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

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.

November Interfaith Conference Call: Sharing Our Stories, Prayers & Poetry

Click here to listen to the archived recording of this call.

Working on environmental issues--caring for creation--can be difficult, lonely, and disheartening. As the daylight hours wane and the air carries a chill, many of our religious traditions guide us to reflect on themes of light and hope in the midst of darkness: Diwali, in the Hindu tradition; Hannukah, in the Jewish tradition; and Christmas, in the Christian tradition.

For our November conference call, we invite you to reflect on the seasonal theme of light and hope in the midst of darkness and difficulty--and to share what you find with others on the call. What gives you hope? What story helps inspire you to keep working, even when things look bleak? What poem offers you a vision of how things could or should be? What prayer offers you firm footing when all else seems uncertain? Please join us and share your stories, prayers, or a favorite poem.

As always, we will have some time for callers to ask questions, share ideas and connect.

November Interfaith Environmental Conference Call

     Wednesday, November 28, 2012, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

     Dial-in number: (712) 432-3066 

     Conference Code: 424548

To RSVP for the call, please e-mail Amanda. Feel free to invite others to participate!

In our monthly environmental calls, we seek to connect faith leaders around the state who are engaged in the work of caring for Creation; provide updates about environmental legislation and advocacy opportunities; keep you current on new programs and initiatives; and create a space for sharing hopes and frustrations, plans and ideas, stories and prayers.

San Antonio Interfaith Power & Light Is Forming: Help It Take Shape! - November 8, 2012

On Thursday, October 11th, we got the conversation started. Now, we'll meet to plan next steps for a San Antonio-area Interfaith Power & Light group.

Join other religious environmental leaders on Thursday, November 8th to help move the conversation forward! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012, 7:00 p.m.

Unity Church of San Antonio
8103 Broadway
San Antonio, TX 78209  

Phone: 210-824-7351  
Click here for a map.
 
Driving and Location Directions:
The UCSA campus is located at the intersection of Broadway and Lawndale.
From the north (Loop 410), exit Broadway. Go south (inside the loop) on Broadway to the third traffic light.
From the south on Broadway, Lawndale is the next street north of Sunset (going toward Loop 410).
 
The Office building (Unity Heights) faces Broadway, on the corner of Broadway and Lawndale. 
We will meet in the Community Room on the ground floor of the office building. Look for the Earth Balloon inside. Parking is available in the front or back but do not park at the building next door or you will be towed. There are curb markers there to prevent going over too far.

(Photo "Earth Hour 2010" by User Cornelia Kopp used under a Creative Commons-Attribution License.)

Join the National Preach-In on Global Warming: February 8-10, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Register Today for the 2013 Preach-In on Global Warming! On the weekend before Valentine’s Day, thousands of clergy will join in our annual event to express love for Creation and address climate change as a serious moral issue.

Our focus for 2013 will be on vulnerable communities working on the front lines of climate change, both in North America and around the globe. On February 8-10, please join us in sharing messages about the need for people of faith to mobilize in a religious response to global warming. Whether you are clergy, a lay leader, or a green team member, sign up your congregation now and we’ll send you reminders as well as links to free resources to help you prepare sermons, reflections, devotionals, Bible studies, children’s activities, and more.

In addition, Interfaith Power & Light will offer low-cost resources to help you reach decision makers and mobilize your community. Click here for more details. We look forward to your involvement in the 2013 National Preach-In on Global Warming!

Fort Worth Interfaith Power and Light: Presentation on Low Cost Irrigation Technology

A safe, consistent and reliable food supply is a universal need. In many parts of the world, buying food from the neighborhood grocery store is not an option. People must grow their own food if they want to eat. Plants need water, but in many areas, rainfall is unreliable and irrigation water is limited. Drip Bucket Irrigation can be implemented on a household or home compound level to increase crop yield and reduce water usage.

Jon Fripp of Rush Creek Christian Church will speak about his work with low tech irrigation and the use of these kits at 7:00 pm on Monday, November 12th at First Congregational Church on Trail Lake Drive in Fort Worth.

Jon is a Civil Engineer who has been involved with development work in over a dozen countries both as a professional and as a volunteer. He will discuss the problem, how the drip bucket irrigation technology works, how it has been used by various groups, and how different local groups can get involved.

November 12, 2012, 7:00 pm
First Congregational Church
4201 Trail Lake Drive
Fort Worth, TX, 76109

This simple but powerful technology was originally developed by Chapin Living Waters and has been effectively used in over 150 countries. These systems involve gravity fed irrigation lines that convey water to individual food plants. There are no moving parts in this is easy to maintain and operate irrigation system. These systems can be packaged as kits and have been used by a variety of secular and religious groups as part of development and mission work. Two kits can be carried in a small field pack and can provide irrigation to feed a family for five to seven years.

Everyone is welcome to attend. Join our facebook event here and invite your friends!

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