In September of 2005, Rev. Sally Bingham, director and founder of The Regeneration Project and Interfaith Power & Light, presented at the annual meeting of the Iowa Environmental Council. Bingham met with Tim Kautza, then coordinator of the Iowa Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign through the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and invited him to apply for a seed grant to establish Iowa Interfaith Power and Light.
IIEC was awarded the grant and after much planning, organizing, and fundraising, Iowa IPL publically launched in October of 2006 with Kautza as part-time coordinator. From the beginning, Iowa IIPL has worked to help congregations reduce fossil fuel use, improve energy efficiency, and reduce overall energy use in an effort to mitigate global climate change to protect creation and safeguard public health. Over the last 10 years that work has continued and grown as Iowa IPL has added additional programs and staff members, shared inspiring success stories from households and congregations taking important measures to reduce their energy use, and engaged and trained Iowans to advocate for reducing carbon pollution through the advancement of clean energy policies.
Iowa IPL believes that people of faith are uniquely called to address and find solutions to climate change. When asked what inspired her to be on the Iowa IPL Board, Andi Lewis, current Board President, said, “I believe that a higher power – who I call God – created this amazing planet that I interact with every day. So it is vital that I do whatever I can to care for Earth as an extension of my faith. Iowa IPL understands that ecology is not separate from spirituality, but an extension of that faith.” This marriage, of concern about the climate with upholding one’s faith convictions, is what led Mark Kresowik, former Executive Director, to Iowa IPL. He said, “getting involved in Iowa IPL enabled me to combine my concern about climate disruption with my faith tradition in a way that made very real and concrete improvements in people’s lives and our collective policy choices.”
In 2006, Iowa IPL started with a mailing list of just 300 individuals. Today, Iowa IPL partners with over 350 congregations and reaches 2,200 individuals with our monthly e-newsletters and action alerts. With the help of committed board members, hardworking staff, and passionate volunteers, Iowa IPL has also cultivated a Speakers Bureau, created a full-time Policy position, and formed their first chapter in Dubuque. When asked about significant events and details from Iowa IPL’s distinguished history, Jim Martin-Schramm, former Board President and Director of the Luther College Nottingham Program, listed off the things he’s most proud of:
- Our annual statements by religious leaders in Iowa on climate change.
- The way we have worked so successfully and collaboratively with other advocates for the environment in Iowa.
Our excellent educational programs designed to equip people of faith with the skills, values, and tools they need.
- The religious diversity reflected by the members of our board.
- The quality of our staff and their excellent work.
- Our careful stewardship of the funds entrusted to us by supporters and funders of Iowa IPL.
Iowa IPL’s interactive and prophetic programs have inspired congregations to take action. In the words of Daishin McCabe, Iowa IPL Board Member, “All of our actions are so important. Yet we can easily be overwhelmed with what to do, and freeze up. Iowa IPL encourages us to keep looking and to not lose hope. Everything we do matters.” Each of our unique programs provides individuals and congregations with the tools, resources, and education to do just that – to understand the importance of our everyday actions, to look forward with hope, and to continue seeking solutions to climate change.
We hope you will join us as we continue caring for the Earth, preserving life for future generations, and working to advance clean and renewable energy policies in Iowa.