GreenFaith is an international, interfaith environmental NGO — one of the oldest organizations of its kind in the world. We have a long history of working with diverse religious and spiritual communities, educating about the moral and sacred basis for protecting the environment, helping these communities green their operations, and mobilizing passionate people for environmental advocacy and campaigns. Since 1992, we have worked with spiritual and religious communities representing diverse traditions and cultures around the world.
Our work began in the early 1990s when Christian and Jewish clergy and laity in New Jersey — inspired, in part, by the 1992 Rio Earth Summit — founded a volunteer group to bring faith leaders together to discuss environmental issues. These early leaders organized a gathering of faith, environmental, business and university representatives to exchange perspectives at a conference entitled Partners for Environmental Quality (PEQ), which led to the creation of a group by the same name. The group’s early work centered on conducting environmental education at each other’s houses of worship, and facilitating conversations with environmental organizations.
In the early 2000’s, for the first time, it became possible for New Jersey residents to purchase their electricity from a renewable energy provider. PEQ promoted this opportunity among faith communities, and signed up more than 250 households and several dozen houses of worship to receive their energy from green sources. During this time, PEQ also started receiving funding to conduct energy audits that enabled faith-based facilities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions … work that we continue to this day.
In 2004, we changed our name to GreenFaith. We partnered with an innovative solar developer to facilitate the installation of solar arrays on 25 faith-based sites around New Jersey, which represented the largest faith-based solar initiative in the country at the time. We also began partnering with community groups in the city of Newark to offer environmental justice (EJ) tours, educating people of faith about the disproportionate impact of pollution on low-income communities and communities of color. Our commitment to environmental justice issues led GreenFaith to serve as a plaintiff in two EJ lawsuits that successfully increased environmental protections in Newark, as well as to advocate for reductions in diesel emissions at the state level.
Much has changed since our work began in 1992. Faith and spiritual communities around the world are more environmentally active than ever before. In response, we have embarked on a new chapter of our history by supporting the development of GreenFaith Circles, local formations which empower people of faith to build relationships, leadership skills, and power for environmental stewardship and justice. Within each Circle, a GreenFaith Organizer convenes representatives from five or more faith communities to help put their beliefs into action for the Earth. We are working together with interested partners in different locations to provide organizing training, a community of practice, and resources for the development of new Circles.
In addition to our trainings and campaigns, GreenFaith also supports the development of cutting-edge religious environmental efforts. With Drew Theological School, we manage the Green Seminary Initiative, which equips seminaries, divinity schools, and other training programs to integrate the environment into their education of future religious leaders. With the Oxford Center for Hindu Studies, we manage the Bhumi Project, a global Hindu environmental initiative, and we co-sponsor the Global Muslim Climate Network.
We are one human family, sharing a common home. GreenFaith is proud to play a leading role in educating, inspiring, and organizing diverse faith communities for environmental action. Our members are resisting environmental degradation, generating respect for Earth’s sacredness, building an economy that sustains both people and the planet, and rising as a multi-faith human community. We seek to accomplish all our work in a just, compassionate, sustainable, and spirit-filled manner. We hope you will join us.
Increasingly, as faith leaders across the US saw us carrying out a unique combination of environmental initiatives, we started receiving requests for training and support. In response, we created the GreenFaith Fellowship Program – the world’s longest-running interfaith environmental education and training program. Over the past decade, we have educated between 20-30 Fellows annually, with many serving as leaders of the religious-environmental movement around the US. In 2010, we launched our congregational certification program, a two-year process that transformed congregations into environmental leaders by integrating environmental care into their liturgy, education, facility management, and social engagement. We have also partnered with six national denominations to help their member congregations become “GreenFaith Sanctuaries”.
In 2011, with progress on climate change stalled at the national and international levels, we were an early partner in an ambitious campaign to press investors to divest from fossil fuel holdings and to invest in renewable energy. We provided resources, thought leadership, and support for divestment campaigns in numerous denominations nationally and internationally, helping make the faith sector a global leader in divestment commitments by number of institutions. We are now serving as a founding partner of Shine, a new faith-philanthropy-development campaign to promote mission-based investments in renewable energy development in energy-poor regions of the world.
In September 2014, with the eyes of the world on a UN climate summit in NYC, we led the organizing of faith communities for the Peoples Climate March, which brought 400,000 people into the streets of New York to call for climate action. More than 15,000 people of faith took part that day in what remains the single largest religious-environmental mobilization ever.
As the pivotal 2015 Paris climate negotiations approached, we dramatically increased the scope of our international work through Our Voices, a global, interfaith campaign in support of a climate agreement. We organized a march into St. Peter’s Square to thank Pope Francis for his historic encyclical, as well as an epic Pilgrimage to Paris in which climate leader Yeb Sano and 20 multi-faith pilgrims walked from Rome and arrived in Paris at the time of the climate talks, with hundreds of smaller “pop-up” pilgrimages taking place around the world. We also extended our education and training efforts to engage millennials of diverse faiths through Convergences in Rome, New Orleans, and Rio de Janeiro, which reached more than 200 emerging faith leaders over two years.