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Interfaith Network for Earth Concerns (INEC)


Abstract

The Interfaith Network for Earth Concerns (INEC) is the environmental ministry arm of the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO), a statewide association of seventeen Christian denominations dedicated to building just communities through theological education and dialogue, advocacy, and community ministry. As the environmental body of EMO, INEC promotes ecological stewardship in Oregon’s religious communities, focusing on energy and climate change, food sustainability, environmental justice, global warming, and watershed stewardship in particular. INEC sponsors conferences, forums, and workshops; promotes interdenominational and inter-religious dialogue about environmental issues; links environmental and religious groups; supports the development of earth ministry programs within congregations; and offers a congregational liaison program. INEC works to mobilize the religious community around climate change through the Oregon Interfaith Global Warming Campaign and the Oregon Interfaith Power and Light project, which help individuals and congregations increase their energy efficiency and switch to renewable energy sources. As part of the Power and Light program, congregations receive donations for every one of their members who signs up for renewable energy. Through its food sustainability initiative, INEC educates congregations about food, faith, and sustainability and assists them in developing community food security ministries. This initiative has involved the development of a food policy council for Portland, the publication of Portland’s Bounty, a Guide to Eating Locally and Seasonally in the Portland Area, and the establishment of a community garden at EMO’s Patton Home, a facility for people with low-incomes in North Portland.

INEC has also served as a consultant to national programs, such as the Eco-Justice Working Group of the National Council of Churches (NCC), and has completed two projects aimed at increasing the effectiveness of, and providing greater support for, clergy and laity who provide environmental leadership and serve as resources for their denomination on a regional basis. It has performed research aimed at increasing opportunities for continuing education courses in environmental theology for pastors and distributes resources on environmental issues to congregations. In addition to its programs and campaigns, INEC publishes a semi-annual newsletter called Eco-Ministry News and an electronic newsletter, Eco-Notes. INEC has worked with more than 110 congregations in Oregon since its founding.

Religion Inter-religious
Geographic Location United States of America
(Oregon, with connections in Washington, Montana, and Idaho)
Duration of Project 1992–Present
History

The Interfaith Network for Earth Concerns (INEC) was established by Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO) in 1992 to connect, inform, and empower individuals, congregations, and religious institutions to work for justice and care of the Earth. The need for such a network emerged out of lay leaders’ efforts to engage faith communities in a Portland Town Hall meeting leading up to the 1993 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. One of INEC’s first tasks was to seek out religious people concerned about the environment through gatherings and an initial survey. One of its earliest public events was a conference entitled “Ethics, Economics, and Endangered Species” in 1995, which brought people of different viewpoints together to explore the issue of endangered species legislation before a vote in congress on the reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act. In November 1996, following these discussions, INEC hosted a visit from then United States Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt, who met with local religious leaders to explore the moral and religious basis for species protection.

When David Leslie became Director of EMO in 1997, the decision was made to affirm and expand INEC. Its first staff person, current Program Director Jenny Holmes, was hired in 1998. INEC was a founding member of the Coalition for a Livable Future’s Religious Working Group and played a lead role in organizing a series of roundtables and a culminating summit on mobilizing faith communities in Portland to address issues pertaining to Metro livability and land use. INEC also sponsored a series of conferences on food security, ethics, and sustainability called, “A Place at the Table,” and published two editions of Portland’s Bounty in 1999 and 2001, respectively. In 1999, INEC began a series of Climate Care workshops in partnership with the Oregon Environmental Council to engage the faith community in efforts to slow global warming. In late 1999, Oregon joined a national interfaith climate change campaign that was initially headed by the National Council of Church of Christ (NCCC) and coordinated by INEC. (In 2002, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment [NRPE] took over coordination of the national campaign.) An October 2000 conference launched the Oregon Interfaith Global Warming Campaign, which sponsored a series of regional conferences on global warming, including two “Cool Congregations” events. In 2002, the Oregon Interfaith Power and Light Project launched an energy efficiency pilot project with eleven congregations, that involved partnering with a sustainable business that purchased carbon offsets through a non-profit that certifies “climate neutral” businesses.

From 1999 to 2001, INEC also organized a series of dialogues on the issue of the breaching of the Snake River Dams and collaborated with the Washington Association of Churches and the Oregon and Washington Lutheran Public Policy Offices to offer two “Day of Moral Deliberation” events on Columbia River issues. These events brought together theologians, barge operators, environmentalists, tribal representatives, scientists, environmentalists, sport and commercial fishers, etc. INEC played a lead role in organizing an ecumenical consultation on the Columbia River Pastoral letter, held in Spokane, WA. In 2003, Sustainable Northwest honored INEC with one of its Founders of a New Northwest awards. Along with other award recipients, INEC was profiled in a book published by Sustainable Northwest in May of 2003.

Mission Statement INEC’s mission is to connect, inform and empower individuals and congregations to work for justice and the care and renewal of the earth.
Partner Organizations

The seventeen members of EMO include:

African Methodist Episcopal Church
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
American Baptist Churches
Disciples of Christ (Oregon)
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Church of the Brethren
Community of Christ
Episcopal Dioceses of Oregon
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Greek Orthodox Church
Presbytery of the Cascades
Religious Society of Friends
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland
United Church of Christ
Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches
United Methodist Church.

INEC regularly collaborates with:

Montana Association of Churches
National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE)
Northwest Climate Connections
Oregon Environmental Council
Northwest Jewish Environmental Project
Washington Association of Churches.

Other partnering faith groups include:

Unitarian Universalists
Northwest Yearly Meeting (Quaker)
Muslim and Unity congregations
Other congregations

Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information Interfaith Network for Earth Concerns
0245 SW Bancroft St., Suite B
Portland, OR 97239
Ph:       503.221.1054, ext. 278
Fax:      503.223.7007
Email: (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)