In the spring of 2011, several advocates for addressing the climate change problem came together during visits with Delaware’s
two senators. Agreeing that more needed to be done and noticing that there was no faith-based contingent
of climate advocates in Delaware, the decision was made to approach the national Interfaith Power and Light group to form a state affiliate in Delaware.
Led by retired IT executive, John Sykes, an organizing team was formed that was comprised of several clergy, an attorney, an architect, financial consultant, IT professional, and a social worker. Having received encouragement from national IPL, the team expanded and began the work of creating a religious non-profit focus on addressing the causes and effects of global warming. With the acceptance into national IPL's network of affiliates and following a project plan, we created the basic infrastructure for the formation of Delaware Interfaith Power & Light (DeIPL). In December of 2011, the IRS awarded DeIPL its non-profit status of 501c3.
The communications team created a website, Facebook and Twitter accounts, while the service creation team adopted services from national IPL. Armed with newly created flyers and presentations, we began to recruit congregations to join DeIPL, the first being the Unitarian Universalist of Southern Delaware. Additional congregations were added from southern Delaware, Kent County, and the Wilmington area. This included six houses of faith from a group working on climate change called New Castle County Congregations, or NC3. Our inaugural service was held at Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington and attended by the president of national Interfaith Power and Light, the Reverend Canon Sally Bingham.
In 2013, we began to address the terrible effects of extreme heat waves, specifically in the areas of forecasting and community response. Partnering with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and a climate scientist from the University of Miami, the Heat Health Warning System (HHWS) was funded to radically increase forecasting capability for all of Delaware. Coordination meetings were held in Wilmington inner city neighborhoods to help prepare for the heat waves that will be forecast by the National Weather Service using HHWS. This included working with block captains, community center leaders, and faith leaders in the community known as West Center City.
Partnering with Temple United Church in Wilmington, Delmarva Power and Light, and the Presbyterian church, the Green Empowerment Program was created to assist inner city residents to lower energy costs. This included providing workshops for energy saving education, distributing ECOkits of energy saving devices such as CFL’s, low flow shower heads and caulking to reduce heat leakage. Following an energy audit, funding was secured to help weatherize Temple United Church, including energy efficient lighting, programmable thermostats, and the application of reflective paint for white roofs. Along with additional insulation installed, the energy costs for the church were reduced by approximately 50%.
Programming, outreach, partnerships, and advocacy have continued to expand over the years. Environmental Justice has become an ever-increasing concern. Current signature programs include Faith Efficiencies, Climate Conversations, Windows of Hope, and Sacred Grounds.