If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.
--Lyndon B. Johnson

A Plea for Climate Action from a Church on the Southern Leg of the Keystone XL

On Friday, January 31, 2014, the U.S. State Department released its final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL pipeline. As we wait now for President Obama to decide whether or not to approve the northern leg of the pipeline, oil is already flowing in the southern leg that cuts through East Texas.

We've raised voices of religious concern about construction of the Keystone XL for several years. Read about that here, here, and here. Now, one church on the front lines of the question—Austin Heights Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, Texas—is sending a plea to people of faith across the country to stand with them in concern about climate change and in opposition to this pipeline. Here is their urgent message:

"Most religions of the world insist that one of humanity's responsibilities is to be the steward or caretaker of the earth that was created to nourish us all. With that moral imperative in mind, our East Texas church wishes to encourage faith communities throughout our land to join us in being witnesses that this good earth is the Lord's and is not to be abused, exploited nor destroyed. We hope you’ll join us, too, in making an unmistakable plea to work for an earth capable of sustaining future generations.

For our family of faith, Austin Heights Baptist Church, the issue is immediate and personal. The Keystone XL pipeline lies within a mile of some of our members' homes, and a county school near us has the pipeline on the boundary of the school property, at some points less that 800 feet from the children.

President Obama will soon be making a decision regarding the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, and its delivery of toxic tar sands to Texas for refining—a process guaranteed to hasten further environmental destruction. One leak in the pipe, like in Mayflower, Arkansas or Marshall, Michigan (Kalamazoo River), can change a community forever. The toxic pollutants discharged into the air in the Houston/Beaumont area, too, will alter countless lives. 

We hope and pray that congregations of all faiths will join with us February 14-16, 2014 during the national Interfaith Power and Light Preach-In on Climate Change to make a public statement of this critical need. How your faith community might take this position is up to you—a prayer vigil, march, a demonstration, sermon, an earth-care discussion or other statement or witness.

After the Preach-In on Climate Change has come and gone, there will still be much work to do. Please join us. Time is of the essence.

If your congregation is interested in joining with us to make our united voices heard, please let us know your plans so that we might pray for one another.


Joe Richardson, Deacon
Kyle Childress, Pastor
Austin Heights Baptist Church
Nacogdoches, TX"

You're Invited! Austin's First-Ever Preach-Off on Climate Change

On Valentine’s Day weekend, 2014, religious communities across the U.S. will participate in the national Interfaith Power & Light Preach-In on Climate Change. Clergy and lay leaders from many different traditions will highlight the importance of religious leadership on one of the most pressing challenges of our time. It’s one of Interfaith Power & Light’s most-beloved annual programs.

In Austin, we’re taking it up a notch.

Austin’s Interfaith Environmental Network and iACT (Interfaith Action of Central Texas) are inviting religious leaders to share their tradition’s wisdom with not just their own congregations, but with the entire community. We are holding our first-ever Preach-Off on Climate Change—and we invite you to come!

Sunday, February 16, 2014, 4:00 p.m.
Congregation Beth Israel
3901 Shoal Creek Blvd.
Austin, TX 78756

What to expect: Learning, community-building, inspiration, and laughter! Our goal is to make this a playful, interactive program that doesn’t skimp on the gravity of the topic at hand or our traditions’ power to help guide us—but that doesn’t skimp on the simple joy and celebration of life and love, either.

  • Religious leaders from a variety of congregations and traditions will share brief teachings (3-5 minutes each) from the messages they delivered to their own communities as part of the Preach-In on Climate Change.
  • We’ll have “judges.” (You’ll have to come to find out what that looks like!)
  • We’ll have an announcer.
  • There may be prizes.
  • For sure, we’ll offer ideas about how you and your community can stay involved and take action on this very real challenge.
  • It will be family-friendly! We’ll have an activity table for kids, so feel free to bring the little ones.

We can’t wait to learn, laugh, and take action on climate change with you.

For more information, to R.S.V.P., or to ask about participating as a speaker, please contact Yaira Robinson or Sarah Macias.

Start the Year Right with Dallas Interfaith Power & Light

Help kickoff a year of meaningful community engagement and care for creation by joining Dallas Interfaith Power & Light for an informative program on Thursday, January 9, 2014. Chris Masey, Director of Texas Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Marian Morris (MPH, RN), will offer insights from Texas' medical community about air pollution, human health, and climate change--and together, we'll explore ways to take action.

Thursday, January 9, 2014, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
White Rock United Methodist Church, Room 202
1450 Oldgate Lane
Dallas TX 75218
All are welcome!

More about the topic: Chris will speak about air quality as a crucial key to human health including fossil fuels background and information, specific toxic emissions, air as a carcinogen, climate disruption, and the shifting patterns of infectious diseases. Chris’s lecture will also include information about Texas PSR, and ongoing advocacy efforts to phase out and close coal-fired power plants and to advocate for stricter carbon emission standards.

More about our speakers: Chris Masey, MBA, is a eighteen-year environmental professional who has worked on a diverse set of projects throughout Texas focusing on public health, conservation, land stewardship, alternative energy sources, recycling, and environmental and solid waste planning. During the last two years, Chris has proudly helped guide Texas PSR (formerly Austin PSR) to become the largest environmental advocacy group led by healthcare professionals in Texas! Chris’ dedication to environmental sustainability is grounded in his love of Texas and the desire for his family to continue to enjoy clean air, clear water, and wide-open spaces.

Marian Morris (MPH, RN) is a public health nurse completing a doctorate at UT-Austin School of Nursing. Marian worked for 10 years in a primary care and reproductive health care clinic, in many different roles, in Santa Cruz, California, in the 1990s. While obtaining her MPH she worked for 5 years on a leadership development program for reproductive health leaders from 7 countries in Asia and Africa, through the Public Health Institute in Oakland, California in the early 2000s. Upon returning to Austin, Texas in 2005, Marian has worked for the UT School of Nursing's Center for Health Promotion Research, and her dissertation effort is now focused on increasing understanding of mental health promotion in preschool-age children.

To R.S.V.P. or ask questions, please e-mail Yaira.

Join the Preach-In on Climate Change: February 14-16, 2014

Interfaith Power & Light’s 2014 National Preach-In on Climate Change, Valentine's weekend (Feb. 14, 15, 16), is a great opportunity for your faith community to bring religious values into the conversation about climate change. Plus, when you preach or teach in your own congregation about climate change and love of Creation that weekend, you will be joining in chorus with thousands of religious leaders from across the country.

When you sign up here, you'll gain instant access to the downloadable Preach-In Kit, which includes activity ideas, printable postcards to senators, bulletin inserts, a global warming fact sheet, and other helpful resources.

You can also order a print version of this kit, which comes with 50 postcards, 50 bulletin inserts, and the other elements in this downloadable version, plus an option to order additional supplies, and the exclusive Chasing Ice access code to view online during Preach-In weekend.

Download the Preach-In Kit here.

For helpful religious resources from a variety of traditions, click here.

Texas folks, please let us know what you're planning for the Preach-In weekend! We'd love to help you spread the word, and help connect you with other participating congregations in your area. Together, we can make a difference!

Interfaith Power and Light Presents Cool Harvest 2013

Texas Interfaith Power and Light celebrates the changing season with this year’s "Cool Harvest" program, from Interfaith Power & Light.

Cool Harvest is a food, faith, and climate program for congregations. The program comes with fall "harvest" guide for a hosting a cool potluck and a movie. Did you know that almost one-fifth of climate change pollution comes from the food industry? And as you will learn in this program, the foods that are healthier for the planet are also healthier for our bodies.

Also in the kit, learn how to share your "cool recipe" with the Interfaith Power & Light community! The Cool Harvest recipe collection will be featured on our website, and will showcase your sustainable recipes (locally grown produce, organic ingredients, non-GMO, etc.)!

You can find free electronic resources and more at the Interfaith Power and Light Cool Harvest page.

Want to explore the connections between faith and climate? Check out our Living In A Warmer World series, featuring Dr. Camille Parmesan! 

Living In A Warmer World - Webinar Featuring Dr. Camille Parmesan

In August 2013, we held a webinar as a part of our Living In A Warmer World series, featuring Dr. Camille Parmesan. In this seven-minute presentation, below, Dr. Parmesan discusses recent trends in climate science and new efforts by scientists and advocates to help species adapt to a warmer world.

Dr. Parmesan is a Professor of Integrative Biology at The University of Texas at Austin and National Marine Aquarium Chair in the Public Understanding of Oceans and Human Health at Plymouth University, UK. She was recently named the 2013 Distinguished Texas Scientist by the Texas Academy of Science. While serving as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, she was co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. She works actively with governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to help develop conservation assessment and planning tools aimed at preserving biodiversity in the face of climate change.

Watch the presentation below:

Watch On Youtube

Learn more about climate change from Dr. Parmesan in our Living in a Warmer World series.

Take the 2013 Cool Congregations Challenge!

It's time to enter the 2013 Cool Congregations Challenge, a national contest to recognize “Cool Congregations” that are becoming energy efficient and sustainable role models within their communities!

This year, cash prizes will be awarded to First and Second Place winners in each of five categories: 

  • Cool Congregations Planner
  • Energy Saver
  • Renewable Role Model
  • Sacred Grounds Steward
  • Community Inspiration

In addition, cash prizes for honorable mentions will also be awarded!

Projects of any size completed between October 18, 2012 and December 31, 2013 qualify, and there's no fee to enter. When you register for your free Entry Guide, you will automatically be notified when the entry form has been activated. The deadline for entries is January 31, 2014, 12 Midnight HST (Hawaii Standard Time).

For more information and to find out how to enter, please visit: http://www.coolcongregations.org/take-the-challenge/what-is-ccc/

This contest is brought to you by our national partner organization, Interfaith Power & Light, which works to inspire and support a religious response to global warming across the country.

Free, Upgraded ENERGY STAR Performance Tool Launches July 17th

On July 17, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will launch a significant upgrade to the free, online Portfolio Manager tool with which voluntary program partners can generate EPA’s 1 -100 ENERGY STAR score. With new user-friendly features and functionality, including a major redesign of database architecture, system processing, Web services, and user interface, Portfolio Manager includes a module designed especially for worship facilities.

Portfolio Manager is the nation’s leading energy performance benchmarking and energy performance tracking tool, now used by over 70,000 account holders for more than 300,000 commercial facilities, and was recently adopted by the Canadian government. The familiar blue and white ENERGY STAR is now recognized by 87 percent of Americans.

After two years of user interviews, testing and redesign, Portfolio Manager users will enjoy simpler, more streamlined functionality, easier-to-generate colorful and graphical reports, as well as improved sharing features. The Portfolio Manager upgrade is explained via recorded webinars, fact sheets, slides and FAQ downloads at www.energystar.gov/pmupgrade

ENERGY STAR has scheduled a number of free webinars starting July 15 to provide training on the new Portfolio Manager interface, now posted for registration at https://esbuildings.webex.com/. These live training sessions will offer an in-depth orientation to the new tool and provide step-by-step instructions for benchmarking from expert trainers. Congregations may wish to identify your own “in-house” expert to receive sustained, regular training and support from ENERGY STAR.

Stay tuned for more information and updates!

Support a National Climate Action Plan: Information and Resources

On Tuesday, June 25, 2013, President Obama unveiled a historic Climate Action Plan that speaks of our moral obligation to address climate change on behalf of future generations. The President spoke about our "need to act" and asked "whether we'll have the courage to act before it's too late." 

The President's speech gives all of us the opportunity to highlight our concerns about climate change, and to advocate for action on the local, state, and national levels. Here are some resources to help you take action in support of a national Climate Action Plan and to educate others in your community.

See the Climate Action Plan

Full Transcript of President Obama's Speech

Ways to Take Action:

  • Write a letter to the editor using these tips.
  • Contact your senator and representative. Find their contact information here
  • Host a class, educational forum, or film screening at your congregation to encourage conversation and action around the need to take climate action. Access our preaching, teaching and thinking resources here.
  • Thank the President directly using the sample message below but feel free to personalize with your own words.

Send an email to: president@whitehouse.gov

Send a letter to:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Sample Letter to President Barack Obama

Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for your leadership in presenting a Climate Action Plan which includes cutting carbon pollution, transitioning to clean energy, and practicing energy efficiency. As a person of faith, I agree with you that climate change is a moral and spiritual issue. I will do everything that I can to support meaningful national action on climate change, and will make the necessary changes in my own life to reduce my carbon footprint. 

In addition, I accept your challenge to educate others within my congregation and community about the facts surrounding climate change and our responsibility to take action. Thank you, Mr. President, for lifting up climate change as a critical issue, and for promising to protect our children from catastrophic climate disruption.  

Leaving our children with a healthy world and a bright future is what’s at stake. I stand ready to do everything I can to help make your Climate Action Plan a reality.

Thank you,

Your name here