Great Leaping Leap Year!

Leap year gives us an extra day in our calendars, and it comes this month!  What will you do with your one wild and precious ‘bonus’ day?

Thanks to more than 170 of you for joining us at our annual conference.  We have heard the sense of co-conferencing across regions was terrific.  As much as we were all disappointed not to have our planned plenary speaker with us, the history of Pennsylvania’s extraction —and the history of resistance and re-growth— was very helpful to many attendees.   We would love to share your reflections about the workshops you attended, and hear how the conference has continued to inform your thinking, conversations, or prayers. Send them to us at paipl.org, and let us know we have permission to share on Facebook or on our blog.

To hear from Colette Pichon Battle, who was unable to be with us, check out her recent TED talk and Law for Black Lives, both available online. 

This was first published as part 1 of the February 2020 newsletter.  Scroll up or down for more upcoming March and April events, an action idea, and a review of our February Annual Conference

Gathering to share warmth and light- PA IPL at the Winter Solstice

December 21, 2019
Winter Solstice


It was the longest night. People gathered from near and far, in small groups and large,
to share their fears and grief and the darkness in their hearts. A year like no other, this was, 
Testing us beyond what we’d ever imagined.
Day after day, week after week, we found ourselves growing and becoming sturdy because there was no other choice.
And the solstice fire was lit and the candles passed and the light of the new year’s dawning lifted our heavy hearts and brought us brightness and hope.
— The Longest Night, Julie Middleton

Over eons, as we have insulated ourselves from the natural world, it has ceased to mystify or worry us in the way it did our ancient ancestors; it also ceases to amaze us nearly as often.  
In letting the solstice pass by, we do more than leave behind some of our ancient history.  We also turn our backs on the season of winter. The media portrays the winter season as an enemy to be feared, fought and defeated.  Winter, we are told, is to be endured. Yet in wishing away the season of winter, we also wish away the time when we humans might view the world from a different perspective, even marvel at its mysteries, and re-awaken our quiet awe.  

Once in our collective history the winter solstice was a time when ordinary people gathered in the dim and dark.  They came together for support, and for comfort. “And then the Solstice fire was lit and the candles passed and the light of the new year’s dawning lifted our heavy hearts and brought us brightness and hope.”  Might this solstice be a marker of winter within as well as without — a time to gather, to hold the memories of all our human forbearers who faced the dark places in their own lives and the larger dangers of their time in history? 
May their commitment to follow the light be the spark to our own hopes today!

As we seek to gather our lights in the darkness, to nurture the Spark, we hope you will mark your calendar to join with us in community

  • Our conference The Long Journey: From Extracting the Past to Cultivating the Future takes place on Sunday afternoon, February 9th, in Scranton, Pittsburgh, or Philadelphia.  
    Learn more and register.
  • A “bookgroup plus” — a series of virtual workshops will allow participants to share and experience resources from The Work That Reconnects.  This series of six, 75-minute virtual, participatory workshops will take place on Tuesday evenings from January through March.  The virtual workshops will draw on the book Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy
    Learn more and register.

Gather with us, and welcome the returning light,



October 2019 Newsletter-Part 2: Annual Conference and Meeting

NEW PLANS FOR Our Annual Conference and Meeting

For PA IPL, October has always been the time for our  statewide annual conference. This year, the conference would have fallen on the same date, and in the same city, as it did last year: Pittsburgh, on October 27th.  This is also the place and date of the first anniversary of the shooting and deaths at the Tree of Life Synagogue, where 11 people from 3 congregations lost their lives.  Rather than mounting a conference now, we are supporting this time for remembering, drawing together in community, and rejecting the anti-semitism and anti-immigrant sentiment that fueled the attack in a sacred space. 

Pittsburgh has declared October 27th “Remember Repair Together” day.  We invite you to find your own ways of remembering, repairing, and joining together on this day.  Perhaps several congregations might together adopt a park, street, streambank or other spot where people gather, and where plants and animals live, to connect with our Common Home. Clean up litter, or remove invasive plants and plant diverse and resilient ecosystem-appropriate ones. 

We will have a conference, and it will be statewide in a whole new way. 

First, mark your calendar for Sunday afternoon, February 9th. 

We will gather in person in Scranton, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh for The Long Journey: From Extracting the Past to Cultivating the Future. Our three sites will share a fantastic keynote speaker, and each will have live, locally-focused workshops. 

Do you want to be part of one of the local conference teams, or begin talking with your faith community about sponsoring the conference?  Be in touch with Cricket.  

And, join us on Sunday, November 10th at 7:00 PM, for the video conference call that will serve as our Annual Meeting (usually part of the annual conference).  We’ll announce the Visionary Award, share highlights from 2019, plans for 2020 -—including our conference— and vote in new  Board members! There is no charge for this virtual gathering, but please sign up here.

Annual Conference. October 27. Pittsburgh.

PA IPL 2018 Annual conference, on the 70th anniversary  of the beginning of the Donora Smog.
Learn more here.  Pre-registration closed at 8:00AM on Thursday, October 27th.  Join us anyway!  At-the-door registration is $40.
(Use this link while at the registration table if necessary to pay by credit card. Cash or check accepted.)

State of Appalachia Conference — Pipestem State Park, WV

Who? The State of Appalachia Conference is an event meant to bring together faith voices from across the Appalachian region to problem-solve.

What? The conference will focus on the spiritual, economic, and ecological state of the Appalachian region and ways to restore it.

Where? The conference will be held at Pipestem Resort State Park in Pipestem, West Virginia.

When? The conference begins at 1 PM on March 23rd, and ends at 2 PM on March 24th, 2018.
Christian clergy should note that this is the Friday and Saturday prior to Palm Sunday

How? Learn more about the conference and register at StateofAppalachia.org
Scholarships are available, and PA IPL has received a grant to help Pennsylvania attendees gather and continue to build networks and capacity after the conference. 

The theme for the 2018 conference is  based on scripture from Revelations 22:2, focusing on the Tree of Life and healing the nations.


Over 50 years ago, the Commission on Religion in Appalachia (CORA) formed as a voice for justice in the mountains. The Commission on Religion in Appalachia (CORA) did historic, ground-breaking work to organize faith leadership.

Many of us who continue to echo its message feel that now is an especially meaningful and critically important time to come together once again to examine the economic, environmental and spiritual conditions of our region, to problem solve, and to organize.
Today, in the spirit of CORA, the State of Appalachia conference will examine the spiritual, economic, and ecological situation of our home.

Together, we will chart a path forward.

Facebook event page.