Alaska Interfaith Power and Light Builds Coalitions to Save Our Common Home

26 February 2018, 2:52 PM

URI North America is thrilled to welcome one of our newest Cooperation Circles. We know that we are stronger together!

Alaska Interfaith Power and Light members hold banner and signs.

ALASKA INTERFAITH POWER & LIGHT, Juneau, AK

Interfaith Power & Light responds to climate change by promoting energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and the wise use of Earth’s resources. We want to educate people about global warming with a goal of helping the city and borough of Juneau adopt a plan to reduce its greenhouse gases by 80%.

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Alaska Interfaith Power and Light [AIPL] shows us that you can still make big things happen, even when you are small. With meager beginnings and the power of a dream, Travis Montgomery along with Uyanga “Angie” Mendbayar and a small group of residents in Juneau, Alaska set out to make a difference.

Montgomery’s passion is hard to miss as he describes why AIPL was formed, “We felt the call to respond to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. We believe it is so important to protect the earth’s ecosystems, safeguard the health of all Creation, and ensure sufficient, sustainable energy for all.”

Now they have congregations Episcopal, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Jewish, Buddhist, Presbyterian, and Catholic houses of worship involved. Montgomery’s vision is clear, “All faiths have basic tenets regarding the responsibility to take care of creation. By building bridges of understanding between all faiths, we are a more united voice and have greater impact.”

“We bring the voice of the faith community into the policy-making arena,” he shared. “We know that our actions alone cannot stem the tide of climate change – we need to enact public policies to advance clean energy and to limit carbon pollution.”

Specifically, the group is focused on addressing the call from within their spiritual traditions to advocate on behalf of the most vulnerable members of society.

“As people of faith, our mission includes being advocates for vulnerable people and communities that are the most heavily impacted by climate change. From air pollution to droughts to rising seas, it is poor people who are being hit first and worst by global warming. Our goal is to ensure that climate policies provide adaptation and mitigation support for communities, domestically and internationally whose health and survival is at stake. This goal can be uniquely supported by the coalition that AIPL is building. “Interfaith work is an asset and that helps us make sure that all people can participate in and benefit from the growing clean energy economy,” he said.

Save Our Common Home banner Interfaith Power and Light

After 18 months of passionate hard work, AIPL decided they were ready for their next stage and decided to become a Cooperation Circle with the United Religions Initiative.

“We feel it will be valuable to be part of the global network URI and to be able to share our work with others but also be part of continuous learning, too, especially around environmental issues and our moral response to global warming.” The group’s firm grasp of URI’s Preamble, Purpose and Principles made them a perfect fit for URI. They especially appreciated URI’s Principle #10: “We act from sound ecological practices to protect and preserve the Earth for both present and future generations.”

“We foresee URI benefitting our group by offering a global network that will provide our group with inspiration and ideas. We foresee our group benefitting URI by sharing Alaskan perspectives of climate change while we are seeing some of the fasting warming in the world and seeing some of the greatest impacts from climate change,” added Montgomery.

What does the future hold for Alaska Interfaith Power & Light? They plan to start steering committees in Juneau, Anchorage, and other regions of Alaska.

Montgomery envisions their future to be bright, “We plan to have a board made up of clergy from various regions of Alaska. We envision that diverse members of our CC will meet frequently to promote peace, justice, and healing for the Earth. We envision that all members of our CC will be invited to share faith reflections at our CC meetings.”

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If you would like to know more about Alaska Interfaith Power and Light’s work and how you can get involved, contact Travis Montgomery at alaskainterfaithpower@uri.org.

This piece was written by URI North America Storytelling Intern Robyn Lebron. You can read more of her work here.

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