The body of Christ is able to move mountains and transform lives when it’s working together for the good of all. In Tennessee, church congregations and non-profit organizations are joining together through the Tennessee Interfaith Power & Light to make a difference for the health and wellbeing of the planet God gave us.
Tennessee Interfaith Power & Light
The Tennessee Interfaith Power & Light (TIPL) views caring for the earth as a way to worship the Creator. It is their mission, “to spiritually respond to the challenges of the climate crisis through upholding the sacredness of all life, protecting vulnerable communities, and caring for the Earth. We manifest our spiritual values by reducing our carbon footprint within our daily lives, releasing the spiritual power of our faith communities, and advocating for transformative climate protection and justice policies.”
TIPL has five chapters and affiliate offices located in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, and Northeast Tennessee. Each chapter partners with area churches and the central mission of TIPL to educate and advocate for creation care and climate change matters. They work with other ministries and organizations to influence green initiatives in their communities and help find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The chapters also partner with area houses of worship to help them implement energy efficient practices. reduce their carbon footprint, and incorporate Creation care initiatives into everyday community life.
Praying for Change
Climate change isn’t just a matter of environmental concern; the ramifications of changing climates are also issues of justice and restoration. In addition to the environmental issues that change the way we grow our food and live our lives, the effects of climate change disproportionately impact vulnerable populations in impoverished communities around the globe.
In response, TIPL has helped coordinate climate prayer vigils in communities across Tennessee to peacefully and positively advocate for “effective climate protection policies that will uphold the sacredness of life and protect the most vulnerable populations.” Christians believe in the power of active prayer to change hearts and thereby change our world for the better.
Creation Care Resources for Tennesseeans
TIPL provides several resources for churches in Tennessee to evaluate their energy usage and implement new practices that can reduce their carbon footprint so they can do their part to improve their community.
Among their resources, TIPL offers a guide to Greening Houses of Worship. The guide includes ways to reduce energy usage in your church, ways to incorporate environmental education in your religious education settings, food and compost best practices, environmentally friendly landscape guidelines, facility management purchasing guidelines, starting a recycling program, and water conservation tips.
If you are part of a church congregation in Tennessee, TIPL would love to learn about your sustainability and creation care efforts. A downloadable Creation Care Survey for Faith Groups is available on their website.
The Paris Initiative, Carbon Tithing, and Climate Justice
The Paris Climate Initiative is something that many individuals agree with in principle but have no idea what the implications might be for their local community. TIPL has prepared materials to help Knoxville and other Tennesseans understand better the impact of the Paris Climate Initiative as well as the cost of carbon emissions. The site also provides a clear explanation of carbon taxes, a spiritual consideration of how revenue generated from carbon taxes ought to be spent, the impact on vulnerable communities when it comes to carbon taxes, and how Christians should advocate among policymakers for ethical and just policies surrounding carbon emissions.
Often lost in the weeds of political conversations surrounding climate change is climate justice, the idea that changes to our climate adversely affect certain vulnerable populations more so than other communities. TIPL has outlined the moral implications Christians should consider surrounding climate issues. Perhaps we think these issues only really affect people in third-world countries (which we should care about as well), but vulnerable communities in our own backyards are just as affected. The organization provides two white papers on the health effects for people in a home that is too hot or too cold.
If you are a congregation member who cares about creation care in the state of Tennessee, connect your spiritual leaders with Tennessee Interfaith Power & Light. You can give to their initiatives, join a local chapter, or partner with the organization as an individual member or as a congregation. Learn more at https://www.tennipl.org/join/.