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

Great Letter to the Editor by United Methodist Peace and Justice Educator

United Methodist Peace and Justice Educator Bren Hardt was published this morning in the Houston Chronicle.  Her letter, linking national efforts to address climate change to the weather damage seen in her garden, can be found here.

As Congress debates climate change legislation, it is critical that the faith community voice its strong support for renewable energy. You can make the difference between effective legislation and business as usual. Please consider writing a letter to the editor to your local newspaper and don't hesitate to call or email us --Texas Interfaith Power and Light is always available for resources and support!

 

Houston Interfaith Power and Light's Kickoff Event a Success

Mayor Bill White On Wednesday, May 27th, 2009, almost 100 people gathered in Houston for the inaugural event of Houston Interfaith Power and Light, “Faith Voices for the Earth: A Contemplative Candlelight Service.” Mayor Bill White addressed the gathering, urging people to consider the earth and ecological concerns from a place of humility and respect. Religious leaders included Zen Teacher Gaelyn Godwin, Rabbi Robert Haas, Reverend Lisa Hunt, Reverend David Keyes, Sister Ceil Roeger, and Reverend Jeremy Rutledge. Music was offered by members of the Covenant Church choir and the Houston Civic Symphony.

The service closed with lovely cello music on the outdoor labyrinth under the light of the moon. The event’s organizer and host, Reverend Jeremy Rutledge, submitted the following on the subject of the vigil and on Houston IPL’s beginnings:

"It is fitting that Houston should have the first city chapter of Interfaith Power and Light. As the nation's energy capital, and a city of extraordinary religious diversity, we hope to play a key role in linking the ways we produce and consume energy and the moral and ethical teachings of our faith traditions."  Read the full story here.

An Interfaith Vigil for Care of the Earth in Austin

Austin labyrinthOn Saturday, May 9th, 40 people from different faith traditions gathered in Cedar Park, TX around a common cause: care for our planet.  In prayer, poetry, pictures and song, religious leaders called for action to heal the earth.

The vigil was held the evening before Mother's Day, the day first envisioned in the U.S. as a "Mother's Day for Peace," a day to work for peace in the world.  In that spirit, the vigil focused on peace and justice for the Earth and all its inhabitants.
Read more here.

Speakers represented the Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Unitarian Universalist, and Neo-Pagan traditions.  It was the first time that these congregations and religious leaders had worked together and participants felt the vigil was a good beginning, laying the groundwork for future cooperation and coalition.

Cantor Marie Betcher of Congregation Shir Ami said that the service was “beautiful, thought provoking and spiritual.”  Participants lit candles and walked out to the labyrinth for the closing prayer, symbolizing the carrying of light and love out into the world.  As a community, they readied themselves for the important and sometimes difficult work that lies ahead.

Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday Memorial Day Weekend 2009

This year marks the second year that Texans can save money in two ways: in the short term thanks to a sales tax holiday on purchases of Energy Star products, and in the long term through energy savings from their use. The Texas Legislature established Texas' Energy Star sales tax holiday in 2007 as part of HB3693, a comprehensive energy efficiency bill which Texas religious communities helped to support. Texas is the fourth state to adopt an energy efficiency sales tax holiday.

 

The Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday is May 23rd - May 25th, 2009. The products qualifying for the exemption are:

  • air conditioners priced under $6,000, both room and central units
  • clothes washers, but not clothes dryers
  • ceiling fans
  • dehumidifiers
  • dishwashers
  • light bulbs (incandescent and fluorescent)
  • programmable thermostats
  • refrigerators priced under $2,000

Find out more HERE.

 

Energy Efficiency in the Holy Land

Submitted by Morgan Hargrave on Wed, 2009-04-22 17:23

As people of faith in Texas and around the United States celebrate Earth Day, TXIPL is happy to pass along one small example of action being taken in another part of the world as congregations work to combat global warming.

In the ancient Middle-eastern city of Hebron, there is a large structure that holds a considerable amount of significance for Muslims, Christians, and Jews, as it sits over the supposed burial place of Abraham, Sarah, and other figures who played Ibrahimi Mosque, Hebroncentral roles in the Abrahamic religions. On a recent trip to the site, which contains the historic Ibrahimi Mosque, I snapped these photos of the mosque's interior, which is lit by chandeliers using compact fluorescent light bulbs. (See below for more.)

“Fighting Goliath” Film Screening in Austin: Thursday, April 16th

 

All are welcome to attend this free screening of “Fighting Goliath” at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church at 7:00 p.m. Following the film presentation, Ryan Rittenhouse, a member of SEED (Sustainable Energy and Environmental Development), will lead a discussion and question period.

 

Click here for more information about the film and to find out how you can get a free copy for your congregation!

Narrated by Robert Redford and co-produced by The Redford Center at the Sundance Preserve and Alpheus Media, Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars, follows the story of Texans fighting a high-stakes battle for clean air. The film introduces the unlikely partners—people of faith, mayors, ranchers, CEOs, community groups, legislators, lawyers, and citizens—that came together to oppose the construction of 19 conventional coal-fired power plants that were slated to be built in Eastern and Central Texas and that were being fast-tracked by the Governor.

 

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church

14311 Wells Port Drive
Austin, Texas 78728
Office: (512) 251-0698

 

Earth Day Resources and Ideas

treeEvery day should be a day to give thanks for the blessings of creation, rejoice, and work for earth’s preservation and restoration. But in the rush of life, it is all too easy to get sidetracked by tasks, errands, and to-do’s. It helps that we can agree on at least one day each year to remember, rededicate, and renew our connection and commitment to creation.

Earth Day is April 22nd. What are you doing that day?

Worship: Bring Earth Day into congregational life and worship!

  • The National Council of Churches has many downloadable Earth Day resources that you can use in worship and learning.
  • Get this great intercultural and interfaith book of Earth prayers: Earth Prayers from around the World: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth, edited by Elizabeth Roberts, and use the prayers in your religious education classes, committee and small group meetings, and at fellowship events.
  • Host a candlelight vigil and invite leaders from neighboring congregations to join you in thanks, prayer, and service.

Reconnect: Remember your connection to creation.

  • Go for a prayerful walk at sunrise, sundown, or anytime.
  • Lead a class of children, youth, or adults on a walk. Being in nature is one of the ways we can connect with God and each other.
  • With a group, work in a community garden, plant a tree, or clean up a local park or waterway.

Rededicate: Renew your commitment to caring for and restoring creation.

Participate in Earth Hour 2009

On Saturday, March 28th, you and your congregation can vote in a world-wide election on global warming by turning off your lights for just one hour.  Earth Hour started in 2007 with 2.2 million people in Sydney, Australia making a statement by turning off their lights.  In 2008, Earth Hour went global with an estimated 50 million people around the world participating.


In 2009, Earth Hour is going to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but what planet you’re from.  Votes will be presented at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009, where the next steps in government policies for action against global warming will be determined.


Dallas is officially the first Texas city to participate in Earth Hour, and is listed as one of 10 key cities across America for Earth Hour 2009.  Congregations across the state are also participating—we’ll keep a running list on this page when you let us know that your congregation is participating!


For more information about Earth Hour, watch a short video online.  Then register your household, your congregation, and your workplace and get added to the list.  There are also activities for children and lesson plans for teachers (easily adaptable for religious education classes!) at the Earth Hour kids website.

The Van Jones Keynote from the Texas Energy Future Conference: Audio and Video

Van JonesTexas Impact presents the Texas Energy Future keynote by Van Jones.

Texas Impact brings you audio and video from Van Jones' keynote speech at the Texas Energy Future conference held at the Texas Capitol on February 18, 2009.

Click here for audio of the keynote.

Click here to watch video from the keynote

A high-quality version of the video is also available. (Note: You can download the audio and video files to your computer by right clicking the links above and choosing "Save Link As..." from the menu.)

At the Texas Energy Future Conference on Wednesday, February 18th, bestselling author Van Jones addressed a crowd of 500 Texans at the state capitol with a message of green opportunity—opportunity for clean energy, new jobs, and hope for those on the margins of society.

Jones began by saying that our economy had been on the wrong track for the last 30 years. According to Jones, our “old economy” has broken down because it was founded upon the idea that we could build and sustain it based on:

1. Consumption rather than production;
2. Credit and debt rather than savings and thrift; and
3. Ecological destruction rather than ecological restoration and living in harmony with God’s creation.

He also said we’ve been operating under a false distinction that we can either protect the environment or have a good economy, but not both. According to Jones, though, “Everything that is good for the environment is a job.”

Our new economy, he said, must be based upon local production, thrift, and ecological restoration. By investing in wind and solar energy production, millions of jobs can be created. And by retrofitting our homes and businesses to make them more energy-efficient, we can cut our energy bills and carbon output by 30-40%, while creating more new jobs.

The challenge in building this new economy, Jones said, is to build a green economy for all people in Texas—not just a few: “We don’t have any throwaway species, throwaway resources, throwaway children, or throwaway neighborhoods…. Let's green the ghettos first.” By investing in job training among those on the margins of society, we will give people good jobs and prevent crime, which will lower prison populations. This strategy is both morally right and economically rational, for job training costs far less than incarceration does.

So let us work toward making this new, green economy, and let us make it one that works for all Texans. As people of faith, we must speak up for and stand with people who were on the margins of the old economy—to make sure that the new economy includes all people. For more information about Van Jones, green jobs, and the new green economy, visit www.greenforall.org.

Let Your Youth Group Lead the Way in the Cool Congregations Challenge

The youth of today can feel frustrated and powerless in the face of the impending threat of global warming, and it can be easy for them to blame older generations for "messing it up" for them.  Well, here's something they can do about it: invite them to challenge their congregations to care for Creation!

The Cool Congregations Challenge is a nation-wide contest that challenges congregations and their members to reduce their carbon footprints.  Two participating congregations will win $5,000.  And two Texas congregations will win $500

Here's how it works, with ideas for involving your youth group:

  • Gather information.  Download the checklist so youth leaders can collect data about your congregation.  Invite youth leaders to volunteer to gather specific pieces of information from the list.  They'll get to know adult leaders in the congregation just by gathering information! 
  • Enter the contest before March 1, 2009.  Got all the information?  Bring your laptop to the youth group meeting and enter the contest together as a group!
  • Lower your congregation's carbon footprint.  The calculator will suggest ways to get started, and we have more ideas at our website.  Youth group leaders can schedule presentations with key committees at the church throughout the year, and can host fundraisers to fund the initial cost of some projects.  Then plan an environmental workday at your congregation to make the building more energy-efficient and have some projects that families can do together! 
  • Invite congregants to take the household challenge. Together we can make even more of an impact.  Youth leaders can staff a table after services, collect names and email addresses of interested members, and email them the link to the household carbon calculator.
  • Measure your progress.  Come back to the Cool Congregations website before March 1, 2010 to see how you and your congregation have improved.  At the end of the year, celebrate your success with a carbon-neutral celebratory activity—maybe go on a group hike and collect trash as you walk!

If your youth group leads the way, let us know!  We want to share stories from congregations all around the great state of Texas.  E-mail Amanda at amanda@texasimpact.org for more information.

 

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