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DeIPL Story

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 executive John Sykes, an organizing team was formed that was comprised of several clergy, an attorney, an architect, financial consultant, and IT professional, and a social worker. Having received encouragement from national IPL, the team expanded and began the work of creating a religious nonprofit focus on addressing the causes and effects of global warming. With the acceptance into nationals IPL's network of affiliates and following a project plan, we created the basic infrastructure for the formation of Delaware Interfaith Power and Light (DeIPL). In December of 2011, the IRS awarded DeIPL its nonprofit 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 called the New Castle County Churches for Climate Change or NC3. Our inaugural service was held at Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington and attended by the president of national Interfaith Power and Light Reverend Cannon 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 LED’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 was reduced by approximately 50%.

In partnership with the Delaware sustainable energy utility, several additional services were created and deployed across Delaware with the intent of both saving energy and providing for education about climate change. These programs are Windows of Hope, Faith Efficiencies with Creation Care kiosks, Climate Conversations, and Sacred Grounds.