non-profit status was secured from the IRS.  Our membership, budget, and staff are still small — small enough that your donation, participation, and membership matter.

We aim to grow tall and run fast, before we all run out of climate time.

My involvement began in 2012 as a member of the Finance Committee. Now I’m a newbie on the Board. In that capacity, I am sort of the self-anointed point guy to expand and diversify our presence in my region of our state.

I have lived in south central PA since 1974.  I know only too well that the topic of climate justice is still a hot potato in most church settings around here.  Yet at the same time, I sense that in our churches today a growing body of younger members want to break the silence on the subject, but are at a loss on how to do so in a spirit of shalom.  That’s the dilemma and the demographic I’ve been thinking about a great deal lately.

Soon I hope to introduce PA IPL’s cause to a “green justice” leadership group, at the Conference level of a leading denomination of our region.  These faith leaders in turn will know the best way to interpret PA IPL to their churches and recruit the “climate justice converts” of those churches to lend their voices and hands to our work.  So far, so good; we are knocking on the door.

But what happens when the door swings open?  What will PA IPL offer to this faith group?  What value can we add to their good work so far?  What might they accomplish, in mutual ministry with us, which could not be done without us?

The scope of the answer may surprise you, but here’s how I see it: PA IPL offers all of us the unique chance to get in on the ground floor in the making of a moral movement.

Movements rise on four wings:

1. Steeplechasers, not Sprinters
It took King, Abernathy, and Rosa Parks 11 years (1954–1965) to end legal segregation. Gandhi, Nehru and Patel needed 17 years (1930 -1947) from the salt march to the end of the British Raj. We at PA IPL are here for the long haul. We know that God may be slow, but is never late.

2. Youth, not Age
Rosa Parks was 31 in 1954. King was only 25. Nehru was 41 in 1930. Gandhi and Patel were older, but you see the point: we need Barb Donninis and Cricket Hunters more than John Bechtels in order to make the movement grow.

3. The Faithful, not the Faint-hearted
Mother Teresa was once challenged in a friendly way by a U.S. Senator, who asked how her good work could possibly make a difference in a place like India, where the needs are so great. She replied, “Well, Senator, we’re not always called to be successful, but we’re always called to be faithful”. I doubt Rosa Parks had success in mind when she took a seat in the front of that bus in 1954.

4. Pacemakers as well as Peacemakers
You may have to sit down in the front of the bus. You may have to stand up and march to the sea. You may have to divest certain stocks from your portfolio, as the United Church of Christ church body has formally called upon its members to do. You may have to take a public stand, in a visible action in Philadelphia  during Holy Week and Passover, as a  group of PA IPL leaders feel called to do.

Building a movement calls first for architects, then for artisans. The founders of PA IPL put us on our feet in record time.  Now it’s time to march.  Gandhi and Nehru got “Swaraj” going in the 1930s; but Patel’s the one who got it running.  We are now at that next stage.

One “Patel” who is worth all of the Darjeeling tea of India is the Rev. Dr. William Barber, the heart of the “Moral Monday” Movement in North Carolina. Here is what Rev. Barber recently had to say about the staying power of movements (and why Barb Donnini and Cricket Hunter roar):

“Every movement in America that has made a significant impact has had a deep moral framework. The fight against slavery had a moral center. The fight for labor right had a deep moral center. In the fight for women’s suffrage, one of its leaders, Sojourner Truth, emphasized herself to be in God when she said in her famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?”: “Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with him.” All these movements drew on the interconnected tenets of faith, righteousness and justice. “

We do not strive for climate justice because it’s the smart, profitable or popular thing to do. We strive for climate justice here in Pennsylvania, as Rev. Barber strives for social justice down in North Carolina, because it’s the right, the moral, the holy thing to do. We feel a moral and holy duty to be here, and we aim to stay here, until the good work is done.

PA IPL assists the Centre County Fuel Bank

David DeMoss at Fuel Bank presentation
David DeMoss at Fuel Bank presentation

A couple of winters ago the Centre County Fuel Bank ran out of money.  Administered by Interfaith Human Services (IHS), the Fuel Bank is funded through local donations and provides assistance to low-income families who have already exhausted the fuel that they received through the federal LIHEAP program.  When Ruth Donahue, the Executive Director of Interfaith Human Services, went to county officials and to United Way to ask for more funds, they asked whether there was any way to reduce the demand for fuel.  She turned to PA Interfaith Power & Light and asked us to provide classes for the clients of the Fuel Bank on how to reduce their energy use.  Continue reading PA IPL assists the Centre County Fuel Bank

Feeding the Global Addiction

Nathan Sooy of Clean Water Action joins Rachel and Michael Mark, and Steven Todd, all members of PA Interfaith Power & Light: No EIS? No Cove Pt Export!

3 active members of PA IPL stand with Nathan Sooy of Clean Water Action at the Baltimore War Memorial Plaza.  They were there on Feb. 20, 2014, outside of the buildings on where Dominion Energy Solutions was meeting with the Maryland Public Service Commission about permit acquisition for a proposed natural gas liquefaction plant.  Dominion would prefer to have the plant permitted without an   Environmental Impact Statement specific to this expansion (their last EIS was completed in 2006 for a previous expansion).

In 2011 PA IPL drafted a set of ethical considerations to focus and guide discussions of Marcellus Shale drilling. (Marcellus Principles Sept.19.2011PAIPL Marcellus Exec Summary)  While the considerations have not changed, we have much more information about Continue reading Feeding the Global Addiction

Rising up, calling up

 image source
image source

In the end, 30 senators attended the climate change all-nighter — nearly 1/3 of the Senate!   While neither Mr. Toomey nor Mr. Casey participated, both now have a clearer sense of the concern of some of their constituents, thanks to 22 overnight calls EACH from members and supporters of PA IPL (or more — one dedicated caller said he called Washington plus 3 district offices for each Senator!).  The only hour we missed the whole night was midnight to 1:00 AM.  We will have the chance to remind them of Continue reading Rising up, calling up