Concord, NH – New Hampshire faith leaders gathered in Concord on Thursday, March 12th to launch the New Hampshire affiliate of Interfaith Power and Light.
Interfaith Power and Light conducts education and advocacy campaigns to engage faith communities in a religious response to the existential crisis of global climate change. The New Hampshire affiliate joins 39 other state affiliates representing 20,000 congregations across the nation that work to support energy stewardship and a moral voice to climate action policies.
Faith leaders called attention to the urgent need for the moral imperatives of caring for our common home and for voters to ensure that elected officials support climate change action policies and environmental protection.
Susan Fuller, the founder of NH Interfaith Power and Light, called attention to the upcoming 2020 Faith Climate Action Week during the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, “New Hampshire Interfaith Power and Light will collaborate with congregations across our state from April 17th to 26th state to deliver sermons focused on climate change impacts and care for creation.”
Rev. Jason Wells, Executive Director of the NH Council of Churches, stated that, “Interfaith Power and Light helps us practice what we preach. Across New Hampshire’s diverse faith spectrum, people have a spiritual and religious commitment to care for God’s creation.”
Fr. Richard Roberge, Pastor of Christ the King Parish in Concord, pointed to the lessons found in Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si, Care for our Common Home. “Think globally, act locally – we can no longer live for just ourselves, we all have a responsibility to care for creation and our common home of Earth.”
Rev. Carlos Jauhola-Striaght, pastor at South Church and Concord representing the United Church of Christ, urged “NH voters to go to the polls with climate change action and care for the environment top of mind and to practice a love of creation.”
New Hampshire Interfaith Power and Light will organize the Climate Faith, Hope, and Justice conference in Concord on May 31st, highlighting climate change impacts and solutions, including practical tools that congregations can use to increase energy efficiency programs and deploy renewable energy systems.
Full Remarks from Rev. Jason Wells, Executive Director of the NH Council of Churches
My name is Jason Wells and I am the executive director of the NH Council of Churches. The Council coordinates ministry among nine denominations of churches in the state, ranging from the American Baptist Churches to the Unitarian Universalist Association. All together, these denominations comprise nearly four hundred churches.
Nearly all of four hundred of those churches own buildings. Many of those buildings are energy-inefficient without good insulation or non-fossil heating sources. Many of those congregations want to change this reality but face a shortage of financial and human resources to make that happen.
One example comes from Grace Episcopal Church in East Concord, which I once served. The congregation owned an 1875 New Englander house. There was not a scrap of insulation in it and the cost of oil heating was astronomical, not to mention the maintenance undertaken by volunteers. But, we had a deeply knowledgable volunteer, Nicki, who came to our rescue. Nicki knew who to call to get an energy audit done. With that information, she followed up to find grants and discounts for insulation, a tank-less water heater, moving the home off of oil heat and adding solar panels to the roof.
When this work was done, it felt great. I would preach about taking care of God’s creation but it was something greater to know that we were practicing what we preached. We took our creation care out of individual hands and placed it in the hands of something that we all cared for together: our neighborhood church.
These changes made the church treasurer happy, as he often struggled to pay those bills from a small church’s offering plate. The rest of our leadership was excited because, not only were we caring for God’s creation, but we had extra funding that we weren’t spending on utilities but instead on the mission and ministry work that every church wants to do.
It’s because of experiences like this that I am excited for Interfaith Power and Light’s launch. I’m excited, first of all, because work like this shouldn’t be decided by lot, whether or not a church is blessed to have a leader like Nicki. IPL will make this kind of guidance easily available to all four hundred of our affiliated churches and beyond them all faith communities.
Secondly, IPL helps us practice what we preach. Across New Hampshire’s diverse faith spectrum, people have a spiritual and religious commitment to care for God’s creation. IPL will help meet that commitment because, as Scriptures like Psalm 1 and so many others tell us: when we practice what we preach, when our souls are at peace, then all of God’s creation will flourish and rejoice.