April 2018 newsletter: Earth Day – Birth and Brokenness

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
   the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
Psalm 98:7-8

Most celebrations of Earth Day tend toward the practical, or a simple celebration of the birth of our finall-visible spring, but the widespread celebration of Earth Day is in fact rooted in the conversation between awe and grief.

Awe inspired by the 1972 image of blue marble from Apollo 17 and collective grief came with the publication of Pennsylvanian Rachel Carson’s 1968 book Silent Spring, which engaged imagination to move readers to feel the deep grief of a future foretold by then-current action and inaction.

As faith communities, on Earth Day we are called to hold these things together —this awe and this grief— for without one, the other cannot be.  If we did not love our Common Home and our neighbors, there would be no call for lament, and no need for action.  But we do.

And so for us, Earth Day is not one-off birthday celebration, but rather can be a day to celebrate and commit ourselves to work —practical and joyful work, and prayerful and grief-tender work— with and for one another throughout the year.  Some work we may take on as practical necessity, some we may take on as spiritual discipline, as a way of finding our way back into right relationship with neighbor and squirrel, stream and Source.

On this Earth day, let us seek, reveal, and feel connection with the earth and all who dwell therein.  May we continue in determined and active hope.

Celebrate Earth Day with your faith community!

Earth Day is on Sunday, April 22, 2018.
Read on for resources, and a really important poem.

Continue reading April 2018 newsletter: Earth Day – Birth and Brokenness

Denominations Call for Transition from Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy

One of the ways that some religious communities are taking action to protect life and care for creation is to transition away from support of fossil fuels at a policy and governance level.

elcafinalIn August 2016, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted at its Churchwide Assembly to move “Toward a Responsible Energy Future.” Read the full text of the statement on page 5 here.


In July 2015, the thirtieth General Synod of the United Church of Christ (UCC) approved a resolution calling for its pastors, conferences, and members to advocate for a swift transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

UCC_logo“It is our belief,” the resolution states, “that the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is among the most compelling and urgent issues of our times.” Further: “…If we do not immediately decrease our use of these fuels and completely eliminate them by the year 2014 all life on earth will likely experience previously unknown devastating results including drought, wildfires, extreme precipitation and cyclones, drinking water scarcity, diminished food production, population migrations, human mortality, violent conflicts, and species extinction, thereby upsetting the whole ecology of Earth.”

The full text of the resolution is available for download here.


UUA logo_gradientIn June 2014, the Unitarian Universalist Association approved a resolution calling for divestment from fossil fuels at its annual General Assembly. It says, in part: “The climate crisis threatens Earth systems through warming, destabilization of the atmosphere and climate, sea level rise, and the acidification of the oceans, of which the brunt of the burden has fallen and will fall on the poorest people in the world, who are least responsible for the crisis.”

The full text of this resolution is available online here.

William Lochstet Comments on Methane Emissions, August 2016

On August 4, 2016, PA IPL member William Lochstet delivered the following testimony on the topic of methane emissions to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee.


The EPA has found that the current and projected concentrations of the six greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations through climate change.

Our climate is a common good we share with our neighbors. Many religious traditions address the question of who is my neighbor. Christianity suggests that even persons normally rejected by society are actually neighbors. The Pope recently wrote of the earth as our common home. Native American tradition suggests that neighbors extend seven generations into the future. We are all brothers and sisters together now, in the past and into the future. What we put into the atmosphere today will have effects years and centuries into the future.

We had hoped to reduce global warming by replacing coal with natural gas since it results in less carbon dioxide (CO2) per unit of energy produced, when burned. But, we find that so much methane is released along the way, that the overall climate change effect is greater.

The Global Warming Potential (GWP) of methane and CO2 need to be understood in relation to time. When CO2 is released into the atmosphere, it stays there for a long time, and produces a steady warming effect. Methane in air undergoes chemical reactions on a time scale of about 12 years, which ultimately produces CO2 and water vapor. A methane release has a huge warming effect in the beginning, but is equal to CO2 after several decades. The Global Warming Potential for methane is between 84 and 87 over 20 years, according to EPA. This can have a huge effect on the weather events that you and I will experience in the next 10 or 20 years. This is important for immediate disaster preparedness. It is important to present global warming projections in both 100-year and 20-year time frames.

We need to reduce methane emissions by half very quickly. The Natural Gas STAR Program is voluntary, and therefore will not succeed. California is considering a 45% reduction in greenhouse gases emissions, below 2012 levels by 2025.

Lastly, the United Church of Christ at its National meeting last June adopted a resolution calling for the complete transition to renewable energy by 2040.

MORALtorium remarks: Today is a Call to Action.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.13.38 AMSister Pat Lupo was recently recognized by PennFuture.  The Benedictines of Erie are among the religious communities that have signed the Paris Pledge, committing to do their part to cut emissions. These are Sister Pat’s remarks from the Capitol Rotunda on March 21.

My name is Pat Lupo, I‘m a Benedictine Sister from Erie. I believe that Faith Communities are called to demonstrate their commitment to environmental action and to do it in partnership with environmental organizations, local communities, and civic and government entities.

This earth that we live on, our air and our water is sacred.  We have a moral obligation to care for the planet, to act for the well-being of future generations and for Continue reading MORALtorium remarks: Today is a Call to Action.

MORALtorium remarks: Adam and Eve, herons and loons… and fracking?

Photo credit: Sam Berhardt

PA IPL board president Rabbi Daniel Swartz was one of many leaders, from several different faiths, who spoke as part of a full day calling for a “moral-torium” on new fracking in Pennsylvania.  His remarks were delivered in the Capitol Rotunda.

This is perfect setting for talking about a moral framework for our relation to our planet and to each other.  On the steps into the capitol, we see two depictions of Adam and Eve – one where they are in harmony with the garden and life is full of blessing, and one of conflict, leading to tragedy.  On the floor surrounding us are mosaic depictions of butterflies and blue herons, snapping turtles and loons – feathered ones that is.  And above, the quote:  Justice is the end of government.

But we have neither harmony with creation nor justice. Instead, we’re being fracked.  Frackers inject a toxic stew of chemicals into the earth to split apart shale. And too many forces today Continue reading MORALtorium remarks: Adam and Eve, herons and loons… and fracking?

Spring Forward and Leave Fracking Behind: MORALtorium on fracking

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 2.14.26 PMThis event is over, but it got great coverage in the media:

Calendar description of full event.
PA IPL board resolution on fossil fuel infrastructure.
Rabbi Daniel Swartz remarks, on our blog.
Rev. Leah Schade’s remarks, published on her blog, EcoPreacher.
State Impact PA piece on the event.
Allegheny Front piece on the event.
Arlene Edmonds for the Philadelphia Tribune.
Philadelphia Jewish Voice piece

A coalition of faith community groups and leaders is joining to work toward a MORALtorium on new drilling in Pennsylvania.

9:00 Lobby Training at Grace UMC
10:15 inter-religious service of hope and courage at Grace United Methodist Church
11:00 Rally and Press conference in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building
12:00 – 4:00 Meet in pairs with legislators (make an appointment by calling yours and asking for one!)

REGISTER and use the flier and the Facebook Event page to spread the word.

As people of faith we are seeking

  • A MORALtorium on any new wells that involve hydraulic fracturing
  • Full funding for the examination of existing PA wells to monitor for methane leaks polluting he air and gas leaks polluting the water.
  • Full funding for the cleanup of contaminated wells with which cause health and safety problems for Pennsylvanians.
  • Support for renewable energy jobs.
  • Retraining workers who are displaced from fossil fuel-related jobs for the emerging renewable energy sector.

Read PA IPL’s new resolution on fossil fuel infrastructure.

Sponsored by:

  • Benedictine Sisters of Erie
  • Benedictines for Peace, Erie PA
  • PA Council of Churches
  • The Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania
  • GreenFaith
  • PA IPL
  • Pax Christi Pittsburgh
  • Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania
  • Sierra Club
  • The Shalom Center
  • Sisters of St. Joseph
  • Pennsylvanians Against Fracking
  • Allegheny County Clean Air Now
  • The Thomas Merton Center
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility, Philadelphia

Download a PDF  flier to share.