The sun shines through the branches of a large willow oak tree on the Rock Spring campus.

Environmental Justice

Called by earth and sky, promise of hope held high

This is our sacred living trust, treasure of Life, sanctified

Called by earth and sky.

~ from Called By Earth and Sky, words and music by Pat Mayberry

 

At Rock Spring, we are called by earth and sky.

We are called by children and the world that they will inherit.

We are called by melting glaciers, by wildfires, by hurricanes.

We are called by drought and climate refugees.

We are called by this moment, to live into climate justice with an urgency and a commitment that names both the pain and promise of this time.

Our commitment to environmental justice in this church goes back decades. The church has celebrated Earth Day with a bio blitz project, teaching about native plants, removing invasive specifics, and cleaning up streams. We’ve hosted energy fairs, conducted energy audits, hosted guest preachers and speakers on environmental issues. We’ve protested in Washington, DC against pipelines, and for the Paris agreement.

Everything we love — the people, animals, places, trees — is at stake with climate change. Rock Spring’s commitment to environmental justice is made real through the following ministries and projects.

Green Accelerator Project (GAP)

When Rock Spring took on a campus renewal project in 2017, the congregation chose to focus a substantial portion of our funds and engagement on two mission projects. One of those is the Green Accelerator Project (GAP). GAP has four components that make up the majority of our current environmental justice work at the church.

Solar Village Project (SVP)

Buy a light and save a life! Rock Spring partners with the Solar Village Project (SVP) to bring low-cost, solar-powered units to homes in developing countries that currently rely on kerosene lanterns, which cause lung disease and burns in children. SVP helps rural households choose clean energy over fossil fuels that exacerbate climate change.

In conjunction with what you can do at home (see more below in the “Greening Our Homes” section), we are asking congregation members to purchase 100% green energy (wind, solar, biomass) from their utility company, and to reduce their carbon footprint with attic insulation, LED bulbs, energy efficient appliances, and electric or hybrid vehicles. Going green not only saves the planet, it saves money. At the end of the year, we are looking for congregation members to donate their energy savings to micro lending proposals by the Solar Village Project, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of reducing energy impact at home while creating a green energy future abroad— and helping close the “gap” between the two.

In addition, Rock Spring has supported solar initiatives in Puerto Rico, including work on three community centers. The work on those centers was completed in February, 2020, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. These community centers were able to be used as solar-powered centers to care for COVID-19 patients.

Environmental Advocacy

What does it look like for our neighborhoods and our states to truly commit to clean energy? How might legislation address the intersection of environmental degradation and racial injustice, and work to create a more just future? The work of GAP includes a commitment to advocacy and action in our communities and our region. Through partners like the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions and Interfaith Power and Light, Rock Spring seeks to amplify and strengthen legislation and response to climate change.

“Greening” Our Homes

There are easy steps all of us can take now, at almost no additional cost, to “green” our homes. We can purchase 100% green energy; we can walk, bike, and take public transit to get where we need to go; and we can replace our traditional lightbulbs with LED bulbs and turn those lights off when they aren’t needed.

There are also steps that have higher up-front costs, but yield great long-term savings such as: choosing an electric car over a gasoline-powered vehicle; increasing attic insulation to R60 and installing a radiant aluminum barrier; and installing e-windows.

Finally, there are large investments that can be made, such as solar panels, that have high up-front costs but allow you to control your own source of energy. But first, see how much you currently spend on energy and transportation.

Set your goal for your annual energy savings: maybe $200 in savings from weather stripping or LEDs, or $2,000 if you buy an electric vehicle. See the GAP Home Energy Guide for more ideas. Keep track of how much you save and consider contributing those savings to solar lighting for rural villages through Solar Village Project or to local projects through EcoAction Arlington.

Eco Action Arlington

Pick up trash from a stream. Become an Energy Master and help people with limited resources reduce their energy costs. Remove invasive plants. Through our partnership with Eco Action Arlington, there are a range of ways to engage in hands-on work in the region, either as an individual or as part of a Rock Spring project.