Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light believes the active care of creation is integral to spiritual life and social justice. We respond to climate change by bringing Minnesota's faith communities together and by providing opportunities for congregations to join the growing climate justice movement. Since our founding in 2004, we have mobilized religious support for landmark legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota, educated hundreds of thousands of congregants, and worked with every major religious denomination in the state.
What does Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light see as the primary challenges and opportunities of climate change?
Climate Change is complex and manifests in many unpredictable ways. Humans are not always very good at taking action when the consequences are unclear. Drawing on the wisdom and resources of their traditions, people of faith are uniquely situated to look beyond the present and to take action on behalf of the most vulnerable by living out their collective values in the world. They are able to bridge the generation gap, and collectively support each other as they foster a deep sense of commitment and passion to take action. Communities of faith are also uniquely able to call on creativity, spirit, and co-creation, which is necessary in creating just solutions to a complex reality. At MNIPL, we believe the climate crisis is an invitation to transformation, into making this world just and sustainable.
What initiatives is Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light undertaking to address these challenges and opportunities?
MNIPL works to spark an interfaith climate movement in faith communities across the state and Midwest. We invite people of faith to become leaders in the climate movement by providing training, community climate conversations, consultations, action opportunities, and inspiration. MNIPL offers leadership development workshops for adults and youth with our Be The Spark and Youth Be The Spark programs. We support the development of core teams in faith communities and provide on-ramps to action for these communities based on their unique passions, gifts and resources. MNIPL has developed a Climate Conversations program, which generates heart and value-based conversations in communities around the state. We are scaling this program up to reach five other states in the Midwest. We are also actively convening a Just Community Solar Coalition, leading policy campaigns in support of clean, renewable energy, and supporting energy efficiency work and other practical solutions in faith communities across the state.
From your experience facilitating climate conversations, what makes climate change communication successful?
Climate conversations are aimed at moving people into action on climate change. We find that attention to the relationship with the individual we are talking with, as well as the relationships of the community participating, are the most important factors in building a sense of safety, connection, and warmth. From this base, we can explore what we know about climate change and how we feel about it. Together, we can then consider action that excites or calls us.
How is engaging faith groups around the subject of climate change different than engaging other sectors of the population?
We believe people of faith have an essential voice in the climate movement. Faith groups are informed and inspired by one or all of the following - religious teachings, spiritual practice, and a moral commitment to caring for creation and all humanity. By engaging people of faith in meaningful conversations, we invite them to consider how their faith calls them to respond. Already established communities of faith provide an infrastructure of support to uplift and motivate people of faith in their journey to act on climate change. Communities of faith also bring a rich opportunity for practical action. For example, faith communities can enroll in or spearhead community solar garden projects; they can further economic justice by employing minority workers to help make their buildings more energy efficient. By using their existing committee structure, faith communities can mobilize political support for legislation. In addition, worship spaces can serve as a place to call attention to the moral dimensions of climate change.