The seeds of Austin’s Interfaith Environmental Network were planted in February of 2008, when some 40 clergy and lay congregational leaders met at Congregation Beth Israel. The purpose of the meeting was simple: to give members of Austin’s diverse faith communities who were already involved from a faith perspective in environmental stewardship the chance to get to know each other, share each other’s stories, learn from each other, and explore opportunities for working together.
A small subgroup of the original attendees, including Tom Spencer of Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT), Bee Moorehead of Texas Impact and Texas Interfaith Power and Light, Allen Cooper of Friends Meeting Of Austin, Rabbi Steve Folberg of Congregation Beth Israel, Kerry Stevens of Bethany United Methodist Church, Cantor Marie Betcher of Congregation Shir Ami, Rev. Lou Snead of Faith Presbyterian Church, Rev. Bo Townsend of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church and other clergy and lay people, met periodically over the following months. By the spring of 2009, a vision began to emerge from these meetings. We would found an interfaith organization with a uniquely Austin identity, devoted to Education, Service and Advocacy.
Then, after a year of planning, IEN held its formal Launch Event at Congregation Beth Israel on November 4th, 2009. Here is video of the event, including the Keynote Address by Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener: