For 85 Maryland Faith Communities, Pope’s Visit Inspires Unified Call for Climate Action in General Assembly

Contact:

Kelly Trout, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 717-439-0346 (cell), kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org
Joelle Novey, Interfaith Power & Light, 202-256-1450, joelle@gwipl.org

Note: Journalists can contact Kelly Trout at 717-439-0346 (cell) or kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org to connect with participating congregations in a particular geographic area or denomination.

Weekend ‘Climate in the Pulpits / On the Bimah’ events show multi-faith support for raising Md’s clean energy goals

BALTIMORE—On the heels of Pope Francis’ visit to the region, 85 Maryland congregations with over 10,000 members will be preaching about climate justice from the pulpit or the bimah this weekend, reiterating the Pope’s call for climate action during services and special events in Baltimore, Annapolis, Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, and beyond.

In the spirit of Pope Francis’ call yesterday for “courageous” action from representatives in Congress, faith communities will invite their members to sign postcards to state legislators, urging them to expand Maryland’s renewable energy standard (RPS) to 25% by 2020 and renew the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act. These policies are the top ways Maryland can carry out the Pope’s teaching that “highly polluting fossil fuels … need to be … replaced without delay.”

This weekend’s coordinated, multi-faith effort, called “Climate in the Pulpits / on the Bimah,” comes at a crucial time to renew and strengthen Maryland’s Climate Action Plan. The 2009 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, Maryland’s legal requirement for reducing carbon pollution, will be up for renewal in the 2016 legislative session. The surest way to reduce emissions is to increase the amount of clean electricity—like solar and wind power—that powers our homes and communities. More than three-quarters (76%) of Maryland Catholics support strengthening Maryland’s renewable energy mandate, according to polling released this week.

“It’s not right that 80% of the energy we use to light our sanctuaries still comes from fossil fuels,” reads the bulletin insert which congregations will distribute to thousands of Marylanders this weekend. “Dirty energy is polluting our air and water and making our children and elders sick … our use of dirty energy is pouring heat-trapping climate pollution into our atmosphere, hurting our poorest neighbors around the world.”

Father Ty Hullinger, who serves three Catholic parishes in Baltimore City, is among over 80 Maryland religious leaders who are bringing “Climate in the Pulpits” to their congregations.

“We’re told in Genesis not to be owners and manipulators of this world, but stewards and caretakers,” said Father Hullinger. “We’re already seeing the impacts of climate change, and the families I work with in Baltimore are personally affected by industrial pollution. The Holy Father’s visit is pushing me and my colleagues to take the call to stewardship more seriously.”

Maryland State Delegate Dereck Davis (D-25 Prince George’s) is participating by speaking on clean energy during the Sunday service at Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church in District Heights. “Pope Francis has reminded us that addressing climate change is one of the great moral issues of our time,” said Del. Davis. “It is imperative that Maryland acts on climate so that we can create real, broad, and sustainable prosperity.”

Maryland congregations will be participating in different ways. Many plan to have clergy or guest speakers deliver a sermon on climate and Creation care, and to distribute bulletin inserts. Some Jewish communities are studying the Pope’s encyclical on Yom Kippur and some congregations are incorporating Creation care into religious education classes or holding special workshops.

Maryland’s faith community has been a leading voice for stronger clean energy policies over the past year. During the 2015 General Assembly, seven Maryland bishops and senior ecumenical leaders joined over 230 faith leaders in calling on state lawmakers to expand Maryland’s renewable energy standard. Bishop Wolfgang Herz-Lane, president of the Ecumenical Leaders Group of central Maryland, penned an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun this July echoing the Pope’s encyclical on climate change and stressing that “the survival and flourishing of all people depends on our ability to move from temporary and destructive fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.”

Participating congregations include:

* Friday, 9/25 in Montgomery County, 6:30-10 pm
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cedar Lane, 9601 Cedar Ln. Bethesda
Earth Celebration featuring music, dance, and creation of a mandala.

* Saturday, 9/26 in Anne Arundel County, 11 am
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 730 Bestgate Rd. Annapolis
Rev. Kip Banks, Sr. of Upper Marlboro will give a Creation care workshop.
Contact: Father Randy Callender, 410-353-6263 randycallender@yahoo.com

* Sunday, 9/27 in Prince George’s County, 10 am
Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church, 7808 Marlboro Pike, District Heights
State Delegate Dereck E. Davis will speak to the congregation about clean energy during the service starting at 10 am

* Sunday, 9/27 in Baltimore City, 9:30 am
St. James Episcopal Church, 1020 West Lafayette Ave. Baltimore
Rev. Darriel Harris of the Baltimore Food & Faith Project will preach during the Sunday worship service.

* Sunday, 9/27 in Baltimore City, 10:30 a.m. / 11:30 a.m.
St. Dominic Catholic Parish (10:30 a.m), 5302 Harford Road, Baltimore
St. Anthony’s Catholic Parish (11:30 a.m), 4414 Frankford Ave., Baltimore
Father Ty Hullinger will preach during two Sunday worship services
Contact: 301-707-7147 or THullinger@archbalt.org

* Sunday, 9/27 in Anne Arundel County, 10 am
St. Luke’s Eastport, 1101 Bay Ridge Ave. Annapolis
Shantha Ready Alonso of Creation Justice Ministries will preach during the Sunday worship service.

* Sunday, 9/27 in Montgomery County, 10 am service, 11:30 am solar dedication
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, 100 Welsh Park Dr. Rockville
Dedication of new solar photovoltaic system following the Sunday worship service.

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Climate in the Pulpits is a joint program of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA).

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the biggest and oldest grassroots organization dedicated to fighting climate change in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. CCAN is building a powerful movement to shift our region away from climate-harming fossil fuels and to clean energy solutions: www.chesapeakeclimate.org.

Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA) engages hundreds of congregations of all faiths across Maryland and the DC area in saving energy, going green, and responding to climate change. IPL-DMV is one of forty state affiliates of Interfaith Power & Light mobilizing a national religious response to the climate crisis: www.mdipl.org