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

January Interfaith Environmental Conference Call: How to Start a Green Team in Your Congregation

Our first interfaith environmental conference call of 2012 is scheduled for Wednesday, January 25th at 12:00 p.m. For this call, we are excited to have Robin Nelson, Environmental Stewardship Manager for the Unitarian Universalist Association, as our guest presenter. In honor of a new year and new possibilities, Robin will give us some tips on "How to Start a Green Team in Your Congregation."

And if your congregation already has a green team, we hope you'll join the conversation to lend some of your expertise, too. As always, we will have some time for callers to ask questions, share ideas and connect!

January Interfaith Environmental Conference Call

     Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

     Dial-in number: (712) 432-3066 

     Conference Code: 424548

To RSVP for the call, receive a copy of the call's agenda or request notes from 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.

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

Sign Up for the 2012 National Preach-In on Global Warming

This year's National Preach-In on Global Warming will be over Valentine’s Day weekend, February 10-12, 2012. Clergy of all religions, lay leaders, and green team members from across the country are invited to participate, and when you sign up to preach, teach, or host an event, we'll make a variety of support resources available in January, including:

  • Denomination-specific liturgical and thematic notes to help in the preparation of sermons, reflections, devotionals, Bible studies, and youth activities
  • Ready-to-go sample sermons on global warming
  • Global warming fact sheet and bulletin inserts
  • Valentine’s Day postcards for policy makers
  • Preaching for the Planet 30-minute film in DVD format

All materials are free-of-charge to those who wish to give a sermon or hold an activity. Download the Preach-In on Global Warming Flyer to print and share with others.

The Olive Trees and the Menorah: A Chanukah Teaching on Sustainability from Rabbi Neal Katz

The Chanukah menorah is a variation of the classic menorah—which traditionally only has seven branches. The nine-branch Chanukah menorah was designed to accommodate the eight day celebration of the festival, but the seven-branch version was the original biblical design. In the book of Exodus, and elsewhere in the Torah, we find repeated commandments to build a seven-branch candelabrum with very specific design instructions, including special floral patterns and cups that had to be beaten into the all-gold menorah.  The menorah would stand in the desert tabernacle, and later in the Temple in Jerusalem.
On the Shabbat during Chanukah, we read a special haftarah, or prophetic reading, that comes from the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah is prophesying in the newly reconstituted land of Israel soon after the exiles from Babylon returned. He was one of the voices that spurred the community to rebuild the second Temple in Jerusalem. In the Chanukah haftarah reading, Zechariah has a vision of the menorah that will be rebuilt for the new Temple—only in his vision, he sees something different than in the original design. In his vision, he sees that there will be two olive trees flanking the menorahone on the left, and one on the right. 
Traditional commentators have understood that these olive trees on either side of this menorah would ultimately produce the oil that would feed the menorah’s light. It was to be a self sustained little ecosystem of olive trees producing oil for the menorah that would stay lit from that very oil. One of the ways to understand this wonderful vision, is to meditate on that symbiotic relationship between the menorah and the olive trees. Just as the olive trees need light and warmth to grow, the menorah needs oil to burn so that it can produce light and warmth and feed the world with spiritual light. These two items, the olive trees and menorah, are in a mutually beneficial relationship with one anotheras they each gain from the other’s strength. 
What a wonderful holiday messagethat as we give of ourselves to support our family and friends and communityas we kindle the flames of their spirit, they in turn, will nourish us. 
L’shalom - to peace,
Rabbi Neal Katz
I would like to thank Rabbi Arthur Waskow from the Shalom Center in Philadelphia who taught me this wonderful take on the olive trees and the menorah.
Submitted by Rabbi Neal Katz of Congregation Beth El, Tyler, Texas.

The Holy Land Garden and the Headwaters Sanctuary, San Antonio: A Guest Blog from Sister Martha Ann Kirk

One does not save what one does not love. To save God’s creation, we need to help the younger generation fall in love with its beauty. The ecological problems of over consumption and destruction of the environment cannot be solved by science alone. They demand spiritualties of recognizing the common humanity of the other and putting the common good before one’s selfish interests. At the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) in San Antonio, the Holy Land Garden, a place of common ground, is used to invite students and all to deeper spirituality.

UIW may be the only place in the world that has plants from the Holy Scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam together with citations. These scriptures invite people to plant and enjoy the fruits of the earth together rather than build instruments of destruction. “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid” (Micah 4:3-4).  

Also at UIW, the Headwaters Sanctuary is one of the last undeveloped forests in San Antonio and it includes 53 acres adjoining the campus. Within this urban wild space is the San Antonio Spring and Olmos Creek which are the headwaters of the San Antonio River. The Headwaters Coalition is a non-profit sponsored ministry of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, dedicated to preserving the Headwaters Sanctuary and spreading an ecological ethic. The Headwaters Sanctuary offers holistic education that teaches visitors the importance of caring for the earth and gives them tools to do so.

Submitted by Sister Martha Ann Kirk, Th.D. Professor of Religious Studies, University of the Incarnate Word

COP 17 - International Climate Talks in Durban: Information & Religious Resources

Government leaders, scientists, lobbyists, activists, and yes--religious leaders--are meeting in Durban, South Africa from November 28 - December 10, 2011 for international climate negotiations. On this page, we've collected links to information about the conference and the issues, as well as news about how people of faith are involved.

If you have stories you'd like for us to include, please send us an e-mail!


Information about COP 17

Religious News and Resources

Self-Sustaining Advent Calendar from Earth Ministry

The 2011 Self-Sustaining Advent Calendar from Earth Ministry, home of Washington Interfaith Power & Light, is now available! On the calendar, you'll find one tip for each day that will help decrease stress and increase meaningful celebration this holiday season.

Click here to download the calendar as a pdf. Happy holidays!


Photo by Jennifer Spengler (Attribution via Flickr, Creative Commons)

Sustainable Holiday Ideas

Christmas and Hannukah are, among other things, about deepening our connections to family, friends, and faith—but sometimes it can seem like the main focus of the season is shopping, stress, and stuff! Here we offer some ideas to cultivate appreciation this season and celebrate in ways that are more sustainable for both you and the planet.

There are a lot of ideas here, but please don't feel overwhelmed. The best approach might be to add one or two new practices each year, and grow into a more sustainable holiday season over time. We wish you much joy this season!

If  you have suggestions for other ways to celebrate sustainably or resources to share, please e-mail us to let us know.

November Interfaith Environmental Conference Call: In a Time of Darkness, Light

Our November interfaith environmental conference call is scheduled for Wednesday, November 30th at 12:00 p.m. On this call, we'll focus on some religious themes and teachings of the upcoming Jewish holiday of Hannukah and Christian holiday of Christmas, and connect them to our work of caring for Creation. Both holidays have a theme of light and hope emerging in a time of darkness, and we'll wonder what these teachings might mean for us today.

We are delighted to have as guest speakers on the call, Rabbi Neal Katz of Congregation Beth El in Tyler, Texas; and Sister Martha Ann Kirk, a professor at the University of the Incarnate Word and member of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio.

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

November Interfaith Environmental Conference Call

     Wednesday, November 30, 2011, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

     Dial-in number: (712) 432-3066 

     Conference Code: 424548

To RSVP for the call, receive a copy of the call's agenda or request notes from 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.

(Photo courtesy Victor Rocha. Attribution: Wikimedia Commons)

Texas Impact Supports Proposition 8

Texas Impact (of which Texas Interfaith Power & Light is a part) is among a broad, diverse group of statewide and local organizations that has pledged its support for Proposition 8 in this November’s state constitutional election. Proposition 8, known as the Water Stewardship Amendment, will create an incentive for landowners who manage their property in a way that conserves and protects water for future generations of Texans.

Proposition 8 was passed unanimously by the Texas Legislature with bipartisan support and will provide private landowners another tool as stewards of the state’s natural resources. Currently, Texas property owners who use their land to promote agriculture or protect wildlife are eligible to have that property assessed as agricultural land, which tends to reduce their property taxes.  Proposition 8 would extend a similar tax incentive if they choose to manage their land to conserve water and protect water quality.

And because the water incentives in Proposition 8 would only apply to property owners who already qualify for the agriculture or wildlife incentives, it would not reduce the State’s tax revenues or raise taxes.

Other major supporters of Proposition 8 include the Texas Wildlife Association, the Texas Association of Realtors, the Lonestar Chapter of the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, the Texas League of Conservation Voters, the Hill Country Conservancy, the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, Houston Wilderness, the Hill Country Alliance, the Texas Society for Ecological Restoration, the Texas Land Conservancy, the Texas Land Trust Council Plateau Land & Wildlife Management, the Greater Houston Partnership, the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

Laura Huffman, Texas State Director of the Nature Conservancy, said the broad base of bipartisan support for Proposition 8 – which includes farmers, ranchers, landowners, industry and conservation groups – demonstrates that the measure is good for Texas.  “The Texas Legislature voted unanimously to put Proposition 8 on the November ballot because they recognize the need to provide practical solutions to our complex water supply issues.  Our State Water Plan says that more than a quarter of our future water supply must come from conservation. Given that more than 90 percent of Texas is privately owned, working with Texas landowners to protect our water supply is a no brainer.”

Proposition 8 will be on the November 8th statewide constitutional amendment ballot. Early voting is October 24-November 4, and Election Day is November 8. For more information, go to Clean Reliable Water for Texas.

Rev. Sally Bingham's Visit to Austin, 2011

On the weekend of October 21-23, Reverend Canon Sally Bingham, Founder and President of Interfaith Power & Light, brought to the Austin religious community a strong message about our shared responsibility to care for creation. Through a series of events, people came together to listen, learn, share, and connect.

The weekend kicked off on Friday evening at All Saints Episcopal Church with a community celebration of art and music, "Under the Same Sky," featuring an interactive performance by the Drumsistas.

On Saturday morning, Rev. Bingham offered a keynote speech about climate change that highlighted the challenges we face, our religious responsibility to respond, and the reasons we can hope for the future. Her address was followed by a panel presentation and community conversation with notable climate scientist, Dr. Camille Parmesan of the University of Texas at Austin; Ilan Levin of the Environmental Integrity Project; Amanda Yaira Robinson of Texas Interfaith Power & Light; and Rev. Sally Bingham.

Rev. Bingham preached both services at All Saints Episcopal Church on Sunday morning, and on Sunday afternoon, she and Amanda met with local representatives of the student division of the University Interfaith Council, Texas Hillel, and the Austin Zen Center. In this conversation, they explored possibilities for future interfaith partnership and student engagement in the work to care for people and the planet that we share.

Rev. Bingham's closing words from her Saturday address are a perfect summary of the weekend's overall message: "Let’s all commit to a regeneration of spirit," she said, "both inwardly and outwardly. Commit to being an example to others and show our love for Creation in all our behaviors. Choose resurrection and life over death and destruction. We are all in this together, one family with one shared purpose and one hope for all. We are here, and the time is now!"

The weekend was sponsored by Texas Interfaith Power & Light and All Saints Episcopal Church, and was co-sponsored by the Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and the Seminary of the Southwest.