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

Cool Off in Community this June! Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas, San Marcos, & San Antonio IPL Forums

Many of our local TXIPL groups will take a summer break in July and August, but before they do, they have great forums lined up for the month of June! Read on for more info about June programs in Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas, San Marcos, and San Antonio.

Want to learn more, or help start a local TXIPL group in your area? Great! Please email us.

Tuesday, June 4th - Austin

"Coal, Health, and You" - Featuring Chris Masey, Executive Director of Austin's Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Dr. Elliot Trester, speaking about the effects of environmental degradation--especially coal and global warming--on human health. 7:00-8:30pm, Highland Park Baptist Church.

Monday, June 10th - Fort Worth

"Religion and the Environment" - Featuring a short video from the PBS "Religion and NewsEthics Weekly" program that highlights the work of Interfaith Power & Light, followed by Catholic and Jewish perspectives on caring for God's creation and conversation. All are welcome! 6:30-8:00pm, First Congregational UCC.

Monday, June 17th - Dallas

"Water Action for North Texas" - Join Dallas IPL for dinner and a round-table discussion about the findings from our recent conference on water issues in North Texas, and prepare to draft a letter in support of water recycling for the Dallas City Council. We need your input! Bring simple food to share, vegetarian preferred. 7:00-8:30pm, Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff.

Thursday, June 20th - San Marcos

"Creating San Marcos IPL: Next Steps" - In May, people came together for the first time from cities in Hays and Comal Counties to learn about building local, interfaith, environmental community. Now, we'll come together to determine next steps for real and hope-filled action. Please join us! 7:00-8:30pm, UCM Wesley Center.

Tuesday, June 25th - San Antonio

"Legislative Wrap-Up" - What happened with environmental issues like parks funding, food, and water during the recently-completed Texas legislative session? Join us to hear a summary from David Weinberg, Executive Director of the Texas League of Conservation Voters. All are welcome! 7:00-8:30pm, San Antonio Mennonite Church.

Need more information? Want to learn more? Email Yaira or give us a call: 512-472-3903.

State Energy Conservation Office "5-Five-25" Energy Efficiency Loan Program

The Texas State Energy Conservation Office’s LoanSTAR Pilot Program, “5-FIVE-25,” provides financing for energy-related cost-reduction retrofits for facilities owned and occupied by Community-Based and House of Worship non-profit organizations. This program provides low-interest rate loans to assist those institutions in financing their energy-related cost-reduction efforts. The program’s revolving loan mechanism allows successful Applicants to repay loans through the stream of energy cost savings realized from the projects.

Program Summary
The “5-FIVE-25” Pilot Program name is based on the loan structure: 5% interest rate, five-year loan repayment term, and $25,000 maximum loan amount. It is anticipated that Applicants will use the post-retrofit energy cost savings to repay the loan.

Applications are due June 28, 2013. The total budget allocation for this statewide program is $250,000.

Eligible Energy Cost Savings Projects
For the purposes of this application, examples of acceptable projects include:

  • Lighting and lighting controls
  • HVAC and related equipment
  • Energy management systems and equipment control automation

For more information and to apply, visit the SECO website.

Creating a Local, Interfaith Environmental Network in Hays & Comal County

Texas is a big state! In order to provide an effective religious response to our shared environmental challenges, we need local teams on the ground in cities and regions across the state. Texas Interfaith Power & Light (TXIPL) supports the development of local, interfaith environmental networks—and is coming to San Marcos to start the conversation.

Yaira Robinson, Associate Director of Texas Interfaith Power & Light (TXIPL), along with Rev. Brian Ferguson, minister of San Marcos Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, will offer a presentation on Thursday, May 9th about creating a local, interfaith environmental network in the Hays & Comal County area. Come be part of the conversation! Details are below.

Thursday, May 9, 2013, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
The UCM Wesley Center
510 N. Guadalupe St.

San Marcos, Texas 78666
(formerly St. Mark's Episcopal Church)

For a map and directions, click here.

To RSVP or ask questions, e-mail Yaira.


Want to invite friends and colleagues? Great!

Here's some language you can use for an e-mail:

Dear friend,

I am writing to invite you to participate in a conversation about how the faith community can work together to create a local, interfaith environmental network in the Hays County area. Yaira Robinson, Associate Director of Texas Interfaith Power & Light (TXIPL), and Rev. Brian Ferguson, minister of San Marcos Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, will offer a presentation on Thursday, May 9th about local networks--and facilitate a discussion about how Hays & Comal County can faithfully organize around the environmental challenges we face.

Please join us, and invite others from your religious community!

Thursday, May 9, 2013, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
The UCM Wesley Center
510 N. Guadalupe St.
San Marcos, Texas 78666
(formerly St. Mark's Episcopal Church)

For more information, visit the TXIPL story about this opportunity: http://txipl.org/content/creating-local-interfaith-environmental-network-hays-comal-county

If you have questions, would like more information, or if you’re ready to RSVP, please e-mail Yaira: yaira@texasinterfaith.org. Thank you,

Your name here

Local TXIPL Groups, at Earth Day Events around the State!

For Texas Interfaith Power and Light (TXIPL), every day is Earth Day! Every day is a day to celebrate the natural wonders of the planet we share, and to increase awareness of the impact our actions have on God’s creation. But April 22 is especially significant because it’s Earth Day, a day to unite as members of the global community in order to celebrate the Earth and remember our obligation to protect it.

Did you know? Nearly 200 countries across the globe are expected to participate in Earth Day activities this year. TXIPL and its local affiliates will be joining the global community by participating in Earth Day events around the state:

In Austin, the Interfaith Environmental Network will be attending the Austin Earth Day Festival, where they will host a workshop and presentation on the launch of their new climate manual for religious congregations. Information about the event can be found here.

In Dallas, Dallas IPL will be participating in the Oak Cliff Earth Day Festival where there will be shows, information sessions, and all kinds of fun for all. An informational booth will be set up to learn more about the local chapter. For more information contact Genny Rowley.

In Fort Worth, Fort Worth IPL will have booth space at the free, solar powered Fort Worth Prairie Fest on April 27th, which offers unique outdoor adventures for children and families along with tasty food and live music. Learn more on Facebook or contact Rev. Paul John Roach for more information.

Join the action! Is your congregation doing something to celebrate? Let us know!

Take Action on the Keystone XL Pipeline - Send Your Comments

Last year, thanks to pressure from people of faith all across the U.S., President Obama refused to issue a permit for the Keystone XL and directed the State Department to conduct a thorough study on its environmental impacts, including climate change.

Now the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) is out, but it only seriously investigated the regional climate change impacts of the pipeline itself and not how the increased use of carbon-intensive oil would impact global climate change.

An assessment that ignores or brushes aside the impact of tar sands development on global climate change is woefully inadequate. We need your help.

Click here to send your comment to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

For background on the issue, explore the links below:

Statements by faith and science leaders on the Keystone XL

Send your comments by April 22nd (Earth Day!) here: http://bit.ly/Yc8p5T

If you have questions or would like more information, please e-mail Yaira.

Keep Texas Parks Open - 2013 Tour

In Super, Natural Christians: How We Should Love Nature, Dr. Sallie McFague writes, “We will not save what we do not love, and we cannot love what we do not know.” Our Texas state parks system helps people across the state get to know nature and come to love the rocks, streams, lakes, trees, beaches and wetlands of this beautiful piece of earth we call Texas. Experiencing and appreciating the gifts of nature encourages us to care for God's creation.

We are partnering with the Keep Texas Parks Open initiative to bring a series of educational programs to communities around the state. At these town halls, we'll focus on the Texas state parks system, how it might be impacted by budget cuts, and how we can help protect our parks for future generations.

The town halls in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio will include a religious leader as part of the panel presentation. For a full list of all town hall locations and dates, click here.

Dallas: Monday, March 18, 2013, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
University Park United Methodist Church,
Fellowship Hall
4024 Caruth Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75225
Houston: Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Grand Hall, Rice University Memorial Center
6100 Main St.
Houston, TX 77005
San Antonio: Monday, April 29, 2013, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
University Presbyterian Church (SoL Center)
300 Bushnell Ave.
San Antonio, TX 78212

These events are free and open to the public; people of all faiths--and no faith--are welcome! Contact Yaira with any questions.

The Sabbath, Creation Care and Self-Care - This April in Austin, Featuring Dr. Matthew Sleeth

In Austin on April 2nd, 18th, and 21st, we invite you to explore the Sabbath with us!

Tuesday, April 2nd - The Sabbath from a Jewish perspective. On Tuesday evening, April 2nd, Rabbi Steven Folberg will share Jewish teachings about the Sabbath, with a focus on how the practice of the Sabbath connects to caring for the environment. This program is co-sponsored by the Austin chapter of Texas Interfaith Power & Light—the Interfaith Environmental Network—and is open to people of all faith traditions (or none!).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 7:00 – 8:30pm
Highland Park Baptist Church
5206 Balcones Dr.
Austin, TX 78731

April 18th and 21st - The Sabbath from a Christian perspective. During the week of Earth Day, 2013, Dr. Matthew Sleeth, author of 24/6: A Prescription for a Happier, Healthier Life and Executive Director of Blessed Earth comes to Austin with this prescription: "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy."

There will be two opportunities to hear from the Dr. Sleeth about his latest project on faith and the environment:

Thursday April 18 – Register here to attend a lunch & learn forum, "24/6: A Prescription for a Happier, Healthier Life," featuring Dr. Sleeth.

Registration for this event is FREE with an optional $5 lunch. This program is co-sponsored by Education Beyond the Walls at Austin Seminary and Blessed Earth.


Thursday, April 18, 2013, 11:45am – 1:15pm
Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
100 E. 27th Street
Austin, Texas 78705


Sunday April 21 – Dr. Sleeth preaches both services at University United Methodist Church; all are welcome.


Sunday, April 21, 2013, 8:30am and 11:00am
University United Methodist Church
2409 Guadalupe St.
Austin, TX 78705

About Dr. Matthew Sleeth. A former emergency room physician, Dr. Sleeth saw an increasing number of his patients suffering from chronic disease when he began to suspect that the earth and its inhabitants were in deep trouble. He turned to the Bible for guidance and discovered how the lessons of personal responsibility, simplicity and stewardship taught there could be applied to this crisis.  

At that point he resigned from his position as chief of the medical staff and director of the ER to teach, preach, and write about faith and the environment. Since founding Blessed Earth, he has spoken at 1,000 churches and schools throughout the country. Dr. Sleeth is a graduate of George Washington University School of Medicine and has two postdoctoral fellowships.

Sabbath is about restraint—intentionally not doing everything all the time just because we can. Setting aside a day of rest helps us reconnect with our Creator and find the peace of God that passes all understanding. The Sabbath is about letting go of the controls one day a week and letting God be God. So how do we do it?

In 24/6, Dr. Matthew Sleeth shares how his own family was dramatically transformed when it adopted Sabbath practices and will help us better understand how their own lives can be transformed—physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually by adopting the 24/6 lifestyle.

He is also the author of "Serve God and Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action," and the introduction to "The Green Bible. 



Join Dallas Interfaith Power & Light on March 18th to Help Support Our State Parks

In Super, Natural Christians: How We Should Love Nature, Dr. Sallie McFague writes, “We will not save what we do not love, and we cannot love what we do not know.” Our Texas state parks system helps people across the state get to know nature and come to love the rocks, streams, lakes, trees, beaches and wetlands of this beautiful piece of earth we call Texas. Experiencing and appreciating the gifts of nature encourages us to care for God's creation.

On Monday, March 18, 2013, Dallas Interfaith Power & Light invites you to come together with others to learn about the Texas state parks system, how it might be impacted by budget cuts, and how we can help protect our parks for future generations.

Monday, March 18, 2013, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
University Park United Methodist Church,
Fellowship Hall
4024 Caruth Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75225

Speakers will include: Brian Trusty, Director of the Texas Audubon Society; George Bristol, Director of the Texas Coalition for Conservation; Doug Evans, Director of Grapevine Parks & Recreation; and John Crompton, Distinguished Professor, Texas A&M University; and Yaira A. Robinson, Associate Director of the Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

This event is open to the public; people of all faiths--and no faith--are welcome!

A Successful First TXIPL Local Leaders' Summit

On Thursday, February 21st, leaders from Texas Interfaith Power & Light’s local affiliates met in Austin for the first TXIPL Local Leaders’ Summit, co-hosted by TXIPL and its Austin affiliate, the Interfaith Environmental Network (IEN). This one-day retreat brought leaders together from Christian, Jewish, Unitarian, Baha'i, and Hare Krishna traditions; and from Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin (with Fort Worth leaders unable to attend at the last minute). The goal of this one-day summit was simple: to support local leaders and the work they are doing.

Over the last year, TXIPL has worked with leaders in these cities to encourage and support the development of local chapters, modeled after the successful Austin chapter, IEN. Now in varying stages of organizational development, many of these local groups are holding regular, monthly meetings and are working to make a real difference in their communities.

In addition to regular monthly programs held at local congregations, the Fort Worth IPL group sponsored a successful event at Brite Divinity School in October, 2012 entitled, “Water Matters: An Interfaith Conversation about the Environment in North Texas.” That event caught the eye of a local reporter, who wrote a feature story in the Fort Worth Weekly a month later about the group and its involvement in local environmental issues—including the fact that Fort Worth IPL leaders testified at an August EPA hearing in Arlington and issued a strong statement about cement kiln pollution.  

The Dallas IPL group has a website and meets once a month for shared learning and community building. They are co-sponsoring, along with the Sierra Club, an event on Sunday, March 3rd, to help people learn how to use Texas’ Power to Choose website. For their March 18th meeting, they are partnering with the Keep Texas Parks Open initiative to raise awareness about the value of Texas state parks and the potential budget cuts that threaten their future.

The San Antonio and Houston IPL groups will also co-sponsor programs about the Texas state parks—in Houston on April 18th and in San Antonio, on April 29th. The San Antonio group is one of the newest local chapters of TXIPL, and while Houston is in the beginning stages of organizing, it has held several successful events over the last few years.

Austin’s Interfaith Environmental Network continues to be a leader. Its monthly symposia regularly draw between 30-50 people; its Energy Action Team working group is actively engaged in lowering carbon emissions among participating houses of worship and is finalizing a manual to help other local congregations do the same; and IEN leaders continue to advocate for sound environmental policies at the local level, ranging from Austin’s plastic bag ban to the restructuring of Austin Energy’s rates and their effect on low-income communities and houses of worship. IEN’s co-chairs, Rabbi Steve Folberg and Rev. Tom VandeStadt, helped lead the TXIPL Summit.

The feedback from participants of the TXIPL Local Leaders’ Summit has been overwhelmingly positive. Toward the end of the one-day retreat, one of the participants said, “I see now that the local chapters are an important piece of a much bigger picture.” After a session focusing on the role that religious practice can play in sustaining environmental justice work, one participant expressed new learning, saying, “It’s not one or the other—it’s about your whole life being a spiritual practice.”

The last few years have taught us that where climate change and other environmental issues are concerned, grassroots initiative and engagement is key. It is our hope that by investing in local chapters and encouraging their leaders, we will increase our effectiveness all across the state and help build momentum for real change. As we do so, we are mindful that the way we seek change is as important as—and even helps to create—the change we seek. By fostering a supportive, connected community of religious leaders committed to caring for creation, sustained and guided by teachings and practices of our religious traditions, we seek to create, together, a better, sustainable Texas for all God’s people.

Helping People, Helping the Planet: A Cool Congregations Success Story

Congratulations to University United Methodist Church (UUMC) in Austin, winner of the Grounds and Water Conservation category in the 2012 Cool Congregations Challenge. The competition, sponsored by Interfaith Power & Light, offers religious congregations an opportunity to show leadership in responding to climate change--and UUMC stood out for a creative program that incorporates environmental stewardship into a ministry for the homeless.

By adding a composting service to their Open Door Ministry, which provides breakfast and lunch once a week to people experiencing homelessness, UUMC has composted more than 27,000 gallons of waste. Read on for UUMC's Cool Congregations Success Story, in the church's own words:

UUMC's Open Door Ministry began in 1991 as Saturday Outreach, a six-week Lenten service project undertaken by a UUMC Sunday School class, in which sandwiches were served to homeless people in the church's immediate urban community. In response to the need in the community - as well as the transformation occurred in the hearts of those serving - the program was continued beyond Lent, and a ministry was born. A few years later the Fig Leaf Store was added to provide free clothing.

What started as a simple lunch offering on the street, moved to an in-house space of respite, fellowship, and a full-fledged brunch. Today, Open Doors is a partnership between UUMC, a number of community and church organizations, and more than a dozen homeless participant volunteers. A typical Sunday morning requires about 40 volunteers - one third are church members, one third are from outside groups, and one third are homeless participant volunteers who have claimed this ministry as their own. The Open Door mission has become their mission.

One of the remarkable aspects of UUMC’s composting and recycling program is the way it empowers the homeless community in making positive environmental choices. The homeless community near the University of Texas has little control over their environment. However, when they participate in Open Door and are given an opportunity to make choices that help the environment, they overwhelmingly choose to participate in the composting and recycling aspects of our program and support environmental stewardship. They enthusiastically encourage onsite composting and recycling; in addition, they bring recycling from the neighborhood to the UUMC collection site.

Open Door produces more recycled and composted materials than any other UUMC activity or ministry. Involvement in this ministry has raised the awareness of the entire congregation about opportunities to conserve resources. Since Open Door implemented its environmentally sustainable waste management practices, congregation members have introduced composting at a number of church events, including church luncheons, evening workshops, and holiday family events. Notable efforts include a zero-waste church picnic, composting containers installed in church classrooms, and the addition of City of Austin battery recycling containers in spring 2011. Other recycling opportunities at UUMC include the collection of prescription eyeglasses for repurposing, recycling of books at used book sales, an athletic shoe drive through Nike Reuse-a-Shoe, and the upcycling of church signs and banners into re-usable shopping bags.

UUMC’s environmental mission statement acknowledges the sanctity of creation and pledges to faithfully care for God’s world through stewardship, worship, teaching, and mission. The mission statement cites the Bible verse Numbers 35:34, which cautions: “Don’t desecrate the land in which you live. I live here, too. I, God, live in the same neighborhood with the People of Israel.”  The congregation’s composting and recycling program is one way in which UUMC can practice stewardship and be good neighbors to the larger Austin community.

For the press release announcing UUMC's 2012 Cool Congregations Challenge award, go here.

For more information about the Open Door Ministry at UUMC, go here.

For more information about the benefits of composting, and using compost, go here.