By: Brian Christoffersen
In response to the growing evidence of climate change’s harm to the most vulnerable and creation, our dependence on dirty energy sources, and unjust energy burdens, we are called through God’s love to the transformative work of a Just Energy Transition. This transition starts as Climate Just Congregations become energy efficient, use renewable and just energy sources, and advocate for those most burdened by climate change. To assist congregations in becoming Climate Just, the Virginia Annual Conference Board of Church and Society Creation Justice team created the Virginia UMC Energy Justice page see https://vaumc.org/energyjustice/. The resources on this page will help support efforts across the Virginia Annual Conference to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 while empowering your congregations to be advocates for climate justice and renewable, efficient, and affordable energy for all! Through our efforts, we will be joining with the UMC Boards and Agencies in their pledge to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 across ministries, facilities, operations, and investments and to leverage the gifts of our connection, putting equity and justice at the center as we build a net-zero emission economy by 2050.
By becoming Climate Just Congregations, we will help build a movement for climate justice through being educated and engaged on the impacts of and solutions to the harm of human-induced climate change and by supporting and being examples of a Just Transition. Through our actions, such as using energy more efficiently and choosing renewable energy, the VAUMC offices, boards, and congregations will be taking steps to support a just and equitable economy that “dismantles structural barriers to racial and gender equity and builds resilient, flourishing communities.” An example of helping to achieve this Just Transition is by ensuring fair and sustainable business practices, such as using ethically sourced materials for solar panels. Here are some great examples of what we all can do from the Interfaith Power and Light’s Faith Climate Action Week program Living the Golden Rule: Just transition to a clean energy economy, see https://interfaithpowerandlight.org/blog/2023/05/19/faith-climate-action-week-2023-inspired-community-wide-educational-events/
As Climate Just Congregations, we will be helping our churches free up resources to serve the greater mission of the church, including supporting those fighting for energy justice. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR estimates, savings of nearly $630 million annually can help missions and other priorities if America’s 370,000 congregations cut energy use by just 20%. With this saving, we can support Virginia Interfaith Power and Light’s https://vaipl.org/energy-justice/ efforts to prioritize clean, affordable energy for all Virginians and respond to the experiences and challenges of energy burden and access. Congregations can also become a Solar Sanctuary https://faithforclimate.org/solar-sanctuaries/ in partnership with the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, which is seeking to build resilience hubs across Virginia — with solar and battery backup systems keeping the lights on, refrigerators cooling food, and HVAC systems running — faith buildings can become a refuge for all who require shelter and sustenance during times of need and extreme weather events.
Join us today in building a movement for Climate Justice across Virginia as we take steps to be good stewards of God’s energy resources, cut emissions, and share the light of God’s grace, hope, and love for all people and creation. Please let me know if you have questions about becoming a Climate Just Congregation.
Please contact me, Brian Christoffersen, Creation Justice Team Lead, VAUMC Board of Church and Society. [email protected]