Austin's Faithful ResponD To Climate Change

Austin's Faithful lead response to Climate Change


Friday, Jan. 24, 2014 -- From free classes to large solar investments to a poetry slam style "preach-off," Austin's faith community takes responsibility for climate change. 

From an environmental perspective the most overlooked issue of our times is the climate crisis. People often feel overwhelmed and powerless in discussions about greenhouse gasses and what can be done to limit the effects of climate change. 

But faith-based organizations in Austin are changing all of that. The Interfaith Environmental Network, founded in 2009, recently updated its mission statement to include "transforming ways of life that cause climate change," and its members are following suit.  

In 2013, The Interfaith Environmental Network (IEN) worked locally to help Austin congregations successfully reduce over 1,000,000 lbs of greenhouse gas pollution. The IEN also released a comprehensive "how to" manual for congregations on taking positive steps to respond to climate change.   

Since then, newly energized congregations from across Austin have joined the network. Most notably, Wildflower Church, a Unitarian Universalist congregation, who launches a series of self produced adult education classes on climate change this Sunday, January 26, 2014.

Wildflower Church's climate change classes will take place over the next five Sundays, 1/26/14 thru 2/23/14, 7:00pm to 8:30pm. Classes are free and open to all adults. Content includes presentations, short videos, and lengthy discussions. Class leaders assume students have a basic understanding of climate change. 

Topics per class, include: 1) Overview, 2) Global Impacts, 3) Social and Political Impacts, 4) Legal Issues, 5) Solutions. For more details about class content visit: 

Classes will be held at Faith Presbyterian Church's Fellowship Hall, 1314 East Oltorf Street, in Austin, 78704 (across from Travis High School). Free parking available onsite. Visit for more info about location, etc. 

In addition to this outstanding climate education series, other IEN member congregations are getting serious about climate stewardship: 

from our co-chair

“We are not separate from our planetary home, Earth. We breathe Earth’s air into our lungs, our muscles feed off its oxygen in the blood that flows through our veins, and all that passes through us comes from sunlight, soil, and water...”

-- Reverend Tom VandeStadt,
co-chair, Interfaith Environmental Network
Becoming Carbon Positive
IEN publication, 2013


  • St. David's Episcopal Church will soon complete installation of a $683,000 solar array. The array will offset 18% of their facilities' annual energy use. 
  • Congregation Beth Israel and St. Andrew's Presbyterian are also pursuing large solar installations this year. 
  • Austin Zen Center, who installed their solar array in 2012, is broadening their climate stewardship efforts to include habitat restoration and vegetarianism. 
  • First Unitarian Universalist Church who've had a solar array for over 10 years maintains ongoing outreach efforts dedicated to climate stewardship. Next Friday the group will screen Robert Redford's acclaimed film, "Watershed" and discuss Central Texas's drought.  
  • First Baptist Church's facility was certified "platinum" by Austin Green Business Leaders in November. First Baptist and The Congregational Church of Austin, UCC, are exploring the "climate stewardship audit" provided for them by These audits will be used to determine the most cost effective steps their congregations can take next to protect the climate. 
  • St. Matthew's Episcopal recently replaced all halogen lighting to reduce lighting costs by 80%. 
  • UT Catholic Center has begun efforts to make their facility and operations carbon neutral in 2014. 
  • Trinity United Methodist celebrated a "Bike to Church Sunday" in October. 
  • Faith Presbyterian had their campus Green Neighbor certified by the City this Fall. 

In addition to all the above, Texas Interfaith Power and Light is producing a climate "Preach Off" challenge next month. This event will feature more than half a dozen local faith leaders from across Austin's religious community in five minute mini sermons advocating climate stewardship. 

"Suddenly, we're seeing innovation and activity all over Austin's religious communities in response to climate change. Each action is customized to the needs of a given congregation. Some are saving money, some are making plans, some are teaching classes, some are planting trees. There's no end to what can be done. It's truly an exciting time." -- Chris Searles, outreach coordinator, Interfaith Environmental Network


Wildflower UU presents Climate Change series
St. David's Solar, net positive from Year One
 IEN's list of Congregational Green Teams in Austin
First Baptist Church's statement on Climate Change
United Church of Christ's statement on Climate Change
 St. Andrew's Presbyterian Model Clean Energy Goals
 Texas Interfaith Power and Light's 1st Annual "Climate Preach Off!"


The Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin
Inspiring the Austin area faith community to live out the common call of environmental stewardship.
© 2014 Interfaith Environmental Network




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