Home Energy and Environment 100+ Virginia Faith Leaders Urge Senate Action on Climate Change

100+ Virginia Faith Leaders Urge Senate Action on Climate Change


The following letter is from Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, “a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency, and conservation in response to global climate change.” It is signed by over 100 Virginia religious leaders “from five religious traditions – Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Unitarian Universalism and seven denominations of Christianity — and hail from all corners of the Commonwealth.” It’s great to see this call from spiritual and moral leaders to our elected officials. Now, we need action!

June 2, 2010

Dear Senator Webb/Warner,

As religious leaders from across the Commonwealth, we are writing to express our alarm at the state of environmental stewardship here in Virginia, and nationwide. For us as people of faith, this is an issue of basic fairness and justice; not only because we are called to care for Creation, but because of who will be harmed most by inaction: the poor and voiceless.

Specifically, we would like to see federal climate legislation that includes strong emission reductions, international adaptation assistance, and protections for low-income families.

We pay dearly for an unsustainable energy infrastructure built on the backs of the poor: Landfills and toxic plants are predominantly placed in low-income communities of color, causing health problems and perpetuating the cycle of poverty. We can see the real costs of fossil fuels all around us: More children born with asthma, and more elderly getting lung cancer. Something must be done.

Here in Virginia, these problems are compounded by our geography: the Virginia Beach and Norfolk coastline is among the locations on the East Coast that is most vulnerable to sea level rise, second only to New Orleans. In the next 50 years, rising seas will mean that moderate storms cause the extensive flooding we usually associate only with hurricanes. Damaging hurricanes will hit more frequently in a warmer Virginia, and have an intensified impact at higher sea levels.

But we are mindful that it is our brothers and sisters in the poorest communities around the world who will be hit hardest of all by global climate change. They face a precarious future: flooding in coastal areas, loss of cultivable land to desertification, sharp decline in available water, massive migration, even starvation. For many years, the United States has been the single greatest polluter per person in the world. We support climate legislation that recognizes the disproportionate contribution of U.S. emissions to global climate change by providing adaptation assistance.

To prevent the worst impacts of climate change, we must reduce our greenhouse emissions by at least 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, and by 80% by 2050. Any legislation which does not meet these goals cannot prevent the worst impacts of climate change on people and the planet. Likewise, any legislation must enable the Environmental Protection Agency to continue carrying out its mandate to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

In affirming the moral need for climate legislation, we are mindful that this may raise the cost of basic goods. So we also ask that any such legislation include social safety net provisions for families that are already struggling.  

We teach our congregations to seek justice and the common good. We encourage them to be good stewards of the planet and to consider the impact of their decisions on future generations. We encourage them to do what is right even when it isn’t easy, and even when others aren’t doing so. As the opportunity for climate action comes up in the Senate, we ask you to follow these principles as well.

With blessings for your work,

{104 signatories}

Rev. Dr. G. Wilson Gunn, Jr.    General Presbyter, National Capital Presbytery  

(includes Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington, Prince William, and Alexandria Counties)  

Rt. Rev. Holly Hollerith    Bishop of the Diocese of Southern Virginia

Bishop Charlene Kammerer    Virginia Conference, The United Methodist Church


Imam Johari Abdul-Malik

Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center* (Falls Church)

Rev. Dr. Verne E. Arens    

Little River United Church of Christ* (Annandale)

The Rev. Daniel T. Avery    

Bruton Parish Episcopal Church* (Williamsburg)

Rev. Abbott Bailey    

Saint Andrew’s Epicopal Church* (Richmond)

The Rev. John A. Baldwin

Emmanuel Episcopal Church* (Virginia Beach)

Rev. Lisa Ann Barbery    

Trinity United Methodist Church* (Alexandria)

Rabbi Marvin Bash, retired


Rabbi Lia Bass

Congregation Etz Hayim* (Arlington)

Rabbi Martin P. Beifield Jr.    

Congregation Beth Ahabah* (Richmond)

Rev. Lou Boden    


Rev. Jeanne Brenneis, chaplain    

Capital Hospice* (Arlington)    

Rev. Herbert Brynildsen

St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church* (Fairfax County)

Rev. Dr. Jim Bundy, retired

United Church of Christ* (Charlottesville)

Rev. Ruth M. Burgess

Bruen Chapel United Methodist Church* (Fairfax)

The Rev. Betsy G. Caudill, Program Coordinator

Arlington District of the United Methodist Church* (Alexandria)    

Rev. Emma Chattin

Metropolitan Community Church* (Fairfax)

Rev. Becky J. Cloud

Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church* (Lynchburg)

Rev. Dr. John D. Copenhaver, Jr.    

Shenandoah University Department of Religion* (Winchester)

Fr. Gerry Creedon

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church* (Arlington)

Rev. Tommy Crosby

Essex King & Queen Methodist Church* (Millers Tavern)

Dr. Imad Damaj    

Virginia Muslim Coalition for Public Affairs* (Richmond)

The Rev. Kelly D. B. Derrick    

St. Philip Lutheran Church* (Roanoke)

Rev. Dr. Linda J. Dickerson

Northside Presbyterian Church* (Blacksburg)

Rev. Jeane Dunkum    

Scottsville United Methodist Church* (Scottsville)

Jennifer R. Durant, seminarian    

Virginia Theological Seminary* (Alexandria)

Rebecca Edwards, seminarian

Virginia Theological Seminary* (Alexandria)

Rev. Charles W. Ellis, III  

Ledbetter Christian Church, Disciples of Christ* (Lynchburg)

Rev. Dr. David Ensign    

Clarendon Presbyterian Church* (Arlington)

Rev. Deborah Fair    

Main Street United Methodist Church* (Emporia)  

Rev. John A. Fair    

P2-Planning For Peace* (Emporia)

Rev. Morris V. Fleischer    

Newport-Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church* (Giles County)

Rev. Abi Foerster    

Arlington United Methodist Church* (Arlington)

Rev. Suzanne D. Gibson    

Central United Methodist Church of Mathews* (Mathews)    

The Rev. D. Richard Greenwood III  

St. Paul’s Episcopal Petersburg* ( Richmond)  

Sant Gupta, President – Executive Board    

The Durga Temple of Virginia* (Fairfax Station)

Rev. Judy Hall, LCSW    

Pastoral Counseling of Northern Virginia* (McLean)

Rev. Dr. Youtha Hardman-Cromwell    

Trinity United Methodist Church (Alexandria)

Rev. Cheryl Harrison-Davidson    

Central United Methodist Church of Hampton* (Hampton)    

Rev. Maggie Hayward

Falls Church Presbyterian Church* (Alexandria)

Rev. Diane Walton Hendricks    

Falls Church Presbyterian Church* (Falls Church)

Rev. Dr. Morris Hudgins

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian Universalist* (Charlottesville)

Rev. Betty Hudson    

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church* (Newport News)

Rabbi Brett R. Isserow    

Beth El Hebrew Congregation* (Alexandria)

Stephanie Kimec, seminarian

Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church* (Arlington)

Megan Klose, seminarian    

Wesley Theological Seminary* (Fairfax)

The Rev. Mary Jayne Ledgerwood    

St. John’s Episcopal Church* (McLean)

Jodi Lingan, seminarian

Falls Church Presbyterian Church* (Falls Church)

The Rev. Julia Dorsey Loomis, retired

Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia* (Portsmouth)

Bruce Lugn, seminarian    

Wesley Theological Seminary* (Arlington)

Rev. Mitzi Manning    

Fairlington United Methodist Church* (Alexandria)

Rev. John Parker Manwell    

The Unitarian Church of Norfolk* (Norfolk)

The Rev. Denise Giacomozzi May

United College Ministries in Northern Virginia (Fairfax)

Natalie May, chair

Legislative Network, Virginia Conference, United Methodist Church  

Bon Air United Methodist Church* (Richmond)

John Moyle, senior pastor

Oakbrook Church* (Reston)

Rev. Mary McKinnon Ganz    

Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington* (Arlington)

Rev. Brian Merritt

The Palisades Community Church* (Arlington)

Rev. Carol Howard Merritt    

Western Presbyterian Church* (Arlington)

Rabbi Jack Moline

Agudas Achim Congregation* (Alexandria)    

Rev. Mary Katherine Morn    

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax* (Oakton)        

Rev. M. Mochel H. Morris

Christ Crossman United Methodist Church* (Falls Church)

The Rev. Dr. Alfred Moss    

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church* (Arlington)

The Rev. Linda Mitchell Motley  

Floyd-Willis Lutheran Parish* (Floyd)

Rev. Nicholas Allen Myers    

Christ Episcopal Church* (Alexandria)

Rev. J. Randy Myers

Chaplain Service Prison Ministry of Virginia, Inc.* (Richmond)

Beth Norcross, adjunct faculty

Wesley Theological Seminary* (Arlington)

The Rev’d Susan B. P. Norris, retired    

Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Jenkins Bridge* (Accomack)

Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk    

Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation* (Reston)  

Rev. Gregory L. Ott    

Trinity Christian Church, Disciples of Christ* (Mechanicsville)

Rev. Dr. Janet Parker

Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ* (Arlington)

Rev. & Mrs. Elmo Pascale, retired

Asbury United Methodist Church* (Harrisonburg)

The Rev. Christine Payden-Travers


Rev. Linda Olson Peebles    

Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington* (Arlington)

The Rev. Michael Pipkin    

The Falls Church, Episcopal* (Falls Church)

Rev. Elizabeth Rees

St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church* (Alexandria)

Rev. Kathy Reinger

Ashland Christian Church, Disciples of Christ* (Ashland)

Rev. Bob Robinson    

Portlock United Methodist Church* (Chesapeake)

Sister Heather Rollins, OPA    

Anglican Order of Preachers* (Virginia Beach)

Rabbi Ben Romer

Congregation Or Ami* (Richmond)

Rev. Anya Sammler-Michael

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Sterling* (Sterling)

Rev. Scott Sammler-Michael

Accotink Unitarian Universalist Church* (Burke)

Rabbi Jeffrey Saxe

Temple Rodef Shalom* (Falls Church)

Rev. Merritt N. Schatz    

Presbyterian Church USA* (Fairfax City)

The Rev. R. Justice Schunior    

Christ Church Episcopal* (Alexandria)

Rabbi Amy Schwartzman    

Temple Rodef Shalom* (Falls Church)

Rev. Dennett Slemp

Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care* (Richmond)

Rev. Cheryl L. Simmons    

First Methodist Church of Fox Hill* (Hampton)

Rev. C. Douglas Smith

Virginia Interfaith Center* (Mechanicsville)

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Smoot    

Falls Church Presbyterian Church* (Alexandria)

Rev. Charles Swadley

Lakeside United Methodist Church* (Henrico County)

The Rev. Erika L. Takacs    

Christ Church Episcopal* (Alexandria)

The Rev. David H. Teschner

Christ and Grace Episcopal Church* (Petersburg)

The Rev. Mollie Douglas Turner

Bruton Parish Episcopal Church* (Williamsburg)

Rev. Dr. James B. Vigen

Hope Lutheran Church and Student Center* (Fairfax County)

Rev. Kate R. Walker

Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church* (Fairfax County)

Rev. John C. Ward Jr.    

Montross Charge United Methodist Church* (Westmoreland)    

Rev. Pat Watkins

Caretakers of God’s Creation, Virginia Conference, The United Methodist Church*

Rev. Rosemary Welch

Hinton Avenue United Methodist Church* (Charlottesville)

Barbara A. Williamson, clerk  

Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, Unity with Nature C’tee* (Richmond)

Rev. Robert W. Wohlfort, Th.D.    

Lutheran pastor, retired (Susan)

Rev. Judy Worthington    

Bethel/Belle Haven United Methodist Church* (Northhampton County)

Imam Qari Zia

Mustafa Center* (Annandale)

* All congregations and institutions are for identification purposes only.


Sign up for the Blue Virginia weekly newsletter

Previous articleA Few Words About Madagascar
Next article“Tea Party Fail” in Fifth CD