Announcing the 2022 Cool Congregations Challenge Winners!

Feb 28, 2022 | Blog

Congratulations to the 2022 Cool Congregations Challenge Winners and Runners Up! 

The Cool Congregations Challenge shows that people of faith are united by concerns about climate change and are taking action. The winners provide strong moral role models for their communities, and their activities have a ripple effect with people in their own homes.  

The annual contest accepts applications from religious congregations around the United States who are doing work to address global warming by reducing their carbon footprint as they create models of sustainability within their communities. The judges remarked that there were so many excellent submissions this year that it was difficult to choose!

NEW this year – Electric Vehicle Leader category for congregations that are encouraging adoption of electric vehicles. AND thanks to a generous donor IPL is able to offer a $1,500 prize for the top winner in each category and a $500 prize each of 12 Runner Ups!

There are six national Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) 2022 Cool Congregations Challenge winners and twelve Runners Up. Read their entire stories here.


The Neighborhood United Church of Christ in Bath, Maine is the 2022 winner of the Community Inspiration category for their persistence in successfully persuading the city to update code to allow solar installations in the historic district of their community. Once the code was updated, they were able to install solar on their historic building.


La Mesa United Methodist Church in La Mesa, California is the 2022 winner of the Renewable Role Model category for their courage as a small group of people with a large historic building to successfully persuade the congregation that was declining in numbers to take on a large loan to install solar.  The financial payback will be reached in only seven years and the congregation is now able to turn funds towards other energy saving upgrades to their facility and additional outreach to their community.


St. John’s United Methodist Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico is the 2022 winner of the Sacred Grounds Steward category for their newly constructed food gardens that feed over 500 food-insecure adults and children each month, and their educational outreach to their neighborhood.


Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ in Arlington, Virginia is the 2022 winner of the Energy Saver category of  Interfaith Power & Light’s Cool Congregations Challenge for their work to become a net zero campus through energy saving measures and for their educational outreach to their congregation and the wider community.


Kidane Mehret Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Tucson, Arizona is the 2022 winner of the Cool Planner category for their plans to beautify and cool their neighborhood with newly planted trees and build food gardens to serve the food insecure in their neighborhood.


Temple B’nai Israel in Kalamazoo, Michigan is the 2022 winner of the new Electric Vehicle Leader category for their efforts to educate about the benefits of adopting electric vehicles.


These congregations also had inspiring projects and were awarded $500 each.


Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Wyoming Valley, PA 

Camino de Vida Ministerio, NM


Peninsula Sinai Congregation, CA

Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, MD


Resurrection University Catholic Parish, MT

Islamic Center of Evansville, IN


All Saints’ Episcopal Church, CA

First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, MN


First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta, OH

King of Glory Lutheran, AZ


Oak Grove Presbyterian, MN

Grace Christian Reformed Church, MI

Read more about the Runners Up here

 “The national winning congregations are casting a vision for the kind of world in which they want to live, and then carrying out that vision with practical actions that make a real difference in creating lasting solutions to climate change,” said Rev. Susan Hendershot, President of Interfaith Power & Light. 

IPL encourages congregations completing projects or plans in 2020, 2021, 2022 to apply for next year’s Cool Congregations Challenge by December 15, 2022. Learn more here.

Thanks to our expert panel of judges this year! By category they are:  Community Inspiration: Ashaki Scott, IPL National Office Manager and Program Assistant and Rev. Veronica Johnson, Outreach Director for Faith in Place, our Illinois IPL affiliate. Energy Saver: Ryan Snow, Director, Market Transformation + Development at the U.S. Green Building Council and Thasin Sardar, Architect and member of the East Lansing Islamic Center. Renewable Role Model:Jerry Bernstein, Special Projects Coordinator and Dara Bortman, Board Chair of the American Solar Energy Society. Sacred Grounds:  Carla Ellern, IPL DMV supporter, Registered Landscape Architect with Lila Fendrick Landscape Architects, member of American Society of Landscape Architects and a LEED AP (Accredited Professional) BD+C and Rev. David Gill, retired Director of Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center in Arkansas. Cool Planner: Jerry Lawson, National Manager of the EPA Energy Star for Congregations, and Mikelann Scerbo, DC Sustainable Energy Utility. Electric Vehicle Leader: Pastor Joel and Susan Almono, Massachusetts IPL, Vanessa Morelan and Alexis Blomqvist from EV Hybrid Noire, the nation’s largest network of diverse electric vehicle drivers and enthusiasts.

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