For over 25 years, Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light has been the statewide leader in engaging the religious community in environmental stewardship and advocacy. As Outreach Coordinator, Jessica Zimmerle works with members putting sustainable practices in place.
“I’m always inspired by the ingenuity of our members! Their accomplishments include improving the energy efficiency of their buildings, adding solar panels and organic gardens, building rafts for resting seals in Puget Sound, hosting community forums, busing down to Olympia to testify in support of environmental legislation, and much more,” she says.
For Zimmerle, the connection between faith and climate change is clear. Core values of all faith traditions teach good stewardship of the earth, which is viewed as a bountiful gift the Creator has entrusted to our care. “To put it in perspective, I often compare stewardship to borrowing a friend’s car. We are extra careful not to get a door ding, let alone get into an accident, while driving a car that isn’t ours. The same courtesy applies to the planet, which is on loan from God,” she says.
For 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, the leadership Pope Francis took on climate justice earlier this summer is a game-changer. The Pope set the bar high for other major religious leaders to follow. “Speaking as a non-Catholic myself,” says Zimmerle, “I am inspired by his leadership and am looking to bishops in my own Lutheran denomination to follow in his footsteps.”
Zimmerle agrees that the Pope’s proposed solutions for fighting global warming align well with the goals of the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. The Alliance brings a diverse constituency together around shared core values that prioritize the wellbeing of those disproportionately harmed by climate disruption.
“People of faith don’t just want to hear this message preached, but want to enact it themselves by advocating for sound climate policies that protect all of God’s children,” she says.
Zimmerle’s work with congregations across Washington State has made her optimistic for environmental progress. “My work with both elders and fellow Millennials makes me hopeful that we’ll find creative solutions to the climate crisis,” she says. “I know energetic and passionate elders who are determined to leave the planet in a better state for future generations; as well as many young adults who are fired up about climate justice.”