Six Congregations Win National Award for Climate Leadership

Feb 28, 2023 | Press Releases |

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

OAKLAND, Calif., February 28, 2023 — Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) today announced the six national 2023 Cool Congregations Challenge winners. The annual contest awards religious congregations around the United States for outstanding efforts to addressing climate change in their facilities by reducing their carbon footprint and creating models of sustainability within their communities. 

Winners were selected from 150 entries across six categories: Community Inspiration, Cool Planner, Electric Vehicle Leader, Energy Saver, Renewable Role Model, and Sacred Grounds Steward. Together they are preventing 1300 tons of carbon emissions annually. “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: an ambitious plan to go zero emissions by a church in Michigan that has already reduced by 20%, an EV demo day that drew hundreds and inspired the city of Indianapolis to start offering EV demo days, a tiny congregation’s locally grown veggie delivery to a food desert in Tennessee, a courageous 17 year long upgrade project that cut energy use by 60% in Vermont, a small Laudato Si committee that convinced the parish to install solar, then changed the diocesan attitude, creating a climate action plan for the entire diocese serving 100 churches in California, and a project in North Carolina  that transformed a traditional church lawn into a wildlife haven and organic vegetable garden serving their food pantry.

Each inspiring winner will receive a $1,000 prize. Three runners up in each category will also receive a $500 prize. See the list of winning congregations below and read more at https://www.coolcongregations.org/2023-challenge-winners/

 “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. In some cases, like our runner up in New Jersey, 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 up to the challenge! 

 www.interfaithpowerandlight.org Twitter: #CoolCongregations @interfaithpower   Facebook: facebook.com/interfaithpowerandlight

Listed below are the six $1,000 prize-winners by Category:

Community Inspiration 🙏🏽

Battlefield Farm/New Harvest Fellowship

417 N. Castle Street, Knoxville TN 37914

Contact: Courtney Shea



Energy Saver 💡

Ascension Lutheran Church

95 Allen Rd., South Burlington, VT 05403

Contact: Richard Butz



Renewable Role Model ☀️

St. Anthony Catholic Parish

660 Florin Road, Sacramento CA 95831

Contact: Kim-Son Ziegler



Sacred Grounds 🌳

Grace Church in the Mountains

394 N. Haywood St., Waynesville NC 28721

Contact: Mary Alice Lodico



Electric Vehicle Leader

St. Luke’s Methodist Church

100 W 86th Street, Indianapolis IN  46260

Contact: Audrey Detrick



Cool Congregations Planner 📋

People’s Church of Kalamazoo

1758 N. 10th St., Kalamazoo MI 49009

Contact: Tom Hackley




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

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