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Harvesting the Fruit: The Faith Community’s Role in Sharing Information About Exciting New Funding Opportunities!

By December 19, 2022September 18th, 2023No Comments

By Amani Reid and Jeffrey Allen

Amani Reid is ReImagine Appalachia’s Faith in Action Coordinator

The Reimagine Appalachia Faith in Action Team and our partners at the Evangelical Environmental Network recently hosted an event titled, “Harvesting the Fruit! An introduction to new federal opportunities for faith-based nonprofits and houses of worship.”  We are grateful to our guests Jessica Ennis from the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Daniel Bresette, Miguel Yañez-Barnuevo and Molly Brind’Amour from Environmental and Energy Study Institute, and for their participation!

Watch below:

At the event, we also heard from one of our Faith in Action leaders, Jeffrey Allen from the West Virginia Council of Churches. He graced us with his remarks below, and due to popular demand, we are sharing his insightful words about how the faith community can better the environment and help the people we serve. 

So what can the faith community do?

Jeffrey Allen is the Executive Director of the West Virginia Council of Churches

There is a lot of information and it is hard to keep track of it all. There is a real need for a way to have someone act as an intermediary, someone that we can go to ask questions.  There is also a real need for a website where we all can go find this information in a simple format.  ReImagine Appalachia, who has brought us here today, has played a major role in getting the word out and connecting people in Appalachia.  From the faith community’s perspective, we might ask:  “How do we share this information in our congregations, in our communities, and among family, friends, and even strangers?”  “What role can the faith community play?”

I think the faith community can do five things:  Communicate, connect, collaborate, have conversations, and commit.

First, the faith community can communicate. We can pass along information about the Inflation Reduction Act. We can get the word out. We can do this through bulletin inserts. We can post it on our congregation’s websites and Facebook pages.  We can share a story in our newsletters and e-news.  We can hold community meetings and invite people in.

Second, the faith community can connect. We can be a hub for information and for action. We can create a network of experts and contacts who can help answer questions that people might have.  We may not know the answer, but if we know the right person to connect someone to, that is just invaluable.  

We can connect, collaborate, and have conversations with people in our own faith community and across faith communities.  We don’t have to do this on our own. We can work together.  For example, a congregation could create a support group of churches who are having or thinking about having solar panels installed on their roofs.  This group could meet and talk about questions they have, what’s working, and what’s not working.  You could even invite people who are not attending churches to this group.

Another idea might be starting an electric vehicle club or solar panel club in your community. We can be advocates for those being left out of the conversation in our communities. We can add our voices to theirs. We can make sure that everyone is receiving the same information and that everyone is receiving some benefit.  The faith community can commit to building a just transition.  A just transition is not just moving from one type of economy to another in the here and now.  A just transition is also a transition between this generation and the next.  A just transition has everything to do with the world we leave behind for our children.  Parents want their children to have better lives than they did.  It is then a moral imperative that we leave our planet in a better condition that it is currently headed. By 2050, my generation will mostly be gone, but our children and some of the people on this call will still be here. 


Fr. Ken Untener wrote a poem called Prophets of a Future Not Our Own.  Part of the poem reads thus:

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

My hope and my prayer is that the faith community will be remembered as being a leading force for change for a just and environmentally secure tomorrow. Thank you!