Five Congregations Awarded for Climate Leadership

Interfaith Power & Light Announces ‘Cool Congregations’ Challenge Winners — Innovative projects installed solar, upgraded church facilities, and sequestered carbon by restoring native habitat

OAKLAND, Calif., April 20, 2021 — Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) is pleased to announce the five national 2021 Cool Congregations Challenge winners. The annual contest accepts applications from religious congregations around the United States who are addressing global warming in their facilities by reducing their carbon footprint and creating models of sustainability within their communities.

Winners were selected from 70 entries across five categories: Cool Planner, Sacred Grounds Steward, Energy Saver, Renewable Role Model, and Community Inspiration. “The Cool Congregations Challenge winners this year undertook a wide range of creative and inspiring projects to care for Creation and promote climate justice in their communities,” said Rev. Susan Hendershot, IPL president.

Winners included: a student-led initiative to install solar on a Catholic church school in Detroit; new heat pumps to replace fossil fuel heat sources in a rectory of a small church in Massachusetts; sequestering carbon and capturing rainwater by restoring land to its native habitat at a Presbyterian church in Maryland; cutting carbon emissions by 36 tons with upgraded lighting in Colorado; and an Islamic Center in Lansing, MI who first installed their own solar, then made a gift to their neighboring Lutheran church to help them install a new solar array. Each inspiring winner will receive a $1,000 prize. See the list of winning congregations below and read more here.

“These five congregations are casting a vision for the kind of world in which they want to live, and then carrying out that vision with practical actions that make a real difference in creating lasting solutions to climate change,” said Rev. Hendershot.

The Cool Congregations Challenge shows that people of faith are united by concerns about climate change and are taking action – with or without support of government policies. The winners provide strong moral role models for their communities, and their activities have a ripple effect. These congregations’ success should also encourage the Biden Administration to increase the ambition of our international climate commitments, and commit to cut U.S. emissions by at least 50% by 2030 (see letter sent to Biden, here:

Listed below are the five $1,000 prize-winners by Category:

Community Inspiration
Islamic Center of Greater Lansing
920 S. Harrison Rd
East Lansing, Michigan 48823
Contact: Thasin Sardar

Energy Saver
Church of Our Saviour
21 Marathon Street
Arlington, Massachusetts 02474
Contact: Ginger Webb

Renewable Role Model
Gesu Detroit Church and School
17180 Oak Drive
Detroit, Michigan 48221
Contact: Fr. Phil Cooke

Sacred Grounds
Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church
611 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd
Severna Park, Maryland 21146
Contact: Karen Royer

Cool Congregations Planner
First Plymouth Congregational
3501 South Colorado Blvd.
Englewood, Colorado 80133
Contact: Larry Strawser

To interview any of the winners, contact Sarah Paulos at