HARRISBURG: Stirring the Waters — Faith, Science, and Action

REGISTER BY APRIL 8 so we can be good hosts!

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Stirring the Waters: Faith, Science, and Action!
an interreligious Blessing and Celebration
Sunday, April 17 5:00 PM-8:15 PM
(register for outdoor activities beginning at 1:30)

Blessing of the Waters
5:00 PM State Street Riverfront Park, Harrisburg
followed by a procession to the Capitol Rotunda where we will have our dinner.
If you can, do BRING BANNERS and flags from your congregation or faith community.

Click through for a PDF poster that will tell you more about the add-on afternoon canoe trip (with DCNR officials) or hike, too. Learn more.

Please REGISTER BY APRIL 8 so we can be good hosts!

EVERYONE is welcome for an interfaith Blessing of the Waters, Thanksgiving, a catered dinner (halal, kosher, and vegan options), a learning session, a talk by climate scientist and oceanographer Ray Najjar (you can read his bio, but it won’t tell you that he is also a charter member of PA IPL, a 2013 PA IPL cyclist, a member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, and a father of 3 who, with his family, slashed their household carbon emissions!

Participants should DRESS FOR VARIABLE SPRING WEATHER for the afternoon tree planting and Multi-faith Blessing of the Waters!

Please REGISTER BY APRIL 8 so we can be good hosts!

Each year Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania (LAMPa) gathers members for a lobby-and-learning day at the Capitol in Harrisburg on a particular issue.  This year, it’s climate change.  LAMPa’s advocacy and workshop day will be April 18 (Learn more here – anyone of any faith tradition is welcome to register, but recognize ahead of time that examples will be chosen for Lutherans).

The day before their learning day,  they gather for a less formal faith-and-learning event. This year LAMPa is teaming up with PA IPL and the national ELCA “glocal event team” for celebration and more.  Click the image for a PDF poster that will tell you more about the add-on afternoon canoe trip (with DCNR officials) or hike, too. Learn more.

VILLANOVA: Cardinal Peter Turkson and a multi-faith roundtable conversation

The Creation of Laudato Si
An Interfaith Conversation with Religious Leaders

Cardinal Peter Turkson

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President, Pontifical Council on Justice & Peace, and a draft author of Laudato Sí

Free but RSVP REQUIRED by Feb. 18

Thursday, February 25, 2016 
Villanova Room, Connelly Center

9:30–10AM Refreshments and Registration
10:00–11:30 AM Presentation by Cardinal Turkson with Multi-faith Responses & Roundtable Conversation


  • Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light
  • Rev. J. Anyabwile Bankole, Greater Mount Vernon Baptist Church
  • Imam Sohaib Sultan, Princeton University
  • Sister Marie Cook, Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Community
  • Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Shalom Center

You are invited to share in this unique opportunity to learn the story behind the creation of Laudato Si and to discuss its impact in diverse religious communities and within the wider environmental movement.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson serves as the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Working with the Council, Cardinal Turkson had primary responsibility for developing the first draft of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si.

 Please RSVP by February 18. For more information, contact julia.sheetz@villanova.edu

Upcoming Event HIGHLIGHTS

Because our Events listing draws directly (and chronologically) from our events calendar, there are a few upcoming items that you’ll want to see coming,  mark your own calendar, and share.  You will want to know about:

One of the wonderful Interfaith Moral Climate Advocacy workshops, headlined by Justin Wright of Active Neutrals, and in partnership with PennFuture will be held on Presidents’ Day, February 15.  REGISTRATION is open now, FLIERS are available.  Click to learn more and sign up.  Co-sponsored by PA IPL, the Eco-Justice Ministries of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and the Creation Care Task Force of the NE PA Synod (Lutherans).

WORLD WIDE: Earth Hour  Saturday, March 19

——RELIGIOUS CALENDARS: Tu b’Shevat and Lent, with resources anyone can use——

Tu B’Shevat (the “Jewish new year of the trees”) begins January 24 at sundown (the 15th day of Shevat).  Join all-are-welcome celebrations in BRYN MAWR  or GERMANTOWN 1/24. Find resources generously shared by COEJL and the Shalom Center to explore more on your own.  Your RSVP is important to our planning for both of the celebrations linked above.

On the Christian calendar, Lent  begins with Ash Wednesday, which falls on February 10 this year.  It is a time of preparation, reflection and, for many, fasting, so it’s a great time to think about a CARBON FAST or a Lenten text study linked to climate change.  The Ecumenical Carbon Fast designed by the New England Regional Environmental Ministries is excellent, and we see no need to re-invent the wheel!  Anyone may sign up now for 2016 once-a-day Lenten emails.  To get a glimpse at what you’ll be getting, browse the 2015 resources.  Each week has a biblically-linked theme and includes actions to take, both as an individual and with a congregation.   If you are a Christian pastor in a congregation that follows the Common Lectionary, you may find this lectionary-based weekly sermon reflections on the lessons useful, whether you choose to use them during Lent or periodically throughout the year.

People of other faiths may wish to sign up for the Lenten emails (or browse the 2015 materials) in order to mine them for inspiration in connection with periods of fasting and reflection in your own tradition.  Would you like to use the inspiration to craft tailored resources drawing on your own scriptures and traditions?  We’d love to make sure the effort is well-spent by sharing it far and wide.  We’ll even help!

LANCASTER— Multi-faith roundtable: How does Laudato Si resonate with our theology and practice?

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 4.47.26 PMTo be held in the Hafer Center, 2nd floor of the Schaff Library on the campus of the Lancaster Theological Seminary. Monday, October 19, 2015 

Roundtable begins at 6:30 RSVP
Register for an optional bag dinner beginning at 5:30.

Click the image to download  a poster to share (8.5×14)
Get a 1/2-page, 2-sided  bulletin insert to share with your congregation, study group, or neighbors. (8.5×11)

The public is warmly invited.

Join clergy from multiple faith traditions for an in-depth roundtable discussion exploring Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si The discussion will feature national faith leaders, as well as leaders from Pennsylvania’s communities.  Participants will have the opportunity to join the discussion.

  • What do our faith traditions say about climate change, poverty, and the role of human beings in the order of Creation?
  • How does the encyclical speak to Catholics, and to people from traditions other than Catholicism?
  • How do we respond, as people of faith, to the challenges of climate change as felt in our households, in our congregations, and in our communities?

The public is warmly invited.
All RSVPs are appreciated.  Attendees must register in advance if they would like an optional box dinner beginning at 5:30.  Dinners prepared by Sugarplum & Tea.

Co-sponsored by PA Interfaith Power & Light, the Lancaster Theological Seminary, the National Religious Partnership on the Environment, and the Office of the Chaplain of Franklin & Marshall.

Yom Kippur… and Pope Francis? RESOURCES for anyone to use now or later.

Yom Kippur, the holiest of the High Holy days in the Jewish calendar is celebrated on 10 Tishrei, which begins at sundown on September 22, 2015 on the secular calendar.  It is a day of fasting and prayer, and is spent at the synagogue.

PA IPL board president Rabbi Daniel Swartz created a text study of Jewish texts (scripture through Middle Ages to the modern era) “speaking to” excerpts from Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Sii, and followed by a discussion guide.  There is both a 2-page version and a 4-page version in this downloadable PDF:encyclical Jewish text study for yom kippur daniel swartz

People of all faiths may find that this guide sparks reflection on scripture, wisdom, and prayers from their own traditions.   PA IPL would be delighted to make additional reflections and guides widely available, so please do share both links to others’ work (we’ll ask permission to post!) or resources you have helped to develop.  Note that a series of writings from PA IPL board member John Roe is already on our blog.

Rabbi Daniel opens the guide with a letter (included in the PDF)

Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Shanah Tovah! As you prepare to welcome 5776, I invite you to connect with one of the most notable faith events of the year – Pope Francis’s visit to the United States just after Yom Kippur, during which he will speak about his encyclical on climate change and justice,
Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home. At this time of year, as we reflect on how we have treated our fellow human beings and how we might better live up to God’s expectations of us, we have a special opportunity to examine our relationship with all of God’s creation
– and the Pope’s encyclical provides us with an excellent way to do just that.

To that end, I’ve selected a number of excerpts from the encyclical and paired them with Jewish sources ranging from the Tanakh, to midrashim, to Heschel, to rabbis of today. Here at Temple Hesed in Scranton, PA, I will be using this text study, “Laudato Si and the Sages: Reflections on Climate Justice,” on Yom Kippur afternoon, and we have invited the press and other faith communities as well. Please use it however it might work best for you: at High Holy Day Services, at a multi-faith gathering, at a social action weekend etc.

The texts are presented in two formats. The first is a more complete four-page selection, designed for in-depth or multi-session discussions; it can be studied in a larger group setting, in hevruta, in small groups or in some combination. The second is a single page of texts, meant to serve as a ready-made one-hour program. In both formats, I’ve included questions on each topic highlighted by the texts, as well as some summary questions. I’d love to hear how you’ve used it or if you have any questions – drop me an email.

I also hope this text study will inspire further action to combat climate change. (To help with this, some “next steps” are presented at the  end of each discussion guide) I present it in my role as board president of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, one of 40 IP&L affiliates, each of which works with communities, organizations, and individuals of faith to address climate change as a moral issue. If  you’d like to learn more about PA IP&L, please feel free to email me or our Executive Director, Rev. Alison Cornish.
Lastly, I’d like to thank colleagues who reviewed this text study and made suggestions: Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein of Philly IP&L, Rabbi Larry Troster of Greenfaith, and Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center.
In Hesed,
Rabbi Daniel Swartz
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Before becoming the spiritual leader of Temple Hesed, Rabbi Daniel Swartz was the coordinator of Greater Washington IP&L, executive director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network, Associate Director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, and Congregational Relations Director for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, where he was the lead author of To Till and to Tend: a Guide to Jewish Environmental Study and Action.


forum and vigil: Climate, Jobs, and Justice: a Moral Response to the Pope’s Urgent Message

Media coverage of the event from the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia:

Original description:
This event is a coalition event planned and supported by many partners (see below).  The event begins at the Friends’ Center, Philadelphia (scroll to bottom for address and map), and ends with a procession around City Hall to LOVE Park for a vigil.  It will take place not far from the Shale Conference happening the same day.    Flier to shareFlyer B&W Climate, Jobs, Justice-FINAL

5:30 gathering and refreshments
6:00-7:15 ” A Just Transition” forum with compelling calls to action from community, faith, labor, and health leaders
7:30 Inspiring, art-filled procession from Friends Center through downtown Philadelphia, ending in a night vigil at LOVE Park.

Please join us for a forum and vigil to lift up Pope Francis’s urgent call for climate action and economic justice!  RSVP

In June, Pope Francis published an urgent letter to people across the world: On Care for Our Common Home.”  The letter urge people everywhere to take decisive action to preserve a livable climate and to build a just economy. The Pope will bring this message to Congress and the United Nations when he visits the US this September.

As Philly prepares for his arrival, hundreds of people from all backgrounds will come together for a forum, procession, and vigil. We will reflect on what the Pope’s message means to us here in Philly. And we will call on our elected officials to commit to a rapid shift to a just and sustainable economy, with renewable energy, clean air, living wage jobs, and justice for those who are harmed most by climate change. Everyone is welcome!

What to Expect:

  • Big, beautiful art
  • Compelling calls to action from faith, community, and labor leaders
  • Presentations about energy, health, pollution, clean jobs, and strategies for building a just and sustainable economy
  • To make friends with neighbors who care about community, people, and planet

Co-sponsored by:

  • 350 Philly
  • Green Justice Philly
  • Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility-Philadelphia
  • Sierra Club Southeast PA Beyond Coal Campaign
  • Shalom Center

Let us know if your organization would like to endorse the event! 

Spread the word through Facebook.

Quotes from the Pope’s Letter*PopeFrancis-01

“The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.”
“There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”
“A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted.”


We are hosting multiple Art Builds for anyone who wants to help create puppets, LED Signs, and giant banners! Learn more and RSVP for the next one here.