There is no single way to be a leader in EcoFaith Recovery. Different leaders from different contexts living in different parts of the country choose to live out their faith in the public arena in different ways. Rev. Janet Parker, Senior Minister of First Congregational United Church of Christ reflects below upon the ways she and nearly 30 other clergy were led to put their faith into action yesterday. 

Dear EcoFaith leaders,

EcoFaith leaders Rev. Janet Parker and Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin with Rev. E.D. Mondaine, president of the Portland NAACP

I hope you will take a few moments to read the article at this link to see what EcoFaith leaders were up to [yesterday] morning. With Pastor E.D. Mondaine leading the way, Pastor Solveig Nilsen-Goodin and I delivered a letter signed by nearly 30 clergy and faith leaders to the Portland Business Alliance (PBA). The letter requests that the PBA, which has been funding the opposition to the Portland Clean Energy Initiative (PCEI), cease their efforts to defeat the Initiative at the ballot box.

For me, the event was deeply inspiring and energizing.  I have been feeling overwhelmed and sometimes pretty hopeless and despairing about the state of our democracy and our political system. Sometimes I feel that nothing I can do is big enough to make a difference. But a couple of weeks ago, at a public gathering organized by EcoFaith leaders and First Unitarian Church to support PCEI, I stood up and asked a simple question–what more could clergy do together in support of the initiative ?  Of course, I should have known that I would then be asked to help lead such an effort! Although at times I felt like I had taken on more than I could chew, once a team formed and began to ACT TOGETHER (Practice for Awakening Leadership 5), I felt like I had to keep going with this because now I was accountable to others and we were all in it together.

As we worked together on the letter, we developed relationships (Practice 2) that enabled us to ACT TOGETHER.  Meeting in the lobby of the office building where PBA headquarters is located yesterday morning, we took time to ACCESS SPIRITUAL POWER (Practice 1), and prepare to act before going forward with the plan. Surprised to find ourselves locked out of the PBA offices (see Portland Mercury article here), we delivered our message in front of their locked doors and convened again in the lobby to REFLECT ON OUR ACTIONS (Practice 6).

I came away from this whole process feeling energized and more hopeful than I’ve felt in a long time about the power of our faith and the power of the people to make a difference.  I hope you’ll find this story inspiring as you dare to raise your voice, to ask a simple question, to write a letter, to vote, and to take whatever small steps you can take every day for the sake of justice for all creation, including our whole human family.

Onwards we go,

Janet Parker
Senior Minister
First Congregational UCC

***

LETTER THAT WAS PRESENTED FROM THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

To the Portland Business Alliance:

We, the undersigned Faith leaders throughout Portland, call upon the Portland Business Alliance to
immediately cease opposition to the Portland Clean Energy Initiative, and to cease actively raising
money to spend on opposition advertising. We urge you to reflect deeply on why you are opposing
this community-generated solution that aims to address historic inequities, our city’s growing
wealth inequality and the crisis of climate change. The faith traditions we serve call us to preserve
the earth for future generations while caring for the poor and disadvantaged. This Initiative enables our
city to answer this call.

Cities all over the world are taking the lead in responding to climate change. In the United States, over
1,000 mayors (including Portland’s) have signed the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement. The
erosion of climate and human rights policies at the federal level have made it painfully clear that we
cannot expect action on climate issues. The Portland Clean Energy Initiative is an opportunity for
Portland to become a national model for taking proactive measures to fight climate change, while
providing major new economic opportunities for low-income neighborhoods and communities of color,
because when historically disadvantaged communities thrive, everyone thrives.

We are well-aware of the corporate windfall resulting from the tax bill this past year. You and your
businesses may even be giving to charitable causes more than ever as a result. Let us be clear: charity
alone will not transition our city, state, or country to a sustainable and green economy. Charity alone
will not make Portland a city in which businesses small and large can prosper. And charity alone will not
protect our children and grandchildren’s future.

The Portland Clean Energy Initiative is not about charity. It is a mechanism through which billion-dollar
corporations can translate just 1% of their corporate revenue into community investments —
investments that will empower Portland’s neighborhoods to proactively address the climate crisis and
build resilience.

You have claimed that the objective of the Portland Clean Energy Initiative is admirable, but that this is
the wrong mechanism at the wrong time. On the contrary. We stand firmly in the conviction that this
Initiative has come at exactly the right time. It is the right time to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
It is the right time for significant, ongoing investment in a just energy transition. And it is the right time
for Portland’s business community leadership to stand up for Portland’s frontline community leadership,
rather than standing against it.

We, as faith leaders, stand with and stand for Portland’s frontline communities — communities of color
and low-income communities that experience injustice and inequity first and worst. Your immediate
withdrawal of all opposition to the Portland Clean Energy Initiative, and your immediate cessation of
raising money to spend on opposition advertising, will be a clear sign that you stand with us; that you
stand with the frontline communities, that you stand with the entire Portland community, and that you
stand with your children and grandchildren, for the sake of a livable and vibrant future for us all.

Signed,
Rev. E.D. Mondaine
Dr. Allen Buck, Pastor, Great Spirit Native American Fellowship/United Methodist Church
Rev. W. J. Mark Knutson, Senior Pastor, Augustana Lutheran Church
Rabbi Debra Kolodny, Portland’s UnShul and As the Spirit Moves Us
Rev. Dr. Janet L. Parker, Senior Minister, First Congregational United Church of Christ
Rev Dr. Amanda Zentz-Alo, Central Lutheran Church
Pastor David Knapp, St. James Lutheran Church
Rev. Erin Martin, Columbia District Superintendent for the United Methodist Church
Rev. Christine M. Core, Bethel Lutheran Church
Rev. Dr. William Sinkford, Sr. Minister, First Unitarian Church
Rev. Christine M. Core, Bethel Lutheran Church
Rev. Robyn Hartwig, Pastor/Organizer, EcoFaith Recovery
Deacon Sue Best, Augustana Lutheran Church
Rev. Sarah Kinsel, Pastor, Peace Church of the Brethren
Rev. Christopher Craun, St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church
Mr. Peter Sergienko, GreenFaith Fellow and Green Team Chair, St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church
Rev. Suzan Ireland, Retired Presbyterian Pastor
Rev. Ron Werner, Jr., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Alys Allwardt, lay leader, Pilgrim Lutheran Church (ELCA)
Rev. Dr. Daniel L. Brunner, Professor, Ecotheological Author, Lutheran Pastor
Damon Motz-Storey, Board Director, Quaker Voluntary Service, Religious Society of Friends
Rev. Michael Grogan, United Church of Christ
Rev. Gary Grafwallner, ELCA pastor
Rev. Lynne Smouse López, Ainsworth United Church of Christ
Rev. Michael R. Grogan, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), United Church of Christ
Rev. Melissa O. Reed, Salt and Light Lutheran Church
Rev. Elizabeth Durant, Assistant Minister, First Congregational United Church of Christ
Rabbi Ariel Stone, Congregation Shir Tikvah
The Faith Leaders of the Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Contact: Damon Motz-Storey, 303.913.5634, damon@oregonpsr.org 

Portland Business Alliance Locks Out Faith Leaders Issuing Moral Call to Stop Opposing Measure 26-201, the Portland Clean Energy Initiative

Portland, OR – Over 25 faith leaders signed a letter delivered today to the offices of the Portland Business Alliance issuing a moral call to stop backing the opposition to Measure 26-201, the Portland Clean Energy Initiative. In response, the Portland Business Alliance locked faith leaders out of their office and all office staff vacated the front office. Security asked the faith leaders to leave the building where the Portland Business Alliance is housed. They walked away from the office front door to a common area. Security reiterated that we were being asked to leave the building, which they refused to do as they were paying customers of a café in 200 SW Market St.

“When I arrived earlier in the morning, the Portland Business Alliance office was unlocked and the receptionist spoke with me. When I returned at 9:30am with my colleagues to deliver our moral call, the office was locked and staff were hiding from sight,” said Reverend E.D. Mondainé of the Celebration Tabernacle Church and President of the NAACP Portland Branch. “What kind of an organization does this to our city’s ministers and pastors? Building security unlawfully asked me and my colleagues to leave the building where we were paying customers. Voters should see this as proof that the Portland Business Alliance is out of touch with the people of Portland.”

“I was surprised and disappointed that the Portland Business Alliance locked their doors to three clergy members. What are they afraid of?” said Rev. Dr. Janet Parker, Senior Minister of the First Congregational United Church of Christ. “We want them to support small businesses and business leaders from frontline communities that are working to provide cost savings, clean energy and resilience to their neighborhoods. Our doors are open to President Andrew Hoan and the PBA whenever they would like to come together and discuss common values and concerns that affect the Portland community we all love.”

The letter delivered was signed by a long list of faith leaders from a wide range of faiths and denominations. “We urge you to reflect deeply on why you are opposing this community-generated solution that aims to address historic inequities, our city’s growing wealth inequality and the crisis of climate change,” reads the letter. “We, as faith leaders, stand with and stand for Portland’s frontline communities — communities of color and low-income communities that experience injustice and inequity first and worst.”

The Portland Clean Energy Initiative (Measure 26-201) is a city ballot measure that would raise $30 million every year for renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean energy job training, and urban green spaces by enacting a 1% business license surcharge on billion-dollar retailers. The measure has been endorsed by Business for a Better Portland, Main Street Alliance of Portland, and dozens of small businesses, including restaurateurs. Over two-hundred community-based organizations, institutions, neighborhoods, and community leaders have joined the coalition to support this measure due to its benefits for low-income Portlanders, including good jobs, utility bill savings, healthier homes, and local economic development.

For more information about Measure 26-201, please visit portlandcleanenergyinitiative.com. For a full list of endorsements, click here.

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Acting Together to Rekindle our Hope: by EcoFaith leader Rev. Dr. Janet Parker, Senior Minister of First Congregational United Church of Christ, Portland, Oregon

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