Six Congregations Win National Award for Climate Leadership

Feb 28, 2022 | Press Releases

Innovative projects installed solar, upgraded church facilities, adopted EVs, and restored native habitat

OAKLAND, Calif., February 28, 2022 — Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) today announced the six national 2022 Cool Congregations Challenge winners. The annual contest awards religious congregations around the United States for outstanding efforts to addressing global warming in their facilities by reducing their carbon footprint and creating models of sustainability within their communities. This year’s contest included a new category for Electric Vehicle Leader and increased prize money for congregations.

Winners were selected from 77 entries across six categories: Cool Planner, Sacred Grounds Steward, Energy Saver, Renewable Role Model, Electric Vehicle Leader, and Community Inspiration. “The Cool Congregations Challenge winners this year undertook a wide range of creative and inspiring projects to care for Creation and promote climate justice in their communities,” said Rev. Susan Hendershot, IPL president.

Winners included: a successful advocacy effort to amend city zoning to allow rooftop solar on their own and others’ buildings in an historic town in Maine, an electric vehicle “roadshow” and EV charging stations at a Jewish temple in Michigan, a “net zero” church in Virginia, a solar installation at an historic Hispanic church in California, a huge food garden to serve the food insecure in New Mexico, and cooling church property with newly planted trees and community gardens at an Eritrean Refugee Church in Arizona.

Each inspiring winner will receive a $1,500 prize. Two runners up in each category will also receive a $500 prize. See the list of winning congregations below and read more at https://bit.ly/2022CCWinners

 “These six 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. Hendershot. 

The Cool Congregations Challenge shows that people of faith are united by concerns about climate change and are taking action – with or without support of government policies. In some cases, like our winner in Maine, they are changing local government policies to be more supportive of renewable energy. The winners provide strong role models for their communities, and their activities have a ripple effect, demonstrating that acting on climate is a moral issue. 

Interfaith Power & Light’s mission is to inspire and mobilize people of faith and conscience to take bold and just action on climate change. These congregational winners prove that the faith community is up to the challenge!  www.interfaithpowerandlight.org Twitter: #CoolCongregations @interfaithpower   Facebook: facebook.com/interfaithpowerandlight

Listed below are the six $1,500 prize-winners by Category:

Community Inspiration 🙏🏽

Neighborhood UCC

798 Washington St. Bath, ME 04530

Contact: Sam Saltonstall


(207) 838-9843

Energy Saver 💡

Rock Spring Congregational UCC

5010 Little Falls Road Arlington, VA 22207

Contact: Laura Martin


(202) 262-2320

Renewable Role Model ☀️

La Mesa First United Methodist Church

4690 Palm Avenue La Mesa, CA 91941

Contact: Debbie McDaniel-Lindsey


(310) 254-0391

Sacred Grounds 🌳

St. John’s United Methodist Church 

2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110

Contact: Tim Nuzum


(505) 220-5662

Electric Vehicle Leader

Temple B’nai Israel

4409 Grand Prairie Road Kalamazoo, MI 49006

Contact: Steve Bertman


(269) 370-1308

Cool Congregations Planner 📋

Kidane Mehret Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church

144 West Rillito Street Tucson, AZ 85705

Contact: Danielle Corbett




To arrange interviews with any of the congregational winners or runners up, please contact Sarah Paulos at sarahp@interfaithpowerandlight.org

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