Past Conferences

PA Interfaith Power & Light’s annual conference and meeting is the state’s largest gathering for people of faith concerned about climate change—a time for interfaith worship opportunities, workshops, resource gathering, and networking with others who are responding to climate change as a moral issue.  The conferences take place in different regions, generally staying in each area for 2 years.

ENORMOUS thanks goes to the many volunteers, attendees, and leaders who have made each conference so successful!

2018 Facing the Climate Crisis: Called to Save Our Sacred Home
2017 Gratitude, Lament, and Renewal: Walking Faithfully Together in a Time of Climate Change
2016 An Environment of Justice: Communities of Faith Responding to Climate Change
2015 Hope in the Age of the Climate Crisis: Finding Our Moral Compass
2014 Climate Justice: Faith in Action
2013 One Creation, Many Faiths: Call to Action on Climate Change
2012 Power for Pennsylvania: Ethical and Religious Responses to Climate Change
2011 The Human Face of Climate Change.Food, Faith, and Other Necessities of Life
2010 PA IPL Kickoff!

(The first couple are links to our Facebook albums — we moved to our new Web home in 2013.)

Other events (past and upcoming) are viewable in our Events listing.


2018 Facing the Climate Crisis: Called to Save Our Common Home

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This conference was deeply rooted in the Pittsburgh region. The conference took place on the 70th anniversary of the day the Donora Smog —a deadly event which eventually led the country to clean air laws — began; it draws on wisdom deeply rooted here, and it highlights some of the beautiful work being done here, now.   

Throughout the conference threads, undercurrents, and visible celebrations of  resilience, of a variety of ways that faith can call us into this work, and can feed us so we can keep going were visible, as were some of the ways that faith communities’ gifts and practices can serve the larger community that loves —and is working to save —our sacred common home, and all who live here.

As it turned out, October 27, 2018 was a terrible day in Pittsburgh: the day of the shootings and deaths at the Tree of Life, just a few miles away.   News and events were unfolding during the conference.  There was still much uncertainty, but we prayed, and held space, and, as we learned more grieved.

PLENARY
In the spirit of the work of Dr. Patricia deMarco, who will receive our 2018 Visionary Award, the plenary speakers offered reflections and wisdom drawing on their Pittsburgh-networked, faith-powered work.  A moderated joint Q and A session with both speakers will reveal synergy and nuance in conversation with conference attendees.


Charles McCollester spoke on
“Embracing a Blue-Green Religious Vision”
The geographic and natural advantages or our region have informed the lives of Native Americans, immigrants, and workers. Dr. McCollester shows the problems that industrialization presented for environment and health as well as the improvements in people’s lives that faith and unionization created. How can we build on our history to establish a vision of health and solidarity now and with generations yet to come?

Rev. David Carlisle 
“Listening for the Voice of the Earth”
The Rev. Carlisle advocates for the basic premises of Dr. Patricia DeMarco’s book, Pathways to our Sustainable Future: A Global Perspective from Pittsburgh, and draws on work they have done together. On the foundation of an environmental ethic, he will discuss at the leading principles of Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. How can intergenerational ethics and the biblical mandate for environmental justice help frame our conversation? How can we hear more clearly the voice of the earth and our calling to be better stewards of creation? Rachel Carson’s voice continues to lead us to an environmental ethic of the interrelationships and interdependence of all of the earth.

The Rev. Alison Cornish had previously spoken on Rachel Carson’s contributions to this work, and on some of these themes.  She stepped in, as a family emergency called Rev. Carlisle away.

Moderator: The Rev. Dr. Moni McIntyre

SPEAKERS AND WORKSHOP LEADERS

(alphabetical by last name)

Rev. David L.H. Carlisle
Rachel Carson’s environmental ethic of the interrelationships and interdependence of all of the earth has both fed and informed the Rev. Dr. Carlisle.  He says, “We have a sacred connection to creation and an innate responsibility to be good stewards of all of creation.”

A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, the Rev. Dr. Carlisle served as a Presbyterian minister (PCUSA) in three churches, only recently retiring after twenty-one years as pastor in Springdale.  Earth Day Sundays have been an important part of his church year, and he has often presented Rachel Carson’s work and environmental ethic as an important part of what he and his religious tradition believe.  

Time spent at the Rachel Carson Homestead and immersing himself in Rachel Carson’s writings were important parts of getting to know Springdale, and rooting himself there.  Having presented at the “Spirit and Nature” Forum in April 2008 at Chatham, and attended a number of the Rachel Carson Legacy Conferences, Rev. Carlisle is now developing a presentation about the religious influences in Rachel Carson’s life, beginning with her baptism by a minister of the same Springdale church that he served.

Rev. Carlisle is a member of Presbyterians for Earth Care.  An avid bird watcher since the age of fourteen, he is also a member of Audubon Society of Western PA, National Audubon Society, and Three Rivers Bird Club.  He is currently in his second term as president of the Rachel Carson Homestead Board. He and his wife, Janet, live in Penn Hills. Janet directs the Open Art Studio at the Springdale Presbyterian church, and recently published a picture book which she wrote and illustrated.  

David planned to be one of our plenary speakers.  Listening for the Voice of the Earth

Rev. John Creasy is the Associate Pastor for the Open Door Church and director of Garfield Community Farm. He serves the Open Door by leading the band, equipping new members to use their gifts and explore their dreams, and by developing and implementing ways for the Open Door to serve the larger community in which it finds itself.

As director of Garfield Farm, John has worked to create an ecologically diverse neighborhood farm on nearly three acres of land at the top of the Garfield neighborhood. This farm serves to educate the local church on the church’s call as Christians toward environmental sustainability and to provide healthy organic produce to those of lower income in the Garfield neighborhood. In 2010 the Garfield Farm team began a Community Supported Agriculture project, or CSA, in which local families receive weekly vegetables for 20 weeks out of the year.

John serves on the Peacemaking Team of the Pittsburgh Presbytery, and helped lead the Presbytery to a three-part resolution on Eco-Justice, and then to strong support of an overture to the Presbyterian Church USA 2018 General Assembly calling for complete financial divestment from the fossil fuel industry.  He was one of four national, nominated speakers for the overture at the General Assembly.

John and his wife, Alyssa; have three children; dogs and chickens complete the household. They live in the East End of Pittsburgh.  John also teaches the Organic Farming course through the Saxifrage School, and composes, performs, and records music.  This Side of Eve consists of Alyssa and John Creasy, and many talented and contributing friends.

John lead Taking Action in Congregations together with Noah Evans.

Rev. Noah Evans is Rector and Pastor of our conference host, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh.  Ordained in 2004, Noah previously served in Massachusetts where, as chair of the board of Episcopal City Mission he oversaw the vote to divest ECM’s endowment from fossil fuels. Rev. Noah and his wife, the Reverend Sara Irwin, an Episcopal Priest who serves as the Pastor of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Carnegie, live in Mt. Lebanon with their two children, a big fluffy dog, and three chickens. Noah loves cooking, smoking meat, local foods, current events and politics, the intersection of church and society, movies and television and teaching the Bible.

In 2016, Noah received the first Wallace H. Kountze Community Service Award by the Mystic Valley NAACP for his work on multicultural issues. He is excited about the inter-generational energy at St. Paul’s and helping to lead the congregation to more boldly serve the wider community and the world.

Noah was our host, and lead Taking Action in Congregations together with John Creasy.

Frankie Harris is the boutique merchandiser and special event decorator for the Ujamaa Collective, a group of black entrepreneurial women, acting in unity for the benefit of the individual, the collective, and the community.  Crucially, this work includes a green marketplace that aims to benefit the Hill District community physically, economically, socially and spiritually. Frankie Harris is the creative genius behind the Ujamaa Collective’s fabulous window display. The stories of Ujamaa’s talented artists are celebrated by her beautiful work.  

Frankie Harris is a single mom and nine year resident of the Hill District. She has been a member of Ujamaa Collective since 2011.  She supports our work and events in ways that spotlight individuals and celebrate and deepen the connections in our network.

Frankie lead Asase Ye Duru: The Earth Has Weight together with LaKeisha Wolf

Dr. Ellesa Clay High is Associate Professor Emerita at West Virginia University, where she taught for over 30 years. She was a founding member and past Coordinator of the Native American Studies Program, leading the campus Peace Tree ceremony every year. Her best known published work is Past Titan Rock: Journeys into an Appalachian Valley (U Press of KY), and her creative nonfiction, poetry and scholarly writing has appeared in anthologies, journals and magazines across the nation.

Presently, Elle chairs the of the WV Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) and is a member of the Commission on Religion and Race, both part of the WV Conference of the United Methodist Church. A Cherokee descendant, she also is active in a Shawnee community in WV and Ohio.

Ellesa lead Reconnecting with Our Sacred Landscape.

Kirsi Jansa is a Pittsburgh-based documentary filmmaker who has been exploring energy production, climate change and climate solutions in her short documentary series Gas Rush Stories and Sustainability Pioneers.

Kirsi is a visiting researcher/video journalist at the Institute for Green Science at the Carnegie Mellon University. She is a co-founder and lead organizer of Creatives for Climate, a Pittsburgh-based collaborative of artists, designers, climate communicators, scientists, and educators. A native Finn, Kirsi worked for the Finnish Broadcasting Company as a reporter covering issues related to sustainability, climate change and energy production from early 1990s until she moved to the US in 2008.

Kirsi is a dedicated to the practices of compassion and mindfulness in both her personal and professional life. Joanna Macy’s Active Hope is her guiding light for her climate communication work:  

“Active Hope is a practice. Like tai chi or gardening, it is something we do rather than have. It is a process we can apply to any situation, and it involves three key steps. First, we take in a clear view of reality; second, we identify what we hope for in terms of the direction we’d like things to move in or the values we’d like to see expressed; and third, we take steps to move ourselves or our situation in that direction.”

Kirsi lead Finding Our Power—Community Conversations.

Dr. Charles McCollester’s life is a rich tapestry, all of which informs his understanding of people and place right here.  He grew up on the edge of suburban Rochester NY, and spent many days roaming the woods and forest glades. Inspired by student lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro NC and John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign, he participated in a “freedom ride” to Eastern Shore Maryland to desegregate restaurants and the 1963 March on Washington. In November 1962, a month after the Cuban missile crisis, he met Dr. Martin Luther King following a speech where King said: “The issue is not violence or nonviolence, the issue is nonviolence or non-existence.”

His doctoral thesis, Emmanuel Levinas and Modern Jewish Thought, was based on research in both Paris and Jerusalem. Hitchhiking from Paris to Jerusalem, across Eastern Europe and Turkey, and then back to Paris across north Africa, Charlie studied Orthodox religion, art and architecture, picked lemons on a kibbutz, lived for two months in Jerusalem’s Old City, and visited many Muslim mosques. After living and teaching in Gary Indiana, he returned to Africa, crossing the Sahara and traveling from Dakar, Senegal to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania overland without a vehicle, weapon or much money.

Charlie and his wife Linda have lived in Pittsburgh since 1973. Charlie worked in restaurants, construction, and as a machinist, and was elected UE 610 chief steward at the Union Switch & Signal in Swissvale. From 1986 to 2009, he served as a professor of Industrial and Labor Relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Though he has retired from the college classroom, some of his wisdom can be found in The Point of Pittsburgh: Production and Struggle at the Forks of the Ohio.  

Charlie creates and inhabits spaces where union blue meet environmental green — and he is called to each of those spaces as part of his spiritually-rooted work for justice.  He takes great delight in his five children and eight grandchildren.

Charlie was one of our plenary speakers: Embracing a Blue-Green Religious Vision.

The Rev. Dr. Moni McIntyre is Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. Dr. McIntyre’s research interests and most recent publications have centered on health care ethics, military medicine, end of life issues, feminist theology, and ecological ethics. She is the author of Social Ethics and the Return to Cosmology: A Study of Gibson Winter. She co-edited Readings in Ecology and Feminist Theology as well as Light Burdens, Heavy Blessings. Her most recent publication is a book chapter entitled The Black Church and Whiteness: Looking for Jesus in Strange Places in Christology and Whiteness edited by George Yancy (Routledge 2012).

Moni was the skilled moderator for our plenary session.

Dr. Paul Nelson is Associate Dean at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh, and was Director of the International Development Program before becoming Associate Dean in 2015.  Before joining the university in 1998 he worked for 13 years as policy analyst for several non-governmental organizations (NGOs). He has written extensively about NGOs, transparency in international organizations, the World Bank, the Millennium Development Goals, and human rights and development. He serves on the board of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Paul’s current teaching and research interests include development policy, agriculture and rural development, NGOs, transparency in international organizations, religion and civil society, and human rights and development.   His most recently finished project is a book now under contract with the University of Toronto Press, which is provisionally titled Human Rights are the Key: Making the Sustainable Development Goals Really Sustainable for Everyone.  

Paul lead International Aid, Pennsylvania Action and Witness  

Kari Pohl, CSJ, has been a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden (a congregation of women religious in the Roman Catholic tradition) since 2000.  She’s currently serving as Coordinator of Justice and Peace for her congregation and as a community health nurse in Pittsburgh’s East End.

Sr. Kari lead Petrochemicals, Pipelines, Pollutants, Plastics, and Pennsylvania together
with Thaddeus Popovich.

Thaddeus Popovich has been a teacher in many contexts including at the Rochester Institute of Technology, in partner schools in the Balkans, and at the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh.  Trained as an engineer, Thaddeus has over thirty years of international business experience.  He is the co-founder of Allegheny County Clean Air Now (ACCAN), an environmental grassroots organization, and he strives to be a strong advocate on social and environmental justice issues in other aspects of his life, too.   Thaddeus has been trained as a Climate Reality Leader, and is an active member of St. Brendan’s Episcopal Church. Thaddeus witnessed egregious environmental justice issues while working and traveling in places like China and India. He returned to his home area of Pittsburgh to discover that similar problems exist here as well. Thaddeus firmly believes that he must do his part to protect the future of the planet for the sake of his children and grandchildren in California and Georgia.

iThaddeus lead Petrochemicals, Pipelines, Pollutants, Plastics, and Pennsylvania together
with Kari Pohl, CSJ.

LaKeisha Wolf As a first-generation Pittsburgher, LaKeisha Wolf has developed her roots across the community working at the intersection of social justice, arts, culture and entrepreneurship. She is a founding member of the Hill District based non-profit Ujamaa Collective, serving as Executive Director since 2013. In this role, LaKeisha focuses on the business affairs and cooperative development of emerging Africana women-owned craft industries. She has over 15 years experience in community, organizational and leadership development, consulting with numerous organizations including Sankofa Community Empowerment, Inc., Community Human Services Corporation, The Legacy Arts Project, Inc., and the Alliance for Police Accountability. LaKeisha holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Penn State University (2001) where she served as Black Caucus President, helping to establish the State of Pennsylvania’s first Africana Research Institute at PSU. In addition, she’s also a graduate of NASCO Institute’s Emerging Cooperative Leaders Program.

She is a poet, dancer, artist and entrepreneur; founding a micro-enterprise shortly after graduation called EnjoyourSelf, creating gemstone jewelry and producing a brand of healthy body and hair care products called E-Ma’s.  LaKeisha facilitates workshops with youth and adults on the health, economic, and environmental impacts of toxins and chemicals in personal care products, specifically to help women of color make more informed choices about their overall wellness and that of the community.

The understanding of creative activism LaKeisha brings to the table is unique, as she has worked and volunteered with young people in elementary through college age in varied settings over the past 15 years, teaching dance, creative writing, jewelry design, leadership, and activism, as well as creative entrepreneurship.

LaKeisha became a birth doula in 2009, nurturing women during the most miraculous time in life by providing emotional and physical comfort and support during labor and delivery. She is an advocate of cooperative economics and businesses that are guided by triple bottom line principles. She is inspired by nature and the power of the community when we work together.  

LaKeisha lead Asase Ye Duru: The Earth Has Weight together with Frankie Harris.

WORKSHOPS (alphabetical by title)

Asase Ye Duru: The Earth Has Weight
In this workshop, staff leaders from Ujamaa will discuss and share the cultural principles that have guided Original (Black/Africana) people for millennia, and how the history of the system of white supremacy and injustice has separated us from our environmental birthright. We will explore real examples of how coming back into alignment with these values will help all of us to live a more just, healthy and joy-filled quality of life.  LaKeisha Wolf & Frankie Harris

Finding Our Power—Community Conversations
Participants will watch a Secret to Talking about Climate Change video (4 min) followed by small group discussion about our feelings about climate change. This will be followed by two short documentaries.

In this session, we will watch two Sustainability Pioneers short documentaries (www.sustainabilitypioneers.com) on climate change and climate solutions.   The first, Home Sweet Home, follows a couple building a “passive house” in the Pittsburgh area and a 100-percent electric straw bale house in Armstrong county, PA.  The second, Finding Our Power, follows the re-building of one of the world’s most sustainable buildings, the Frick Environmental Center in Pittsburgh. Discussions will use Joanna Macy’s Active Hope process of facing reality and then moving to hope and positive action in confronting climate change.

After the short screenings, documentary filmmaker Kirsi Jansa will  moderate a community conversation based on the new Sustainability Pioneers discussion guides. The discussion guides will be available for the participants to initiate constructive and collaborative climate conversations in their own communities.   Kirsi Jansa

International Aid, Pennsylvania Action and Witness
How do international development aid programs address climate issues, promote energy access and support adaptation by the communities most affected by climate change?  What opportunities are there for us in Pittsburgh, as citizens, voters, and investors? Paul Nelson

Petrochemicals, Pipelines, Pollutants, Plastics, and PennsylvaniaYou may have noticed signs of the petrochemical industry’s presence in your community.  You’re not alone! With at least 382,000 gas and/or oil wells and some 92,000 miles of pipeline in Pennsylvania, plus compression stations, processing facilities, storage wells, and other petrochemical infrastructure, what’s happening in Pennsylvania as the petrochemical industry seeks to increase its presence here?  What’s the purpose of it all? How does it affect you? Most importantly, how do we protect God’s creation in
the midst of it? Kari Pohl, CSJ, and Thaddeus Popovich

Reconnecting with Our Sacred LandscapeHow do we ‘walk in beauty’ “as the Navajo say? Drawing upon general Native American philosophical principles and spiritual traditions,  High will share her own experiences in reconnecting with the sacred landscape all around us. We will be using Ohio River water for part of the workshop in a way that participants may repeat in their own settings without being guilty of appropriation. This workshop will be experiential, contextual, and participatory.  Dr. Ellesa High  

Taking Action in Congregations
How can we  respond to climate disruption and injustice in our energy systems in practical, prayerful, and policy-focused ways?  How can attention to something difficult change us for the better?  How can action deepen our commitment to safe and beloved communities?  Join in conversation with rostered leaders who have personal experience in their own congregations and communities.  Leave with exciting examples, and a commitment to start one new thing in and with your community of faith.  Rev. Noah Evans and Rev. John Creasy

ENORMOUS thanks to our conference sponsors for supporting our work, and making our 2018 conference Facing the Climate Crisis: Called to Save Our Sacred Home possible!

2017 Gratitude, Lament & Renewal: walking faithfully in a time of climate disruption

PA IPL’s 2017 conference was held at the Church of the Good Shepherd in State College, PA.  The conference brought together clergy and lay leaders of all faiths and none for a dynamic afternoon of national-level faith leaders focusing on the ways faith traditions and faith communities can offer tools and balm to carry us forward, out of despair, into gratitude, through lament, and into active, connected hope.

A gallery of symbolic walking sticks created by congregations and communities in advance was on view throughout the conference, as were 4 art-project “trees” co-created by conference participants in an opening liturgy.

Following the conference, the annual meeting included a presentation of the 2017 Visionary Award to Senator Casey  (for his use of moral and ethical language to discuss the challenges of climate change in the public sphere),  a 2017 year in review report, election of new board members.

Workshop Leaders From 5 Faith Traditions 

José Aguto
Associate Director, Catholic Climate Covenant

A lifelong Catholic who has spent much of his working life at the intersection of climate action and faith, José comes to the Catholic Climate Covenant from the (Quaker) Friends’ Committee on National Legislation, where he initiated the Call to Conscience on Climate Disruption, an interfaith, grassroots call to Congress for bipartisan recognition of the immediacy, science, and impacts of climate change. He has also worked for the National Congress of American Indians in the service of tribal governments seeking to address climate change. He is a graduate of Brown University and Villanova Law school.

The Catholic Climate Covenant inspires and equips people and institutions to care for creation and care for the poor. Through our 16 national partners, (including USCCB, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA, and the Catholic Health Associations) the Catholic Climate Covenant guides the U.S. Church’s response to climate change by educating, giving public witness, and offering resources. Our work is grounded in the Church’s deep history of teaching on creation, ecology, and the poor. Loving God’s creation and God’s most vulnerable is at the heart of who we are as Catholics.

Find Catholic Climate Covenant on the web, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Shantha Ready Alonso
Executive Director, Creation Justice Ministries

Shantha’s interest in the role of faith communities in creating social change began in college. She studied in Chile and led fellow students in learning about Latin American theologies through Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns and a partnership with Maryknoll Missionaries. After college, she did congregation-based community organizing with PICO (People Improving Communities through Organizing) in Southern California, Metropolitan Congregations United in St. Louis, and the Gamaliel Foundation.

Shantha’s work with Creation Justice Ministries is well-served by her passion for working ecumenically and lifting up work at the grassroots. She has served in various leadership roles at the national (and international) scale since 2008. She is a contributing author to For Such a Time as This: Young Adults on the Future of the Church and editor of the anthology: Towards a Global Christian Movement for Eco-Justice: Young Voices from North America. Shantha holds a Master of Social Work and a Master of Pastoral Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and Eden Theological Seminary.

Creation Justice Ministries educates, equips and mobilizes communions and denominations, congregations, and individuals to protect, restore, and rightly share God’s creation. Its membership includes 38 Christian traditions, including Orthodox, Black church, peace church, Baptist, and mainline Protestant church bodies, all together serving about 100,000 congregations in the United States. Based on the priorities of its members, with a particular concern for people who are most vulnerable and marginalized, Creation Justice Ministries provides collaborative opportunities to build ecumenical community, guides people of faith and faith communities towards eco-justice transformations, and raises a collective witness in the public arena echoing Christ’s call for just relationships among all of Creation.

Creation Justice Ministries started in 1983 under the umbrella of the National Council of Churches, and operated as the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program until it became independent in 2013.

Find Creation Justice Ministries on the web, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

 

George Hoguet is a member of Laughing Rivers Sangha, Pittsburgh’s Community of Mindful Living; Co-founder of the Earth Holder Sangha, an eco-Dharma initiative within the International Plum Village Community of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh; and a lay-ordained member of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing.

In 2007, George also became one of the earliest members of The Climate Reality Project, those trained by former Vice-President Al Gore to present his slideshow from the film, An Inconvenient Truth. Retired after 40 years in the electrical power and controls industry, he now devotes much of this time to advancing Mindful Living and Climate Awareness.

The Earth Holder Sangha aims to awaken a great togetherness to bring transformation and healing to Earth. We look deeply into the suffering and transformation of suffering relating to climate change and inequity; engage and link Mindful Right Actions to heal Mother Earth and her children; and enhance the sustainability of our Plum Village monasteries, lay practice centers, and local sanghas as models for an alternative future.

Members of the Earth Holder Sangha support the work of members through a shared network and resources including a quarterly newsletter, practice materials, gathering and commitment suggestions, artwork, Dharma sharings, and updates on Right Actions.

Find Earth Holder Sangha on the web, on Twitter, and on Facebook

Rabbi Daniel Swartz has been the spiritual leader of Temple Hesed of Scranton since August 2006.  Under his leadership, Temple Hesed is now a leading force in the area for connecting faith and the environment, as well as a welcoming spiritual home for people from diverse backgrounds. Rabbi Swartz currently serves as the board president for Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, and he has been active with PA IPL since before it was launched.  He has worked in the social justice field throughout his rabbinate, combining his religious training with his fervent love and respect for the environment in positions with the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.  Starting in November, he will also serve as the national director for the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL).

Rabbi Swartz has also explored the connections between and environmental values in a variety of publications.  He is the author of To Till and To Tend: A Guide for Jewish Environmental Study and Action, published by COEJL.   He is also the author of “Faith Communities and Environmental Health: From Global to Local,” for which he won the 2005 Award for Excellence in Professional and Scholarly Publishing from the Association of American Publishers, and his comparison of classical Jewish texts with sections of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical, Laudito Si and the Sages,” has been used in congregations across the globe. Rabbi Swartz is also the author of a children’s book Bim and Bom: A Shabbat Tale. In addition to his ordination and Masters of Hebrew Letters (MHL) from Hebrew Union College, Rabbi Swartz holds degrees from Brown University in Geological Sciences and in Environmental Policy. His most important roles are husband to Rabbi Marjorie Berman and father to Alana Swartz.

The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) deepens and broadens the Jewish community’s commitment to stewardship and protection of the Earth through outreach, activism and Jewish learning.

Through a network of Jewish leaders, institutions and individuals, COEJL is mobilizing the Jewish community to conserve energy, increase sustainability, and advocate for policies that increase energy efficiency and security while building core Jewish environmental knowledge and serving as a Jewish voice in the broader interfaith community.

Find COEJL on the web, onFacebook, and on Twitter.

Snana Yatra Das (Ne: Jonathan Wilson).
ISKCON Gita Nagari Temple & Gita Nagari Eco Farm & Sanctuary

Born to missionary parents in Kentucky, and the grandson of the Rev. IL Schwietzer, Director of the Evangelical United Brethren Church Seminary, Snana Yatra Das lived much of his adult life on the West coast, moving to Pennsylvania in 2014 to serve as the Head Pujari (priest) at Gita Nagari Temple, a position which includes acting as care director and facilitation for devotees. In addition to his duties as Head Pujari, Snana serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors, and as the Director of Sustainability, of Recycling, and of Beautification. He is the health and Welfare Manager of the Temple, Farm and Sanctuary, and the Editor of the Temple, Farm & Sanctuary Newsletter. He is a long-time mentee of Devamrita Swami, who resides at the Farm & Sanctuary when he is in the United States. Snana is a practitioner of Bhakti yoga.

Gita Nagari Temple, Farm & Sanctuary is a non-profit organization owned by the International Society for Krisna Consciousness (ISKCON); The residents of Gita Nagari relate to God through loving devotional service, and share the teachings of Bhagavad Gita.  They practice bhakti yoga – the yoga of love and devotion.  They utilize their abilities, intelligence, talents in service to the Supreme Lord, and in this way they are able to serve each other and the needs of a farm community.

The community at Gita Nagari sets out to contribute to the respiritualization of the planet and its residents by demonstrating the principles of “simple living and high thinking”.  While this goal has not been fully achieved, all activities on the farm are geared to this objective.  God is the center and all residents are His servants in their respective services.

Find Gita Nagari Farm and Sanctuary on the web, and on Facebook. Their connected center in Philadelphia is the Mantra Lounge. 


Workshops:

Participation in two workshops will allow you to learn more about the resources available from a familiar religious tradition, as well as one less familiar to you.  Just as traveling to a new place helps us see home with new eyes, engaging with new beliefs and practices can illuminate our own traditions in exciting ways — and the dual experience will allow us all to be better cross-tradition collaborators as we walk faithfully together.

From Climate Overwhelm to Renewed Hope:  Resources from the Jewish Tradition
Rabbi Daniel Swartz
Addressing global climate change and the disruptions it is already causing to human societies and ecosystems around the planet can be daunting, to say the least.  It is easy to become so overwhelmed that we are paralyzed into inaction and despair.  While this particular type of despair may be new, countless generations have had to face similarly overwhelming problems as they sought to bring healing to a broken world.  In this workshop, Rabbi Daniel Swartz will explore a variety of resources from Jewish traditions and teachings that may help us to regain our spiritual footing and to move forward with renewed hope.  These will include texts, rituals, and chanting practices.  All texts will be presented in English, and this workshop is aimed at people from any faith background who wish to explore how Jewish traditions and teachings can inspire and strengthen their work on behalf of the planet and the poor.

In the New Equation, We are the Difference
George Hoguet
​There is an equation defining the forces that drive climate disruption and other planetary catastrophes. It is a simple equation, but not easy to change.  Technology can play a role in the solutions we need, but it is also a 2-edged sword.  This workshop looks at a more powerful force for change – the “H” factor – a force that lies within the fabric of our very lives.  In this Workshop, you will:

  • Learn the Equation driving the Impact of Climate Change, and Our Unique Role in Changing It.
  • Discover tools for renewing your personal energy for the life-long process of Building Bridges for the Future.

  • Declare Who You Are in the Matter of Making a Future Possible for the Grandchildren of All Species. Naming​ it.
  • Take home some Spiritual Vitamins to keep your Vision and Energy healthy.

May that force grow deeper in each of us.

Ecumenical Christian Approaches to Creation Justice
Shantha Ready Alonzo
Come to this workshop for a peek into a bright kaleidoscope of Christian communities, including Orthodox, Protestant, Historically Black Church, and Peace Church traditions.  Get a glimpse of their histories and learn about their approaches toward an ethic of care and justice for God’s creation — and get connected with resources from Creation Justice Ministries that link to Christian seasons, practices, and traditions.

Spiritual Tools for Daily Life: Expressing our Awareness of the Divine
Snana Yatra Das
This workshop will give participants a taste of the ways the residents of Gita Nagari Eco Farm and Sanctuary draw strength and joy from our Spiritual Practices. In our daily lives as well as our Temple worship, we honor the Divine as we serve one another, the earth we share, and the cows in our care. When we live in conscious relationship with creation, our hearts lead us to heal the harm we have caused while our heads and hands act in service to that healing.  Participants of all faith traditions will find ideas they can apply right now, including:

  • Spiritual tools for Healing the toxic heart (Practical compassion)
  • Intentional non-violent communication in a spiritual community (developing empathy for others)
  • Expressing your spiritual values at work
  • How to put your spiritual life first
  • The power of service in our selfish world
  • Placing God in the center
  • Developing spiritual relationships with everyone in your world
  • Words that heal
  • Transforming our challenges into fuel for growth

  • Peaceful resolution to conflict
  • Retreat to nature for healing
  • Simple living and high thinking (An invitation for a road trip)

Weaving a Green Thread Through the Fabric of Life
José Aguto
The Catholic Climate Covenant seeks to inspire all Catholics to care more deeply about the gift of God’s creation and the dignity of all life.  Recognizing the vast diversity of the 75 million Catholics in the United States, this workshop will describe the programs the Covenant provides – from education to advocacy to energy efficiency – to meet Catholics wherever they may be on the spectrum of opinion about climate disruption, to foster awareness, appreciation, and action for an integral ecology.  The US Catholic Church is rich in tradition, diversity and complexity –while our resources are designed for Catholics, they are also shaped around the Christian year, and touch on themes that many faith traditions address.   Resources are adaptable, and create an opening for interreligious dialogue and collaboration on climate change within our geographic communities – which Pope Francis himself has encouraged.

I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. …
—Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ (14)

 

2016 An Environment of Justice: Communities of Faith Responding to Climate Change

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PA IPL’s 2016 conference was held at the Church of the Good Shepherd in State College, PA.  The conference brought together clergy and lay leaders of all faiths and none for a dynamic afternoon of nationally-recognized and behind-the-scenes movers and shakers.  Our 2016 conference year celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Principles of Environmental Justice, and the growing awareness of the intersection of racism, economic justice, and care for our common home in a time of rapid climate change.

Following the conference, the annual meeting included a presentation of the 2016 Visionary Award to Dr. Nancy Tuana, a 2016 year in review/annual report, election of new board members, and celebration of the building success of the A Time To Build Up campaign.

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—2016 Keynote—

Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome offered the keynote presentation, entitled Climate Change: The Path to Inner Resilience.

Climate change is one of the most pressing threats to the health of our communities, our cities and our nation.  The negative impacts of our changing climate are often felt by low income communities, and communities of color, whom are, in most cases, faced with multiple environmental insults on a daily basis.  As we acknowledge the 25th anniversary of the crafting of the Principles of Environmental Justice, the time is now to build awareness, to acknowledge the inequities, and encourage a movement that can facilitate a path towards building not only physical resilience to climate change, but enhance the spiritual resilience of faith and community leaders across the country.

— 2016 Workshop Leaders—

Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome is senior program officer at The Kresge Foundation, responsible for the Environment Program’s grant portfolio on sustainable water resources management in a changing climate. Jalonne also leads the foundation’s work addressing the intersection of climate change and public health.   Before joining Kresge, Jalonne served as director of federal policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a community based, environmental justice organization, where she was involved with leading national campaigns to help ensure that the concerns of low-income, communities of color were integrated into federal policy, particularly on clean air, climate change and health issues.

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A native of Detroit, Jalonne earned a Ph.D. in environmental health sciences from the University of Michigan School of Public Health; a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Southern Methodist University; and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University. She currently serves on the board of US Climate Action Network and was recognized by Grist Magazine as “The 50 People You’ll Be Talking About in 2016.”  Jalonne’s career has spanned many sectors, private industry, government, non-profit, academia and now philanthropy.  She is a professional lecturer at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and an adjunct professor at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan.

Jalonne is also an active member of her Baptist church, teaching Sunday school, and serving as a deacon.

In addition to her keynote address, Jalonne will be co-leading a workshop titled Putting Environmental Justice Principles Into Action: Learning to Build Bridges to Make a Difference with the Rev. Dr. Horace Strand.


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Barbara Ballenger is a member of the board of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light and is the Director of Spiritual Formation and Care for the Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia.  She has a master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from Ursuline College in Cleveland and  has worked professionally for faith-based organizations in retreat work, advocacy, curriculum development and pastoral ministry for more than 20 years. Barbara and Marcia Berry are leading Activating Hope in the Face of Climate Change.

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Marcia Berry, an activist, educator, organizational development consultant, writer, and coach, is active in the Harrisburg Cluster of PA-IPL and has been conducting workshops on Active Hope and the Work that Reconnects (WTR), after studying with Joanna Macy for several years. Marcia weaves this work into her practices in the Baha’i Faith and her activism for peace and racial justice. She has an M.A. in Linguistics and a certificate in Multiculturalism and brings over 20 years of communications, entrepreneurship, education and training experience to her consulting practice which specializes in language, culture, diversity, leadership and organizational development. Marcia and Barbara Ballenger are leading Activating Hope in the Face of Climate Change.

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Dorothy Blair is a retired professor of Food Security, Department of Nutritional Sciences Penn State, who has worked abroad in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Philippines, and Bahrain. Presently she chairs the UUFCC Green Sanctuary Certification effort, works locally with Citizen’s Climate Lobby and local food groups, bikes to D.C. with PA IPL, and grows a huge garden.  Dorothy is leading New Views on Climate-Friendly Eating.

Alison Cornish


The Reverend Alison Cornish
 is a Unitarian Universalist minister and the executive director of PA Interfaith Power & Light. She has a background in parish ministry, nonprofit management, multifaith work, advocacy for the marginalized — and a passion and commitment to care about, and for, the Earth, which has shaped her theology and activism over the past two decades.

A graduate of Wellesley College, the University of York (UK), and Andover Newton Theological School, Alison has also engaged in ongoing study with Gaian teacher Joanna Macy, and is a graduate of the GreenFaith Fellowship program, which is dedicated to preparing clergy and lay leaders for the challenges of ministry in a time of climate change.  She has served as PA IPL’s Executive Director since July, 2015.  Alison is leading But Are We Ready?  Faith Communities, Climate Change and Resilience.

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Leland Glenna
 is an Associate Professor of Rural Sociology. His research and teaching interests are in the areas of environmental sociology, sociology of science and technology, and sociology of agriculture.   He is a member of University Mennonite Church.  Leland is leading Climate Justice and Rural America.

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Cricket Eccleston Hunter was our first PA IPL staff person, and now serves as our Director of Programs.  A graduate of Mt. Holyoke College (in Biology) and the University of Michigan (with a Master’s in Science Education and Curriculum), her classroom teaching has dovetailed with a lifetime of experiences with diverse faith traditions to support her work with congregations and communities across Pennsylvania.  She is a member of Grace Lutheran Church in State College, and is leading Getting Past Getting Past Styrofoam.

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Presenters from POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild) include Terri Burgin, Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Paula Paul, and Frances Upshaw, all members of POWER’s Green Justice Committee.  POWER is a multi-faith, multi-racial social justice movement based in Philadelphia. Members integrate commitments to racial and economic justice in working for a planet that supports all lives.  Terri is a member of St. Vincent dePaul Roman Catholic Church in Germantown; Julie serves Congregation Levy Ha-Ir in Phildelphia; Paula is a member of St. Benedict’s Church and St. Athanasius Parish in Phildelphia; Frances is a member of Calvary St. Augustine Episcopal Church, Philadelphia.  Terri (not pictured)  Julie, Paula, and Frances are leading Voices from the Intersection: Race, Economics, Climate.

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The Reverend Dr. Horace W. Strand, Sr. is the driving force for environmental justice in Chester, PA.  In the early 1990s, Rev. Strand of the Faith Temple Church founded Chester Residents Concerned for Quality of Living (CRCQL) to address the numerous environmental hazards that the people of Chester faced on a daily basis. He led his group to block the permitting of new hazardous waste facilities in Chester, and in doing so became a national figure in the suit Chester v Seif, PA DEP that went to the US Supreme Court.  In 2005, recognizing a greater potential to improve health and environment through cooperative action, Rev. Strand founded the Chester Environmental Partnership (CEP).  He is a member of the PA Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board, and is an appointee to the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Board (NEJAC). Rev. Strand and Dr. White-Newsome are leading Putting EJ principles into action: learning to build bridges to make a difference

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Rabbi Daniel Swartz serves as the board president for PA IPL.  Currently serving as the spiritual leader of Temple Hesed of Scranton, he was the founding director of Greater Washington Power and Light, and he served as the Associate Director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.   He is the lead author and editor of To Till and to Tend:  A Guide to Jewish Environmental Study and Action, and his comparison of classical Jewish texts with sections of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si has been used in congregations across the globe.  He is the grateful spouse of Rabbi Marjorie Berman and the proud father of Alana Swartz.    The tree featured in the photo with Rabbi Swartz is found near the Meeting of the Waters in Brazil.  It is informally known as a “messenger tree” — the sound of a stick beating on the “fins” travels for mile. It is from the genus Swartzia, discovered by the Swedish botanist Olaus Swartz (no relation, as far as Daniel knows).  Daniel is leading Dealing with Overwhelm and Despair.

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Denice Wardrop is a wetland ecologist by training, and is currently serving as the Director of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, whose mission is to lead and support the integration of sustainability into the University’s teaching, research, outreach, and operations. Her primary research area is the impact of human activity on the valuable ecosystem services provided by various aquatic habitats, from wetlands to estuaries, including such things as flood storage, water quality improvement, and habitat. She is struck by the beauty and wonder of the natural world, and of humans, on a daily basis, and tries to understand how both can bring out the best in the other. She’s been a member of Good Shepherd Parish since its earliest beginnings.  Denice is leading Pennsylvania Impacts: What Can We Do?

—2016 Workshops—

Putting EJ Principles Into Action: Learning to Build Bridges to Make a Difference
During this workshop, participants will engage in a facilitated discussion that will:

  • Describe critical moments and foundational documents of the Environmental Justice/Climate Justice movement
  • Provide examples of current federal policies that have unintentional consequences on environmental justice communities
  • Unpack the challenges and needs of climate leaders to build a more unified movement
  • Allow participants to share challenges and successes about the most effective/ineffective ways to educate, build capacity and advocate within and outside of your congregation, community, network of peers, etc. in a safe space
  • Leave hopeful, energized, with a list of resources, new partners and opportunities to inject equity and justice into your ministry and advocacy

Led by: Dr. Jalonne White-Newsome, and Rev. Dr. Horace Strand.

Want to learn more right now?  You can read a scholarly article by Dr. White-Newsome just published at the end of September 2016:  A Policy Approach Toward Climate Justice.

But Are We Ready?  Faith Communities, Climate Change and Resilience
Communities of faith have always been on the front lines of responding to needs in their communities, providing essential food, water and shelter in times of disaster; support to refugees; and food to those without resources to feed themselves.   But all of these conditions are set to intensify as the effects of climate change grow.  How can our congregations be the resilient, resourceful and responsive communities of faith that will be so needed?  And how will all faith traditions do this work in ways that correct, rather than perpetuate, injustice? Led by: The Rev. Alison Cornish.

Pennsylvania Impacts: What Can We Do?
As the science of climate change becomes more robust, we have greater confidence about identifying both future risks to the Pennsylvania environment and changes that we are already seeing. In this workshop, we will share our experiences of the changing climate and concerns and hopes about the future. We will also learn what individuals and groups can do to make our world more resilient and to help mitigate some of the worst effects of our warming world.  Led by: Denice Wardrop.

Dealing with Overwhelm and Despair 
We all lose hope sometimes.  The problem of climate change is so vast, with such dire consequences, and there seem to be countless obstacles to solutions.  But faith communities have unique resources to help ourselves — and other climate activists — walk through our grief and despair and come out of the valley.  Come together to share challenges and hear about possible paths forward. Led by: Rabbi Daniel Swartz.

Voices from the Intersection: Race, Economics, Climate
POWER, the multi-faith, multi-racial social justice movement based in Philadelphia, shares perspectives from its Green Justice group. Members integrate commitments to racial and economic justice in working for a planet that supports all lives. Challenging questions and the story of a powerful campaign to increase local solar jobs (a campaign at the intersection of race, economics and a livable planet) are part of this workshop. Led by Terri BurginJulie GreenbergPaula Paul and Frances Upshaw.

Getting Past Getting Past Styrofoam
Now that you have ditched the styrofoam cups and started recycling, what next?  Yours is not the only congregation that has taken a step or two and then gotten stuck.   Come join a rich discussion of possibilities and approaches.  Explore both big-impact projects and smaller ways we can enrich our stewardship by recognizing it as a spiritual practice in the more secular parts of our home and congregational lives.  Where is the soil rich and ready?  What are you hungry for?  How can you prepare the ground to continue growing the work over time?  Led by: Cricket Hunter.

Climate Justice and Rural America
Rural America faces persistently higher poverty rates than other parts of the country. Moreover, with their dependence on resource-based industries, rural people are likely to be disproportionately affected by environmental disruptions, such as those caused by climate change. Environmental justice will require sustained engagement with rural people. Led by Leland Glenna.

New Views on Climate-Friendly Eating
How do we eat to honor and preserve the Web of Life while reducing climate-changing gases? Is veganism the only option? This workshop explores participant concepts about food choices promoting greenhouse gas mitigation, as well as emerging views on the role of farm stewardship.  Earth-friendly diets may be different than you think.  Led by Dorothy Blair.

Activating Hope in the Face of Climate Change
What if the world as we know it is not unraveling before our eyes but is engaged in a Great Turning toward life and health and interdependence?  What if sharing our pain for a world beset by climate change would reconnect us to our deepest powers to act on behalf of life?

Based on Joanna Macy’s “Work that Reconnects”, this ACTIVE HOPE workshop provides an introduction to tools and practices for staying engaged for the long haul during this time of transition from an industrial growth society to one that is life-sustaining.

This workshop:

  • shares meaningful perspectives and frameworks that inspire hope and action;
  • engages participants in heartfelt conversation and truth-telling, interactive exercises, experiential learning, tools and practices that move people from overwhelm to empowerment;
  • equips participants to support others and receive support in the journey of going forth and taking meaningful action.

Led by Marcia Berry and Barbara Ballenger.

BONUS pre-conference workshop on SATURDAY on Habitat Restoration and Care for Climate Resilience.  Learn more, meet leader (and PA IPL board member) Greg Williams, and share the link and poster with anyone you think might be interested.  Greg will help your congregation do something similar.

2015 Hope in the Age of the Climate Crisis:
Finding Our Moral Compass 

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Our 2015 conference was held in the Brossman Center of the The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and was cosponsored by both LTSP and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and additionally supported by a grant from the Rock Ethics Institute, food donors, and our program book sponsors.  The conference brought together clergy and lay leaders of all faiths and none for a dynamic afternoon of nationally-recognized and behind-the-scenes movers and shakers. 

Following the conference, the annual meeting included a presentation of the 2015 Visionary Award to Rabbi Arthur Waskow, a 2015 year in review/annual report, election of new board members, and celebration of the initial success of the A Time To Build Up campaign —including hiring of Executive Director Rev. Alison Cornish.

—KEYNOTE PANELISTS—

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Dr. Arthur Green was the founding dean and is currently rector of the Rabbinical School and Irving Brudnick Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Religion at Hebrew College. He is Professor Emeritus at Brandeis University, where he occupied the distinguished Philip W. Lown Professorship of Jewish Thought. He is both a historian of Jewish religion and a theologian; his work seeks to form a bridge between these two distinct fields of endeavor.

Educated at Brandeis University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he received rabbinic ordination, Dr. Green studied with such important teachers as Alexander Altmann, Nahum N. Glatzer, and Abraham Joshua Heschel, of blessed memory. He has taught Jewish mysticism, Hasidism, and theology to several generations of students at the University of Pennsylvania, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (where he served as both Dean and President), Brandeis, and now at Hebrew College. He has taught and lectured widely throughout the Jewish community of North America as well as in Israel, where he visits frequently. He was the founder of Havurat Shalom in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1968 and remains a leading independent figure in the Jewish Renewal movement. Dr. Green is author of over a dozen books.

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Keya Chatterjee is Executive Director of USCAN, and author of the book The Zero Footprint Baby: How to Save the Planet While Raising a Healthy Baby. Her work focuses on building a movement in support of climate action. Keya recently appeared in the documentary ‘Disruption,’ promoting the People’s Climate March. Keya’s commentary on climate change policy and sustainability issues has been quoted in dozens of media outlets including USA Today, the New York Times, Fox News, the Associated Press, The Washington Post, and NBC Nightly News.

Prior to joining USCAN, Keya served as Senior Director for Renewable Energy and Footprint Outreach at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), where she worked for eight years. Before that, Keya was a Climate Change Specialist at USAID. Keya also worked at NASA headquarters for four years, communicating research results on climate change. Keya was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco from 1998 to 2000. She currently serves on the board of the Washington Area Bicycling Association. Keya received her Master’s degree in Environmental Science, and her Bachelor’s in Environmental Science and Spanish from the University of Virginia.

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Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ, Director of the Sisters of Saint Joseph Earth Center is Special Assistant to the President for Sustainability of Chestnut Hill College. She is also an Ambassador for the Catholic Climate Covenant building on the work and statements of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Moderator Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman is the Associate Professor of Homiletics and Director of United Methodist Studies at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. She is an Elder in The United Methodist Church and has fifteen years of experience pastoring churches in Kansas and New Jersey. Her degree is in Liturgical Studies, with major study in both Preaching and Emerging Trends in the Church. She studied with Dr. Leonard Sweet and received her PhD from Drew University in 2006.

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Dr. Wiseman is especially interested in engaging the 21st century church for vital ministry, equipping established communities to take on new models and methods for church, and employing postmodern ideas to reengage younger generations in preaching and worship. Social media is a big part of her work. Her most recent book, I Refuse to Preach a Boring Sermon: Engaging 21st Century Listeners, was published in 2013 by Pilgrim Press. She has written numerous commentaries for Working Preacher, ONScripture, Feasting on the Word, Feasting on the Gospels, and others.
Paula Kline, EdD, is a Quaker educator and a peace and environmental activist. She is passionate about the fossil fuel divestment movement and organizing schools and communities to begin the transition to renewable energy. In addition to climate work in the U.S., Paula coordinates a cloud forest restoration project in Mexico.

 

 

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Bishop Dwayne D. Royster is POWER’s (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild) Executive Director and the founding Pastor of Living Water UCC located in Oxford Circle in Northeast Philadelphia.  He has served in Pastoral ministry for the past 23 years, including in the United Methodist, Mennonite, and Baptist Churches as well as the United Church of Christ. He is the Assistant Presiding Bishop of Higher Ground Christian Fellowship International.  Bishop Royster also has extensive organizing, social advocacy and political experience, including serving on City Council in Norristown in Montgomery County. The Bishop is graduate of Geneva College’s Center for Urban Theological Studies and the Lutheran Theological Seminary In Philadelphia. He was born and raised in Philadelphia.

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Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Ph.D., founded (1983) and directs The Shalom Center. In 2014 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award as Human Rights Hero from T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. In 2015 the Forward named him one of the “most inspiring” Rabbis in the US. Among his 22 books are Down-to-Earth Judaism, Godwrestling — Round 2, and Torah of the Earth.  He also wrote the pioneering essay “Jewish Environmental Ethics: Adam and Adamah,” in the Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics. His most recent arrest of about 22 was in an interfaith climate action at the White House before Passover & Palm Sunday, 2013. He is a member of the Steering Committee of Interfaith Moral Action on Climate (IMAC). In the spring of 2015 he initiated the Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis, now signed by more than 400 rabbis from every stream of Jewish life.

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Rabbi Mordechai Liebling  is the founder and director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College of which he is a graduate.  He is the President Emeritus of the Shalom Center and serves on the boards of T’ruah: A Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and of the Faith and Politics Institute.  He was the founding chairperson of Shomrei Adamah: Guardians of the Earth.  He is a member of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable and of the Green Hevra, a coalition of Jewish environmental organizations.  He has published numerous articles.  He is married to Lynne Iser; their family was the subject of the award winning documentary Praying With Lior.

 —2015 WORKSHOPS—

IPL Climate Advocacy: Sharing a Moral Voice
Paula Kline
We know spiritual and moral messages are critical in preventing a climate and humanitarian catastrophe, and yet we sometimes struggle with how best to share our deepest commitments. Due to our state’s legacy and current role in fossil fuel production, our trusted voices are essential. In this workshop we will share our new advocacy strategies and role play face-to-face meetings with elected officials and policy makers. Join us to strengthen our public witness across the state.

Speak my Language: Racial Justice and Environmental Justice
Bishop Dwayne Royster
This workshop will explore the need for intersection between the racial justice movement and environmental justice movement in America.  Ideas will be presented that should help activists and leaders on both sides to hear and affirm the other as a bridge to collaboration and intersection.

Prayer as if the Earth Really Matters
Rabbi Arthur Waskow and Rev. Dr. Karyn Wiseman
An interfaith conversation about liturgy, prayer, and crafting worship experiences that honor the earth. We will also talk about how we might honor the work necessary for communities of faith to engage climate change issues in meaningful ways.

Living a Zero Footprint Lifestyle
Keya Chatterjee
In this workshop we will discuss what lifestyle changes are most important to make, what the barriers are to change, and why individual action is relevant for policy makers.

A Jewish Creation Theology for the 21st Century
Dr.  Arthur Green
A study session with 
teacher and theologian Rabbi Dr. Arthur Green, author of over a dozen books, including Radical Judaism: Re-thinking God and Tradition.

Green Justice Philly
Mordechai Liebling with Susan Saxe
Green Justice Philly is
a coalition of diverse community, neighborhood, environmental, public health, faith , labor and civic organizations (including Philadelphia- IPL), and local businesses working to promote a clean, sustainable and just energy future with good jobs for the Philadelphia region. We are embarking on a campaign to have city council pass an ordinance that no new permits will be issued to consistent violators, this will prevent the growth of the dirty energy hub in Philadelphia; we are also working on developing renewable energy options in Philadelphia. Come learn about our work.

2014 Climate Justice: Faith in Action

photo credit: Jess Ballenger

Our 2014 conference was held at Summit Presbyterian Church, Mt. Airy, Philadelphia

Following the conference, the annual meeting included a video message for PA IPL from Bill McKibben, presentation of the 2014 Visionary Award to Andrew Rudin (by 2012 recipient Donald A. Brown), 2014 year in review/annual report, election of new board members, and announcement of (and voting on) the A Time To Build Up campaign.

—KEYNOTE PANELISTS—

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Joelle Novey is the director of Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light, which works with hundreds of congregations of many traditions across Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia to save energy, go green, and respond to climate change. Joelle lives with her partner Ethan Merlin at Eastern Village Cohousing in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is active in two independent Jewish communities, Tikkun Leil Shabbat and Minyan Segulah.
     Read her recent testimony on carbon pollution on our blog.
     Watch her in action in clip from a previous interview on our conference preview.
Check out Joelle’s workshop description.

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Jacqueline Patterson is the Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program. Since 2007 Patterson has also served as coordinator & co-founder of Women of Color United.

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Jacqui has worked as a researcher, program manager, coordinator, analyst, advocate, and activist on a wide range of health, justice, and human rights issues in the US, Africa, and the Caribbean.  Her broad background provides her an extraordinary foundation for communicating the wider justice implications of climate change. She currently serves on the International Committee of the US Social Forum, the steering committees of Interfaith Moral Action on Climate Change (alongside Philly PA IPL luminary Rabbi Arthur Waskow) and the Gulf Guardian Fellowship Program, on the leadership body of the Climate Justice Alliance, as well as on the board of directors for the Institute of the Black World, Center for Story Based Strategy, and the US Climate Action Network.
     Read her recent testimony on carbon pollution on our blog.
     Watch her in action in clip from a previous interview on our conference preview.
     Check out Jacqui’s workshop description.

Victoria Furio With over 30 years devoted to social justice, Victoria Furio has worked on the local, national, and international levels in education and advocacy within the religious community.  She is currently on staff at Union Theological Seminary in New York and convenes the Climate Justice Initiative there.  She can be reached at: climate.justice2013@gmail.com.
     Read her piece on climate justice for the Union Forum on our blog.
     Listen to her recent testimony on carbon pollution on our conference preview video.
     Check out Vicky’s workshop description.

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Rabbi Mordechai Liebling will serve as the discussion moderator. He is the founder and director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College of which he is a graduate.  He is the President Emeritus of the Shalom Center and serves on the boards of T’ruah: A Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and of the Faith and Politics Institute.  He was the founding chairperson of Shomrei Adamah: Guardians of the Earth.  He is a member of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable and of the Green Hevra, a coalition of Jewish environmental organizations.  He has published numerous articles.  He is married to Lynne Iser; their family was the subject of the award winning documentary Praying With Lior.

 —WORKSHOP LEADERS—

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Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman is the Associate Professor of Homiletics at Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia and an Elder in The United Methodist Church.  She has pastored churches in Kansas and New Jersey and holds a Ph. D. from Drew Theological School.  Her book, I Refuse to Preach a Boring Sermon: Engaging the 21st Century Listenerwas recently published by Pilgrim Press. Jump to Karyn’s workshop description.

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Samantha Shain  When she’s not working at Common Market distributing locally sourced foods, Samantha can usually be found knitting, cooking, reading, traveling and organizing.  She’s a big fan of Philadelphia and anything related to food, hand-crafts and social justice.  Samantha has been organizing to stop PNC from financing mountain top removal coal mining with the Earth Quaker Action Team for years.  She loves working with teams ready to take risks while being grounded in ritual, faith and practice.  Her social justice work is rooted in her Jewish heritage. Jump to Sam’s teen workshop description.

 —WORKSHOPS—

Talking About Climate Change as if Feelings Mattered                    Joelle Novey

After speaking with groups in congregations about climate change for five years, Joelle Novey has learned that people have feelings when they are asked to think or talk about what’s happening to our climate. We’ll talk about some of the emotional obstacles to folks being open to climate science, and discuss some ways to help groups find hope and form community that emboldens them to take action.

 

Increasing the Fold                            Victoria Furio
We will work with, “Renewing the Covenant,” published in the Union Forum as a tool for initiating the process of awareness-raising on the climate crisis in local congregations.  Resources for Discussion Leaders will be provided as well as a Study Guide by issue, leading to “What Can We Do?”

 

Speaking Our Minds for the Earth                               Samantha Shain
We are most powerful when we are grounded, authentic and speaking our truth.  Building on the Quaker concept of “speaking Truth to Power,” this workshop will equip leaders to speak faithfully, honestly and powerfully in public spaces.  We will build community with young leaders and get time to practice a new skill called, “street speaking.”  While this workshop is designed for youth and teens, it will be friendly for folks of all ages!

Preaching on Climate Change                           Rev. Dr. Karyn Wiseman
This workshop will explore texts from different traditions that connect with climate change themes, provide resources and address constructive and faithful ways to deal with resistance and controversy in the congregation.  Interactive!  Connect with colleagues of different faiths.

Building the Communities In Which We Want to Live:
Advancing Systems Change From the Ground Up                               
Jacqueline Patterson
Whether it’s coal burning in New Castle, or flooding in Eastwick, communities across Pennsylvania are caught in the crosshairs of the intersection between being impacted by the drivers of climate change and the results of climate change, thereby placing inhabitants of the state in double jeopardy. However, we don’t have to accept this as an immovable set of circumstances. Across the country, communities are rising up in resistance against dirty energy which harms communities and advances climate change. Others are doing place based organizing to build resilience against the climate change impacts we are already feeling. During this workshop we will talk about the circumstances we are facing, the resources that exist to aid us in advancing reform, and the models of communities that have taken progressive action that have resulted in thriving neighborhoods with good health and economic prosperity.


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2013  “One Creation, Many Faiths: Call to Action on Climate Change”

held at Colonial Park United Church of Christ, 5000 Devonshire Rd, Harrisburg, PA 17112

In addition to the Keynote panel and workshops detailed below, a green resources fair, lunch and network-building time, and a lower-impact vehicle display an Q and A (with owners of an all-electric Tesla Roadster, a plug-in Ford Focus, a hybrid Toyota Prius) and our annual meeting, Visionary Award (UUA and UCC), and door prizes rounded out the day.

Keynote panel: How do different faith traditions respond to climate change?

PANELISTS

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Peter Adriance, joined the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs in 1990, and works nationally and internationally in collaboration with other organizations on issues of sustainable development, climate change, sustainable consumption and production, and related fields.  He helped found the US Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and serves as co-chair of its Faith Sector team and secretary of its board of directors. Allied with that, Peter develops educational programs for sustainability in the U.S. Baha’i community. He also serves on the governing board of the International Environment Forum – a Baha’i-inspired organization addressing the environment and sustainable development.

In 2009, Peter received the Interfaith Bridge Builder’s Award from the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington DC, “for his passionate commitment to inter- religious care for the earth.” He holds an MBA from the University of Massachusetts and a B.A. from Alfred University.

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Rabbi Mordechai Liebling is the founder and director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College of which he is a graduate.  Prior to this he was the Executive Vice-President of Jewish Funds for Justice. Earlier he was the Executive Director of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation.  He is the President Emeritus of the Shalom Center and serves on the boards of T’ruah: A Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and of the Faith and Politics Institute.  He was the founding chairperson of Shomrei Adamah: Guardians of the Earth.  He is a member of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable and of the Green Hevra, a coalition of Jewish environmental organizations.  He has been trained in The Work that Reconnects by Joanna Macy, a founder of deep ecology and has completed the Jewish Meditation Teacher Training program.  He has published numerous articles.  He is married to Lynne Iser, they have five children and their family was the subject of the award winning documentary Praying With Lior.

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Rev. Dr. Gil Waldkoenig is a professor of Church in Society at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.  He works in ecological ethics, ethnography of religion and the church in rural society. His recent courses have been Ecology and Religion; EcoTheology in Northern Appalachia (immersion seminar); Places of Faith: Ethnography of Religion; Rural and Small Church Ministries and Environmental History of Christianity. Gil has taught also for Lancaster Theological Seminary and Payne Theological Seminary. He serves in the BB Maurer Chair for Town and Country Church Ministry and directs TCCI, and collaborates in the Blessed Earth Seminary Stewardship Alliance, GreenFaith: Interfaith Partners for the Environment and Lutherans Restoring Creation.  Education: B.A. Gettysburg College, 1985; M.Div., Gettysburg Seminary, 1989; Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1994.

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Sister Pat Lupo, OSB, a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, has worked for decades to spread the message that faith and environmentalism share important common themes of stewardship and the care of Creation. The former education director for Earth Action at Environment Erie, Sr. Pat does Environmental Education and Advocacy for the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA and currently leads children in the after-school programs at the Inner City Neighborhood Art House and the John E. Horan Garden Apartments, focusing on helping her students become catalysts for change in their communities.

Pat is a long standing member of the Citizens Advisory Committee for PA Department of Environmental Protections and she is a PA representative on the Great Lakes Commission. She also serves on local boards such as PLEWA, the PA Lake Erie Watershed Association; LERC, the Lake Erie Region Conservancy; the PA Sea Grant Advisory Council; and she chairs Hands Across Borders, a group that supports Central Americans locally and in El Salvador.

In 2005, Pat traveled to Katmandu Nepal to participate in the World Wild Life Conference and to accept an award, Sacred Gifts for A Living Planet, for the work that she and the staff at Lake Erie Allegheny Earth Force were doing with youth in Erie.  Twenty-six awards were given out world-wide, six in the United States. The program was hosted by WWL and ARC, the Alliance for Religion and Conservation. Prince Phillip presided. In 2000, Pat participated in a 2 week conference in Ohito Japan also hosted by ARC. It was the Major World Religious Task Force and provided an opportunity for 18 representatives from across the world to share common creation based tenets and make recommendations to World Religion Leaders. There were 2 representatives from the US and 1 from Canada.

Sister Pat has been recognized for her efforts by a number of groups.  Recent recognitions include Lighting the Way (2005 – Recognition by Governor Rendell for Environmental Leadership in PA), Mercyhurst College Distinguished Alumni Award for Outstanding Service to the Community (2011), John C. Oliver Environmental Leadership Award (2012 – Tom Ridge Environmental Center), Keystone Environmental Education Award (2013– PA Association of Environmental Educators.

WORKSHOPS highlighting practical actions congregations can take and work to be done in our communities

1.   Walk Thru Energy Audits: The Whys, Hows and Whats with a Tangible Example

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This workshop will examine various aspects of a walk thru energy audit conducted at Colonial UCC by PA IPL Energy Auditor Barb Donnini, developing an understanding of how energy audits save money for mission and model good stewardship of God’s creation for faith community members and the wider community.

Rev. Bill Thwing is a “retired” United Church of Christ (UCC) Minister currently serving as a supply Pastor at St Paul’s UCC in Johnstown, PA.  He is the outgoing president of PA Interfaith Power & Light and a certified residential energy auditor who concentrates exclusively on walk thru audits for faith community properties.

2.   Climate Change and Health

This workshop, offered by two members of the Harrisburg chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, will cover Climate Change and its effects on health and the world. We will cover the causes, and how all of us are involved and affected. Some solutions will be discussed and we will be sure to have time for group discussion.

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Dr. Jim Jones is a retired pediatrician with 35 years of practice in the Harrisburg area. He also directed the Cystic Fibrosis Center in Central PA for many years. He graduated from the Wharton School of the U of Penn, served in the USAF, and then back to Medical School at the U of Penn.

Dr. Jones has always been interested in public health, especially for children and thus active in Physicians for Social Responsibility, as well as serving on the Board of PennFuture.  He and his wife Sandy are also active with the environment and peace issues at Market Square Presbyterian Church, as they care much for the future of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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Dr. Robert Little is a family physician who has been practicing in Harrisburg for 40 years.  He began his career at the Hamilton Health Center in mid-town Harrisburg, where he served indigent patients for 16 years before starting his own practice.  For the past 5 years he has worked for the Pinnacle Health System.

Dr. Little has been active in the American Cancer Society, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and his local church, and he is on the Board of the Hamilton Health Center and Lycoming College. He has participated in mission trips to Haiti and to Nicarauga. He has three grown children and lives with his wife of 48 years in Harrisburg.

3.   Shout Out and Share your “Green” Dreams and Stories

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Stories inspire, stories communicate, stories create a shelter in which wisdom and hope can grow.  Join the dialogue of green success stories, and get ideas for your congregation to become even greener.  As congregations and church members become more environmentally aware, and want to reduce their carbon footprint as good stewards of Creation, what are some best practices?  Be prepared to share what your congregation has already accomplished in “greening up” and what next steps you hope your congregation will take.

Marty Blessing, Libby Loser and Gail Landers are members of the Penn Central Conference, United Church of Christ Green Justice Ministry Team.  Marty is from St. Paul’s UCC in Selinsgrove.  Libby is from Dover UCC, Dover and Emmanuel UCC, York.  Gail is from New Covenant UCC in Williamsport and was on the Energy Conservation Committee at Penn College of Technology.

All three lay leaders are very active in their churches, as well as at the Association and Conference level.  They were invited to the National UCC LINK Environmental Conference in April of this year, held in the midst of this year’s national 50-day Pentecost challenge: Mission 4/1Earth (Pentecost began on April 1 (4/1) this year).  They will be coming to Harrisburg fresh from a September Environmental Justice Training conference “emphasizing a spiritual foundation for a deeper conversation on justice and the transformation of our worldview” that their committee organized!

4.   You CAN Afford to Unplug from Fossil Fuels: Mission-Driven Organizations Working Together to Live their Values.

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Groundswell is a longstanding partner of Greater Washington IPL.  Their Community Power Project program has been working in Maryland and Washington, DC to create groups of organizations, and calling for bids from energy suppliers for regionally-generated, clean-energy, good-labor electricity.  [2014 edit: now for households, too] Groundswell has a legal team in place to watch carefully for consumer protections, and has had great success making certified “Green-e” electricity fit in existing electricity budget lines.

PA IPL is actively exploring a partnership, with the intent to pilot programs in the areas of the state served by PECO and WestPenn Power in the near future.  With those successes, we hope to spread the partnership to the rest of the state!  Institutions connected with faith communities (retirement homes, schools, etc.) will also be welcome.  Come learn with us about this foundation-supported nonprofit program. [2014 update: now available in service areas all across PA for both households and congregations]

Eric Rubin oversees Groundswell’s commercial programs including the Community Power Program and Commercial Energy Efficiency Project.  In this role he is responsible for strategy and overall commercial program expansion.  Eric works closely with local and national partners to bring the economic and social benefits of aggregated consumption to a growing network of organizations.

Prior to joining the team at Groundswell, Eric led business development efforts at Salsa Labs, an online technology company that supports non profit movement building. Previously he helped implement the Pepsi Refresh Project – a crowdsourced philanthropy campaign – with the non profit GlobalGiving.   He also spent several years working for the UN Refugee Agency running economic integration projects for Colombian refugees in Costa Rica.

Eric holds a BA from the University of Michigan and an MA from American University.  In his spare time, he is currently a Jeremiah Fellow with Jews United for Justice and a mentor in the Big Brother/Big Sister program in DC.