September 20, 2013
Denominations recognized for their witness on climate change.
Contact: Cricket Eccleston Hunter at paipl.org
HARRISBURG, PA – The United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations will be honored at the October 5 meeting of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light in Harrisburg. PA IPL annually presents a Visionary Award to a Pennsylvanian who has engaged in significant actions “to tend and sustain” the earth and all its creatures. The award recognizes those who have called us all to be more mindful of the moral and ethical consequences of our actions, to protect Creation from the threat of climate change, and to preserve the earth for generations to come. This year, PA IPL will present awards to two church bodies that have demonstrated exemplary leadership by urging their members and others to act boldly to put their values into action.
On June 30, 2013, the national synod of the United Church of Christ passed a resolution calling all parts of the church body to take action on climate change. Grounded firmly in scripture, the “resolution urging divestment” exhorts the UCC church and its members to lead by example by moving away from fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gas emissions; by engaging personally, in community, and through public witness and advocacy to help make changes nationally; and by making shareholder engagement on climate change a top priority by seeking fossil-fuel free investments and by conducting a hearing at their 2015 national gathering (Synod 2015) to defend any remaining fossil fuel investments as “best in class.” Resolutions urging divestment, addressing the carbon neutrality of UCC church buildings, and addressing mountaintop removal coal mining can be read in full at UCC.org. These resolutions build on the already strong record of the United Church of Christ on climate change, especially its Pentecost 2013 challenge program called Mission 4/1 Earth, and its ongoing Green Justice work.
At its national assembly in July of this year, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations resolved that all delegates should “begin a denomination-wide conversation within their congregations about divesting from fossil fuels or exercising shareholder influence” and identified six areas in which that conversation might move forward. They specifically recommended that congregations discuss leading by example by investing in conservation and energy efficiency measures for congregational facilities, and widespread use of renewable energy. The resolution can be found in full [here]. The resolution builds on the Unitarian Universalists’ strong
Green Sanctuary Certification program.
PA IPL applauds these communities for their careful discernment and public recognition that addressing climate change is an important part of faithful witness, and that many challenging efforts will be necessary to slow emissions significantly.
The awards will be presented on October 5 to representatives of each denomination at PA IPL’s conference “One Creation, Many Faiths: A Call to Action on Climate Change” to be held at Colonial Park United Church of Christ in Harrisburg.
PA Interfaith Power & Light invites individuals and communities of all faiths to join the over 10,000 congregations in 40 state chapters of Interfaith Power & Light to move forward in action and hope to care for Creation and neighbors near and far.
UUA VISIONARY AWARD STATEMENT
For their careful discernment and public recognition that addressing climate change is an important part of faithful witness, and for their active and multi-faceted work to engage congregations and congregants on climate change: Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light presents its 2013 Visionary Award to the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.
The UUA created and supports the Green Sanctuary Certification Program, a program of congregations and congregants working together to restore Earth and renew Spirit; designed to “give roots and wings to the vision that, together, we can create a world in which all people make reverence, gratitude, and care for the living Earth that is central to our lives.” The program both provides the framework for congregations to begin specific projects and activities that can lead to Green Sanctuary accreditation, and invites congregations to embark on an exploration of what it means to live today within a religious community on an imperiled Earth.
That program was an early model for many.
This year, they began to address institutional investment as well. At its national assembly in July, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations resolved that all delegates should “begin a denomination-wide conversation within their congregations about divesting from fossil fuels or exercising shareholder influence” and identified six areas in which that conversation might move forward. They specifically recommended that congregations discuss leading by example by investing in conservation and energy efficiency measures for congregational facilities, and widespread use of renewable energy. The Social Witness statement can be found in full [here].
PA IPL presents this award in recognition of the members and institutional bodies of the Unitarian Universalist Association that have made this reflective work and public witness possible, and to thank them for the work that is yet to come.
Nice mention of Green Sanctuary. What inspired the creation of Green Sanctuary, back in the early 1990s? A Pennsylvania organization called the Interfaith Coalition on Energy was very influential. The Coalition is still a great resource for religious organizations that are concerned about climate change and other energy-related topics. The Coalition’s emphasis is on reducing energy use in religious buildings in order to save money in order to support community projects. (All of the points connect.) Stewardship is an important theme for the Coalition.