Congregations and Coal: Faith and the Riverbend Coal Plant
I travelled to the River Bend Coal Power Plant just outside of Charlotte to attend a… Continue Reading
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SalonEvery week prayers and gospel songs infuse the air and participants offer blessings to the latest batch of 100 or so activists entering the Raleigh General Assembly building to commit civil disobedience. If you’re not from here, it may all seem a little counter-intuitive: A movement for inclusive and just secular governance that is deeply inflected with Christian ethics and arguments.
Most North Carolinians oppose fracking, favor clean energy and think current regulations are sufficient or should be stronger. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released the North Carolina poll results on July 15, 2013. “From the mountains to the beaches, it’s clear that North Carolinians take special pride in their state, and see state environmental safeguards as protecting our heritage and ensuring that our children can enjoy this place we know and love,” said NRDC senior attorney Luis Martinez, who is based in Asheville. Among the poll’s key findings: 61% say state environmental standards and regulatory standards do more good than […]
The post Recent Poll Shows North Carolinians Want More Clean Energy appeared first on North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light.
The General Assembly has adjourned its 2013 session after a final cascade of disappointing and disturbing bills that now await review by Gov. Pat McCrory. Among the bills approved are ones that will make it less convenient for many citizens to vote and that weaken regulatory oversight of the environment.
There was at least one bright spot, as the House rejected a last-minute push by the Senate to speed up the environmentally risky natural gas extraction process known as fracking. But on the whole, legislators succeeded in putting the crowning touches on a session devoted to a conservative agenda the likes of which modern North Carolina has never before seen.
Across the street, a small, unassuming, idyllic Catholic church faces the Duke Power Riverbend Coal Plant at the center of litigation and outrage in response to consistent pollution and lack of effective coal ash pond treatment. For a new intern at NCIPL, the physicalized contrast contained powerful irony that drove home the nature of our relationship as faithful North Carolinians with utility companies; we will always be living side by side. While utilities provide us the basic comforts of modern life, we see the destructive nature of their work and feel called to act and react against it. Such was […]
The Fayetteville ObserverSam Thompson was looking for a sunny spot to plant tomatoes. He ended up leading an award-winning community revolution. Thompson, an elder at Laurinburg Presbyterian Church, pitched the idea of a community garden to the church six years ago. What began as a creative use for otherwise empty church property was recently awarded an equipment grant by the North Carolina Council of Churches and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. “We’re using the grant funds to dig a well,” Thompson said. “Wouldn’t you know this would be the wettest June in years.”
Winston-Salem ChronicleThe Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation has partnered with the North Carolina Council of Churches to provide grants to faith-based organizations to help them supply healthy eating alternatives to their members and underserved communities.
United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church (UMMBC) is one of 20 faith-based organizations that have received a $5,000 Healthy Eating Equipment Grant. The church will use the grant to purchase much needed equipment and supplies to support the 10 gardens that now comprise the S.G. Atkins Community Gardens at Winston-Salem State University.
Volunteer Ed Ablard and I discussed the work and mission of NCIPL, as well as the wonderful evening Ed organized at his church, St. Paul’s Episcopal. Thank you so much to Ed for arranging this interview; it was a pleasure to be with you and all of our coastal allies this week!
This workshop on energy policy is also a continuation of Rev. Fletcher Harper’s plenary session (available here) at the 2013 Legislative Seminar. Harper is Executive Director of GreenFaith, a New Jersey-based non-profit committed to building environmental leadership among people of faith. He is also an Episcopal priest.
The theme of this free conference is “Growing Roots: A Youth Training Focused on Gardening, Faith, and Collecting Stories From Our Elders.” The conference is for ages 12-24. There will be healthy locally and organically grown food provided by church gardens, home gardens, and other healthy local food donations.
Earth Day weekend is the perfect time to direct attention, prayer, and action to Caring for Creation. This year, Earth Day is Monday, April 22. Visit NCIPL’s Earth Day webpage for resources your congregation can use to honor Earth Day, events occurring across the state, and details on how you can share your plans.
NCIPL hosted a webinar on how your congregation can obtain a free energy savings analysis (also known as an energy audit) on March 12. The recording of the webinar is now online. This service is offered to all North Carolina congregations at no charge. Share the webinar with others at your congregation and contact us at email@example.com to schedule your congregation’s audit today.
On the eve of the National Preach-In on Climate Change, I just watched an amazing movie called White Water, Black Gold. It’s a beautifully crafted and accurate exploration of one of the hidden costs of continued development of tar sands oil in Canada’s North Country. That cost is clean water. This Canadian production is available for free viewing until February 18th and is well worth the 57 minutes it takes to watch it. Elegantly juxtaposing video of pristine examples of God’s glorious creation with shocking shots of lands and waters defiled by human industry, this movie calls us to action and to change.
Click here for a free download of our new 2013 social justice study for Lent: Preparing the Way. This simple 10-page document combines traditional Lenten themes and Bible passages with contemporary issues including hunger, care of creation, and immigration. We invite you to join us in this season of reflection and preparation.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation and The Rensselaerville Institute are looking for individuals with project ideas for creating a healthier Wilson County. Projects will be implemented over the next 6 months and must focus on increasing physical activity and/or access to and consumption of fresh produce.
Selected Community Sparkplugs and their teams will receive the following: a $3,000 grant (simple application process), individualized help to create an action plan and set project results, support and coaching over the next 6 months, and an opportunity to become part of a growing network of Community Sparkplugs across North Carolina.
Baptist PeacemakerGoogle “care for creation” and you’ll find it’s a panreligious movement. If nothing else, this demonstrates that all major religions—Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and Baptist—all agree on at least one thing. Can I get an “amen” to that?
It’s good that this is the case. Reconciliation between a planet needing stewardship and inhabitants who often refuse to see that need will require everything from global to grassroots activity.
The General Assembly leadership is committed to having this short session truly be short, and there’s talk of adjourning by early July. In fact, an adjournment resolution was introduced yesterday with a target date of June 19. This session, which starts in May of even-numbered years, is primarily to tweak the second year of the budget adopted the year before. In addition, certain bills which were introduced last year (mostly ones which passed in one house) can be considered. For a new bill to be introduced this year, it must fit into one of a few specific categories, with most new bills having to do with budgetary matters or coming from a study commission which met during the interim. Finally, pending veto overrides are also thought by the House and Senate leadership to be eligible for consideration.
The Spring 2012 Church Council Bulletin includes photographs from the Council’s recent Critical Issues Seminar, an update on items of interest in the General Assembly’s short session, a statement on the passage of Amendment One, the Council’s spring appeal, and more.
Charlotte ObserverEven in February, there’s a lot happening in the community garden at Central United Methodist church in east Charlotte.
A few of the 24 plots still have winter vegetables to harvest. Gardeners are building pea trellises and clearing the ground to start planting early crops.
Langston Denny, a prayer leader at the church, is building a new compost bin. He’s arranged for a local restaurant to give him its lettuce, coffee grounds and eggshells that would otherwise go to waste.
Central United is part of a growing movement among faith groups – in Charlotte and around the nation – that embrace environmental conservation as a way to care for God’s creation and for neighbors in need.
North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light, a program of the Council, is proud to announce that this year has been a banner year for faith communities in North Carolina to go solar. Three faith communities have successfully installed solar projects on their property in the past few months, Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte (picture above), Temple Emmanuel in Greensboro, and the Montreat Conference Center in Montreat. First Congregational United Church of Christ installed their solar panels in February.
This might strike you as surprising, as it did me, but radiation has been in cigarettes for more than forty years! We all have heard just how bad cigarettes are, but to know that they contain alpha particles on top of the other harmful substances is alarming, to say the least. And it is appalling to know that tobacco companies knew this and covered up the truth.
In Ezekiel, we hear the cry of God for God’s sheep throughout the land and nations. As a shepherd, God makes connections across lands and regions where we have, time and time again, made divisions. For too long, we have defined health with a too limited view as to who my neighbor is and who my fellow sheep are.
We are here this morning in support of NC WARN’s requests for safe, healthy and cost effective energy efficiency and renewable energy programs to be stipulated as conditions for the proposed merger between Duke Power and Progress Energy. NC WARN, and all the other organizations and individuals testifying, are sharing their expertise and submitting reports that clearly demonstrate a road to the most cost effective solutions for a 21st Century Energy Economy revolving around a comprehensive plan for achieving the maximum attainable energy efficiency in our state.
The experiences of landowners in other states indicate that hydraulic fracturing can have profound negative impacts on rural communities. The Rural Life Committee of the North Carolina Council of Churches supports the current ban on hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina. The above concerns need to be addressed with careful attention to landowners’ property, landowners’ rights, and the care for creation’s gifts. Furthermore, we call on our member bodies and faith leaders to share reliable information about hydraulic fracturing with their communities. We believe that we are called by God to be good stewards of the good gifts of community, health, water and soil. Trusting in God, we refuse to trade this bountiful inheritance for the empty promises of energy that may be cheap in terms of dollars but which we know will be costly in terms of our livelihoods.
The General Assembly returned to Raleigh in July for what was, in reality, Round Two of its 2011 Long Session. The primary tasks were to take up overrides on bills Governor Perdue had vetoed and to adopt redistricting plans for U.S. Congressional districts and for the state House and Senate.
The 2011 session of the General Assembly adjourned around midday on Saturday, June 18. Legislative leaders and the media are trumpeting the efficiency of the session and the fact that this is the earliest adjournment since 1973. But that is misleading since they aren’t really finished with their work. The adjournment resolution calls them back into a special session on July 13. At that time, they will take up the thorny issue of redistricting as well as controversial bills from the just-ended session which remain in conference committees and any bills vetoed by the Governor.
As I look from my living room window at the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, I am compelled to rush to my car radio to listen to the news for further updates, if any are currently on! Tidbits of information from the streets come my way and it is shocking what I hear. Roads are flooded cutting off routes of escape from the city west toward Raleigh, east toward Kenly, and some say you can’t get through Rocky Mount.
The drumbeat of bad bills continues. Suffice it to say that it’s a tough year for those of us who have advocated for public policy decisions promoting social justice, protecting vulnerable people, and caring for God’s creation. We can’t respond to every bad idea or bad bill. On many of these issues, we feel like we are butting our heads against a wall. Our tendency may be to throw up our hands in despair.
We are disturbed by increasing reports of NC landowners who are signing over some of their property rights to energy companies looking for new sources of natural gas. In addition to the environmental damage caused by accessing this natural gas, we are concerned that in many cases landowners are not fully aware of their rights and how these contracts will impact the use of their land in the future.
The following information comes from our friends at Rural Advancement Foundation International. Visit this page for more complete information.
Durham Herald-SunOn Sunday morning, the importance of caring for God’s creation will be preached from the pulpits of hundreds of churches. The common topic thread is part of Interfaith Power & Light’s National Global Warming Preach-In this weekend.
At Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Durham, the Rev. Ginger Brasher-Cunningham will urge her congregation to be mindful about how they walk on the earth and to respect creation and that God has given them this beauty.
Last year, 50 congregations in North Carolina were among the 400 preach-in participants. North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light, which is based in Raleigh, is a program of the N.C. Council of Churches.
Chapel Hill NewsChurch of Reconciliation, 110 N. Elliott Road, has been certified as an “Earth Care Congregation” by the Presbyterian Church USA’s Environmental Ministries. To become an Earth Care Congregation, the church affirmed the Earth Care pledge to integrate environmental practices and thinking into all facets of its church life, and completed projects and activities in the fields of worship, education, facilities and outreach.
Dr. Katherine Shea, a physician with expertise in the link between climate change and human health, is the new director of North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light, a project of the North Carolina Council of Churches and a state affiliate of the national Interfaith Power & Light campaign.
I was struck, as I listened to remembrances from the past, that we really are seeing progress on issues of social justice. But it happens over a period of years or even decades. The issues we heard about at the Anniversary are difficult ones. They have produced years of frustration and sometimes what looked like complete failure. And yet . . .
Our lectionary texts, Isaiah 65:17-25 and Psalm 98, offer vision and hope for people of faith, a vision of ultimate peace among the whole of creation. The Hebrew word which implies such a state of being is shalom. The word shalom has a deep and rich meaning, implying not only a lack of hostility towards the creation and all God’s creatures, but also a state of general health and well being, a condition where there is “ecojustice” for all parts of creation.
Dr. Norman Wirzba, Duke Divinity School (Durham)Now, imagine that God comes to you one day and says, “I need you and your family to gather all the animals living in North Carolina. I need you to feed them and protect them. I need you to build a floating farm and make sure they stay alive because the world around them is crumbling and dissolving. The places these animals have called home are disappearing, and I need you to make a home for them.” What would you say?
The Seminar “Loving God’s Creation: Fully Integrating Creation Care with the Church’s Mission and Ministry” is set for Thursday, October 14, 2010, at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. The program for this event has been announced.
Yesterday was the deadline for Governor Perdue to sign or veto bills passed by the General Assembly in the last weeks of the session. Interestingly, yesterday she let a bill become law without her signature.Also in this Raleigh Report: Domestic Violence, Environment, Gambling, and more.
Unfortunately, the childhood obesity epidemic is drastically affecting North Carolina. In 2009, North Carolina ranked 14th worst in the nation in childhood overweight and obesity for children ages 10-17, with more than one-third (33.5%) of our children being overweight or obese.
Also in this Raleigh Report: Domestic Violence, Environment, Gambling, Health, Housing, People with Disabilities, Public Education, and more.
Raleigh News & ObserverWhen hurricanes or earthquakes hit, religious congregations know how to respond with acts of good will and charity. But what about an oil spill?
Many Triangle congregations are finding their voice.
Tonight two churches will hold vigils to pray and reflect on the BP oil rig disaster. On Sunday, the two-month anniversary of the oil spill, many Christians will attempt a daylong fast from oil in whatever way they find appropriate.
Rev. Nancy Petty, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church (Raleigh)It’s an image I can’t get out of my mind: a rescuer washing goo off a pelican. The bird was found alive but coated in the oil slick making its way ashore along the Louisiana coastline. The rescuer, volunteering hours of her time, was gently and compassionately bathing the bird in hopes of giving it another chance in the wild. It is a sad but hopeful image from the Gulf of Mexico. And of all the images I have seen from this, the worst oil spill disaster our country has ever experienced, it is this one that causes me to reach for the remote as fast as I can to change the channel.
Raleigh News & ObserverWhat would an oil spill mean on our coast? We wouldn’t be walking on the beach or eating local fish. We’d be cleaning oil off the pelicans. Fisherfolk would not be out in their boats. No families would be rolling their provisions to the beach. We wouldn’t be marveling at the beauty of the ocean. The sea air would not be something we’d want to breathe. The rental housing market would be nonexistent.
The summer’s “short session” of the North Carolina General Assembly convened on May 12, a continuation of the 2009 session. Its primary task will be to adjust the 2010-11 budget adopted last year, though it can also take up bills that made it through one house last year, bills coming from study commissions, and bills amending the state Constitution.
A Litany of Lament Over a Despoiled Ocean
Ken Sehested, pastor, Alliance-affiliated
Circle of Mercy, Asheville, N.C.
In the beginning, darkness covered the face of the deep.
Then the Breath of Heaven swept across the waters, blessing the sea with all manner of creatures.
The sea knows its Maker and roars its applause; the fish therein leap at the sound of God’s voice.
Through the baptismal waters of the Red Sea did the Israelites escape their tormentors and emerge to freedom’s demand.
Like the patriarch Noah, humanity stands responsible for ensuring that all nature continues to thrive as God intended. Men and women are charged with preserving the beauty, diversity and integrity of nature as well as fostering productivity. Stewardship requires careful protection of the environment and calls us to use our intelligence to discover earth’s productive potential. We believe that stewardship of God’s creation is a moral responsibility that affects the lives of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. As people of faith, as individuals, as institutions, as a nation, we must commit ourselves to preserving and protecting the planet for generations to come.
Ellen Davis, Duke Divinity School (Durham)Reading the Bible is my line of work, yet for years I read past the first chapter’s detailed attention to the food supply, as have my fellow biblical scholars. I now realize that my profession’s obliviousness about food in the Bible points to a deep and worrisome difference between a modern cultural mindset and the culture that all the biblical writers represent. The difference comes down to this: for them, eating and agriculture have to do with God, and for us they do not.
Rev. Nancy Petty, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church (Raleigh)While in Oxford I attended a worship service in which the bishop began his sermon with the words, “Most of you know that I usually don’t stick to the scripture when I preach. However, today will be different.” Immediately, he had my attention. I thought, “Is that an option, to not stick to the scripture?” At least in my mind-and I am aware that you might have a different opinion-I always try to stick to the scripture. I do so, mainly, because I love exploring the stories of our faith, but also because I think that is what I am supposed to do. But now this bishop had given me something new to think about.
Rev. Steven Shoemaker, Myers Park Baptist Church (Charlotte)What would I want to say to my son or daughter on Earth Sunday? I would begin by saying that the form of Christianity that bequeathed to me so much grace, truth and faith failed me in my relationship with God’s creation. We were so fixed on saving souls that it was as if the physical world around me were an afterthought of God and therefore an afterthought of Christian concern.
As people of faith we proclaim our belief that our world is God’s creation, that God sees it as good, and that it is ours to protect and maintain. We also recognize that the quality of life for all of us depends upon its health and well-being. Yet today air and water pollution, desertification, loss of species and climate change are increasing at an alarming rate. God’s creation is threatened by serious, complex and interrelated problems that are the result of human behavior.
In less than ten years, North Carolina’s national rank in hog production has catapulted from sixth to second. This rapid growth has been stimulated by the opening, in 1991, of the world’s largest hog slaughterhouse, located in Bladen County. Much of the growth in hog production is concentrated in the five surrounding counties. In the raising, butchering, processing, transporting and marketing of hogs, a livelihood has been provided for thousands of persons, and additional nutritious meat products have become available for the people of our nation and abroad. However, when the slaughterhouse began operating, the state was unprepared for this exponential growth and lacked a regulatory program for factory farms. Counties could not direct the growth since a 1991 amendment to state zoning law prohibited counties from exercising their zoning authority over factory farms.
North Carolina’s state government is engaged in a debate that is occurring nationwide: should we restructure our electric utilities? This is an extraordinarily complex issue which will affect the daily lives of many people across the state, yet is almost completely unknown outside the halls of the General Assembly.
Understanding this issue, even in the broadest of terms, requires a step backward to look at the big picture of electric power and how we receive it. Currently, electric utilities are monopolies. There is only a single company from whom you can purchase your power, and it controls the entire process of producing and providing electricity. The rates charged are controlled by the government, ensuring that the utilities earn a reasonable profit without taking advantage of their position to overcharge customers.
Interested in learning more about the state of our state when it comes to opioids? Interested in learning more about ways your congregation can help with the crisis? Join us for one of our 8 clergy breakfasts happening across NC in May and June. ncchurches.org/event…
We’ve come here to confess, to admit that when our government behaves this way, we the people are complicit in the act. The truth we must name is hard to hear: torture has happened. ncchurches.org/2019/… #ncpol #NCGA @NCTorture pic.twitter.com/avtt…
Are you a veteran, family of a veteran, or caretaker for a veteran? We invite you to this important event focused on aging across the life cycle & planning for your future. ncchurches.org/event… pic.twitter.com/QcYo…
Join @PostpartumHelp & NC Maternal Mental Health MATTERS for a two-day course on assessment and treatment of perinatal mood disorders. More details below -- apply by May 21! #health #faith cvent.com/events/psi… pic.twitter.com/63vV…
RT @GeorgiaIPL Our planet is hurting. Our planet is crying out. Our planet needs change. -LessWasteLaura Have you watched Netflix's "Our Planet"? If so, what changes has it inspired you to make? How will you care for Creation today? bit.ly/2VPvNFv bit.ly/2VPvNFv
RT @interfaithpower This morning in DC: Faith leaders gathered to pray in front of the @EPA asking @EPAAWheeler to stop his #PoisonPlan rollback of the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule. A blessing to stand w/ @CreationCare @NRPEorg @CatholicClimate @coejl @CreationJustice @TheRAC @YECAction & others. pic.twitter.com/WX89…
RT @StephanieKelton I won’t list the entire group, but you can come hear me along with @NaomiAKlein, @KateAronoff, @drvox, @rgunns, etc. on Friday, September 13. Register here: eventbrite.com/e/des… pic.twitter.com/Kf7o…
RT @drvox Watching something that took centuries to develop, something that can never entirely be recreated, disappear in the comparative blink of an eye -- that, in slow motion, is going to be the dominant feeling of the 21st century. Only instead of buildings: glaciers, forests, species.