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National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE)


Abstract Representing a range of Christian and Jewish communities in the United States, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) seeks to incorporate environmental concern into religious life on various levels. NRPE is comprised of four major organizations that together serve more than 100 million Americans: the United States (US) Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the National Council of Churches of Christ (NCCC), the Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), and the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN). The Partnership engages scholars in the task of exploring and publicizing the connections between religious traditions and the environment through conferences and publications. By providing leadership training and congregational resource kits, NRPE helps clergy and lay leaders incorporate care for creation into congregational activities and worship services. Each of the four organizational partners has created and distributed an array of eco-religious materials for use in their respective communities, including resources for sermons, religious education, action committees, and institutional resource management. NRPE initiates and supports advocacy campaigns around topics such as global climate change and energy use, children’s environmental health, biodiversity, and deforestation. It also works to incorporate environmental concerns into the agendas of religion-based social agencies such as Catholic Charities USA, the United Jewish Appeal, and the Association of Evangelical Relief and Development Agencies. In addition to working with leaders of religious institutions, NRPE has held retreats and workshops for leaders of non-religious groups as well, such as labor unions, corporations, and environmental groups. Finally, NRPE has helped publicize the emergence of religious environmentalism by encouraging media coverage of its initiatives in national, local, secular, and religious presses.
Religion Inter-religious: Jewish
Geographic Location United States of America
Duration of Project 1993–Present
History

The National Religious Partnership for the Environment was established in the fall of 1993 to help religious communities in the United States respond to the global environmental crisis. As religious leaders started to recognize the spiritual dimensions of the ecological crisis, they began to call for a faith-based environmentalism that would mobilize the religious community to take better care of the Earth. One catalyst of this emerging environmental awareness was the circulation in 1991 of an “Open Letter to the American Religious Community” written by prominent scientists and Nobel laureate. The letter encouraged religious leaders to address the spiritual and moral dimensions of the ecological crisis and to incorporate environmental awareness into the various dimensions of religious life. Through organizations such as the United States Catholic Conference, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Eco-Justice Working Group of the National Council of Churches, and the evangelical Leaders of World Vision, religious leaders responded by issuing statements and publications and by gathering for discussions about how to proceed. In March of 1992, prominent religious leaders met in the nation’s capital to plan an inter-religious environmental initiative, that resulted in the birth of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) the following fall.

Since 1993, NRPE and its institutional partners have sponsored or facilitated a number of initiatives. Most recently, in November 2002, COEJL and the NCCC launched the Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign. This campaign has educated tens of thousands of people about the need to manufacture and drive vehicles with greater fuel economy. Fuel economy fairs were held in congregations in fifteen states featuring sermons, distribution of educational materials, and displays of hybrid electric automobiles in congregational parking lots following services. An Open Letter to American Automobile Company Executives was signed by more than 100 heads of denominations and senior religious leaders describing fuel economy as a matter of “values, not just vehicles; ethics, not just engineering,” and campaign leaders met with automobile executives and United Auto Workers leaders in a delegation to Detroit, following a press conference releasing the Open Letter. Concurrently, EEN launched a national campaign called “What Would Jesus Drive?”, which focused attention on the need for fuel economy. Other recent initiatives by NRPE partners address children’s environmental health: the Catholic Coalition for Children and a Safe Environment (CASE); EEN’s educational efforts and website; and a four-state campaign on children’s environmental health involving leaders from Women of Reform Judaism and the National Council of Catholic Women in 2001–2002. In addition to these and other recent initiatives, NRPE moved the headquarters of its secretariat from New York to Amherst, Massachusetts in 2002.

Mission Statement “The National Religious Partnership for the Environment seeks to weave care for God’s creation throughout religious life in such a way as to provide inspiration, moral vision, and commitment to social justice for all efforts to protect the natural world and human well-being within it. It calls upon multiple resources to enact a comprehensive vision.”
Partner Organizations Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)
Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN)
National Council of Churches of Christ (NCCC)
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information National Religious Partnership for the Environment
49 South Pleasant Street, Suite 301
Amherst, MA 01002
Ph:       413.253.1515
Fax:     413.253.1414
Email: (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)